Happy Sunday, RG2E Peeps!
Welcome to The RG2E and/or Welcome Back!
Please help me Welcome to The RG2E, two of my fave Authors…
Take it away, Stacey and Donna…
John Cougar Mellencamp wrote about a Small Town.
TV shows and movies are set in scenic small towns all the time. (Gilmore Girls, Hart of Dixie, Smallville, Everwood, Little House on the Prairie, Picket Fences, Sweet Home Alabama, Places in the Heart, Fried Green Tomatoes, Hope Floats, New in Town…clearly our list could go on and on and on.)
Lord knows there are a ton of books set in small towns, series and single title, so we won’t even begin that list.
So what’s the draw? Particularly for a series? What brings people back again and again? The appeal of a series was recently covered by fellow WG2E Street Teamer Alicia Street, so my good friend Donna Marie Rogers and I will be covering the small town aspect from the perspective of two authors who come from very different backgrounds.
Here’s Stacey Joy Netzel’s take:
I grew up in a small town, just like John Cougar Mellancamp’s song talks about, and I pretty much hated it. As you drive into town (14 miles from our house in the middle of nowhere!), there was a sign that said “Crivitz, Population 996.” My high school graduation class contained 72 people, but I longed to go to school with people who I hadn’t known since 2nd grade—people who didn’t remember me galloping around and neighing on the playground as I played horses with my best friend. When I graduated, I couldn’t wait to leave and get out into the ‘real’ world where everyone didn’t know everyone else’s business.
Well, the real world is great, but after some city living with neighbors literally in my backyard, I’m back in the country on 9 acres and wouldn’t trade it for nothing. Our town is a bit larger at about 3500 people, but I LOVE that my kids are in a small town school and that the classrooms are small enough that they know everyone in their grade. One of the best things is taking them up to the cabin on the lake where I grew up and my parents still live, and sharing the experiences with them that I had as a child and now treasure.
As an author, I like the small town setting for the very reasons I hated it growing up. Creating relationships and character back stories in a place where everyone knows everyone else’s business gives an author so much potential for delicious conflict. But there’s also the sense of community to work with—that feeling of family for someone who may have grown up without one and longed for those connections.
And here’s Donna Marie Roger’s…along with a bit of an epiphany:
I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago in the city of Oak Forest (roughly 24 miles south of downtown Chicago). I’ve always considered myself a ‘city girl’, and though I didn’t hate growing up in the city, I yearned for that small town lifestyle for as far back as I can remember.
I guess it started the first time I went up north with my friend’s family. They owned a cottage in a beautiful small town just over the border in Wisconsin, and I fell hopelessly in love the moment I stepped out of the car. I remember walking along that country road heading to the Piggly Wiggly as if it were yesterday, and riding our bikes down Road 4, which ended with a splash in the lake if you didn’t chicken out before reaching the pier. And attending the Tobacco Days parade for the first time…the inexplicable feeling of excitement and contentment that washed over me as I stood gazing around in awe is almost as palpable today as it was back then.
So my epiphany? I’ve come to realize that Oak Forest had its own brand of charm, but I was so captivated by that small town life that I simply couldn’t see it at the time. I decided to look up some facts before adding my contribution to this blog post, and grew a little nostalgic as I discovered several new tidbits about the place I called home for so many years.
Incorporated in 1900, Oak Forest was originally called Cooper’s Grove in the early 19th century. A mere 5.7 square miles, Oak Forest is home to over 28,000 residents and 450 businesses. A pretty little city with a couple of small lakes (Twin Lakes) and surrounded by forest preserves full of mighty oak trees (hence the name), Oak Forest is much more than I perceived it to be while growing up. Summers were filled with baseball games at St. Gabriel cemetery, water balloon fights out at Rossi field, street hockey (yeah, I was a tomboy…LOL), and daily walks up to Willie’s Wee Nee Wagon—once we scraped together enough change for a hotdog or an ice cream cone we were on our merry way. It saddened me to learn that Willie’s, established in 1955, had become Johnny’s, and Rossi field is now full of apartment complexes.
I guess Stacey and I both came to appreciate what we once took for granted. It just took me writing about why I love my small town settings to realize it. And while we did have such different experiences growing up, I now know it had more to do with our environments than city versus country.
So that’s the take from us, and though we grew up differently, we now share that small town connection (both in where we live and the community of writers we are a part of). Together we’ve created the Northeast Wisconsin town of Redemption where “…second chances don’t always come easy, but if you’re willing to try, anything is possible.”
Our characters in the Welcome to Redemption Series are part of a close-knit, connected community where they look out for each other and are part of a family that transcends blood relation. We have 6 books so far, and though Donna writes the odd numbered books and Stacey writes the even, we have a similar theme for each set of two, and each set contains a shared scene told from our own character’s point of view.
The first two in the series are “on us” (A Fair of the Heart and A Fair to Remember are both FREE on all platforms), but if you want the whole series, we’ve bundled the current 6 stories in a great deal of a boxed set for just $5.96.
The next two in the series, Never Let Me Go and Hold On To Me, focus on the heartwarming sense of community more than ever with an added touch of suspense. We are working hard for a fall release.
So tell us, what do you love about a small town?
Thanks so much reading!
Stacey Joy Netzel (www.StaceyJoyNetzel.com )
Donna Marie Rogers (www.DonnaMarieRogers.com )
(D. D. here): Bunches of thanks to both Stacey and Donna for this spectacular post! I just luuuvvv chatting about all of our books’ Behind the Scenes Scoop!!!
Who all would like an Ebook Gift Copy of The Welcome to Redemption Boxed Set? Let us know below, and you just might win one from The RG2E! And I believe Stacey and Donna will be Ebook Gifting too!!!
The Best of RG2E Ereading Wishes — D. D. Scott, RG2E Founder