I can’t speak for other authors, but one of my favorite things about starting a new book series is developing the setting, especially if it involves a quirky small town.
When I began working on ideas for my new Winter Wishes series, I used inspiration from two very different towns, and combined them into one fictional place called Pinehill, Oregon. If Pinehill did exist, it would be high up in the mountains, just a few miles from Mount Hood and a winter playground of skiing, sledding, and the like.
Way back, when Captain Cavedweller and I were in the first weeks of dating, he asked me if I’d like to go to the Winter Carnival in McCall, Idaho. I’d never attended the event, and it sounded like fun. Even if it hadn’t, I would have gladly gone because it meant I got to spend the day with the very cute boy who had already captured my interest.
The event features, among many things, incredible carvings created from snow. We made the hours-long drive and arrived in McCall mid-morning to discover the temperatures hovering just above the zero mark. Not only that, but we couldn’t find anywhere to park. We drove around for almost an hour trying to find anywhere to park. Finally giving up, CC drove back out of town, and we parked on the side of the road (like hundreds of other crazy people), then had to hike back into town. It seemed like we’d parked ten miles away, although it was probably closer to a half-mile, as we trudged through the frigid temps. We finally got back into town and had such a great time looking at the snow carvings. If you’ve never seen a snow carving, Google it. They are incredible works of art!
I can’t image the talent and patience it would take to create something like this.
The detail just boggles my mind! The use blocks of compressed snow to make the carvings and the tools are as varied as the artists.
Anyway, that freezing, fun day with CC has stayed with me all these years.
A few years ago, he came up with the idea to attend another winter festival in a town about six hours away where they would have ice carvings, sleigh rides, and a variety of winter festivities.
In theory, it sounded like a fabulous weekend getaway. In reality… boy did it get off to a rough start!
The roads were horrible getting there, the hotels were packed, and the one where we’d made a reservation somehow overbooked and didn’t have a room for us. We thought about going elsewhere, but there wasn’t a room to be had anywhere in town. The hotel finally found a room for us, next to the noisiest elevator in the northern hemisphere. From the window, we watched an inexperienced driver almost take out our pickup in the slick parking lot, and the craziness escalated from there.
That morning, it had warmed up enough to rain (pouring buckets it seemed) on top of inches of snow, creating an ankle deep mess that was akin to walking through a lake of slushies. It was impossible to take more than a few steps and not have your pants soaked, even if you had arrived with adequate boots. Every step anyone else took splattered the frigid goop everywhere. After sloshing through the slush (and watching crazy people in shorts and flip-flops make their way through the mess) for a mediocre yet overpriced dinner where we sat a rickety table by the drafty door, near enough to the restroom that it made me lose my appetite, and an accordion playing octogenarian made conversation impossible.
Once we made it back to our room where I sat shivering with my feet propped on top of the wall heater, wondering what we’d gotten ourselves into, we decided we had to figure out a way to salvage the weekend or go home.
Thankfully, that night, it froze and then snowed, creating a beautiful world of white the next morning. It made it much easier to get around, and we ended up having a lot of fun, even if the town was packed to the gills.
So that experience gave me even more inspiration for Pinehill, as well as the heroine in the first book in the series, The Snowman’s Sweetheart. It releases January 27!
Due to a bad breakup right before Christmas, Sierra Goodwin detests everything to do with the holidays and winter. Then her best friend talks her into coming to Pinehill for a girls’ weekend getaway. They have reservations at a luxury hotel, and spa appointments. Sierra intends to stay inside where it’s cozy and do nothing but relax.
What could go wrong?
Among the many things that make her wonder if she’s lost her mind agreeing to come on the trip, she runs into Kylan Snow, better known around the community of Pinehill as Mr. Snowman. He owns the local Christmas tree farm, has been in charge of the community snowman building contest for years, and is the chair of the Winter Fest.
Talk about opposites attract!
Just for fun, here’s a little excerpt from the story:
As they reached the parking garage, Sierra followed Jenn over to her parking space, only to find Rob Kohl, Jenn’s boyfriend, waiting for them in his SUV.
“Hey, Sierra!” he said, hopping out and opening the back of the vehicle. “Isn’t this great?”
Sierra scowled at Jenn, furious she’d invited her boyfriend to join them for a weekend they’d been planning for months. “What, exactly, is going on?”
“Rob got time off from work, too, and is joining us,” Jenn said, practically squealing with joy.
Sierra had visions of spending the entire trip watching Jenn and Rob making lovey-dovey eyes and kissy-faces to each other. Although they were always good to include her in activities, she often felt like an unwanted third wheel when she was around them. She certainly didn’t need to feel that way on a vacation that was supposed to be a time for her and Jenn to relax and have fun.
She tossed the interloper a blistering scowl. “I’ll stay home. You two go.” She started backing away from the vehicle.
“No! You’re going!”
Will a whirlwind winter romance result in a forever love?
After a Christmas Eve catastrophe that left her heart encased in ice, Sierra Goodwin detests anything to do with winter and the holiday season. To take her mind off her troubles, her best friend talks her into a weekend spa getaway to a town she’s never heard of. Her bestie’s boyfriend tags along like a bumpy third wheel, and things go from bad to worse when they arrive in town to find a winter fest in full swing. Then Sierra runs into a handsome stranger, a man everyone calls Mr. Snowman, and discovers her heart might not be a frozen fortress after all.
Kylan Snow loves his life, his Christmas tree farm, and the town of Pinehill where he was raised. There’s nothing he enjoys more than a beautiful winter afternoon spent outside in the crisp, fresh air, or time spent with friends and family. When he unexpectedly encounters a dimple-cheeked woman in need of a little hope, he has no idea one weekend with her with completely alter his world.
Will their winter wishes for a forever sweetheart come true? Find out in this sweet romance brimming with laughter, snowmen, small-town charm, and love.
Don’t miss out on this sweet winter romance full of wintery fun! Pre-order your copy today!
What about you?
Have you ever attended a winter festival?
Are you a fan of winter and cold weather? Or do you prefer sunshine and warmer temperatures?
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After spending her formative years on a farm in Eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky western heroes.
When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.