Tomorrow marks the four-year anniversary of our family’s move to Waukesha, Wisconsin, for my husband to take a position as a pastor here. With a population of 72,000, this is the biggest city we’ve ever lived in by far. And it’s part of the Greater Milwaukee area, which has a population of over 1.5 million. Before we made the move here, I was worried about what it would be like to live in a big city (and some of you are probably laughing at my definition of a big city!), but I’ve found that Waukesha actually feels a lot like a small town. Here are some pictures from my morning walks the past couple of weeks—definitely has a small town vibe. (In the first picture, it’s a little hard to tell, but there are turkeys under the trees. As for the last picture…yep, we’ve gotten snow already!)
Although we live in the “big city” now, I’m a small town girl at heart, probably because I’ve lived in so many small towns in my life. I grew up in a rural area outside of the small town of Lomira, Wisconsin (current population 2,400, although I think it was closer to 1,600 when I was growing up). After my husband and I got married, we lived in the nearby city of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin (population 42,000), before we moved to the picturesque town of New Ulm, Minnesota (population 13,000). Then we moved to the small town of Jackson, Wisconsin (population 7,000) and also spent a year in the tourist town of Eagle River in Wisconsin’s Northwoods. The full-time population of Eagle River was only 1,500, although it got much more crowded in the summer. Then it was on to Onalaska, Wisconsin (population 18,000), for four years before we moved to our latest (and biggest!) city.
Looking at my books now, I can see how all of these small towns have influenced the fictional town of Hope Springs, setting of my Hope Springs series. But Hope Springs is definitely most strongly influenced by a place I’ve never lived: Door County, Wisconsin. (If you look at a map of Wisconsin, Door County is the little “thumb” that sticks out into Lake Michigan on the eastern side of the state.) This is our favorite camping spot, and I just love the laid-back, friendly feeling of the area. It’s a narrow peninsula, so you’re always within about 10 miles of the water. And both shorelines are dotted with the sweetest small towns. Here are a few pictures I took on our last Door County trip of places that have directly influenced the setting of Hope Springs:
I think the one thing I haven’t seen in Door County is a fudge shop. The inspiration for that came from Eagle River, which has not one but two fudge shops, where you can watch the workers making fudge. I think that (along with eating the fudge!) may have been one of our favorite things about living there. Of course, I just went through every single picture from the year we lived there and didn’t find a single one of the fudge shop. It’s almost as if we didn’t know that a decade later I’d be writing books inspired by the town, lol.
If you’re thinking you’d love to visit Hope Springs, I’ve just released the first three books in the Hope Springs series as a box set. You can get it for 99 cents for a limited time!
About Hope Springs Books 1-3
“Just discovered this Hope Springs series, and I fell in love with the town, the characters, and this author’s writing.” -Amazon reviewer
Three fast-paced, emotional Christian romances in one collection.
Not Until Forever: Sophie knows she did the right thing when she declined Spencer’s proposal five years ago. So why does seeing him again stir up old feelings? Spencer promised himself he wouldn’t fall for Sophie again. But there’s something different about her now. Something that makes him think maybe God is giving them a second chance…
Not Until This Moment: Peyton thought Jared was “the one”—until he told her he never intended to get married. Jared wishes he could give Peyton everything she desires. But marriage is the one thing he can never offer her. When they’re thrown together again on an annual ski trip, both have to reexamine what they want. Because it’s just possible God has other plans for them…
Not Until You: Three years after her husband’s death, Violet is sure her chance at happily ever after is over. Until Nate moves in next door and stirs feelings she thought had died with her husband. But when Nate reveals a devastating secret, they have to decide: should they walk away, or trust that the God of second chances has a plan for their future?
If you love deeply moving stories filled with faith, forgiveness, love, and the promise of forever, then the Hope Springs Books 1-3 box set will touch your heart and leave you breathless with the power of true love.
What about you—do you live in a small town or a big city? What’s your favorite thing about where you live that you’d love to see in a book?