As April begins—two new books, HAPPY VALLEY and RETURN TO EDISTO, are being “born” into the world of books on April 2nd… and celebrating their “First Birthday.” I often feel like sending out Birth Announcements after new books publish. So much time, planning, patient work and labor goes into each one… and it’s always such a special thrill when a finished book is finally birthed and those first print copies finally come to my door—and to yours!
If you haven’t yet read a short summary about each of these new books you can read one for each book on my “Books” link. But I wanted to share with you here in this blog post today a few fun facts about these new books that you might not know.
First, if you haven’t noticed it yet HAPPY VALLEY is the first book in a new stand-alone book series called The Mountain Home Books. I am still amazed and thrilled that all twelve of the Smoky Mountain books, conceived so many years ago, have now been published. As that series neared its end, fans began to worry that there would be no more titles and they started to ask for more. My editor at Kensington at the time, Audrey LaFehr, who is now retired, said, “I think 12 books in this series is enough, Lin, but there’s no reason we can’t continue more similar books in a new series. Let’s see, perhaps we can call them The Mountain Home Books.” So I have Audrey to thank for the new series idea and name. A new series also offered the opportunity to stretch my “mountain wings” around to new regions and places—and to have our graphics artist create fresh new cover designs.
Happy Valley is actually a “real place” set between the Chilhowee and Smoky Mountains in an unincorporated community called Tallassee, Tennessee. If you have ever visited the Abrams Creek Campground area of the Smoky Mountains or hiked the trails there, you drove through Happy Valley to get there. We’ve always loved this rural valley, dotted with picturesque homes, farms, and old churches… and I’d often wished I could think of a book idea to set there. “This area is so pretty,” I told J.L. one day while driving through Happy Valley to go hiking. “But I can’t seem to envision a good story idea set here. The area is so small, there are no businesses, and it’s rather far away from most areas. What could I write about set here?” J.L. laughed and said, “It’s a great place for survivalists.” He began to entertain me with stories about survivalists he’d met on his travels delivering fishing and hunting guide magazines as we drove to the parking area of our hiking trail.
Coming back down the Cooper Road Trail a little later in the day I started laughing. “I’ve just had the best idea for a book in Happy Valley. I’m going to create an old country store and I’m even bringing in some survivalists into the story.” And that was the beginning of the idea for my book HAPPY VALLEY. … Later, as we explored the area more, we met many of the lovely people who live in this valley. We were even graciously invited to attend a Homecoming service at the Missionary Baptist Church … so, of course, that little white church wandered into my story line. J.L. and I both grew to love Happy Valley as I worked on this book … and I peopled the book with fictitious, warm-hearted characters reflecting the type of wonderful friends we made in this rural valley … I hope you’ll really love this new story!
My other new book RETURN TO EDISTO is the second novel in my new Edisto Trilogy. The first book CLAIRE AT EDISTO introduced Claire Avery and her young daughters Mary Helen and Suki, who all came to Edisto for a time of healing after Claire’s husband Charles’s unexpected death. In RETURN TO EDISTO, Mary Helen has grown up, graduated college and taken off to make a life of her own up north in New Jersey. But a hurtful and shocking event causes her to leave her work and head back to her family’s beach house at Edisto. It’s rare that Mary Helen can’t find her way and know what to do when problems come, but this situation is not the norm for her. Her old playmate from childhood, and sweetheart for a time, J.T Mikell is surprised and glad to see Mary Helen back, even for a short visit. But the sparks soon fly, just like in old times, between these two.
The story of RETURN TO EDISTO could be read as a stand-alone novel but it is much more fun to read it as a sequel—since many of the characters from the past book wind their way into this new story, too…. You will meet many old friends you’ll remember from the first book and many new characters, too … including quite a few dogs!… While working on RETURN TO EDISTO, I posted pictures of these story dogs on Facebook and asked my readers to help me name them—and many of those names found their way into the story…. I often find readers give me great ideas that I can use in my books.
To recall another story that influenced this book’s plot … while at Edisto one summer I unfortunately got flipped off my feet by a wire buried in a sandy yard and broke my arm. Overall that was not a happy memory, but I hate to let any experience be wasted, even a negative one. So in RETURN TO EDISTO I actually wove some aspects of this adventure – of breaking an arm – into the plot of this book… so when you come to that place in the story ( I won’t say when!) you’ll remember that I unfortunately broke my arm, too, at Edisto.
To close … I hope you’ve loved visiting our favorite vacation spot in these Edisto novels—and that you’ll enjoy finishing the series next year, sharing Suki’s story, with the third book in the trilogy EDISTO SONG. … You can also look forward to the second Mountain Home book next year titled DOWNSIZING, which is set near Gatlinburg in the Arts and Crafts Community.
Thank you for enjoying my books, and if you take pleasure in these new stories, please consider posting a few words of review on my Amazon or Barnes & Noble pages, on Goodreads, or even on your Facebook page. Spread the word so others will discover my books, too!
See you next month. Stay safe and well. Lin
[Note: All photos my own, from royalty free sites, or used only as a part of my author repurposed storyboards shown only for educational and illustrative purposes, acc to the Fair Use Copyright law, Section 107 of the Copyright Act.]