As I wrote before, when I first came up with the idea for Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery, the setting was to be the red mangrove forests. But after much research, I discovered that almost none of my characters lived there naturally. The setting had to change, and moving the cast to a salt marsh (since I discovered that salt marshes exist as a transitional community between mangroves and freshwater marshes) proved to be the remedy.
Before I had started my research, I was unaware that a chipmunk’s range failed to extend to Florida, and when I learned that tidbit of knowledge, I knew that my story would make sense.
Now that my characters were living in their proper home, I spent weeks researching the consequences of lowering the water of a marsh, the other animals that would be found there and the habits of round-tailed muskrats.
That first draft took months to write, and the second draft would involve deleting many of the Scottish Gaelic words I incorporated. At this time, I received feedback that readers found it distracting to look up Gaelic words in the glossary I had incorporated, so I deleted the glossary and many of the words but kept the Gaelic names as I thought them beautiful.
I wrote five drafts of Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery. Along the way I added characters and subplots, but I never lost sight of Elanora’s mission. In fact, I always knew what the ending would be, and that helped me to stay focused.
One of the reviewers of my second draft asked why I put so much time into research when my book was fiction. Would readers care how muskrats built their homes or what they ate? Of course Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery is fiction, but I believed the important topics I wanted to incorporate into the story: the destruction of ecosystems, the problems with a lack of diversity and the bullying of those who are different, deserved a valid backdrop. I wanted the story to be as authentic as possible, and I hope I have achieved that.
Next up: I am putting the final touches on my Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery giveaway bag, and it will be one of two raffles. I’ll reveal the contents soon!
Video of kayakers by Wolfgang Krzemien from Pixabay.
Video of researcher by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay.
Roseate spoonbills, manatee and mullet illustrations by Lori Taylor.
Illustration coloration by Graphic Artist Peter Chiappetta.