Friday, July 19, 2024

The Friends In Our Stories by Merri Maywether

There are a lot of things I like about summer: the flowers, the warm weather, and the freedom to eat ice cream whenever I want. At the top of the list is reconnecting with friends.

Many of the stories I write, like what I'm sharing in this week's sneak peek from Cottage Cove New Beginnings, were inspired by adventures I shared with my friends. 

This year's fun began with all of us renting houses on a Scottish estate, setting the stage for trying things we'd never do on our own. We explored historic sites, hearing tales that far surpassed anything we could have imagined. Truly, there were several "life can be stranger than fiction" moments in history.

One particularly memorable experience was when we tested our wits against a maze. The first picture I'm sharing (above) was taken after we successfully navigated it. Were it not for the one friend who took a picture of the maze map, I might still be in there. It was a thrilling and slightly nerve-wracking adventure.

Our escapades didn’t stop there. I tried my hand at archery—you'll see this story in Cottage Cove New Beginnings too. The fiction story deviates a bit from reality—let's just say I won the “person most likely to miss the target” award. It was a humbling and humorous experience.

While the adventures themselves were fun, what truly filled my well was the time we shared. We talked about our dreams and regrets, sharing heartfelt conversations that were punctuated with laughter. This summer, I was reminded why friends in our stories matter so much.

They’re there to support us when life feels overwhelming, and they’re equally powerful in encouraging us to grow. The companionship and encouragement of friends add a special layer to our lives and our stories.

It'll be a couple of months until Cottage Cove New Beginnings is available. So I'm sharing a snippet of a chapter inspired by this summer's fun.

Sneak Peek From Cottage Cove New Beginnings

“There’s a map?” Jess threw her hands in the air. “Of course there’s a map.”

When she settled her hands on her hips in the classic mom-you-need-to-start-with-the-facts pose, Ivan laughed. “If you’d have asked, I’d have told you.”

“Are we close to the finish?”

Ivan felt the delight of being with Jess on the edges of his lips. The weight of hiding it was getting heavier than he could carry. He slowly shook his head.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“When you’re in a relationship—be it friendship or romantic, it’s better to share the ownership of the choices. Regardless of the outcome it weaves the personalities into how the people will hear the story. Instead of I was right and you were wrong. It’s a you and me versus.” He waved at the greenery around them. “The maze.”

“Are we lost?” she asked, jumping as though seeing the tops of the bushes would open her eyes to the lines they needed to follow.

Except for when he played basketball with Jamie and Clark, people told Ivan what he could do to fit in with their plan—or Ivan worked hard to fit in. With Jess, he could just be. She held no expectation of him. They were in the maze because he had brought her to it, and she went along with it. It was a freeing feeling—like he belonged. Ivan said, “I feel like we’re in a good place.”

**This is where the sample ends. You can use the link below to preorder your copy Cottage Cove New Beginnings.**

| Link to Preorder Cottage Cove New Beginnings |

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Barn Day by Merrillee Whren

 Today, July 14, is Barn Day. The photo above shows a neat red barn, but not all barns are red. Here is a photo of an old weathered barn on the prairie.

This is the kind of barn I often saw when I lived in South Dakota as a kid. I have one book set in South Dakota.

Here is the beginning paragraph from that book.

Nothing much had changed in ten years on the farm where Rachel Charbonneau had grown up. The faded red barn sat against a backdrop of fields newly planted with grain and alfalfa. A gentle breeze rustled shiny green leaves in the cottonwoods lining the creek. The peaceful picture didn’t tell the whole story. Despite its appeal, she hated this place.

The barn in this story is neither bright red or weathered brown. The red has faded, and so has the heroine's love for the farm where she grew up.


I'll share a few paragraphs from the other books I have that mention barns.  A Match to Call Ours and Hometown Cowboy

The following Wednesday afternoon, Brittany tromped across the snow-covered ground as she tried to match Parker’s long strides. Rose and Jasmine, bundled up in hooded coats, mittens, and boots, skipped ahead toward the one-story house with bright blue shingled siding. It sat between the big house, as Parker called it, and the gray pole barn on the right. Outbuildings and a couple of other small houses with roofs covered in snow dotted the nearby acreage.


Hometown Cowboy even has a barn on the cover.

Wyatt limped into the horse barn. The smell of leather and hay put him back at the rodeo. His heart hammered. Was he ready to get back on a horse? His leg ached. He’d been trying too hard to keep up with everyone, but he wouldn’t give in to the pain, because he wanted to impress Caroline. How could he do that when he wasn’t the man he used to be? The one thing he had going for him was not being the kid he used to be.

Three stories and three different barns. Have you ever been in a barn?

Merrillee Whren is the winner of the 2003 Golden Heart Award presented by Romance Writers of American. She is married to her own personal hero, her husband of forty-plus years, and has two grown daughters. Connect with her on her Facebook page and sign up for her newsletter.