I’m having a lot of firsts this month. My first novella releases on Sept 28th. It includes my first story set on a beach. First book in ten years without a cowboy on the cover. But my guy is still a cowboy and he even owns Romantic Beach Rides so couples can rent a horse to ride along the beach. It’s also the first novella where I’ve edited the other authors’ work in the collection. Actually, when I edited three of the stories, I hadn’t written mine yet. But I did have the synopsis on paper. I was amazed how each story in the collection had something in common with mine.
We didn’t have any guidelines on our novellas, other than wordcount and Christmas on the beach. Yet, mine and Amy Anguish’s stories are about pretend romance. Mine and Hope Dougherty’s are about childhood acquaintances and class angst. Mine and Linda Fulkerson’s have a real estate thread and saving a beloved home. Mine and Regina Merrick’s are set in the hospitality arena—mine an inns, hers a B&B. We planned for each story to be set on a different beach. Amy’s is Georgia, Hope’s is in North Carolina, Regina’s is in South Carolina, Linda’s is in Hawaii, and mine is in Texas.
It’s also, the first time I haven’t been to my setting. Surfside Beach, Texas has been on my radar screen for a few years now. I often get to visit places I’d like to go if I set a book there, as long as it’s close to our route to see Texas family. A few years ago, I googled best shelling in Texas. Surfside Beach popped up. When I decided to set my novella there, I planned to actually go there before I wrote the book. This past spring would have worked just fine. But my dad had heart surgery. And then every complication that comes with it. By the time he was well enough for me to feel like I could go somewhere, it was August, when the manuscript was due to my editor. So I researched the area online, read up on and looked up pictures of rental property there to get a feel for it.
I still plan to visit Surfside Beach and pick up lots of shells. Probably next spring. I have craft projects, jars, and more—full of shells all over my office. But I still need more. I never swim when we go to the ocean. I wade the shore and pick up shells. We visited Corpus Christi around five years ago. My husband and son went out in the water. I watched for shark fins.
In the meantime, since I did so much editing and proofreading on the novella, I needed a good long break last month. So I did two puzzles. My friend since 8th grade got me the one with ghe guy in the boat. Just about the time my son stopped wanting to do puzzles with me, about five years ago. So I never did it, until now. The second one is my favorite time of year. I’m so ready for fall. I’m sick of hot, humidity, bugs, and everything that goes with summer.
So, what do you collect? Do you like reading books when you know the author has been there, or does it matter? Have you ever been to the beach? What’s your favorite one? Do you like to swim in the ocean? Answer one or more questions to get in the drawing for a print copy of Candy Cane Wishes & Saltwater Dreams. Deadline: Oct 2nd.
Candy Cane Wishes and Saltwater Dreams
by Amy Anguish, Hope Toler Dougherty, Linda Fulkerson, Regina Rudd Merrick and Shannon Taylor Vannatter
Mistletoe Make-believe by Amy Anguish – Charlie Hill’s family thinks his daughter Hailey needs a mom–to the point they won’t get off his back until he finds her one. Desperate to be free from their nagging, he asks a stranger to pretend she’s his girlfriend during the holidays. When romance author Samantha Arwine takes a working vacation to St. Simons Island over Christmas, she never dreamed she’d be involved in a real-life romance. Are the sparks between her and Charlie real? Or is her imagination over-acting … again?
A Hatteras Surprise by Hope Toler Dougherty – Ginny Stowe spent years tending a childhood hurt that dictated her college study and work. Can time with an island visitor with ties to her past heal lingering wounds and lead her toward a happy Christmas … and more? Ben Daniels intends to hire a new branch manager for a Hatteras Island bank, then hurry back to his promotion and Christmas in Charlotte. Spending time with a beautiful local, however, might force him to adjust his sails.
A Pennie for Your Thoughts by Linda Fulkerson – When the Lakeshore Homeowner’s Association threatens to condemn the cabin Pennie Vaughn inherited from her foster mother, her only hope of funding the needed repairs lies in winning a travel blog contest. Trouble is, Pennie never goes anywhere. Should she use the all-expenses paid Hawaiian vacation offered to her by her ex-fiancé? The trip that would have been their honeymoon?
Mr. Sandman by Regina Rudd Merrick – Events manager Taylor Fordham’s happily-ever-after was snatched from her, and she’s saying no to romance and Christmas. When she meets two new friends—the cute new chef at Pilot Oaks and a contributor on a sci-fi fan fiction website who enjoys debate—her resolve begins to waver. Just when she thinks she can loosen her grip on thoughts of love, a crisis pulls her back. There’s no way she’s going to risk her heart again.
Coastal Christmas by Shannon Taylor Vannatter – Lark Pendleton is banking on a high-society wedding to make her grandparent’s inn at Surfside Beach, Texas the venue to attract buyers. Tasked with sprucing up the inn, she hires Jace Wilder, whose heart she once broke. When the bride and groom turn out to be Lark’s high school nemesis and ex-boyfriend, she and Jace embark on a pretend romance to save the wedding. But when real feelings emerge, can they overcome past hurts?