Family, friends, and pets you've written into your books
(this post is based on the Marketing for Romance Writers 52 Week Challenge)
I try really hard not to obviously write family, friends and pets into my stories. It's awkward, right? How would your mom feel about being a main character in your romance novel?
Once, I accidentally wrote a coworker into The Pick Up. You can read about that misadventure here. I don't work there anymore.
I do specifically write small town romances (at least for now) and while they're not set in my hometown, they definitely draw on my 20ish years living there. I live in Toronto now, which is sort of the anti-thesis of a small town, but I love the feeling of going home.
Small towns have their own quirks, their own histories. At a panel about small towns at GRL, someone talked about a clown marching band that anyone who could play in instrument in town joined. My hometown, Brockville, does not have a clown band, but it is home to the oldest railway tunnel in Canada. It has been a point of pride, but also kind of sketchy; this century-old tunnel that was almost always gated off because otherwise it was a great place to find broken bottles and other unsavoury paraphernalia at night. But last year, as part of Canada's 150th birthday, they refurbished and reopened the tunnel, and now it's this amazing thing with glowing lights and music.
And a ghost train.
I like to give my towns quirks like this. Farmers markets, central meeting places where everyone goes to get the latest gossip, fun fundraisers with too many volunteers.
Maybe someday I'll add a ghost train in a glowing tunnel too.