Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Writer's Wednesday: Small Town Romances plus giveaway

Harlequin Romance Author Susan Meier and American Romance author Barbara White Daille explain why they love writing about Small Town Romance. Comment to win one of 3 prizes

A sense of home...

Susan: I grew up outside of a very small town. Even though we were a mile and a half away, the church – church events – linked us in to the town and its residents.

There were (on a good day) a hundred fifty people in our congregation. It was possible to know everybody’s name and a little about their family history. It was also possible to keep up with births and deaths, graduations and weddings.

At the time, I thought knowing intimate details of the lives of your neighbors was the normal way of things. Then I moved into a city (small city but still a city) and quickly learned city people keep to themselves.

But I miss those days of knowing everyone, cheering for everyone, praying for the sick, celebrating successes. Some days I feel like I live on an island.

And I think that’s why we all love small-town books so much. We’re all longing for that sense of home – a place where we fit. 

A shared history...

Barbara:  A sense of belonging usually makes small communities more tightly knit.  Families spend more time together.  Kids grow up with each other, attend the same schools, go to the same parties. 

Links like that between folks result in an emotional "shorthand" where a phrase or even a word evokes an entire chain of shared memories—good or bad.  Either way, events from a hero or heroine's history result in a story that makes us want to keep turning the pages.

In my upcoming release, HONORABLE RANCHER, Ben Sawyer met the girl of his dreams on their first day of kindergarten, only to lose her to his own best buddy.  All his life, he's forced to keep his longings to himself.  When his friend dies an army hero, Ben knows he's lost Dana forever.  As his conscience—and the entire town—reminds him, he can never dishonor his best friend's memory by romancing the man's widow...

Of course, this is a romance, and eventually my hero and heroine become a couple.  Yet long before that point, they build a complex life together.  A shared history is one of the many things that draws readers to small-town romances.  Folks make friendships that will never be broken.  They create memories that can live forever.  And, as Ben and Dan discover, they look out for you because you're one of their own.



Endless possibilities...

Susan:  That sense of belonging and shared history resonate with readers, but small towns are also a gold mine for writers. LOL There’s always a nosy busybody who can tell the heroine the big secret she shouldn’t know. A community gathering (anything from a barn dance to a church picnic) can get the hero and heroine together, maybe even to plan it. A diner can provide a spot for an accidental meeting! And funerals give authors the opportunity to allow characters to show their true emotions.

And a chance to come full circle...

Barbara:  So far, I think I've hit every one of the above but a funeral.  LOL  Busybodies and matchmakers play big roles in my books, too.  They seem to have a place in a small-town romance.

That feeling of belonging we’re always searching for also holds true for people who have been away for a while.  Though they've left the community, they have lasting connections to the folks back there.

Many readers love the emotional tug of a reunion story, especially those books where the hero or heroine returns to their hometown.  The character gets to do what we sometimes wish we could—have an opportunity to change the past.  Grab a second chance.  Or just come back and be greeted with open arms.  Because...of course...there's no place like home!

Susan: My hero, Chance Montgomery, in NANNY FOR THE MILLIONAIRE’S TWINS, returns to his home not sure if he’ll be greeted with open arms or if he’ll find the ramifications of the family secret have made him into the town laughing stock. Pine Ward is another of the “bigger” small towns, where Chance’s family has been the primary employer for decades and everything he did became fodder for the gossip mills. Even the woman hired to be nanny for his twins has a history with his family.

But he soon realizes, as Barbara said, there’s no place like home and I think that’s the big draw for readers. That sense of home.



What about you? As a reader or a writer, what’s your take on the appeal of the small-town romance?

Comment for a chance to win one of three prizes:  1.  THE TYCOON’S SECRET DAUGHTER (the first book in the First-Time Dads duet) and KISSES ON HER CHRISTMAS LIST from Susan, or 2.  A RANCHER'S PRIDE and THE RODEO MAN'S DAUGHTER (the first two Flagman's Folly books) from Barbara, or 3.  a $10 Amazon gift certificate!

Susan Meier is a busy mother of three, volunteer at Hospice and lousy golfer who is currently working on her 49th book for Harlequin/Silhouette. You can find her on twitter as @susanmeier1 and Facebook or at susanmeier.com.



Originally from the East Coast, award-winning author Barbara White Daille now lives with her husband in the warm, sunny Southwest, where they love the lizards in the front yard but could do without the scorpions in the bathroom.  She would love to have you drop by her website:  www.barbarawhitedaille.com and look for her on Facebook and Twitter:  http://www.facebook.com/barbarawhitedaille  and https://twitter.com/BarbaraWDaille


48 comments:

  1. Good points, that's why I like small town romances.
    I grew up in a megatropolis and was lucky enough to find my way to a small town as an adult. I tried for a year to land a job at the small town newspaper, got it, and have been there over 20 years. Working for the paper I feel part of the history and heartbeat of the community.
    In a small town, if you don't know someone, you know someone who knows him. Tragic accidents touch everyone; the HS baseball star signed by the majors is every resident's hero; you bump into someone you know most every time you go to the grocery store. You do something stupid and ...

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    1. Christy, you hit the nail on the head!

      But one thing I noticed about "mistakes" and doing something stupid, is you learn to deal with them. LOL. There's no sweeping anything under a rug.

      susan

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    2. Christy - my oops! I have to get the hang of clicking on Reply for each message--some blogs don't have that feature.

      See my response to you below.

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  2. Hi, Christy - all so true about small towns--especially the part about being one step away from knowing someone who knows someone else. That kind of closeness can really keep you on your toes. ;)

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  3. Whoo u get sense off community and pride
    Great prizesb thanks
    Kimh

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    1. Thanks, Kim!

      I agree about the sense of community! And I also think it's something we long for when we move out of a small town, as I did.

      I miss that.

      susan

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    2. Kim - definitely agree about that sense of community!

      And I love what you said about pride. If there's one thing folks in a small community have, it's pride. I think it's what makes the busybodies so busy. They want everyone to maintain high standards.

      Barbara

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  4. Susan, love your small town romances. Kisses on her Christmas List was my absolute favourite and the Harlequin Romance cover was gorgeous!

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    1. Scarlet, your compliment couldn't come at a better time. I'm struggling with the ending of my new one. You just boosted my confidence enough to do it. LOL

      But...Kisses on her Christmas List was one of my favorites too. It's so much fun to write a book about a small town, but add Christmas and it's just a piece of cake. LOL

      NANNY FOR THE MILLIONAIRE'S TWINS has the same kind of emotion as KISSES. Since it was an August release and I couldn't do Christmas (LOL!) I put in twins instead.

      Thanks again for your kind words!

      susan

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    2. Scarlet - Susan writes a wonderful story, doesn't she? Add in Christmas and the result is awesome.

      But then, she's great with kids, too--singles and in pairs. ;)

      Barbara

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  5. I'm a small town girl myself & love reading about other small towns where people care about each other and help out if needed. Love story's with busybodies and matchmakers :D They always get into other peoples bussiness and make fun things happen.

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    1. Kristen...

      Other people would get annoyed at busybodies, I would think they made life fun. LOL

      And I *know* matchmakes have the best of intentions at heart. :)

      susan

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    2. Kirsten - as I'd said in the blog post, my books are big on busybodies and matchmakers, so I'm with you all the way.

      I agree they make fun things happen--even though the hero and heroine may not think so at the time. LOL

      Barbara

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    3. I love small towns and small town romances, especially your books, Susan. I grew up in a small town and my family was frequently the subject of town gossip. Not that we were so bad. It's just that there are a lot of us and we are loud and never particularly well behaved. Made for an interesting life and lots of great stories to tell. Bobbi Carducci AKA Storee Wryter

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    4. Oh, Bobbi, you could be describing my family. With 11 kids and a love of fun...we could be interesting!

      thanks for the comment and the nice words about my books!

      susan

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    5. Bobbi - I'm not from a very big family but I love hearing the stories from those who are.

      It's probably why I like to people my stories with lots of folks who act as family to the hero and heroine.

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  6. A small town romance is cosy and intimate. You truly get to know the characters & the pace of life is slower, more comfortable I think.

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    1. You know I forgot all about how life is slower! There is no such thing as a traffic jam in a small town...unless somebody's dog decides to nap in the middle of the road! LOL

      I drove to Pittsburgh last week and spent forty minutes stalled on I-376. Going nowhere! Talk about stress. THAT doesn't happen in a small town either!

      susan

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    2. Jo's D and Susan - I had to LOL at these comments. In HONORABLE RANCHER, there's a scene where Dana and Ben talk about the many traffic jams in Flagman's Folly--NOT!

      It's hard to have a traffic jam when a town's only big enough for one signal light.

      Barbara

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  7. Susan, like you, I grew up on a farm outside of a small town. I went away to school and find a husband, and we ultimately settled in another small town. :)

    I like being near the land and seeing the cornstalks grow (or not, we're in a draught), having cattle get out and escape capture for days, and knowing people's habits, like who eats at the diner every Wednesday and such.

    Would love to win a prize!

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    1. Cathy - good points about small farming communities! I didn't grow up in one, but my grandparents lived on a small farm on the outskirts of a tiny town, and we visited several times a year.

      And I love that sense of knowing what "regulars" to expect in different places.

      Barbara

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    2. And p.s. - forgot to say that in my first two books, the townsfolk actually did go to Delia's Diner every Wednesday for the special! LOL

      Barbara

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    3. Cathy, because we were on a farm, just outside a small town, we were the people with the corn. :)

      There is nothing like watching plants grown. One minute the corn is a foot high, the next it's two! lol

      So now I grow things on my deck and in flower beds in front of my house. I have the cutest sunflowers in pots on my deck.

      I never tire of seeing things grow!

      susan

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  9. I love small town romances, especially reunion romances--they are usually very poignant and heartfelt, not to mention passionate! Even though I have lived in a very small town for most of my life, I never tire of “small town” romances. Small towns sometimes hold big secrets! People are very interconnected. What happens to one person affects someone else, and the ripple effect is started. However, there is an essential sweetness to small towns. Memories of earlier days, some bittersweet, are held dear. People aren’t just faces, they’re family and friends. There’s always a second chance for first loves in small towns : )

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    1. Virginia - what a great list! I think I love each and every aspect you mention. And have maybe written about them, too. LOL

      HONORABLE RANCHER is definitely one of those towns with secrets.

      My previous book is a reunion romance. They can be so very poignant, especially when a hero and heroine have to face unfinished business from a relationship that went wrong.

      That ripple effect you mention is strong in small towns, too. (Although some of my characters aren't too happy about the gossip grapevine that sometimes keeps the flow going. LOL)

      Barbara

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  10. I should probably share the news that I guest blogged at The Pink Heart Society blog yesterday, too!

    After your leave your comment here, feel free to scroll down to the previous post, where I share a quick-and-easy Deadline Recipe and a very brief Sneak Peek from HONORABLE RANCHER,

    Barbara

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    1. I peeked! The recipe looks great. Mikie would love it if I'd try it! (Mikie is my son and he loves Taccos!)

      THE HONORABLE RANCHER seems like a great story! Can't wait to read that one.

      susan

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  11. Susan - the recipe is so easy, how can you not try it? ;)

    Thanks for peeking at it and for your nice comment about HONORABLE RANCHER!

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  12. One thing I learned about small towns, is that most everyone is related. Either by blood or marriage. Being a Navy brat and moving often, I didn't realize that until I did my hubby's genealogy. Wow! Now that I live in a small town, I'm discovering the complex relationship that develops between people I know.

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    1. Pepper - I agree about the blood/marriage connections.

      Also, the relationships in a small town can be more complex in general, as everyone is in everyone's business--whether they like it or not. LOL

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  13. I love the same things about small towns in real life as I do in books, the quiet and the pace. There's less of a rush to go and do, it's more conducive to stopping and appreciating the moment.

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    1. As I get older, Summer, I'm regretting a lot of my fast-paced twenties and thirties. I feel like I missed a lot of moments. Though I can look back and remember things like baking cookies and laughing over the cat with my kids...I also worked A LOT and know I missed a lot. Which is why I love that I quit that job and worked from home for most of my kids' high school years...Hum...or maybe it would have been better to miss that? LOL

      susan

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  14. Summer - a fabulous combination!

    I think that's just another reason I like reading small-town romances--they give me that feeling even when my life is not quiet OR slower paced.

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  15. I love small-town romances, for all reasons above, and also because they're often part of a book series. And there's something comforting about starting a book and knowing that at the end, I won't have to let these characters go, as they'll show up in further books. Even though I haven't read a small town romance set in New Zealand (where I come from), I think that the heart of these type of stories work universally, as folk are pretty much the same everywhere. Looking forward to reading your books, Barbara and Susan! :0)

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    1. Hi, Tracey - with what we've seen from the comments so far, I'd agree that the small-town stories do work pretty much everywhere.

      I think giving characters a reason to be together--such as through their employment--provides a similar type of experience. A hospital or school setting can be almost like a mini-town and the employees there like family. Or at least busybodies. LOL

      Thanks for the comments on our books. I hope you enjoy them!

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    2. Tracy...You are so right about series books. It is comforting to know when you finish a book you love there are 2 or 3 more to follow!

      That's a great take on the appeal of a series.

      susan

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  16. I love small towns and rural areas. I remember getting in the car with Mom and driving to the Uniontown PA area, about 45 minutes outside of Pittsburgh down Rt. 51 and then into Fayette County. That area always seemed pretty rural to me. My Mom's family had a farm in that area. I remember getting hauled around in a box behind the tractor.

    best,
    Cheryl Williams

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    1. Cheryl - that must've been a fun ride!

      I loved the rural area my grandparents lived in. Getting to see ducks on the pond in the backyard and giving right of way to people on horseback on the way into town were very different experiences for this small-city girl.

      Barbara

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    2. What a cool memory, Cheryl!

      susan

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  17. Hi there, Susan and Barbara! I agree with Tracey--you get a warm fuzzy reading a book in a small-town series because you know you'll eventually get to visit again with your favorite characters. I currently live in a small town and used to complain about having to drive thirty miles to be able to do any decent shopping. But the older I get, the more I appreciate the unhurried pace. Susan, I'm currently reading The Tycoon's Secret Daughter and loving it! And Barbara, I have Honorable Rancher on my to-be-read pile--I can't wait! :-)

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    1. Hi, Kathy - like you and Tracey, I love going back to revisit with the characters, and as I may have said above, I'll re-read some of my favorite books over and over again.

      Series give that extra bonus because with each book you get to learn a little bit more about all the folks.

      Thank you for the compliment to Susan (who always writes a wonderful book!) and for putting HONORABLE RANCHER on your to-be-read pile. I sincerely hope you enjoy Ben and Dana's story.

      Barbara

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    2. thanks for the compliment on the Tycoon's Secret Daughter. That was a difficult book to write. Because I had two characters who were both right in their beliefs about the other! Wasn't sure how I was going to get either one of them to meet in the middle! LOL

      So glad you like it!

      susan

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  18. Winner! of our first prize, my books...

    Christy O...our first poster's name came out when I put your names in a hat..So Christie...could you email your snail mail address to me via the contact susan email on my website susanmeier.com

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  19. Hope I'm not too late, at least for the last two drawings....
    My take is that I enjoy going back in time to small-town living, as I grew up in a town with less than 2,000 residents. We couldn't wait to leave as teenagers, yet many have returned as adults to raise our own children. Go figure.

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  20. Laney4 - yes, it's amazing how our feelings about our hometowns change as we become adults!

    And how strong the longing can be to go back to our roots.

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  21. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to read the blog, and especially to those who left a comment. It's been fun chatting about small-town romance!

    The winner of our second prize, my two books, is...(drumroll)...Cheryl Elaine Williams.

    And the Amazon gift card goes to...(another drumroll)...Cathy Shouse.

    Cheryl and Cathy, please get in touch with me via the contact form at my website (www.barbarawhitedaille.com) with your snailmail addresses. Thanks, and congrats again.

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