Friday, April 02, 2021

First Time Flying Since COVID! by Susan Sands

I've been on a two-week trip, first to Monterey, CA, and surrounding areas, and now I'm here in Draper, Utah (Salt Lake area). I fly home to Atlanta tomorrow. Like nearly everyone else, I haven't gone anywhere much this past year besides the grocery store and the tennis court. 

Several friends have asked how it's been. The flying, the moving about, and whether there are people out and about. I have to say that things have been more open than I believed. American Airlines was at full capacity, which meant there were no seats blocked off. The flight was full. The Atlanta airport was hopping, as was the Phoenix airport, where I made my connection. Everyone wore masks throughout the airport and on the flight unless eating and drinking. All expected. My second flight was from San Francisco to Salt Lake on Delta. Delta is still blocking middle-row seats unless you fly with a companion until the end of April, which was nice. But the San Francisco airport was pretty deserted.

In Monterey, the pier was open and pretty crowded. Hiking trails were open and we dined indoors several times as it was unseasonably cold and windy. We drove down the coast to Pebble Beach and Big Sur, and both were less crowded than normal, according to my friend.

Here in Utah, people are out, wearing masks, and eating indoors.

So, not so different from where I live in Georgia. Certainly, not as different as I thought it would be. I haven't watched the news since I left home two weeks ago, so I have no idea what's happening in the world. Here's hoping it's still turning. 

I wish everyone the very best!

Susan Sands

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Everything Old is New Again!

 Is that a trick title or what? LOL

 Yes, it's Spring here so, yes, everything is growing again - the dreaded pollen-producing plants that look so fresh and springy and beautiful but are deadly to many of us are back! My neighborhood is bursting with the bright yellow forsythia bushes and I'm watching a nearby lilac bush that's getting ready. I've ordered 2 new orange azalea bushes for the front of my house... Can't wait to see them in spite of the sneezing and coughing that will accompany their arrival! I love that these are tall and narrow and lose all their foliage in the fall - the color is so dramatic.....

The true subject I was talking about was having to do with my writing plans. And a new contract. 

I'm kind of known for my medieval historicals, especially all my Highlander romances. Out of my 50ish stories written and published, 14 are NOT set in Scotland or involve Highlanders. I've even written 3 Regency-set stories and 2 are set in Scotland (the Regencies are loosely-based on Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies!). 

Well, in 2022, I'm going back to the Regency time period but the 3 stories I'll be writing are set in Regency Edinburgh (again! YAY!). And, even more fun for me, the heroes of each story are based on three of my own crushes! 
I have a mad crush on Josh Gates of Expedition Unknown and he is the basis for my hero who is an adventurer who discovers a hidden Roman city in Northern Africa! My other crush is Ian Buchanan - he is an actor best known for playing 'Duke Lavery' on General Hospital....and...sigh...he was my first Scot crush. The third hero is based on a couple geeky science and/or history men from northern England and Scotland.

Although the characters will be different from the men I. . . crush on, there will be something about each one that is about how I see them... So I can't wait to begin writing them! 

So, it should be fun! And the best part (well, one of them) is gathering up research bits and books to prepare for writing them. I need to refresh my memory about the Regency in Scotland and so I have history books, costume/clothing books, maps and more to get ready! 

    Do you like to read historicals set in Scotland? Do you have a preference about the time period or specific place/locations? Even if not Scotland, what's your favorite place to read about? Post below and I'll choose someone who does to get a wee giftie from Scotland! 


Terri's latest release was TEMPTED BY HER VIKING ENEMY, the final book in the Sons of Sigurd series that includes books by Michelle Willingham, Harper St. George, Jenni Fletcher and Michelle Styles. Still available in print or digital to read in order or by themselves! 

Coming in August 2021, THE HIGHLANDER'S INCONVENIENT BRIDE is a crossover story between my bestselling MacLerie Clan series and my A HIghland Feuding series! Fan favorites return in this enemies to friends to lovers tale.  

Stop over on my website for more info and some freebies, too! 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

A Hard Anniversary

 One year.  Wow. For the one year anniversary of Covid, I listened to Chris Hayes' Why Is This Happening podcast. He visited with a guest, Michelle Goldberg in an episode called One Year of Plague Living. They both live in the city and talked about how difficult lockdown was on them  I loved their point that we all had that shared experience of lockdown during a pandemic, but each experience was different and very individual. They wondered if there was anyone who didn't feel the strain of being shut-up for a year.

I very quietly raised my hand. (Of course, I was alone in the truck with just Tallulah, which made the action a bit quirky...but hey, I've been locked up for a year, so give me a break. LOL)

Imagining is my job and I can easily imagine that if I were a city person who was accustomed to eating most of my meals out and spending my days out and about, this enforced isolation would have been hard to deal with. But I'm a hermit by nature and I feel a bit guilty admitting how very little my life has changed over the last year.  I still write, pot, and take care of minions. Yes, I weighed the risks and still keep the minions a few days a week because their parents are in the healthcare field and their jobs are as necessary as things get right now. But otherwise, my life is mainly Himself and Tallulah. I still talk to family, mainly on FaceTime.  I shop a lot less but I hate shopping, so that's cool. Mainly, I write and pot. Pot and write. Take walks with Himself and Tallulah. Then write and pot some more. I'm either here in Erie, or in the county at The Cottage.

As I write this, I acknowledge that I am beyond fortunate. Not only that my job is inherently solitary, but also I'm hermitty by nature. I'm super lucky that I'm married to my best friend and a year together made me realize how lucky I am over and over again. 

It's not that my year hasn't had heartache. The biggest one was we lost Marge (I've blogged about her here before and she really was the inspiration for the May-December friendship relationship in Something Blue) early on in the pandemic. She was alone at the end and I still feel guilty about that. But I know she knew she was loved. The nursing home let us come for one compassionate visit the day before she passed. We got to say goodbye. Still, there's a hole in our family without her. The minions still talk about her.

It hurt when I canceled our family Thanksgiving and Christmas. The fact I canceled wasn't because I wasn't desperate to see my kids, but BECAUSE I was wanted to see them over the holidays for years and years to come. FaceTime is great, but it's not the same and we all know that. To lose a few holidays and a trip to Disney was so worth knowing that we'd have many holidays and Disney trips in the years to come.

It was an interesting podcast that really left me reflecting about this last year. (Books, podcast, movies...anything that can leaves me reflecting is worth my time.) One of the things I've been thinking about since the podcast is there's a light is at the end of this Covid tunnel. I'm more than willing to hold tight and shop less (I'm always happy to do that), mask up and social distance because someday I won't have to do those things.  Someday soon we'll have family holidays. And to be honest, someday soon I'll be in Disney again. 

And I spent a lot of time this last year (like so many of you) thinking about what's really important. I've always known the answer to family and friends. And yes, I think of all of you as friends. You've made this year so much easier for me. I hope that some of my glee has eased yours as well.

So while I wait for herd ammunity, I'll be potting in HollysWoods Studio, writing (I wrote a pandemic short story last year, aptly named Quarantine and I'm working on a new Hometown Hearts short story now) and hanging out with Himself and Tallulah. I'll take care of minions. I'll go along with my quiet, hermitty life and I'll enjoy every moment this spring out at camp. Today I saw Canada geese and mallards at the pond. And deer have been visiting a lot. Birds are loud when I walk and the snow is finally melting. Yes, we're going to go from ice and snow to the mud season. But I'm okay with that. Summer will arrive and things will be better.

My heart goes out to everyone who's suffered a loss. I hope this next year is a healing one for you. 

Things will be better...that's my lasting thought after the podcast.

However your year has been, I don't think anyone will complain when it's over. And it WILL be over. Until it is, stay safe! 


Crib NotesHometown Hearts #1

A Special Kind of Different: Hometown Hearts #2

HomecomingHometown Hearts #3

 Suddenly a Father: Hometown Hearts #4

Something Borrowed: Hometown Hearts #5

Something Blue: Hometown Hearts #6 

Preorder: Something Perfect: Hometown Hearts #7 available 5/21

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

In Two Years by Susan Sands

I don't like or want to rush time. Every day is a gift and is meant to be lived to its fullest. Having said that, I look ahead some days. With the hope that the storms of today will be over by then. Maybe not in a year, but in two years?

So, if I indulge in a little fantasy today about two years from now, if the good Lord's willing and the creek don't rise, it might look a little something like this:

In two years:

We'll be settled in a new house.

All my kids will be out of college and gainfully employed.

COVID will be a cringe-y nightmare we look back on.

I won't have to wear a mask in the grocery store, or anywhere else.

I can travel.

I'll be outside more than inside.

Kids will all be back in school face-to-face and there will be laughter and learning.

Businesses won't be boarded up and cities will begin to thrive again. 

People will make strides in acceptance and happiness.

I will have a bestselling book. :-) 

These are only a few of so many fast-forwards I hope for. There are lots of bigger and more important things the world needs that aren't here on my first-world list of happy thoughts.

My wish of hope and joy for you all is a given. There will always be struggle and strife and tragedy--the bad and the good together. 

I've started writing book two of my Louisiana series. So, I'll keep you posted on that front.

Since we're not two years into the future, let's all try to live our best lives right now. Pay it forward, be kind, and try to love the ones we're with. Life is nothing if not unpredictable, so we should treasure our days.

All the best!

Susan Sands

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Happy Valentine's!


I've built a life and my writing career around family.

This Hometown Hearts Wedding trilogy deals with families. Friends who become families. Families who are made through adoption. Families who are born...Family. Watching people come together, fall apart, adapt... It's a fascinating process. Every story comes at it from a new direction.

We've talked before about how my real life impacts my writing. In March's book,  Something Blue, I deal with dementia in an older loved one. It's a reality I know about. My grandmother slowly lost her battle with dementia over years. Then we adopted a neighbor who also battled that kind of loss. It's an awful process. And you might be thinking, Holly, that's too grim to read about.  But that's not all there is. My grandmother always knew me and my kids. We visited every day. Even after she couldn't remember our names, she knew she was ours and we were hers. The connection was still there. She knew she was loved and she wasn't alone.

We saw the same thing with our neighbor. The Minions owned her entire nursing home. We walked over regularly. The two littles would dress up in their superhero capes and ride their scooters (you can't ride a bike in a cape). Not only did she know we were hers and she was ours, the entire nursing home knew the Minions. They high-fived their way through the halls. Some days they were Batman and Robin, sometimes they were Superman and the Green Lantern... What I loved the most is how gentle they were with everyone. They didn't worry if our neighbor didn't know their names. They filled her in on their day and chatted away and she loved it. 

We missed those visits last year.

Someone once questioned why we visited if a patient didn't know us. I think that even when memories have gone, when someone is lost in their own mind, they recognize love. They feel it. It's a bright light in a dark place. So we visited. My kids and the Minions learned lessons on patience, empathy and love. And our loved ones learned no matter what they were never alone.

Those are the things I tried to put in Something Blue. Connection. Empathy. Love. I know I write romances and writing about love is obviously a part of that, but I really try to write about broader loves. About family. About all the ways they come together and all the ways they stand together.

I've built a life around family and I've built a career around it.

I am so lucky in both! And Valentine's Day seems like the perfect day to talk about that kind of love.

I hope you'll check out the entire Hometown Hearts series and Something Blue!


Crib Notes: Hometown Hearts #1

A Special Kind of Different: Hometown Hearts #2

Homecoming: Hometown Hearts #3


Suddenly a Father: Hometown Hearts #4

Preorder: Something Borrowed: Hometown Hearts #5
Available 1/5/21

PREORDER: Something Blue Available 3/21

Preorder Something Perfect Available 5/21


Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Two Steps Forward by Susan Sands

 So, I made a top ten list last month of all the 2021 goals for the coming year. Thus far, I've managed to do pretty well with turning off the news to stop obsessing over all the political noise. That was number one. I'm certain my blood pressure has come down several points.

But I bought a bread machine. One of the things on my list was to eat healthier. And stop baking so much. Um, the bread machine... So, a decade or so ago, I had a bread machine. I used it a lot at first, but my impatience for immediate gratification had me putting it away for the convenience of Fresh Market a half-mile down the street. So many delightful choices at my fingertips without the wait. 

I sold the old machine in my estate sale when I moved two years ago. My new place doesn't have Fresh Market or Whole Foods quite as close and I've stopped going out to shop and begun to order my groceries most of the time. Mostly because I'm lazy. But let me tell you what's nice about the new bread machines: Bread machine MIXES. Yes, they have yeast already in them and you add warm water and press a button. There's still that stinking wait time but OMG, the smell and the results are amazing and so not what I planned for my top ten list for 2021.

I ordered about fifteen different kinds so I could try a wide variety. Cinnamon rolls, pizza crust, English muffins. There are endless options. I will report back with my favorites.

As far as the rest of the list goes, well, that's still a work in progress. It's been especially cold here in Georgia, so getting out and walking more--getting out period--hasn't really happened. I'll just say, I'm looking forward to springtime. 

My eighty-four-year-old mother-in-law battled COVID here at my house a couple weeks ago and fortunately came through it like a champ. She was only symptomatic for four or five days. We were all still antibodied-up, thankfully, and no one else got sick. I went and got tested for antibodies again (seven months post-COVID) and was still positive. I needed to know how close I could care for my MIL. I say this because I know there are those of you who want to hear how others get through the virus. 

We've been very lucky, and for that I'm thankful. I'm still waiting for my mom to find vaccine availability in our area. She's seventy-five and still no luck in getting it. 

I've enjoyed our chat today. I hope you all remain safe and healthy. 

Susan Sands

Friday, January 22, 2021

#AuthorInterview: Liz Flaherty's Window Over the Sink

Hi, there, readers! I am honored today to bring you an author interview. Liz Flaherty's books are some of my favorite because of her amazing character building, but just before the holidays she took on a new endeavor: a book of essays. You see, one of Liz's first publishing forays was as a columnist; she has kept writing her column and her books for years, but for the first time, a book of just her columns is out in the world. I had to ask her how that came about. 

Kristina: How did your column come to be?  

Liz: I took a creative writing class from the late Vicki Williams and made the discovery that I loved writing essays more than anything else. When I went to work as a stringer for the local newspaper (come to find out I didn’t like writing the news—what a surprise) I finally gathered up a few and asked the editor to give me a try. Thirty years later, I was touched when he agreed to write the foreword for Window Over the Sink.

Kristina: What do you like most about it? 

Liz: It’s the instant gratification of writing. Writing them is quick because you only have one subject, one voice (your own), and usually limited time. 😊 While I love writing books, it’s angsty for me; writing essays is just fun.

Kristina: When did you decide to put the column into a book? 

Liz: I promised my husband, and 20 years or so later, I kept the promise. He’s supportive of my writing in all ways, but the column—that’s the me he knows and understands (sort of.)

Kristina: How did you choose which essays to include? 

Liz: I chose ones that mattered, that held my heart, that readers had liked most and mentioned often. Ones that made me laugh or sniffle.

Kristina: What makes you the most proud of this book? 

Liz: Well, its cover, for one thing. Maddie James designed it, and I am completely in love with it. If I
could paint my column, that would be what it would look like. Other than that, though, I told someone the other day that the picture my grandson took of me had all the wrinkles left in it because he was photographing his nana, not some author. That lady with the wrinkles is who I am at 70 and I like her. She’s the one who wrote Window Over the Sink. And, yeah, I’m proud of her.

Liz's cover is beautiful, isn't it? You can pick up her book - print or e version - at the retailers below. Thanks for joining me today, Liz, and readers, thank you for joining in, too!

Buy Window Over the Sink: Amazon   D2D

Friday, January 01, 2021

Top Ten Goals for 2021 by Susan Sands

My mom's Christmas cookie recipe

We've made it! At least we've made it through 2020. 

Politics, pandemic, and loss. There's still a virus, but now we've got a vaccine, which hopefully will help get the thing under control soon. It won't help those who've suffered and lost their lives. It won't help those who've lost their homes and business and who grieve over lost loved ones. But turning a page on this year might help us all mentally do a hard reset.

I've written two books this year, which don't even mention a virus. How can that be possible? My characters don't wear masks or social distance. Strange really. The distraction of writing has been a life-saver to be sure. 

Moving forward with a new year, I honestly need to make some changes in my thinking, and there are things I've decided to consciously do to improve my attitude and my life.

To do:

1) Stop watching the news. (The talking heads are ridiculous)

2) Exercise more. (Just a walk every day, aside from tennis)

3) Stop baking so much and eat healthier. (I love to eat baked goods)

4) Leave the house more. We aren't locked down here, so there are ways to get out. (Staying home ALL the time has become a habit)

5) Contact friends. (I have good friends, but I'm not great at reaching out as much as I should)

6) Only wear pajamas at night. (Self-explanatory)

7) Do some long-range planning on new projects.

8) Visit my son in North Carolina.

9) Have more patience. (With everything and everyone)

10) Emerge from 2020 with new ideas and more energy and find my joy!

What will you do in 2021 to take back your life? Get the vaccine? Make some personal changes? 

I hope you can find your joy in 2021! 

Happy New Year to all!!

Susan Sands

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Let's Kick 2020 to the Curb - C'mon In 2021!


So many things could be said about this last year - and they will be said and analyzed and discussed for years to come - right?  Since January, we've been dealing with a pandemic, worldwide fires, hurricanes and storms, chaos, food (and toilet paper) shortages, quarantines, no hair-coloring, contentious times, cancelled trips/travel, missing family and friends and especially grandbabies, elections, deaths and general mayhem. Yes, 2020 will not be soon forgotten. 

But there were good things in 2020, too. 

The quarantining forced us to be more creative about staying in touch with families and friends (and even school and work). To keep in touch with family and friends, we learned to stream and to zoom and to gather safely if distantly. 

The friends I've traveled to Ireland with - affectionately called The Plucking Monkeys - create fictional song titles from bits of conversations while learning to do zoom calls. I so needed this kind of thing while isolated with only my husband -- and he needed me to do this virtual getaway to give him some time alone, too! LOL!

 We LEARNED TO BAKE BREAD! and other skills, too. We learned how to curbside-pickup. We perfected the art of online shopping and learned the importance of supporting local businesses. 

Performers shared their music and art with worldwide audiences in a way we'd never done. One of my favorite Scottish musicians - Dougie MacLean - began streaming a wee concert several times a week, then twice a week, then weekly since April and he's just done his 66th performance. Many others are doing the same kind of thing - from podcasts, to talks and concerts.  Baking and cooking and drink-making demos abound. 

 And, of course, face mask making. I've sewn since I was about 10 years old, so when the need arose, I got my machine out and found directions and began sewing. For several months early on, making masks grounded me and gave me some tangibly productive to do with all my time. The only time I left my house then was to go to one of my local Joann Fabrics stores and curbside-pickup of orders. By July I had made more than 300 for family, friends and two local senior centers (one my mom lived in before she passed) and my 44 year-old machine died... Got a new one and continue to make masks.


 Personally, after three years of being almost unable to write, the stories began to come back and talk to me. I managed to write a novella and a whole novel this year along with finishing the majority of another one. And, I've brainstormed out a new series with 2 authors and another possible series for myself! So, 2020 was the year my writing got back in gear - though painfully different than I've written in the past.  And, The Highlander's Inconvenient Bride will be an August 2021 release from Harlequin Historicals! 

And now, 2021 is coming in quickly and I am cautiously optimistic about the new year. I wouldn't dare say 'well, it couldn't be as bad as 2020' because I don't want to tempt the Fates into doing anything crazy...but I'm hopeful for the first time in a long time. About life in general and writing, too. 

How about you? Ready to get rid of 2020 and move on? 

I'll do a giveaway here - choosing from those who comment to this post and tell me one good thing they're looking forward to in 2021. I'll giveaway a print copy of one of my books, a facemask, and some other goodies, too.

 So Happy New Year to you and yours - I wish you happiness, health, safety, good times and all the books you need! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

How to Make a Vision Board ~ @AuthorKristina Knight

For those of you who have been around here for a while it will come as no surprise that I stopped making resolutions a few years ago. I don't really believe in resolutions, although I do think they can be helpful for people whose minds are wired that way. My mind just isn't. Making a goal? I can totally do that. Picking out a word for the year? Yep, doable. But resolutions, while they sound good as I'm coming up with them are just not something I can stick with. I'm not quite sure why.

Last year, for the first time, I made a vision board to go in my planner and I liked that a lot. Having a vision of what I want for my career and family that I saw every day? That was really helpful to me in making decisions and saying yes to a few things that came my way. So I decided to make another board this year - only I ended up making two: one for Writer Kristina and one for The Family Knight. I thought I'd share a little bit about how I make a vision board, just in case any of you would like to make one.

First, the supplies you'll need: a two-page spread in your planner (two pages means plenty of space but not too could use a single piece of paper, though, if that suits you better). You'll also need several old magazines, preferably those with lots of pictures. Travel magazines work well, women's magazines, even some kids magazines can be a good choice. If you don't have a bunch sitting around, hit up your local thrift store or call your local library. They usually have tons of magazines that they eventually have to toss...I picked up a stack of about ten magazines at our thrift store for $1. You'll also need a pair of scissors and a glue stick, double sided tape or those sticky tabs that scrapbookers use to tack down pictures. Some fun/inspirational/quote-type stickers would be good, too.

Kristina's 'family' vision board

The next step is simple: you're going to go through the magazines, cutting out pictures and headlines and quotes that speak to you about your vision for the coming year. Do the same with the stickers - pick out a few that speak to you. Maybe there are beach pictures and the beach makes you feel creative. Maybe there are pictures of a small town street and that speak to the settings you choose for your books. Maybe it's a phrase that makes you feel peaceful or excited. Go through your supplies and cut out anything that inspires you or makes you smile or makes you think YES!

When you're done cutting you'll probably have a stack of clippings that you feel is way too big to use, that's okay. Go back through the stack and choose just one image or quote that is your absolute favorite/top of your line. Put it right in the middle of the planner page (or printer or notebook paper, if you don't use a planner) but don't tape it down yet. Just let it sit there while you start going through your stack looking for other images or quotes or ads that speak to you.

You want things to be in different sizes and in some cases you'll just want a little piece of a bigger ad, image, or quote so don't be afraid to cut things down. I tore out a full page ad of a purple night sky with the word 'wonder' on it. I love the whole ad, but I couldn't fit a full page magazine ad on a planner page so I cut around the word wonder, leaving just enough of that night sky there for inspiration. Another thing I did: there was a full-page ad with packs of pens and little notepads. I tore out the entire ad and then cut down the pens and pencils and papers from it. Anything goes, just start with one image and add to that.

Part of Kristina's 'author' vision board

Once you've filled your page with clippings, it's time to embrace your inner tweenager and start taping or gluing things in place. Again, there is no set way to do this so just start with one image and build out from there. Add in stickers as you go, washi tapes if you like them, quotes and headlines. I like that main image to stay in the middle and everything else builds out from that core piece.

When all your favorite clippings are on the page, you'll probably still have a stack of clippings. That's okay. You can keep building your vision board, filling in every single stretch of white space on your page or you can toss them in the trash - after all, they've already served their purpose. They helped you find your favorite images or quotes to build a vision board for the year.

Do you make vision boards or resolutions or goals for the year? 

What's your process like?    ~ Kristina Knight  

Kristina Knight's latest release, Jase, Nevada Cowboys Book 3, is available now in paperback or e-format:

Hot Las Vegas nights get even steamier for these three powerful, wealthy businessmen with cowboy roots and the strong, independent women who fall for them. What happens in Vegas certainly won’t stay there as these successful tycoons win at love.

Jase Reeves lives his life by rules: never get emotional at the poker table and never get emotional with women. But when he meets self-help author Sabrina York all bets are off. Sabrina enjoys fame and fortune writing her female-empowerment books, but she could do without the reputation – that of the Oldest Living (Supposed) Virgin in Vegas. Blowing up her entire life because sexy gambler Jase Reeves has shown an interest in her? Sabrina has already written the book on that, but staying away from Jase isn’t as simple as closing the cover of her favorite book. And for Jase, melting the heart of the Vegas Virgin might be his greatest gamble yet…

Buy Jase: Amazon  B&N  iBooks  Kobo

Kristina Knight is a contemporary romance author, part-time TKD-kid wrangler, and full-time ThinMints enthusiast. You can find out more the book and Kristina on her website, and feel free to stalk follow her on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Sunday, December 13, 2020


In my last blogpost I mentioned being a part of family members' lives even when we're physically on they're not in town. They're a part of it doesn't matter how far apart we...we're never far apart.

Yep, I've had family on my mind.

I've been working on my family tree and discovering more stories. There are so many stories waiting to be discovered. I was reading a book—Memoirs of Grassy Creek—about the county part of my family was from—Ashe County, NC. The author used my family surname and a first name I recognized. I have the same name and the right birthdate in my family tree. But honestly, that side of my family reproduced like rabbits and the recycle so many of the names over and over. LOL So he might be a direct relative, or he's a shirttail cousin. Either way, it was cool to see his name. 

I fell back down the rabbit hole and started research. I found United States Department of the Interior National Park Service National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet and more mention of my family mentioned in the 112 page report. 

"Settlers to the county came south from Virginia or west from the Catawba and Yadkin valleys. Most were of British or Scots-Irish descent, but German and Swiss ancestry were also common. One of the earliest settlers was Martin Gambill, who was born in Culpepper, Virginia, to parents who had also been born in Virginia. Gambill came to Wilkes County in 1768 and settled on the South Fork in 1778. In July 1780, Gambill, played a prominent role in the Battle of Big Glades at Old Fields, where local troops defeated a detachment of ISO Loyalists. The incident was part of the larger regional contest settled at Kings Mountain in October 1780. In the days leading up to the battle, Gambill made a famous 100-mile ride to Seven Mile Ford, Virginia to deliver a message to Colonel William Campbell. The message alerted the American commander to move his men to Kings Mountain. Gambill was seriously wounded at Kings Mountain, but recovered to become Ashe County's first tax collector and in 1806, as well as the county's' first sheriff. In 1810, Gambill was elected as the first State Senator from Ashe and held that position until his death in 1812."

I'd heard about Martin before. As a matter of fact, I have a print of his ride hanging in my house. His is one of the stories I love.


I think that's what I love so much about the research. Some of the stories are amazing. An Irish doctor marries the daughter of a British aristocrat. They move to the US settle around DC. Two generations later his grandson was a sharecropper. I wonder what happened in the family. And I marvel that their house still stands outside DC. I found a family member who was one of the founders of Brown University. Another one who was one of the original founders of Penn State. I've found immigrants. Politicians. Soldiers. Doctors. Train engineers. Farmers.


I found that one relative was one of the first settlers in the area around camp. As I dug through information about the family, I realized that a road I drive on to get to the cottage was named after family. Then I found his homestead listed and realized it was the corner of my road and the family's named road. I've passed it thousands of times. I could walk there from our place.

So more than stories, connections. Realizing I'm connected to all these people. If they hadn't done what they'd done, lived the lives that they led, then I wouldn't be here. That's amazing to realize. Just how many puzzle pieces had to fall into place to build my life. The life I love.

Stories. They're what I do and they're where I come from! I hope you'll check out some of my Hometown Hearts series. Something Borrowed will be out in January and three more are coming in 2021. Plus two Christmas books are on sale at Amazon right now! Hopefully those stories will make you smile this very strange holiday season!

Stay safe!


If you haven't visited yet, come see what HollysWoods Studio has to offer.

Christmas in Cupid Falls and Everything But a Christmas Eve are both on sale for $.99 for Christmas!

And check out Hometown Hearts:

Crib Notes
: Hometown Hearts #1

A Special Kind of Different: Hometown Hearts #2

Homecoming: Hometown Hearts #3


Suddenly a Father: Hometown Hearts #4

Something Borrowed: Hometown Hearts #5
PREORDER. Available 1/21