For a while now I’ve looked forward to today when the second Hickory Ridge novel officially launches. One of the things I love about writing a series is that the characters become so real that it’s hard for me to stop thinking about them. When I worked on the first novel, BEYOND ALL MEASURE, I created Carrie Daly, a young woman mourning the death of her husband at the battle of Shiloh. My original intent was that she would remain a secondary character, one of my main character’s friends in the church quilting circle. But even before I finished writing that first book, I fell so in love with Carrie that I thought she deserved a story of her own.
The book is fiction of course, but the conditions I describe in 1876 are real. In addition to economic challenges, the women of the south also faced real struggles with how to carry on without the 350,000 men who died or were terribly wounded during the Civil War. Many people think first of Virginia when they think about a state ravaged by war, but three of the costliest battles were fought in Tennessee: Shiloh, Stones River and Ft. Donaldson. The carnage at the battle of Franklin became the topic of Robert Hicks’ wonderful novel, The Widow of the South.
I wanted to write about Carrie’s struggle to find her way again in the middle of so much disruption. I wanted her to cast off her widow’s weeds and fall in love again. And so she does, with the charming and mysterious Griff Rutledge. I hope readers enjoy getting to know these two special people who take a huge leap of faith and discover beauty among the ashes of their respective pasts.
Moving from writing for preteens and young adults in the general market to writing for an adult readership in the inspirational market was a huge leap of faith for me, too. I set off on uncharted waters, taking it on faith that these stories would find a home. I’m grateful that readers and reviewers have welcomed Hickory Ridge and her citizens into their homes and hearts. Next week,I begin line edits on EVERY PERFECT GIFT, the final book in the series. Take a peek at the cover here on my home page. I think it’s gorgeous, and I can’t wait to bring you Sophie’s story and the exciting conclusion to this series.