Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Place to Belong by Leigh Riker


Hi, everyone. Where are you from? I grew up in northeastern Ohio in a big extended family on my dad’s side—he had five brothers and sisters—and with my mom’s smaller family living close by. For a long time my roots were deeply planted in that mid-sized community just outside of Akron.

Some of my fondest memories still are of family gatherings for birthdays, holidays and summer cookouts in my uncle Ralph’s yard (he was the local fire chief) to eat and afterward play croquet (I was never good at that), listen to my aunt Hazel play the piano or talk about books. She inspired my love of reading and, later, writing. But our close-knit clan also got together whenever someone needed support like the day my dad got fired from his job. Then there were the happier, special overnights spent at my maternal grandmother’s house and our “ladies’ luncheons” at the department store where models showed the latest fashions right at our table. Very impressive to an eight- or ten-year old girl!

On both sides those memories will always be part of me but, sad to say, most of that extended family is gone now. And in my adult years I’ve lived in many different places, some of which I liked more than others. My kids and grandkids—my nuclear family—all live now in other states, and my place now is in Tennessee, but I’ll travel to see them this holiday season. Still, it’s an odd feeling not to have all my relatives a trip across town away. Writing this brought even more memories, old and new, flooding in.

They also remind me of how often I tend to write about family and that one place in the world where you know you truly belong. In my books at least one of the characters may be searching for that spot.

In Cowboy on Call, my November book and the third in my Kansas Cowboys series, it’s the hero Sawyer McCord who isn’t quite sure where he belongs:

He needs to stop running from his mistakes.

Cowboy or doctor? Sawyer McCord has been wrestling with that question since he came home to the Circle H after fleeing his remote clinic in the Himalayas. A tragedy there has him doubting his medical skills, but his reception on the ranch has been chilly at best. Sawyer can’t blame his family—or Olivia Wilson, his brother’s ex—for their anger. So why does Olivia’s opinion of him suddenly matter so much? Sawyer has unfinished business here and at his clinic. If he’s ever going to redeem himself, he needs to start by making amends to the one woman who might never forgive him.




You can find Cowboy on Call at http://amzn.to/2vTsqQx. And if you haven’t already gotten your copy of this year’s Christmas Town, Maine anthology, Heartwarming Holiday Wishes, what better time to do so than right now


The holidays are almost upon us, and the family gatherings we love soon will be too.

But first, on November 29th, don’t miss the Starry Nights & Romance Facebook party. It’s going to be awesome. I’ll be co-hosting there at 2:25 p.m. ET. Drop by to say hello!



Where is your special place to belong and/or with the people you love?

Happy holidays! And, as always, Happy Reading!


27 comments:

  1. Reading your post, Leigh, I was taken back to my childhood and family and wonderful childhood memories of large family reunions meeting distant relatives I scarcely knew and indulging in home made baking, always a great draw for kids. Like you, most of my parents’ generation family members are gone. I too love to write about families and what makes them tick. All the
    best with your new release which sounds like my kind of read. Thanks for the Starry Night reminder too.

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    1. Aren’t those memories fun, Janice? I love them, and your mention of distant relatives reminded me of our annual family reunion with more than a hundred people gathering for a group photo. See you at Starry Nights!

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  2. A wonderful post, Leigh. Good luck with COWBOY ON CALL. I hope he finds home and good memories!

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    1. Thanks, Liz. Sawyer has a pretty good chance, considering the love of happy endings. 😌

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  3. Things certainly change with the passage of time. Now people move more than they used to. You have a lot going on in your writing life. Good luck with everything.

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  4. Oh, so true, T.R. Moving here and there seems almost like a national pastime. And doesn’t that too create more memories to enrich our lives? Thanks for your good wishes.

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  5. I remember all the big family gatherings from my childhood, and like you, just about everyone from those days are gone. My boys are spread out too so the holidays aren't the same. Cowboy on Call looks terrific. I'm looking forward to reading it.

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    1. Holidays do take more effort than they used to, Carol. Times have certainly changed, and I think kids today miss out a bit. Hope you enjoy the book!

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  6. Beautiful post, Leigh. You've made me homesick for Virginia. Although we've been in Charlotte for over 12 years and my parents are here, Virginia is where some of my greatest memories were made. I'm looking forward to your November release!

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    1. Thanks, Jill. I’m excited about the book. I made myself homesick with this post! 😉 Enjoy your parents.

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  7. Love your post, Leigh, and the family memories it brings back of summer picnics in the park and houses packed to the gills for Christmas and Thanksgiving. My early childhood in Southern Indiana is best described by that expression about your cousins being your first friends. We live all over now, but still try to get together for annual reunions.
    Can't wait to read COWBOY ON CALL. It's my favorite kind of story!

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    1. Thanks for sharing your memories, Jacie. My female cousins were my first best friends and my male cousins were like brothers. Hope you like Sawyer’s story. He was one of those minor characters who demanded his own book.

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  8. Hubs is middle of 7 and I am 2 of 4 so big families and lots of memories made!

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    1. That is wonderful! A nice big family to share and to cherish.

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  9. Reading your post reminded me of the times our family got together. Aunts, uncles, cousins. And like you, all the aunts and uncles are gone and while most of the cousins are within a two hour drive, we rarely make the effort except for a funeral. Sad to say. I have always lived within a hundred miles of where I was born in Memphis. My sister moved farther--to Chattanooga and one day when I'm going up there, I plan to give you a call and see if we can have coffee. :-)

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    1. I know, Patricia, those childhood relationships with cousins often don’t endure. I’m probably closer now to my male cousins mentioned above and one female, but the others have scattered or are gone. Please do call me when you’re in Chattanooga. I’d love to have coffee.

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  10. I grew up in a small Oregon town. My parents were older so their families were gone. There's just my sis and me, and she's older by 7 years. But luckily she retired just a mile away from where I live. My own daughters live in states away from us, but they visit us as often as they can. By the way, I've read Sawyer's book and it's great. I'm ready for my December books to come, but it won't be for a few weeks.

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  11. Loved hearing your story, Roz. So glad your sister is now nearby. And thanks for your kind words about Sawyer. I’m happy you enjoyed his book.

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  12. Thanks for your post--your book sounds fabulous. As a child, I didn't have any extended family around me, and we had to travel to see grandparents. Both parents had small and not very close families--they escaped their small town roots, more or less. The big city held much more appeal and was new and shiny to them. It's odd that although I loved Chicago, Maine, Maryland, NC, and other places I've lived, I don't consider any of them home. Once I move away from a place I never think about moving back. I love to visit, though, and I stay in touch with friends forever! I think I'm drawn to coming home/finding home stories because the whole concept of a home place and deep roots is kind of odd to me. I guess there's no such thing as a "standard" family, anyway!

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    1. Virginia, this speaks to me. I've lived all over too, and I wouldn't call any place truly home. With my parents gone, neither is Ohio any more. I guess I could say NYC is a second home because that's where I met my husband and we lived there not once but twice. And you're right, the very concept of family has changed. Hope you like the book!

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  13. My mother was a widow with two boys, who married my father and then had two girls. The result was the four of us had three sets of grandparents and each set hosted a Christmas celebration one day in December where all cousins would gather and eat Grandmother Jones's famous chocolate pie, or play in Grandmother Lewelling's big closet, or swipe cream mints from the footed candy dish in my grandmother Hall's formal living room. I have that dish now.

    Can't wait to read the book.

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    1. Wow, talk about family! How nice that your mom remarried, and her two boys then got two sisters. Lovely. I like your description of the three sets of grandparents. My granddaughter has much the same routine at Christmas, visiting with, let's see, her dad, her mom, her stepmom and her stepdad's families. Keeps her busy. Happy reading!

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  14. Hi Leigh, I recently stocked up on some Heartwarmings and your book was one of them. Looking forward to reading it :)

    While my kids were growing up, our house was the one where holiday gatherings were celebrated. Now that my kids and their cousins are all grown and many of them moved away, the gatherings are much smaller. I really do miss them.

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    1. Me too, Cathy. I loved those big family gatherings and all the happy chaos that ensued. Still, the smaller get togethers are fun as well. But like you, I also miss the others.

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  15. Folks, I neglected to add the buy links for Heartwarming Holiday Wishes so here they are:

    Amazon: http://amzn.to/2uGXB4A
    BN: http://bit.ly/2uPW8K1
    Kobo: http://bit.ly/2tO2AMp
    iTunes: http://ow.ly/qLto30fL5OB
    GooglePlay: http://bit.ly/2vIvxef

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  16. Aside from a few years, it's always been small Christmases for us. Me and mom and grandma. These years, just me and mom. I like it that way . We have our holiday movie routine that now includes Die Hard, LOL. Just a nice quiet day at home.

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  17. Last year my husband and I stayed home. Normally we travel but my suggestion was to stay put, decorate the house and enjoy the tree lights. Ahhh, it was nice. Love your tradition of watching Die Hard.

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