A Place In This World

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….

Towns get worn… people leave… then new people come….

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. 

Guys of all ages hunt for their place in this world… they don’t have to be big to be lonely…

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.

 

Book one of this series! Reunion love… an engaging child, wishing for a mom… and a ranch that needs both of them to succeed….

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!

 

 

 

 

Ruth Logan Herne
Multi-published, bestselling, award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne lives on a small farm in Western New York surrounded by grown kids, cute grandkids, cats, dogs, chickens, frogs, toads and snakes. That's why writing Westerns doesn't scare her. Not one smidge. Because she's surrounded by critters of all sorts, and has been known to teach lessons on snakes as available... She started writing Westerns by accident/invitation, and L-O-V-E-D it... matched with her love for both historicals and contemporaries, Ruthy's working on a new Western series for Love Inspired, New England mysteries for Guideposts and her historical Westerns for the indie market in 2018. She loves God, her family, her country and absolutely, positively loves what she does!
Updated: August 28, 2018 — 3:35 pm

39 Comments

  1. We moved recently and I think I am searching right now. Romance is my escape when things are too much. Thanks for the great post.

    1. Debra, I love the idea that a BOOK could be my place in this world. 🙂

    2. Hey, just arrived home from a quick trip to NYC to say goodbye to my youngest son… who is moving to DALLAS!!! And all things cowboy!

      Debra, it’s my escape, too… I love reading stories of hope and redemption… and overcoming. I love overcomers!!!! They make me smile!

  2. Crazy timing as today is moving day for us. We don’t have a house yet, but are moving into a rental, so I’m definitely searching for my place! I love old towns that still have the old buildings. Meanwhile, reading romance is my escape from all this busyness!

    1. Wow, moving is such a huge job. I heard once that ‘three moves equals a fire.”
      Old towns are just be so charming. And big cities often have old downtowns carefully preserved. Fun places to explore.

    2. SO stressful. Hang in there.

    3. Susan! I hear you 100%. And Deb said the same thing above, that the romance escape is a wonderful thing…. and I just love great stories. Great ideas… and then imagining the “what if” of the situation.

      I’m glad you stopped by on moving day! tucking your name into the cowboy hat and I love old buildings, too… what fun to bring them back to life!

  3. I only moved to Lincoln 8 months ago. But people show me the old post office, courthouse and federal court house all that have either businesses in them or Apartments. The Terminal building which is an office building built in the 1930’s had a fire in it a few months after I moved in to see the firefighter work so fast to save the building. UNL(university Nebraska Lincoln) is a few blocks North of were I live at least the old part is in 2 sections downtown and east. Downtown location still had some of the original building from the mid 1800’s when the university was first created. Cities go through major changes too. But to see new stores or restaurants move in or out and something else take it’s place.

    1. LINCOLN NEBRASKA!? Kim do I know this that you’re a Nebraska girl. ME TOO!!!
      I sent four children through UNL! What do you need to know?

    2. I love apartments above those old buildings! I used that in my “Wishing Bridge” series, the business below, apartment above scenario because it’s the best way of using space and keeping rents down!

      I’ve been to Omaha but I have never been to Lincoln. I bet it’s beautiful!

  4. I left my small hometown many years ago to marry and live with my husband in his. It was never home to me as “outsiders” weren’t as accepted as a “home grown” person was but I love small towns and love that my children were brought up in one.

    1. Melanie, that is so true. Not that people aren’t kind, but they just always know you’re a newcomer….although by now you probably think that about OTHER people who move to town. LOL

    2. My mom lived in the country near town all her married years but she wasn’t local (by birth). In the last ten years she’s lived in town and her neighbors were a couple who’d moved in because the husband was a teacher.
      Well, there children were all born there and they lived in town until about the youngest child was a freshman in high school and then he got a different job as a principal and they moved away.

      And they’ve almost never been back. Long time residents like that. But they have no ROOTS pulling them back. Their parents/cousins/aunts/uncles aren’t from here. Unlike my brothers and sisters, who come back to their hometown frequently because of my mom and family gatherings.

    3. That’s so funny! It’s like that here, too, but a lot of those old-timers have passed away and my generation is way too busy taking care of life to care if folks were born here or not… but I know exactly what you mean, Melanie!

      Tucking your name into the hat!

  5. I am actually a person who has always lived in the same county in Kentucky and my home for the past 39 years is just 15 mile’s from where I grew up. So my place in the world hasn’t changed physically but I have certainly changed as a person. I have always tried to live by the 10 commandments but now I want to live like Jesus. You say that is the same? Perhaps but I don’t want “the law” to get in the way of true love and compassion.
    Please enter me in your drawing because my love of reading remains as strong as ever!
    Thank you Ruthy and Blessings!

    1. Connie there’s so much wisdom in your comments. Thank you.
      By the way I’m talking today because Ruthy has to be out for a few hours. She’ll show up eventually.
      I live about ten miles from where I was born (well not LITERALLY because I was born in a hospital, but you know what I mean!)
      My Cowboy Husband lives about THREE miles away from where he was born.
      We live in his grandfather’s house. Raised our children here. Sent our children to the same one-room country school where he went, his father went, his grand and great-grand and great-great-grandfathers went.
      Deep Deep Deep roots. And I love that.

      1. Mary, thank you for covering for me! The computer at the hotel wouldn’t let me in this morning, but we left early and I don’t think anyone had been stoppin’ by to chat then, anyway….

        And I love to chat with these sweet gals about our place in the world… place in the sun… place in the family…. life has a way of changing things up on us, doesn’t it?

        And that right or left turn can be a game-changer.

    2. Connie, a good distinction between law and grace. Thanks for reminding us.

    3. Connie, I feel exactly the same way and how beautifully you put that… The law getting in the way of love and compassion…. That woman in the street, about to be stoned… the woman, reaching for the hem of Christ’s garment… The children, wanting to draw near and being pushed aside… I would much rather be Mother Teresa than a prosecuting attorney…

      Thank you for your kind words!

  6. Ruthy, this IS deep and so needed at this time.
    The thing I try to foster in my writing is that sense of home, physical, spiritual and emotional. My current brand is “Helping You Home,” although to be honest that really does sound more like a Realtor. My characters are always looking for home, and it’s not always a small town: in one yet-un-contracted series, it’s a settlement house in post-World War I Hell’s Kitchen. But it’s where my people belong.
    I love the idea of the Helper and it’s as true today as when Fred Rogers lived and taught. (OH how we need him today.) Another word often used is Mentor or Guide. Looking back on my work, I’ve been using them all along. My people need someone older, or at least wiser.
    Can relate to the cowboy looking for a home. In my Oregon Trail story and sequel, both heroes are drifters, Michael because he’s running from the law back in Ireland, Pace because he was an abandoned child with a traumatic past. I think a lot of rootless drifters took to the wagon train life because it was an extension of what they were already doing. Both Michael and Pace find spiritual, emotional and physical homes, but only after everything is on the line.
    On a lighter note, small towns in New England don’t change that much either. We save old buildings and reuse them, sometimes because hipster/yuppies see the value and the beauty, sometimes because we can’t afford to do anything else. We restore historic downtowns and foster strict zoning boards.
    Ruthy, always nice to see you in another venue. Don’t send me the book, I bought it, although I haven’t gotten too far into it yet. Love Corrie as a character!

    1. Hi Kathy, you know, you said that about Fred Rogers….”Oh, we need him today.”
      I was thinking the same thing when I was reading Ruthy’s post. Then I pictured some news crew sticking a microphone in his face and DEMANDING he tell everyone where he stands on politics and just shudder. I’m glad we don’t have to think about such a thing.
      And I love your current brand.

      1. Mary, I agree. They wouldn’t leave Fred alone if he were alive today. I just wish we had someone like him for our children. But that’s the beauty of the arts, true talent never dies, and of technology. I was thinking the same last week about Aretha. That voice will never be stilled.
        On another page, SO GOOD to see both you and Ruthy in another venue on the same day! Love you guys@
        Have to go out now, may be back later.

    2. First, thank you for buying the book… you know that’s what keeps this whole circle going, my friend! 🙂 And that “looking for home” idea is one of those that really resonates with so many of us who– for whatever reason– can’t go home again. Or FEEL like we can’t… I think that’s my favorite kind of Christmas story is the reunion story of someone who feels like they can’t go home… but then they do. Something draws them and there’s no choice, and facing those old regrets or demons or shadows opens a whole new door for us/them….

      Love that kind of story!

  7. I grew up in a small community where everyone knew each other and were like family and a lot of them were family in some way. It was in the country with a couple of country stores. I live now in a small town about 40 miles from there but it is just not the same as my home place. Of course the home place is not the same as it use to be either. I kind of miss the old ways of life.

    1. Oh my sweet quilter, I hear you! We miss what was, even if it no longer exists the same way.

      But then there is so very much to celebrate.

      Life.

      Babies.

      Weddings.

      Flowers.

      Veggies!

      Changing leaves.

      Falling leaves.

      Even wind and snow and sorrow have their place.

      Those old ways were wonderful, but I’ve found that every now and then I gild them a little too much. Make them shine a little brighter than maybe they really did… 😉 And then I realize that that’s okay, too… because the good memories and feelings are the kind of things we pass on to others.

  8. Romance has always been my genre of choice.

    I live in a smallish town just outside the town limits. It has revitalized and won funding from the state to improve Main Street–they did a nice job. We have wonderful little festivals, movie nights at the band shell, and a lot of other great things going on.

    1. I love that they won funding from the state, Denise! That’s awesome, congratulations! And a band shell… oh be still my heart, that’s an old-fashioned gathering spot if ever there was one!

  9. I love the freedom that books give me to travel and meet new people. HWR is my favorite. I often think I was born in the wrong time. The cowboy way of life was a tough one. It was built upon love of family, the land and being a good person of faith. We seem to forget or not uphold that so much today.

    1. Okay I had to think “HWR????” but then DUH! Historical Western Romance (I have four historical western novellas in a collection coming out soon and I have the first historical full length set for an indie/Amazon release this winter… three sisters, first introduced in the novellas, and making their way in that Western world pretty much on their own… I LOVE HWR, too!!! 🙂

  10. Thanks for the giveaway!

    1. Okay Anon 1001, I’m tucking you in! 🙂 You’re welcome!

  11. Love romance… reading all of the journeys characters take to finally getting a HEA… always makes me feel good!

    1. Right??? I love happy endings! Especially when I’m having a not-so-sterling day and I want to smack people… and I can’t because that would be unseemly… but I still want to… and I read about someone overcoming something REALLY BAD and I realize I’m making a big to-do over nothing.

      And then I calm down.

      Whiskey helps.

      (Shh, kidding, it’s a western joke….) 🙂

  12. I love your phrase “character-building emotions”! I think that’s what makes me love the characters in a book, and makes their lives and romances come to life!

    1. Heidi, I agree… I want to feel for the character. Like Jason Bourne in the Bourne series or Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible… we’re talking hired guns but I CHEER FOR THEM because I see their internal struggle, the good man inside, wanting to rise above and save the world.

      So creating that in a story is my favorite thing. A reason to love or hate the character.

      So glad you stopped by today!

  13. My place in the world? I’ve always been a loner. Born an only child and losing my dad young was the start, and including a recent experience. Last year I apparently “should’ve” died from advanced pneumonia that affected all my organs including my heart and brain. But I didn’t. Then they waited for brain damage to show up because of loss of oxygen; but the same offbeat loner is still here. So, my place in the world is still in life–a miracle for sure–but always acutely aware of how brief and tenuous it can be. The GIFT it can be. My place in the world is to hold on as long as I can, not for me but for my son who was all alone for 3 months, waiting one day at a time for the phone to ring, to finally know what would become of his mother. I don’t want to put him through ANY of that ever again if it’s in the cards. So I’m grateful to be here with him, but that time definitely was a turning point and I’ll never be exactly the same ever again in my view of life. And although my editor’s training has remained intact, unaffected apparently, what I truly enjoy reading has definitely changed–but I’m not exactly sure how yet. I still like romances of course but ones that may have once worked for me now no longer do. Time will tell the tale I guess.

    1. Eliza, life changes us! Those experiences that you shared, they mold us… they shape us… and scare us.

      But how happy I am that you’re still here and that the illness abated and you’re healthy and whole again!

      I’ve had folks tell me that their physical and mental/emotional lives change after a trauma like that. They either see things more clearly, or everything seems muddied or dated from the illness/injury.

      And that their tastes change. Things they loved to eat don’t taste the same now… and that other things taste marvelous.

      So it doesn’t surprise me that your reading tastes changed. That your thought process changed. Life handed you a curve… and you’ve curved! Go you! That’s amazing, Eliza!!!

      I’m so glad you’re better and I’m excited for you as you charge into this new “you” with all the gusto you can. God bless you!

  14. Okay, I just picked two names from the cowboy hat!!! Connie and Colleen (must be a hard “C” day, folks!!!!)

    I’ll be giving away another two books in Seekerville this weekend for our Weekend Edition. Come on over there and chat and see what I’ve got…

  15. What a lovely, lovely note, Ruthy. It means so much. Thank you and God Bless.

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