What is it about small towns that just make us feel so at home?
The people? The setting? The quirky animals sure to pop up?
For me, it’s all three.
In my new series set in the fictional town of Summer Creek, population almost 500, the combination of the people, the rural ranch community, and goofball animals make visiting the town a fun experience.
Summer Creek, like many small towns, doesn’t have much crime. That’s partly due to the fact Deputy Knox Strickland is on duty, but mostly because odds are high someone will see the criminal in action and report it ASAP.
Granted there aren’t a lot of stores or restaurants, but those that are there know all the locals. In fact, those who stop in for breakfast at the Early Bird Café will find Maudie getting their regular order ready before they even get settled at one of the Formica-topped tables.
For the youngsters in the community, Summer Creek is a safe place where they can run and play, knowing someone’s parents are keeping an eye on them at all times. And if they do anything they shouldn’t … someone’s parents are keeping an eye on them at all times.
Friendships that are formed tend to be lasting, because in a small community people rely on each other.
If Summer Creek was an actual place, you’d find it about forty minutes west and a little bit north of Burns, Oregon. It’s located in the midst of sagebrush and farms and ranches. In fact, if you look at the area on a satellite map, it looks something like this:
I can just picture the Lazy J Ranch and Summer Creek Ranch down there. I wonder what Hud and Jossy are up to today?
I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a mapmaker, but here is a little visual I’ve referred to often as I’m writing the stories. I made this map before I started writing the first word, and it has come in so handy.
You see Main Street? Starting at the far right of the image if you drove through town and kept going, that road would take you back to Highway 20 which goes to either Burns or Bend. On Main Street, that yellow building is Shirley’s machine shop. Across the street is the Feed Store. The building next to Shirley’s is the old hotel and the one across the street, is one of the old buildings Emery plans to renovate. Then you see the U of buildings with the fountain in the front – those are the main group of historic buildings Emery plans to restore for the Walk Through 1910 tours. Parker Princeton’s Trophy and Guide Service is located in the cream building with the reddish roof on the end. Across from the fountain is City Hall, and next to it is the notorious bordello. Down the street is the barbershop and post office, and across from them are Whitey’s garage and Russell’s Antiques and Treasures. The stagecoach is parked in front of the Broken Bucket Bar & Grill, which is located across the street from Neil’s Grocery store. And there you have Main Street. If you turned up Sixth Avenue, you’d drive past the Summer Creek church, and then the vet clinic, which is beside the daycare. The Early Bird Café is close to the Summer Creek School. And if you look closely, you’ll even see a tractor driving through town, which happens frequently.
Summer Creek has Ethel the goat, Mrs. Russell with her purple hair and enormous dog she pushes in a wheelbarrow, and Mrs. Finley and her blue-haired crew of senior citizens that Emery drives to the senior citizen lunches every Thursday.
It may be a fictional place, but it reminds me a lot of the small town near our farm where I grew up.
And it reminds me a lot of home.
If you haven’t yet, I hope you’ll come home to Summer Creek.
Here’s what readers have to say about Summer Creek:
“It’s a captivating and heartwarming new series, filled with love, laughter, and small-town charm.”
“Warms your heart.”
“This series makes me want to live here!”
“Spend a day or two in Summer Creek. You will meet unforgettable characters, a ravenous, eat anything goat, laugh, cry, and rejoice, and most of all find an escape from our modern world.”
Experience Summer Creek today by getting started with Catching the Cowboy, book 1 in the series.
And find out more about the visuals that inspired the story on Pinterest!