Pure Michigan – It’s Where My Characters Live

Most of them anyway…

One of the perks of being a ‘Michigander’ is that you basically live in a mitten. At least the trolls do. ‘Trolls’ are what the folks in our Upper Peninsula (aka, the U.P.) call anyone residing south of the Mackinac Bridge. Because, of course, trolls live ‘under’ bridges.

Another perk is that when there is no map handy, we can just use our hands. No, they’re not a perfect substitute, but in a pinch, they get the job done (as you will see below). Yes, that’s the outline of my hand. And, for the record, when using your hand as the Michigan map, you have to kind of twist and bend your thumb to get it to sort of look like that part of the mitten – and Saginaw Bay, which is why my thumb looks short and fat.

Now, let’s talk Mackinac. Or Mackinaw?

Looking at the ‘map,’ you’ll find Mackinaw City, but we also have the Mackinac Bridge, Mackinac Island, the Straits of Mackinac, and Fort Michilimackinac –all in northern lower Michigan.

Northern lower Michigan is where you’ll encounter your first trolls, if you started out in the U.P. If you started out somewhere in the south, it’s where you’ll encounter the last trolls before crossing the bridge and meeting the Yoopers.


Ya. Not Da Yoopers (of the Second Week of Deer Camp and Rusty Chevrolet fame), but the Yoopers who live and work in the U.P. The ones who dubbed the mitten dwellers trolls.

Anyway… Back to the Mackinac/Mackinaw conundrum.

From what I’ve gathered, everything up there started off as Michilimackinac, thanks to the Anishinabek – or Anishnawbeck, depending on who you ask – Nation. Early Michiganders shortened it to Mackinac, but somewhere along the line, the city came to be called Mackinaw.

If you want to learn more about that, there’s a short, cute video on Facebook titled ‘How Do You Pronounce It? Mackinac or Mackinaw.

Or, to save you time, just pretend all of the names end in ‘aw.’

Now, for a little more information and interesting tidbits:

*Michigan is the birthplace of some pretty famous people: Tim Allen, Jeff Daniels, Taylor Lautner (Team Jacob!), Burt Reynolds, Dean Cain, Alice Cooper, Magic Johnson, and more.

*U.S. 31 weaves its way from a few miles south of Mackinaw City all the way down to Holland, Michigan. My new series takes place in two fictional cities on a seventeen mile stretch of that highway, between Petoskey and Charlevoix. (‘New series’ was one of two affiliate links in this article. The other will be marked by an asterisk. Learn more about affiliate links by clicking here.)

*Weko Harbor and Tulley Falls are fictional cities – to everyone but me. To me, they’re as real as any other city in the United States. Hopefully, you’ll come to feel the same way.

*Petoskey is pronounced puh-tos-key

*Charlevoix is pronounced shar-la-voy

*Cheboygan is pronounced sha-boy-gun (I added this one for those who have read the Royal Sweethearts series (*) and wondered how to say it. Also the fourth installment – Quinn MacMahon’s book – will be out in the not too distant future, and there is at least one scene in that city)

*Battle Creek is the home of Kellogg’s Cereals, Tony the Tiger, and Frosted Flakes, which are, according to Tony, Grrreeeeaaat!

We even have our own song about Michigan cities – and I’ve loved it since the first time I heard it.

*Except for Reluctant Guardian and part of the Royal Sweetheart series, I’ve never felt the need to leave Michigan when it comes to my stories. We have it all – huge lakes that seem very ocean-like from our beautiful, sandy beaches. We have a few mountains, waterfalls, sand dunes, forests, and even tropical (SO humid!) weather in the summer. You can snow ski and surf here. Yes, people can and do surf on our Great Lakes. Check that out by clicking here.

*Hell actually does freeze over in Michigan. It’s located between Lansing and Detroit. It’s also only an hour from Maybee.

When my kids were in grade school, I always thought it would be fun to travel around the state, so when they went back to class at the end of summer, they could say they’d visited, Brooklyn, Holland, Bangor, Washington, Newark, Billings, Frankfort, Sandusky, Christmas, and Paradise … which are all cities in the great state in which I live.

And this concludes today’s lesson on Michigan. 🙂

***Just so you know, I will probably be putting this in the front matter of all Weko Harbor books – and any others set in Michigan. Some people start in the middle of the series, or don’t ever see my website, and some of this information could come in handy.



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