Small Town…Not Just For Mellencamp, According to Our Fabulous RG2E Guest Authors Stacey Joy Netzel and Donna Marie Rogers

Happy Sunday, RG2E Peeps!

Welcome to The RG2E and/or Welcome Back!

Please help me Welcome to The RG2E, two of my fave Authors…

Stacey Joy Netzel


Donna Marie Rogers

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 ( )

Donna Marie Rogers ( )

Welcome to Redemption Series Collection links:  Amazon, BN, Smashwords


(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


50 thoughts on “Small Town…Not Just For Mellencamp, According to Our Fabulous RG2E Guest Authors Stacey Joy Netzel and Donna Marie Rogers

  1. I love small towns. I love having plenty of room around me. I don’t like houses on top of each other. I’m not crazy about everyone knowing all of my business, but I do love the small town environment. I wouldn’t give it up for anything. I would love a copy of The Welcome to Redemption Boxed Set for Amazon Kindle. Thanks.

    • Man, the houses on top of each other–I hated that for the 5 yrs we lived in the city. I don’t like my neighbor looking out their window right into ours. Where we live now, we don’t even need curtains!

      Thanks for coming by Becky and please add your email for the book gifting.

    • I hear you on the houses right on top of each other. In some areas of Chicago you could literally lean out the window and touch the house next to yours…LOL Ours were close enough, but growing up it never bothered me. And my mom hated that everyone knew her business, though she sure did miss her house once she had to move. The grass is always greener, hey?

      Thanks for stopping by, Becky, and don’t forget to leave your email addy! 🙂

  2. I grew up in both cities and small towns. I always liked the small towns best. I think you get a feeling of being part of a family in a small town as opposed to just being a one in many lost feeling in the city. Guess that’s why I chose to spend the rest of my life in a small town. I would love this set of books for my Kindle.

    • Christy-I totally understand what you mean. I will say, I’m about 10 minutes outside of Green Bay, so I have the convenience of a large city with everything I need, but I enjoy the space of our 9 acres.

      I also need your email for gifting the ebook. You can post it here or send it to staceyjoynetzel (at) gmail . com

    • Like Stacey, I live on the outskirts of Green Bay (Stacey & I live literally 8 minutes apart…I timed it…LOL), so I have the convenience of the city within just a few miles, and my beautiful country scenery year `round. 🙂 And now were heading into fall, which is my absolute favorite time of the year, so the colors are really going to start to pop…sigh

      Hope you enjoy the series, Christy! 🙂

  3. I have never lived in a small town. Born and bred London, UK. But I do have an idea of a series of magical romance books that are based in a small village, where everyone knows everyone.

  4. Great post! I share Stacey’s sentiment about small town living I didn’t like it and that why I now live in the metropolis (not too big). I would love a copy of the Redemption boxed set from Smashwords. Thanks.

    • Hello, Stacy! As a kid, I hated it, as a mom, I love the smaller community. Either post your email here, or contact me directly at staceyjoynetzel (at) gmail . com and I’ll be happy to share the boxed set with you. Thanks!

    • I didn’t hate growing up in the city, but even as a kid there was something about that small town charm that drew me. I love where I’m at, but it’s nice to look back and appreciate where I came from. Thanks for stopping by, Stacy! Hope you enjoy the series. 🙂

  5. I love books with small towns. Everyone knows everyone and they all look out for each other. This series sounds awesome! Id love to read it on kindle. Thank you!

    • Thanks, Shadow–this series is very close to us. The first 4 stories made up our first published book and we received a 4.5 star review from Romantic Times. We’ve really enjoyed adding to the series and hope to keep the stories coming. 🙂 Your Boxed Set is on the way!

  6. I was raised in a small town. Not as small as the one Stacey grew up in. Our pop. was about 10,000. But I still went to school with mostly the same kids from 1st to graduation. I couldn’t do anything that my parents didn’t know about before I got home. It’s a good thing I was a good kid. LOL There were times that I hated being in a small town, but when it came to choosing where I settled down – I chose an even smaller one. 🙂 And I love it. I love the peace. And I love having a community that watches out for one another.

  7. I love small towns / communities.
    I grew up in one such town. You grew up with your friends and their families.
    You went to school and church with the same people.
    You had the same rules from home to home. You would be corrected for stepping out line, or bad manners by your friends parents as quickly as your own. That “It Takes a Village” concept.
    We had wide open spaces and we were physically fit from walking or riding our bikes those country miles to visit friends.
    You always step up to help a friend/neighbor in need. Providing A hot meal; Complete A chore; Help with planting or harvest; Drive to the doctor; Child care etc.
    I truly miss this! I now live in town, however I go home often an step right back to yesterday and my childhood.
    I would love “Welcome to Redemption” series on Kindle please.
    Thank you so much for the opportunity!

  8. These first too books were how I fell in love with Stacey and Donna Marie! Since I have read several of both your books:) I would love this series for my nook! For me I hated to small town growing up but as mom I love it! The space we have, knowing that our neighbors are close enough by they are just a call away! Enjoy your Sunday!

  9. I grew up in a small town, too. I love the way the two of you write novels that feel real and portray the best parts of small town life. Grit is part of the heart of small town literature, and you capture it with grace. Way to go, ladies! You know I’ll always be a fan.

    -Wendi Darlin

  10. Nice post. I like series books and books about small towns. I would like a copy of The Welcome to Redemption Boxed Set for Kindle please. Thanks.


  11. I don’t know if the place I grew up in would be considered “small town” or just plain “country”. We were lucky to have a grocery store within 2 miles of where i lived. We had gardens, cows, chickens, etc. Most of our relatives lived within the same small community. Today I live in a neighborhood that has more houses per mile than my entire community had back then.

    I would appreciate a chance to read the “Welcome to Redemption” series (Kindle). My e-mail is:

  12. The town I grew up in was about 500 people, and then we moved to a big town of 50,000. I feel very much the same way both of you feel about small towns. Stacey, I couldn’t wait to get away either, but now I love to go back and visit. I think both of the towns I grew up in are special now.

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