My book for Summerside is a contemporary romance (with an element of suspense), which takes place in Valentine, Nebraska. My husband is a native of Nebraska, and we’ve averaged making yearly visits to the state to visit his relatives since he moved to West Virginia several years ago. The setting is Cherry County in the Sandhills area of the state. My heroine is the wealthy owner of a ranch in the region and the hero the ranch manager without any funds. Now don’t yawn and say “ho-hum,” because you’ve read many similar plots. You’ll learn that Love Finds you in Valentine, Nebraska, is not the usual run-of-the-mill western.
My husband and I had previously traveled in the Valentine area when I’d researched for another book in the Sandhills, published, 2003. When writing this current book, I contacted the Valentine Chamber of Commerce for some up-to-date information, but I hadn’t intended to do any onsite research for the book. I was in the final stages of editing the manuscript when, unfortunately, our sister-in-law in central Nebraska died in early April.
We went to the funeral and allowed for two extra days between flights to go to Valentine. We stayed in the Holiday Inn where a wedding scene takes place in my book. We walked along the sidewalks of Valentine, which had many, many red hearts painted on the pavement. We shopped in the stores and ate in memorable restaurants. On Wednesday night, we went to mid-week Bible study at the Baptist Church, where we met some lovely people and were fed on the Word. I got a better “feel” for the character of Valentine and added several scenes to the manuscript before I submitted it recently.
Our departure from Valentine was delayed for a day when a blizzard struck the Sandhills. In order to catch our plane, we had a 250 mile drive to the airport in Lincoln, Nebraska. It took eight hours for us to make the journey, and during the first fifty miles or so, there were periods of white-out when we couldn’t even see the road. It was a tense journey, but I claimed a promise from Psalm 91, “If you make the Most High your dwelling—even the Lord, who is my refuge—then no harm will fall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”
And I want to witness to how God cares for us. We always rent a compact car when we’re traveling, but the agency didn’t have one like we wanted. We upgraded to a new Dodge Nitro. This vehicle had 4-wheel drive, without which we could never have made the return trip safely. So five days before the blizzard struck Nebraska, God knew that we would need a sturdy car to make that trip safely, and he provided one for us.
We serve a great God, and I appreciate another opportunity to proclaim that truth through the written word.