Thursday, March 9, 2017

Small Town Must Haves

Book 5 in Heartache, TN series
Available now!
This month, I get to share another story set in Heartache, Tennessee with readers and I realized this week how excited I am—not just for readers to read Wishes at First Light, but for readers to visit this place. You’d think I was the local chamber of commerce for my fictional town the way I can list all the best spots to go. But it brings to mind a really important function of fiction in my opinion, which is to provide a total escape.

Sometimes critics of our genre make “escapist” fiction sound like a bad thing, implying that romance gives a false sense of reality. That, my friends, is totally missing the point. We read fiction to take some kind of adventure, to travel somewhere else and get absorbed in a character’s life. It’s vitally important for a good fictional experience to give the reader that convincing alternate reality, because if the reader isn’t walking through a different world, the book is going to be a disappointment. Authors owe it to their readers to transport them. To deliver a vibrantly drawn sense of place that they can visualize an experience with all five senses.

So I take this responsibility seriously. I enjoy it thoroughly when other authors create that authentic experience for me that makes me think—temporarily—that I’m walking through medieval London, waltzing in a glittering but overcrowded Regency ballroom or sitting beside a cold creek in a small Tennessee town.  That’s why I invest time and care in crafting a setting, a labor of love that I hope comes across in Heartache.

Possibly, it reveals a little bit about me that I have created a place that I’d gladly live in. It’s got
country, rural charm, but reasonable access to a bigger city (Nashville). There are football games Friday nights under the lights, as well as the occasional bonfire afterward. There’s a town square with access to the baseball fields, so young moms can push their little ones on the swings while keeping an eye on what their third grader does when they get up to bat in a pee wee game.

There’s good barbecue. The rib joint is hopping, and spills to outdoor seating on summer nights, where local bands can play to an outdoor dance floor. There’s good coffee, thanks to my transplanted cupcake baker from New York City who brought a talent for espresso with her. Good fishing abounds, and I can tell you where the tackle shop is, even if the woman who owns it is going through some tough times right now. And if you’d like a nice girls lunch out, there’s a new restaurant in town just for that.

Giveaway: Book 1 in Heartache TN
Tricia at The Strand is a whiz with color, by the way, so if you need a touch up on your fair, have no fear. You can still look like a million bucks even if you live on the farm. On the way home, I can tell you where the best farmstand is so you can pick up some peaches or apples… Tennessee is lucky to have both, depending on the season. If I were you, I’d visit during the autumn because Heartache’s Harvest Fest is the best. The mayor is cute too, but he’s taken.

So… there you have it. The hometown I want to have, filled with people I like even if I’ve put them through a whole lot of hard times! I hope you’ll visit soon.

***Football, barbecue, good fruit and fall fest... guess you can see what I like in my small towns! What about you? What's your favorite shop that you can't do without? Local business you love? Share with me today on the boards and I'll give one random poster a digital download of Promises Under the Peach Tree, book 1 in my Heartache TN series! 


Colleen C. said...

I love being pulled into a book and experiencing things along with the characters... In my area, I love to just be by the lake... see the water ripple, see and hear the ducks nearby, the peacefulness of a beautiful day... as for a fav local place... there is a little donut shop that I visit on occasion... the woman there has the most delicious melt in your mouth donuts... yummy... now I am in the mood for a blueberry donut! :)

Anonymous said...

I live just outside a small town. It's a place where you know almost everyone. Even if you don't you still share laughter in the little cafe we have. It once belonged to my husband's grandparents. It was once a smithmill before they had it. We spend a lot of Saturday afternoons having lunch there. Where we live is less than a half mile away from where we lived as teenagers. We lookout our front window to the hill we used to hike on every day. We love living here. Pam hamblin

Anonymous said...

I love the feeling I get when I read a story that is set in a small town. Everyone knows each other and it's a town you can walk in. There should be a town center near a lake or pond. It should be small enough that it only needs one of everything but big enough that it has everything it needs. Thanks - Normandy Hood

Victoria Salcedo said...

I love the feelings you get for having that small town feel. Everyone know everyone. Everyone lends a helping hand. I love this little coffee shop we have. You get a smile and friendly hello every time.

Audrey said...

Small towns--fictional or real!--are perfect for romance. I love Heartache, TN, Joanne . . . and I love small towns with antique shops, a coffee dive, and a central park for outdoor fairs/festivals. Keep the great writing coming!

dstoutholcomb said...

I love the small town in East Tennessee where my parents live


Joanne Rock said...

Congratulations to Normandy Hood, winner of the thread prize!! I'll contact you privately to arrange for shipping, or you can email me at Thank you for visiting with me this week!

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