Tuesday, August 21, 2018


In a summer long gone, in a house named Blueberry Corners that no longer exists, I lounged in bed and dreamed up a light, romantic tale about a small town fashion designer and her hip, sharp-witted assistant empowering the local ladies against oppressive male town fathers. That story, "Amaryllis and New Lace", sat for over a decade in my card catalog of unwritten story ideas. This past winter, it was nudged to the front of the line by an invitation to submit to Summer Fair, a fun project organized by a collaborative of writers it has been my absolute pleasure to be part of. Like its predecessor Haunt, sales of the book would benefit various charities. I was thrilled for the invitation, but also at the time in the thick of penning a novel sequel to last year's The Day After Tomorrow: Into Infinity, an epic new adventure for the crew of the lightship Altares called The Day After Tomorrow: Planetfall (due in November 2018 by the fine folks at Anderson Entertainment). I wrote the first draft in a kind of fugue over the course of one month. The next few weeks were spent doing edits for submission to meet my deadline to turn in the book. By the time all was done, my creative batteries were depleted, and "Amaryllis" was due. Luckily by then the long chill of North Country winters was fading, and I took to writing on my sun porch as the outside greened and my creativity built with the spring. Over the course of three days, I penned a 7,500 word first draft of "Amaryllis and New Lace", injecting it with as much sweet romance and sass as possible. Today, it appears in a gorgeous anthology filled with an amazing cast of writers.

Many of my fellow Fairgoers shared the backstories behind their stories in Summer Fair.

R.L. Merrill on "Salty and Sweet": "'Salty and Sweet' is an homage to the summer I spent in a theater program back in 1996. It was early in my teaching career, I was still trying to earn units to clear my California credential, and so I thought why not? It was a blast. I danced and sang in my very first musical theater production, Kiss Me Kate, and learned that I better stick to dancing, which I’d done most of my life up until that point. The character of Naomi was inspired by an instructor I had in that program, plus a police officer I worked with a few years later. Both women were brilliant, powerful, and sexy. They challenged me, made me laugh, and inspired me to quit downplaying my talents. In 'Salty and Sweet', Heather is tired of being put down and is on the cusp of accepting her big size and bigger attitude. I loved her free spirit and wanted to pair her with a woman who would appreciate her. There have been many women who have encouraged that shift in me, and I wanted to write this story for them."

Marie Piper on "All the World": "To tell you the truth, I almost forgot about the Columbian Exposition. I’d been knee-deep in writing a western historical romance project, so when I saw the Summer Fair announcement my brain immediately went to a small county fair and truly -- I was planning to write about a pie-eating contest. But it didn’t take long for me to realize the wealth of opportunity the Columbian Exposition carried -- this incredible spectacle that happened right in Chicago, where I live, in an area I visit frequently. The 1893 Expo is the perfect setting for a romance. People came from all over the world -- mortgaging their homes in some cases to be able to attend. My story is about a girl from across Lake Michigan who comes to the Expo dreaming of being a reporter, and the pickpocket who nearly steals her purse and instead winds up her tour guide for the day. They visit the Palace of Fine Arts, the Midway Plaisance, take a ride in the Ferris Wheel, and take in a show by ‘the soul of the exotic’ herself, Little Egypt.  As they see brand new things, they feel brand new things as well -- and All the World opens to them."

CM Peters on "Dewberry Kisses": "From the start, I knew I wanted a fruit/pie festival. For some reason, I kept thinking of the movie To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar and its strawberry festival in a small hick town. Although my town is not that ‘hicksie’, it’s southern and charming, filled with hardworking and kindhearted people.. Also, I was inspired by a certain actor strutting around in cowboy boots and a cowboy hat in a social media post. He needed to be written into a cute romantic story.. So, I mixed everything up with two single souls needing love in their lives again and voilĂ , you have ‘Dewberry Kisses’!Also, ‘Dewberry Kisses’ was my reconciliation with writing this past winter. It made me look forward to summer, to getting back into writing romance, though I’m editing a completely different novel at the moment. I’d had a serious writer’s block after finishing a novel, so something lighter and romantic was all I needed. And dewberry pie. Cause you know, pie. #deanwinchester #doyougetthereference. I hope you enjoy it!"

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