Some stories just hit closer to home than others, you know? I’m having a wonderful time writing my way through the seasons in Riverbend. Secretly Yours is the winter novella, and Pinky Promise covers spring. So I turned my attention to summer.
Several friends and I got talking about putting together a box set of never-before-released novellas with a summer theme. Then we added “must take place on or near a body of water” and left it up to each author what, exactly, that meant. Some chose oceans, others lakes, still others rivers and waterfalls. One chose a swimming pool. Hey, it’s a body of water!
Jim and I live in southeastern British Columbia, Canada — “right” where I’ve set the fictional town of Riverbend. Mountain lakes, streams, and rivers abound in this region. One of our most fun vacations ever was a nine-day trip on the Bowron Lake canoe circuit taken with my sister and brother-in-law in 1993. A couple of months ago, I pulled out the BD (before digital) photos of that trip along with the daily journal I kept. I tried hard to come up with a novella that could parallel our trip, but it simply wasn’t a natural setting for a Riverbend story with all of it taking place in a remote area. Even if all the characters were Riverbenders.
But then Reed Daniels came to mind: a quiet young man who’s standing back watching the friends he grew up with pair off and start families. While Reed waits for the right girl, he builds cedar-strip canoes — something my husband would love to do! — and spends his summers taking tourists on paddling trips on lakes and rivers. My husband would like the canoeing. The tourists? Not so much.
While I was borrowing from my husband, I gave Reed talent in guitar playing, song writing, and vocals. But that’s about where it stopped. Reed is not a snapshot of a mid-twenty-year-old Jim.
Then I began thinking about the heroine. Also back in the early 90s a new girl moved to town and became friends with my daughter. Brandy and her dad had spent the previous few summers on extensive canoe trips, such as from the headwaters of several of the major river systems in the west, all the way to the ocean. If I remember correctly, they’d paddled the entire Columbia River system and the Saskatchewan River (from the Rocky Mountains to Hudson Bay) and others. Details are a bit foggy for me 20+ years later! Brandy and her dad spent the school year in whatever town caught their attention and hit the rivers again in spring.
I was thinking of Brandy when I created Sweet Serenade‘s heroine, Carly Thorbergsen. Having lost both her parents and never having had a real home base, Carly lands up in Riverbend because her cousin lives there. She practically grew up in a canoe and takes a job with the competition to Reed’s company, leading hikes and canoe day-trips with tourists.
Carly’s cousin and Reed have a bit of history and hang out with the same group who came through the church college-and-careers group together, so the cousin brings Carly along to the weekly riverside swim and bonfire.
The rest, as they say, is history! Oh, wait. You want the rest of the story? Here’s what Sweet Serenade is all about:
River guide and canoe builder Reed Daniels stands by as his lifelong friends pair off. After all, he’s waited this long for the right woman… what’s a little longer? But when newcomer Carly shows up at the gang’s bonfire, he’s mesmerized. Could she be the answer to his prayers?
Water-sport enthusiast Carly Thorbergsen is starting over in Riverbend. Hired as a canoeing and hiking guide, she’s ready to focus on work and leave the personal stuff behind. That is until the competition, Reed Daniels, offers her a ride in his cedar-strip canoe. No resisting that!
But no matter how much they have in common, Carly can’t erase her past, and Reed is bound to discover the truth. When a date finds Carly and Reed running rapids on the outside of the canoe, they come face to face with the real reasons their new relationship might capsize.
Here’s the catch. You knew there was one, right? Sweet Serenade will release in July, but you can get it two weeks earlier by ordering the box set Splash! 9 Refreshing Romance Novellas Filled with Faith. I’ve been reading through my co-authors’ stories, and you’re in for a treat, so feel free to snag a copy.
Thanks for visiting Riverbend with me one more time, and I can’t wait to start writing the fall and Christmas stories in July!