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About Fresh Start Summer: Friendships, old and new, find fresh beginnings when Cherryvale’s extreme makeover transforms the peaceful town to an exciting movie location. Grace Harkins, a muffin-baking, bike-riding, retired teacher can’t wait to be an extra for the movie filming in Cherryvale. But when outspoken Maggie protests the “biz” invading, suspicious fires break out, strangers lurk and threatening phone calls force Grace to choose between her carefree retirement and saving a friendship in real danger.
Author Beverly Nault shares her inspiration behind her series, The Seasons of Cherryvale:
Pastors lament “mature” Christians can be the toughest to keep engaged of a Sunday morning. Pretty sure they mean me. Throw down the same old phrases, stale lessons and sermon illustrations I’ve heard all my life, and I’ll pull out the cell phone, search for a cool app, or attack those birds.
And if I hear that starfish in the ocean story one more time…sheesh!
But tell me a joke, or better yet, an interesting story…can I just say I pity the PF (pastor’s family)? Apparently they have zero expectation of privacy. Because our pastor uses his kids a lot in stories. Good stories, mind you, but a lot.
Anywho, if I sense a good story beginning, I pause the game, sit up and listen.
Because a fresh story (ha! I knew I could get my brand in there), and especially something that makes me laugh, is worth paying attention to. Many pastors are genius at this. Do they offer “Telling Good Story 101” in seminary? They should, because guess Who told the best? Yep. Jesus. Ding, ding! Thanks for playing.
Too many things holler for my attention and I know you’re the same. I mean, just this week we had season finales of both “Dancing With the Stars” and “American Idol.” Not saying I watched the premiere of “The Bachelorette,” but what was with the guy in the mask, anyway? Even if you’re not a television watcher, you’re busy homeschooling and running ministries and feeding the homeless and…you see my point. Us writer-types must give you a reason to put down that remote, shut off CNN…ahem, Fox News, and take a much-needed break. And maybe, just maybe, become a little closer to the Lord.
When I download, order, buy, or borrow a book at my library (do librarians intimidate you, or is it just me?), I want stories that give me a chance to know what it’s like to live in someone else’s skin for a little while. But it’s more than that.
For instance, I love a good armchair adventure. Most specifically the ones where people give up everything and tour the world on pocket-change and hospitality, living by their wits. Makes me feel as if I’m hiking or backpacking or riding that camel along with them. Or a story about someone who moves to a foreign country, learns the language, buys an old ruin (that’s what they call a fixer in Europe) and starts a new life with new neighbors and new customs. But I can’t do that. Correction. I would never do that. So I read about these brave adventurers. Or missionaries. Yeah, they do that, too. Even harder, because they’re often in personal danger. Yikes. God bless them.
How does faith inform what I write? I want to write what I’d like to read, and as a lifelong Christian, I don’t want to be re-instructed when I read for pleasure. After all, you’re probably like me. When faith becomes second-nature, it’s not as if you pause and wonder, “Gee, what is the scripture that applies to this?” like a matching test: “Connect life-dilemma in column A to Scripture in Column B” kind of thing. And I don’t believe that’s what most people want to read, either.
I intentionally populate my stories with relatable, real people facing life and handling crises through the lens of faith. Organic to who they are as believers. Even the town they live in reflects their, and our, eternal destination.
Cherryvale, the fictional setting of Fresh Start Summer, is a little closer to the ideal; shall I say, closer to heaven? I have to spend a lot of time there, so I wanted to built a community where I wanted to go. And return to often.
It’s a little prettier, a little kinder. We need a brief escape from our world with its bankruptcies and unemployment and floods, tornadoes…you get my drift.
Like I said, the people are real. They have their quirks, their warts and their challenges. Some of them are even a bit, well, flawed. Stories wouldn’t be interesting without imperfect people, even Christians.
And conflict. Because that’s how we grow in our faith. Think a mash-up of Mayberry and Wisteria Lane. (Not that I’m hooked on “Desperate Housewives” or anything.)
For just pocket change and a few hours in a comfy chair, I want you to experience the hospitality, warmth and long hugs from the people of Cherryvale. And see what it’s like in someone else’s shoes. Someone who is similar, but not exactly the same. Someone you can relate to, but perhaps who sees things differently than you do. Or you might argue with them over their choices, cheer for their triumphs, hurt for them when they’re in pain.
Can I get an Amen?
I pray my stories bring joy, hope, make you giggle, and that you’re refreshed and ready to face the world with a little more energy and perhaps a little pizzazz. That you’re inspired to deal with some old baggage—if that’s needed—in your relationships (be honest, if you’re older than Kindergarten, chances are good some repairs need to be made.) And perhaps challenged to begin a hobby, step out in ministry or re-visit a dream long ago abandoned.
I pray my stories help you walk closer to Christ, reflect His joy in all you do and say. And to find fresh beginnings in His love. That’s my prayer, and that’s why I write.
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