|Grace Haven, Book Two... on sale 7/16, Preorder HERE|
Readers adopt the setting as a wrap-around character.
They empathize with the aging grandmother, the overwhelmed single mom, the waitress at the Main Street Diner, the nurses, the teachers, the young executive women who find themselves booted off of Wall Street and trying to find their place (like a square peg in a really skinny round hole) among the locals.
They swoon for the cowboy, the contractor, the cop, the soldier, the doctor, the fireman, the investigator.... Alpha, beta, troubled, wounded.... Oh, be still our hearts! And if the town bad boy comes back to town??? We learn to welcome him with open arms, like Colt Stafford when he rolls back into the Double S Ranch in Gray's Glen, Washington with not much more than the clothes on his back.
|Great Reviews! Link to Amazon for Back in the Saddle!|
But what is the draw? I asked some beloved readers to give their opinions, and I think they all agreed they love the transparency of the small-town story.
Deb H.: What I like about small town series is the wholesome community feeling I get without the EVERYBODY knowing all your business. I also like the cool family type businesses that usually pop up and the quirky folks there (usually what I refer to as old geezers). **Ruthy loves injecting old geezers into stories!!! #favorite #fun #sostinkinnormal!!!!
"Nostalgia," answered Tracey Hagwood. "When it's defined as, 'a sentimental yearning for the happiness felt in a former place, time, or situation'. For those who haven't experienced small town life, could just be their perception of what it would be like.
Keywords so far: Nostalgia. Wholesome. Community. Quirky. Geezers. Yearning.
When you picture those key words, now you begin to get a sense of why folks enjoy these small-town or rural romances by the hundreds of thousands...
And by the way, this is a good time to celebrate my MILLION BOOKS SOLD!!!!!
Which is totally unbelievable to me, and yet... true. The gals laugh at me sometimes because while I might not do spreadsheets.... I'm always paying attention to numbers, so when I was revamping my books sold and topped a MILLION.... Eee gads, I about fell over. And with the exception of a couple, they've all been small town books/series.
I love small towns, but after living in one for 45 years, I understand the ups and downs, and weaving that reality into the story is what makes the plot jump out as downright real to the reader. The best-kept secrets become open books when the local first responders answer calls for an overdose, domestic violence, runaway kids, heart attacks, break-ins, bad dogs, missing kittens... The best way to keep your dirty laundry secret... wait, there is no best way. So avoid the dirty laundry at all costs! But add some to your stories because the element of realism is crucial to plot development.
Vince Mooney didn't disappoint when I asked his opinion and what a good one it was!
Love Inspired, Love Inspired Historical, and to a lesser degree, Love Inspired Suspense are all what I call "Cozy Romances".
Few settings are as cozy as small towns where everyone knows everyone else; where the 'help your neighbor' frontier mentality still exists; where doors are often still left unlocked; and where strangers are noticed and watched.
(Of course, like many little children, some small towns can be quite nasty -- but they just don't get portrayed that way in cozy romances.)
He's right... Folks read Amish and small-town stories for the gentler side of humanity. We all like to believe that Mayberry hasn't totally gone by the wayside when the surround sound of 24 hour news speaks of so much darkness.
Note to all: There has always been darkness. It haunts the edges of humanity like a serpent, waiting. Our job is to cling to Christ's light, to shrug off the dark and depressing and grasp the true meaning of faith... and then, to bring it alive in our stories!
Cindy Woolard touched on a hugely important component: For me the pull to a small town is the closeness of the town. Everyone knows almost everyone. The town celebrates together, grieves together, etc. The characters can pull the reader into a place the reader would love to live or at least experience in real life.
Two things are clutch in Cindy's words. "The town celebrates together; grieves together..." If the story is all happy-go-lucky, the author has missed the chance to grab the reader's hearts and attention, because things happen. When a loving father died in my Kirkwood Lake series, I received beautiful e-mails because losing him.... and watching him fail... resonated with readers. They'd gotten to know him over several books, and they felt the loss, but recognized the hope in the remaining family, and that offers them courage to find their own hope, through God.
Cindy also mentioned "pulling the reader into a place the reader would love to live..." And that's the ticket!
You want that nostalgia and warmth to wrap around the reader, to help them focus on the hope of good times through times of trouble because isn't that what God wants for us? Strength in times of stress and trouble, simple cups of faith outpoured.
Donna Mynatt remarked: The friendliness... people go out of their way to be kind - and helpful.
And Cindy Regnier had this to say: I live in a small town of about 500 people and I totallyget this. A small town is a place where everyone knows you and nothing is private. The UPS man delivers packages addressed to my home to me at work because he knows I'm there. If I go for a walk, at least 5 people driving by will stop to ask if I need a ride. In the summer I find zucchini or tomatoes on my front porch and in my car. If I get a wrong number phone call, the person will stay on the line and visit for 10 minutes. The sirens blow at noon to announce lunch hour and if a romance is blooming, the ladies of the town will have the wedding planned before the poor girl even realizes her heart is fluttering.
"The UPS man delivers packages addressed to my home to me at work, because he knows I'm there..."
In today's times, some folks would find this crazy... why would you let folks know your house is unattended? But the cozy reality of small town romance is that folks look out for one another, and when the chips are down here or there... quite often there's someone with a kind heart to help you pick up the pieces.
And there's that nostalgia we all love and often long for.
I love writing small towns. I love visiting big cities like Philly and NYC and Boston and Baltimore and just recently Phoenix, AZ!!!!
But I love coming back to the lush green of upstate, to our historical society and our Hilton Reader's Guild and our town park and village library.... because it's home. And to quote a wise and really cute heroine... "And if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't go looking any farther than my own backyard." (Dorothy, "Wizard of Oz")
Hey, I brought 4th of July Cake to share!!!!
And Independence Day pie!!!!
The coffee's on.... Come on in and let's talk about what you love about writing small towns... or if that's not your cup of tea, what you do like to write or read about?
I'm always willing to listen and serve coffee and baked goods!
For three lucky commenters today, I'll be sending out copies of "An Unexpected Groom" OR "Her Unexpected Family" books one and two in the new Grace Haven series from Love Inspired!
Let's talk Americana, my friends!
Multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne is in love with life.... she is living her dream and pinching herself each morning to see if it's real, but it appears to be! You can visit her at her website RuthLoganHerne.com or stop over and friend her on facebook as Ruth Logan Herne.... and she loves hanging out at the Yankee Belle Cafe with a bunch of wonderful inspirational authors who love food as much as she does... or at Ruthy's Place.....