I try not to beg—it’s so undignified—but when my CP buddies mentioned what this week’s theme on Word Wranglers was, I had no problem with saying, “Please, PLEASE let me be a guest this week.” So here I am, with thanks to Carrie—whose day I’m usurping and who’s having such exciting times right now as one of the Final Four in Harlequin’s New Voices—and to the rest of the Word Wranglers. What a great group they are. Not only CPs, but friends, too.
The reason I’m here, that I pleaded to be here, is that my newest book, out-right-now-with-a-really-cool cover, has the perfect setting. No, really, it does.
Home to Singing Trees takes place in 1875 on a farm in Miami County, Indiana. It’s three fourths of a mile from the cemetery, a mile from the little town of Gilead. The farm has been in my family for well over 100 years.
The house on Singing Trees is tall and redbrick and sits on top of a hill. It sounds more imposing in the book than it really is, I guess, but when I grew up in the “little house,” the redbrick home place was not a welcoming house; I didn’t venture beyond the summer kitchen unless I had to. There was a parlor the kids couldn’t go into, with a player piano and everything covered with white crocheted doilies and the whole place was so clean you were afraid to breathe in it.
The farm, the land, the woods—there was the welcome and the warmth, there was the reason I wrote about Singing Trees.
If you stand out behind the barn, you can see the “little house,” which sits on the other farm the family in the story owns. If you go outside right now, you can smell the sweetness of harvested grain and hug yourself against the nip in the air. If you close your eyes and listen with your heart, you can hear the sweet and gentle song of the cottonwoods and the quiet rush of the creek.
My brother and sister-in-law live in the house now. The summer kitchen is long gone, as are the woodshed and the washhouse. The parlor is a guest room, and the redbrick house is as welcoming as it should always have been. It is a warm and inviting place.
I guess that’s what I hope my stories are. I hope when you read them, you feel not only content, but welcomed and warmed. And I hope you come back to see me again soon.