Posts tagged with: Westen Series

Close To Christmas Weddings

Wh2c32c4b2bf91d7a296545f98fd37ee1aen I was a teenager, my older cousin Cindy got married.

It was in Ohio.

In December.

In the cold and snow.

I was all of 13, but fit in well with two of her sisters who were a year older and younger than me, so I was quickly enlisted in the bridesmaid corp. It was my first winter wedding. It was my first wedding as part of the wedding party.

We wore burgundy velvet, floor length gowns. Our hair pieces were head bands with silk poinsettias glued to them and instead of bouquets of flowers, we carried white furry muffs with another poinsettia pinned to the front of them. It was an afternoon wedding, but the grey winter sky that threatened more snow made it feel like late evening, almost dusk.

I remember little about the ceremony itself. My cousin married the man who is still her husband nearly 40 years later. My cousins and I had fun getting ready, doing our hair, walking down the aisle and partying with everyone later.

That was a much different wedding than the other important December wedding in my life, the one that took place between my mother and father.

They decided to get married 3 days before Christmas. They had very little money, so they just went to the Justice of the Peace in their little hometown to elope. No months of pre-wedding planning. No bridesmaids, no bestmen/ushers, no flowers, no cake. Just two people deciding they wanted to spend their lives together.

And they did.

For the next 61 and 1/2 years they stayed together. Through thin times (and there were many of those in the beginning) and through thick. Through rich and poor. Through sickness and health. Through three kids, three in-laws, eight grandchildren, and a bunch of great-grandkids. Through ups and downs. They stuck it out. Close to Christmas final

The last fall I was home before my daddy passed away, I noticed something. They touched each other often. Daddy would walk by Mom as she sat at the table talking to me. He’d just pat her shoulder and she’d reach up and pat his hand. Then he’d head to the family room. This happened several times a day. It seemed the older they got, the more the need to touch each other became. When I asked Mom about it, she said, “We just like to remind each other we’re glad we’re here.”

When I moved away from home many, many years ago, I decided it would be fun to send my parents a flower arrangement for their anniversary. It was usually a centerpiece of holly and evergreen and red candles for their dining room table or poinsettias for their fireplace. Sending it on the twenty-second let me surprise them on their anniversary and know they could enjoy them through the holiday season.

The last two years, since Daddy died, I’ve made sure there were red roses in the arrangement. See, he grew roses, Mom’s favorite flower, and every day during rose season, (May-Sept in Ohio), he’d cut fresh roses for her vases in the kitchen and family rooms.

So, when I decided to write a Christmas novella for the Westen series, I naturally titled it CLOSE TO CHRISTMAS. And when I think of the phrase close to Christmas, it reminds me of my parents anniversary which was always…close to Christmas. 🙂 And winter weddings can be such fun.

Here’s the blurb for the novella:

It’s been a long dangerous year for the town folks of Westen. A celebration is just what they need. It’s four days before Christmas and the town is not only decked out in their holiday best, but looking forward to the wedding of Sheriff Gage Justice and his love, Deputy Bobby Roberts.

First Bobby’s lawyer sister, Chloe comes to town looking over her shoulder, which has the quiet deputy, Wes Strong wondering what has her running scared. Then problems start to happen with the wedding plans.

Has Chloe brought trouble to Westen?

Or does someone in town want to ruin the wedding this close to Christmas?

And I even borrowed my parents wedding anniversary for the date Gage and Bobby are getting married. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

So, do you know anyone who was married close to Christmas? Have you ever been in a winter wedding? Do you think they’re romantic? Have you been a bridesmaid? How many times? (I was 6 and a matron of honor once.) 

Since this is a little launch party and I’m celbrating my parents anniversary in two days, how about I give out 2 print copies for CLOSE TO CHRISTMAS as part of the Bandita 12 Days of Christmas?


Visiting A Small Town

I love the song by John Mellencamp, Small Towns. It’s got great rhythm and singability. (Yeah, I confess it’s going through my head as I write this…yours too I bet!)

columbus-ohioWhile the song is nostalgic to me, I did not, however, grow up in a small town. Nope. Columbus, Ohio is not a small town, even though a famous country singer once dissed it by calling it a “cow town”. It’s a state capitol. It’s a thriving educational and research mecca. Heck we even have our own Golf Tournament in the Memorial. (It takes place in Dublin, a suburb of Columbus.) A population of over 800,000, this is NOT a small town people. That lighted building in the picture is the Lincoln-LaVeque Building, a skyline landmark of Columbus. We’ve also included a picture of Columbus on the back of KIDNAPPED, the first book in my Edgars Family Novels and where the series takes place, mostly.

So why does this song bring back memories to me? As a teen involved in quite a few activities, I did travel to and through many a small town throughout the state of Ohio. My parents were from a small town in the foothills of the BlueRidge in Eastern Tennessee. We visited there 1-2 times a year, every year of my life, to visit family. (I have lots of family still there!) And even living in Columbus, we went to a church where most of the members had come from small rural towns throughout the South. (Did you know there was a mass migration of Southerners to Northern cities in the 50’s and 60’s, looking for jobs?) I grew up in this community, along with neighbors who also had come from smaller communities to Columbus. We understood neighbors and each other. It was comforting and I still keep in touch with many of those friends of the family and school friends.

But that isn’t the reason Small Towns is bopping around in my head these days.midsomer_murders_-_season_385_1280

It’s in my head because I’ve been watching Midsomer Murders, all 17 seasons. It’s a mystery series that takes place in a fictional English rural county of Misomer and features a wily Chief Detective Inspector, Barnaby. The countryside they travel around reminds me of the rolling landscape NE of Columbus. There are funny characters; characters with deep, dark secrets; innocent characters; and always a murder to be solved. Barnaby’s wife and daughter pop up in the shows, we even saw his daughter get married. (Rumor has it they’ve changed the main character to his cousin another police detective, but I haven’t gotten to that year in the series. I’m only on year 11.)

The farms and towns also remind me of my parents’ hometown, where my uncle was even mayor for a term or two. Mostly people know each other in the little villages of Midsomer, and quite often their private business, too. Gossip helps solve many a case of Midsomer Murders.

Another reason Small Towns is playing over and over in my head is I’ve returned to Westen in my writing. Westen is a town I built based on all these travels through rural Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. The characters of Westen, not just the heroes and heroines, but the town folks are all a figment of my imagination, but fit quite nicely into the small town world I hope to build. They have a pride in their town. They know their neighbors and their neighbors business, mostly. But like any small town, there are secrets.

Close to home  small for bnIn CLOSE TO HOME, book #1 of the Westen Series, we stroll into town and meet some interesting characters. There’s the hero Dr. Clint Preston and the heroine Emma Lewis. We meet Emma’s family, her aging mother Isabelle and her young twin sons, Ben and Brian. There’s Lorna Doone who owns and runs the gossip hub of Westen, the Peaches ‘N Cream Cafe, where Lorna not only dispenses blue plate specials and pie to die for, but sage advice, whether wanted or not. Lorna’s daughter, Rachel is a high school student who has grown up in the cafe, but dreams of life outside of Westen. So there you have Westen, a quiet little town with few problems. But like Doc Clint’s taciturn nurse, Harriett, is always telling him, things aren’t always what they seem. And in CTH we also meet Elizabeth Wilson, Libby. She has a secret that’s haunted her for the past ten years.

Close to the Edge final front only for bn

CLOSE TO THE EDGE, book #2 of the Westen Series, a secrets almost destroyed the town.  I won’t tell you more in case you haven’t read it. 🙂 But in CTTE we meet Deacon Reynolds, known as Deke. He’s a fireman. We learn he has back scars on the left side of his neck, his throat and up his left jaw line. (There may be more, but right in CTTE that’s all we know.) Deke had a secret of his own and that secret has him carrying a butt-load of guilt into this new book, CLOSE TO THE FIRE.

 Which brings me to my Work In Progress, (WIP), CLOSE TO THE FIRE. Westen is in store for some new changes, both in the physical and emotional sense. One of the fun things about writing in a fictional small town, is you get to know everyone and every place in the town a little bit at a time. Take places for example. In CTH and CTTE we learn there’s the Peaches ‘N Cream Cafe, the bank, the Gold’s food mart. There’s a local newspaper office and a county courthouse, as well as Doc Clint’s medical clinic. We learn the town is located on the edge of Amish country, which really does exist in NE Ohio. In CLOSE TO THE FIRE, we’re going to visit the local beauty salon, (as yet unnamed), the local high school, and a new place, Colbert House, a half-way house for troubled young men.

Some other characters that have popped up over both the first two books are the deputies that work for Sheriff Gage Justice, the hero from CTTE. One in particular is Cleetus. Cleetus is described as having the body of an NFL linebacker and the naiveté of a teenage boy. He’s kind and jovial, unless you mess with someone or something he loves, like the town of Westen. Interestingly, I got a few emails and FB comments wanting to know if Cleetus would get his own book. I considered it for a bit and have decided that while Cleetus deserves a love story, I don’t think he can carry a whole book. Sooooo…I’ve decided he’ll meet his love interest in CLOSE TO THE FIRE, but we’ll let it grown slowly over a few books. 🙂 

In CLOSE TO THE FIRE we’re going to meet Kyle Gordon, a young man who comes to stay at Colbert House. Kyle’s past is going to trigger dangerous events that force both Deke and Libby to share their secrets, confess their guilt and maybe, just maybe, rekindle the love they once shared.

Yeah, how’s that for a tease? 🙂 😉 🙂

So, what small town shows do you like to watch or revisit? Which small town book series do you love to get your hands on? Are there recurring secondary characters that you hope will get a story? What about small town shows or books do you like?


Close To The Edge (a series book)


Close to the Edge final front only

Sometimes an author builds a world that is so real it sucks me in. It holds my attention for the entire length of the book and often for spontaneous moments afterwards. I wonder about the characters. My brain will pull their images up as they move around the town and I think to myself, wonder what so-and-so is doing.

That’s great story telling.

It’s one of the things I’ve tried to emulate in my books. That sense of family or community or both.

In Kidnapped we learn that the heroine, Sami Edgars has three older brothers. (A friend once asked me why I give my characters so many siblings. My reply: “Sequels.”) In Hunted we get to visit the Edgars family once again as we learn Matt’s story. I’m currently working on the next book in the mix, Seized. It’s the story of the oldest Edgars brother Dave and his wife Judy. And yes, even the youngest brother, Luke will get his story.

In the Westen series, I wanted to address community as family. In Close To Home we meet some of the residents of Westin. The hero, Clint Preston, the new doc, and Emma Lewis, the single mom who works two jobs to support her twin sons and elderly mother.

You also meet Cleetus, a sheriff deputy; Lorna Doone, the proprietor of the Peaches ‘N Cream cafe; Harriet, the irascible nurse who drives Clint a little crazy; and Gage Justice, Emma’s cousin.

This week, the second book in the Westen series, Close To The Edge was released for sale on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords and Apple sites. This time Gage Justice gets his story. Here’s the blurb:

Close to home final small

After facing death as an undercover narcotics cop, Gage Justice has come home to heal. His recuperation is cut short by his father’s unexpected diagnosis of cancer and subsequent death. Now he’s honoring one of his father’s last wishes by taking over as the sheriff of his boyhood home, Westen, Ohio. Biding time until his father’s term is finished, he fights boredom more than crime in the sleepy little town—that is until one sexy little teacher-turned-Private-Investigator literally falls into his arms.

Bobby Roberts is looking for adventure. After giving up her own dreams to raise her two sisters after the death of their parents, she’s been trapped in a schoolroom for nearly two decades. The suffocating claustrophobia of the classroom has set her on a new career path. She arrives in Westen, complete with brand-spanking-new PI license, a handgun and a simple case—investigate a lien on property of a dead man.

Little does she realize her “simple little case” will lead her into the world of one sexy sheriff and the path of a murderer intent on keeping them both from discovering his secrets or stopping his plans that could destroy Westen.

Chris-Hemsworth-chris-hemsworth-32955844-1280-1024If you’ve read Close To Home, you’ll get to revisit with some of the zany characters who live in Westen in Close To The Edge, but you’ll also meet a few more intriguing characters. And if you’re wondering who I imagine in my head to cast as Gage Justice…well, who better than Chris Hemsworth? (photo courtesy of 🙂

You can get your copy at for Kindle or at for Nook.

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Do you like series books? Do you like seeing the town characters reappear in books? And since this is a launch party, We’ve broken out the Fondue. Tell me who you brought to the party, what kind of things you’d like to dip and what your favorite sauce is. 

So, in honor of another new book, I’m giving away signed copies of Kidnapped, Hunted and Close To Home, one to 3 lucky commentors.