This is a thoughtful post, brought on by how quickly things have changed in so many parts of our country…
And how there are places where things stay solidly the same.
I live in a small town outside of Rochester, New York. We own a pumpkin farm and we raised our family here, and other than centralized schooling (which I’m not a big fan of, but that’s a post for a different blog!) and some new neighborhoods, we’ve been fairly unchanged for decades and decades.
Our town burned before I moved there. The fire was in the 60’s… and it was rebuilt then, but for the most part the old buildings that used to thrive are still there. Some of them are falling apart but caught in legalities… and some of them (an old vegetable processing facility on the railroad line) is now a fabric and knitting store and storage facility… )
And the old furniture store that became a popular antique cooperative burned years ago… and now a modern dental office stands in its place.
It’s comforting and amazing how while a few things change, most of the town has remained the same, even as storefronts change….
Is this good or bad? And when I’m writing a Western, and setting up a town, is that lack of change expected? Or different? And part of the fun of writing cowboys and westerns is that cowboys are a breed apart. Like cops and military and adventurers… and I like to write cowboys that are looking for their place in this world.
Did you ever hear the song “My Place in This World” by Michael W. Smith? Michael is a Christian recording artist, I have a bunch of his tapes…. are you laughing yet??? 🙂 I used to play him all the time in my station wagon and the cassette player and I thought I was SO COOL to have a car with a cassette player. My first car barely had a radio.
And I’m not even sure it had FM, LOL!
Anyway, that song speaks to me figuratively and literally and helps me to create not only the physical setting of time and place, but the emotional settings for the characters. It’s never easy to either be the odd man out or a woman who’s starting over, is it? Some of us have been there. Some of us haven’t, but we know folks who have.
My old pastor used to offer a homily about the black sheep… the disenchanted child, the one who doesn’t fall into line when all the rest of the family does.
I bet a lot of cowboys fit that mold. Or make their own mold.
A little bit different. A different drummer. Searching for something. Or someone?
When we watch a John Wayne or a Clint Eastwood or Matt Damon movie, we sense that discontent. That past that drags a man down. Or a past that mires a woman in guilt and reckoning.
The “Shepherd’s Crossing” series for Love Inspired books offered me the chance to use diverse characters and mixed relationships and cute blond baby twins and a darling biracial boy named Zeke… and a Native American little girl called “Dovie” and the children of a deceased horse breeding couple… who are trying to find their place in the world now that their lives have been irrevocably changed by tragedy.
Fred Rogers used to teach children that when things go bad, when scary things happen, when everything seems to be falling apart around you… “Look for the helpers,” he told them. “Look around and find the people who are helping others. There are always helpers, in every situation, so you need to look for them. Go to them. Look for the helpers.”
What great advice.
When we create story lines or series or single title books, we usually have “helpers”, too. Those sage voices, the sensible folks who jump in to help, no questions asked.
Look for the helpers…
Look for what you need and want to find your place in the world and also to take your place in the world.
In the “Shepherd’s Crossing” series, Corrie Lee Satterly is the helper. The voice of wisdom. A warm-hearted black nanny who raised three rich little white girls and gave them the love they were denied for over thirty years… and followed them north when that’s where they had to go.
Corrie found her place in this world, not by geography… but by love. The sacrificial love of a surrogate mother.
My three Steel Magnolias find life and love in western Idaho, but it’s not just about the beautiful romance waiting for them…
It’s about the character-building emotions they pack along the way and how time, love and faith pave that new road to happy-ever-afters.
But of course there is always a little help from their friends… and the good Lord’s timing!
I have TWO COPIES of this opening book to give away today… Let me know about your place in the world, or how much you love romance… and I’ll put your name into the cowboy hat for the drawing!