I may live and work in a forty-foot trailer, referred to as an RV, but I don’t consider my home a recreational vehicle just because it’s self-contained, and has wheels. My home is spectacularly well thought out, cozy, and complete with everything we need. (washer/dryer, fireplace, even a dishwasher!) So what does my house have to do with my writing? Everything! When I conceptualized Smithville, the small-town setting for the Hometown Series, I didn’t realize that I was creating a hometown for myself.
My husband, Steve, and I, travel for his job with our little dog, Bingo. We usually live in one place for three to six months, then hitch back up and head to the next job. Even though Steve has a job waiting when we get there, the moves are sometimes stressful, but always interesting. I have to put aside my work, pack up all my do-dads, crafts projects, dishes, and plants. We maneuver our home through storms, narrow mountain roads, lost RV park reservations, and traffic. Steve has to start over with a new crew on a different site. Sometimes it seems that only Bingo truly enjoys all aspects of the journey. We do get to meet a lot of great traveling folks, as well as weekend campers, and we see loads of beautiful countryside. Sometimes we even manage to slip a stay on the beach into a move.
I do miss having my own yard and garden, friends nearby, and of course I wish my kids and grandkids were close enough to pop in for Sunday dinner. I miss knowing for sure which way is east. (Am I the only map loving person who is bothered that the GPS is upside down half the time?) To be honest, I even miss running into someone I know at Wal-Mart when I look a mess. But I love being with my husband, and I enjoy meeting new people and seeing new places, so it works out. I even wrote a stand alone novel based on my husband’s work and the lifestyle we lead!
I grew up in a small town, number six of eight children, and I’d describe myself as caring but opinionated, self-sufficient, and very attached to my husband. Maybe that’s because when we travel, we depend on each other. I’ve been writing full time for five years and I’m hooked. My stories take time and effort to mold and shape, but the characters are my companions, my traveling friends. If that means I’m wacko or quirky, all the better! I collect input for my books from my husband and grown kids. I discuss story lines with them, and ask them to read and reread my drafts, helping me create characters and situations that feel real, and that are entertaining. I couldn’t do it without them.
I had written three of the books in the Hometown Series before it occurred to me that, in Smithville, I had created a place for my heart to live. Smithville is filled with people going about their daily lives, dealing with their personal issues, irrational fears, and hard-won accomplishments. They can be silly, flustered, selfish and unaware, as well as resilient and clever, that’s what makes it feel real. It’s a place I’d like to call home.
In book one of the Hometown Series, Tara, who grew up in Smithville, is working to overcome childhood trauma. She learns to loosen up and overcome her control freak nature. (I may, or may not struggle with this, haha) Her loving grandmother, Winnie, is partly my own mother and bits of both of my grandmothers. In book two, Julia comes to Smithville expecting to hide away after a debilitating illness, but colorful characters like Becky and Bobby draw her out and build her confidence. This one was written from the heart after I spent a few rough years healing from my own illness. In book three Lizzie moves to Smithville to live out the dream of owning her own alpaca farm, as well as escape her overbearing mother. (I do love alpacas!) Through friendship, laughter, and Smithville craziness, Lizzie finds illumination where she least expects it. In book four (a Holiday romance) Gloria struggles to overcome her past reputation, one that small towns don’t easily forget, but her kindness hasn’t gone unnoticed. (If you’ve ever had everyone in town know your business, you understand!) And in book five, the one I’m currently writing, Katherine returns to Smithville, after years away, to open a vintage RV glamping park, and is forced to face her first love, as well as her lost naiveté. (I have no idea where the glamping idea came from!) Of course my leading ladies fall for an imperfectly delicious man along the way. I suppose that each of these women, their friendships, and their healing processes, are a part of me looking for resolution to my own upsets and disappointments, in a place surrounded by camaraderie and fun.
I hope you will join me in Smithville, and get to know and love the people there like I do. Bingo and I will be waiting for you in the fifth-wheel parked just outside of town.