Monday, November 8, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of Year

The store shelves are caked with red and green glittery things, and the mornings are crisp and cold.  All little boys and girls are prepping their lists for the wonder that is Santa Claus. Turkeys are baking in ovens, and small towns prep for the biggest event of the year.

The Chili Cook-off.

What?  Did you think I meant Christmas?  Thanksgiving?  Hehe.

Every year my dad holds a giant chili cook-off with the grand prize of bragging rights for a whole year.  Judges (like real judges who preside over court rooms) come from the surrounding counties to sit on our panel.  They carefully taste (and re-taste if necessary) each chili concoction to choose the best of the county.

Now, it's not all about the chili.  There's also the spirit award, and let me tell you -- we've GOT some spirit.  My sister, brother-in-law, and I are teamed up this year.  I've designed our table to assure we win the grand spirit award, and my brother-in-law and sister have been concocting the world's greatest chili.

I decided our theme this year was Witches not only will we have a simmering cauldron, but our ingredients will read:  brains, heart, eye of bat, tail of newt, and so forth.  I've got labels to replace the can labels with and everything. 

Oh yes, the spirit award is in the BAG.

Okay, so what's the point?  What does this have to do with a blog about writing?

The inspiration for everything I write comes from my surroundings.  The people, the things they say, the yearly events we partake in.  Those tiny details are what really make a story shine.

When I read a book about a small town I expect to really feel like the characters are in a small town.  Too often the town is not only small by size but by personality as well.

I'm from a tiny town.  There was one caution light in my little county until I went to high school.  Football is the epicenter of our world, but not college -- high school.  We have festivals pretty much every month, and parades with the smallest excuse.  Chili cook-offs are anticipated all year.  The guys ride around in huge four-wheel-drive trucks with elaborate boxes in the back for their dogs.

There's nothing small about a small town other than the numbers.  It's a close-knit community and a way of life with a huge personality.

The small details are what will make your writing sing.  Don't forget to slow down sometimes and enjoy them, listen to them, and use them.


Pam Harris said...

You made a very good point--but all I could think about was how much I wanted to taste the entries for that chili cook-off! :)

Erinn said...

Very sweet blog. Everything about this post makes me happy and envious for a small town upbringing.

Susan said...

I also envy your quaint little town. :)

Football was the epicenter where I grew up -- football and then soccer. It depended on your social backround. I grew up in a moderate-sized town that split right down the middle into the "haves" and "have-nots". In fact, if you took Neptune from Veronica Mars -- that was my city.

AND MAN I WANT YOUR CHILI!!!! Oh, how I miss chili here in Germany.

Your party sounds like sooooo much fun... Go Team Witches Brew!!

Abby Stevens said...

I was thinking about making chili for dinner... after reading this, I will definitely be making chili for dinner.


LTM said...

you are so right, Holly! And that attn to details is what makes good writers great! :o) <3

mmm... chili... ;p

Claire Dawn said...

If you like Meg Cabot, check out PANTS ON FIRE. I lived in Connecticut for two years, and I thought her description of small town there was perfect!