Last month, I committed to finish an old book that I’d fiddled with for years. I ended up finding a local historical thread for my story, getting the synopsis updated, and adding eighteen pages to the book. I’ll take it. Not as much as I wanted to do, but it was a busy month with out of town visitors and a revival at our church.
Back in 2010, I met Jennifer Slattery at ACFW in Indianapolis. She’d been on my blog, but we hadn’t met in person. She was a first time conferee and I was a repeat offender since 2005 with my first contracted 3 book series that released that year. I recognized her and invited her to sit with me for a meal. We hit it off, became frequent e-mail writers buds, and hosted each other on our blogs back and forth over the years.
After she got published, I sent her a congratulatory e-mail. A few years later, she asked how I was on critique partners. I’d had two since 2008, but since all three of us were published by this time, we didn’t always have time to critique each others work with dueling deadlines. Jennifer and I became critique partners and there have been times she saved me by having time to critique before my tight deadlines. I hope I’ve rescued her a few times too.
Three years ago, she asked me if I’d be interested in teaching at a writers conference near Atlanta, Georgia. She was the keynoter and wanted to recommend me. I lived 5 years of my childhood in that area and still have family members there. I said yes and got to teach, get together in person with Jennifer for the 2nd time during our friendship, and see my family and friends in my old hometown.
When Jennifer and I get together, it never seems like we have enough time. So when she mentioned she and her husband might come through my area earlier in the year, I was so excited. They came to our house last month. We got to spend about 6 hours visiting together, I got to meet her sweet husband, and we had lunch with them. Jennifer and I share a love for coffee, so I took them to Rozark Hills Coffee.
It just so happens that the man who set up the first Starbucks factory in New York retired in tiny Rose Bud, Arkansas. They roast gourmet coffee there these days. I didn’t know about it until I set my first series of books in the area and someone mentioned it, so I incorporated the roasterie into my book. Since then my husband and I have been frequent patrons. Jennifer and her husband loved it.
Since it was Wednesday night, they went to church with us. It was business meeting and potluck night, so we had a eating meeting, and they headed to their hotel to hit the road early the next morning. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, but we didn’t have enough time.
My cousin Jackie is four years older than me. When we were younger, she lived in Memphis and I lived in Georgia. When we made summer visits to Arkansas to see my grandparents, we always stopped in Memphis for a visit. Sometimes Jackie and some or all of her three siblings would come with us to Arkansas. And once I moved here when I was twelve, I went to Memphis for a few summers with them. Until I was fourteen and they moved to Ohio.
We saw each other sparingly for several years. Until Jackie moved to St. Louis. We’ve both been back and forth for several visits since then. She and her mom are readers, so they’re two of my biggest cheerleaders. This pic is a few years ago when my first Love Inspired title hit Walmart. Our visits have never been long enough.
She and her husband came for a visit just a few days after Jennifer left. They came here because they’re planning to move. Here. I mean here, on the same road we live on, withing walking distance. They came here to check into rental housing until they can build. I have lots of family here in Arkansas, so I’m used to having lots of cousins near. And I take them for granted. Since they live here and I can see them whenever I want, some I only see at holiday gatherings.
But now our strays who’ve wandered away from the roost are coming back. Jackie’s parents are planning to move here also. I can’t imagine what it will be like to be able to see them whenever I want, but I’m looking forward to it. I think it will make our whole family closer and maybe we won’t take each other for granted.
Of course while they were here, we had to have a family gathering that included pizza. That’s our cousin Melanie in the middle. I’m looking forward to lots more cousin fun once Jackie gets here in November.
But I’m still going to finish my French guy book, so I’ll give an update with each of my posts.
What about you, had any visitors lately? Family or friends moving close to your area? Family or friends you wish you could see more often? I’d love to hear about it.