The Six Train to Wisconsin

kourtney heinzToday I have a wonderful guest blogger, author Kourtney Heintz.  Kourtney has written a novel that is getting all kinds of fantastic reviews and I’m so lucky and honored to be able to participate in her promotional tour of THE SIX TRAIN TO WISCONSIN.  This novel is not YA, but Kourtney was recently picked up by Agent Lyndsay Hemphill of ICM Partners and they are working together to get Kourtney’s YA novel she wrote some time ago in the public arena.  You can read about that surprise phone call  here.

Today, Kourtney is visiting my blog to talk about world-building, so without further ado, please give it up for Ms. Kourtney Heintz!


World building as You Go

When I’m drafting a story, I don’t have everything figured out before I start writing. I have a 2-5 page outline. I have certainty around the first 50 pages. Anything beyond that is mutable. Even if I think it isn’t at the time.

I still get surprised by the discovery of my story world rules as I go. Sometimes a rule doesn’t work throughout the novel and I need to rethink it. Other times, there aren’t enough rules and I need to go back and constrain powers more.

Or a power doesn’t trump another one the way I need it to. Oh the joy of writing fantasy/speculative fiction!

In The Six Train to Wisconsin, Kai’s a telepath whose mind is inundated with others’ thoughts and feelings. I had to decide on how far her powers stretched. At first, I set the parameter at several miles. But it didn’t work for the severity of her situation. I needed a small area to be causing her terrible trouble. I needed her being in New York to pile on the problems. So I cut the radius down to half a mile.

This set up Oliver’s reason for leaving the city. A half-mile radius in the country wouldn’t be a problem. It gave him a solution to work toward.

I had just read a story about how readers were disappointed with a recent YA book because the author allowed the character’s super powers to save the day. The article espoused how the character’s own inner traits should be what helps them solve the problem.

I found a way to put Kai’s powers on the fritz. To make it about her courage and her bravery. To not make it about her telepathy, but about who she is: a brave and loving woman who puts others before herself.

I had no clue how Caleb’s abilities worked until I had to have Kai explain them to Oliver.  Then I realized, Caleb was too powerful as a dreamwalker. If he could go into anyone’s dreams, there was no limit. So I imposed a limit. He had to have an actual bond with the person. Otherwise, he’d be able to go into anyone’s head.

I struggled with the rules and the hierarchy of powers. Things shifted from draft to draft. Feedback from others poked at worldbuilding that needed fleshing out or tightening up. Plot holes were filled in and paved over. All necessary steps to get to my final novel.

Now, it’s impossible to imagine the worldbuilding any way besides how it is.

SixTraintoWisconsin1600The Six Train to Wisconsin Back Cover:

Sometimes saving the person you love can cost you everything.

There is one person that ties Oliver Richter to this world: his wife Kai. For Kai, Oliver is the keeper of her secrets.

When her telepathy spirals out of control and inundates her mind with the thoughts and emotions of everyone within a half-mile radius, the life they built together in Manhattan is threatened.

To save her, Oliver brings her to the hometown he abandoned—Butternut, Wisconsin—where the secrets of his past remain buried. But the past has a way of refusing to stay dead. Can Kai save Oliver before his secrets claim their future?

An emotionally powerful debut, The Six Train to Wisconsin pushes the bounds of love as it explores devotion, forgiveness and acceptance.

Author Bio:

Kourtney Heintz writes emotionally evocative speculative fiction that captures the deepest truths of being human. For her characters, love is a journey never a destination.

She resides in Connecticut with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, her supportive parents and three quirky golden retrievers. Years of working on Wall Street provided the perfect backdrop for her imagination to run amuck at night, imagining a world where out-of-control telepathy and buried secrets collide.

Her debut novel, The Six Train to Wisconsin, was a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semifinalist.

Connecting with Kourtney



Facebook Page:



Amazon Author Central Page:


Buy Links

Paperback available from:


Barnes and Noble

Ebook available from:


Barnes and Noble




Goodreads giveaways going on until July 1:

 5 free signed copies of my book (US only):

For Canadians, 1 signed copy:

Several other countries, 1 signed copy:


7 thoughts on “The Six Train to Wisconsin

  1. I loved Six Train, and it was so interesting to hear about this aspect of it. “Anything beyond that is mutable. Even if I think it isn’t at the time.” made me laugh. Even at my level of writing, blog posts and short stories, I don’t kid myself about this, the words belong to themselves or the muses 😉


    1. Thanks EllaDee! It’s funny because even things I was certain “had to be” were altered in later drafts. At the time, I thought no way will this ever change. LOL. Truly and also beta reader feedback would tell me when something wasn’t hitting them the way it should be. World tinkering became a necessity. 🙂


    1. Thanks! I really enjoyed writing this blog post. It gave me the opportunity to look back and remember how hard it was to get from idea to final draft. 🙂 Aw, thank you. I hope you find it gets ahold of you too! There’s a few giveaways this month so maybe you can win a free copy. 🙂


  2. Happy to share Amaleen. It was fun to share my process and to realize how many layers are built as I go and then finalized a few drafts later. 😉


  3. A very interesting post, Kourtney. You highlight some key areas to consider while developing a magic ‘system’. Thank you for your insights. 🙂


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