Fresh Start Summer (The Seasons of Cherryvale Book 1)
Maggie and Grace are the best of friends, or at least it looks that way to everyone on the outside. Deep secrets from their youth keep them at odds with each other and the stress of a movie crew taking over the small town of Cherryvale is just what the doctor ordered to bring all the bitterness from the past to the forefront.
Grace must choose between a summer of marking things off her list or making time for a friend who desperately needs her. When fire destroys parts of Maggie’s farm three times in as many days, Grace finally has to admit that maybe her friend isn’t just being a pessimist, perhaps someone really is out to get Maggie.
Grace has to find it in her heart to forgive Maggie before the arsonist hits home.
I loved this book. The characters (and there are quite a few) have little quirks that you get to know as the book goes on. It is so very small-town that I am sure that the author must have lived in a rural, small town herself at some point. The gossips, the busy-bodies, those that step in and help when it’s needed, and the close-knit feeling that only comes from that type of community.
I can’t wait to read the rest of the six book series!
Beverly, thank you for joining me!
Thanks for having me, and for your kind words about FRESH START SUMMER.
The first question I have to ask is, you portray small-town America so well, did you grow up or live in a small town at some point in your life?
The only really small towns I have lived in are in my imagination, unless you count Mayberry back in the day, and Mitford (Jan Karon’s series influenced my writing a lot) more recently. I think in a way we all crave the intimacy of a town where “everyone knows your name,” but we also suspect that rubbing elbows with the people who know your warts and wrinkles might have certain challenges. So when I dreamed up Cherryvale, I tried to add the coziness along with the realities. Running the range from squabbles to group hugs, I think it’s fairly accurate, in a good way!
While we’re on the subject of small towns, I have to tell you about the real town of Cherryvale. When I was searching for a name, I wanted one that sounded inviting, and I also needed to locate the fictional town somewhere with more seasonal weather than Southern California where I live. So I thought of the name, “Cherryvale,” and searched to see if there was already a town with the name. Turns out there is a Cherryvale, Kansas. I hoped they wouldn’t mind if I used it, and went ahead, not knowing how they would react, but even their seasons matched what I needed! Long story short, after “Fresh Start Summer” came out, they contacted me, and to my delight, instead of being annoyed, they invited me to appear at their Cherry Blossom Festival with the books. They showed me the town, and we compared notes about how similar the two are. I was astounded. For instance, a Hollywood film crew had just finished making a movie there! I’m now proud to call myself an honorary Cherryvalian!
Isn’t it wonderful how that works! What a great experience for them and for you. I know that books are a little bit like children and it is hard to pick a favorite, but do you have a favorite that you’ve written?
What a great question. Of the Cherryvale series, I’m proudest of “Autumn Changes.” It was the toughest to tackle because of one particular storyline. Without spoiling it for readers, I’ll just say that Jeff Field, one of the stars of the movie in “Fresh Start Summer,” has decided to tackle full-time parenthood, but has to face an event that changed his life as well as his daughter’s. While I wrote, I found myself bawling over the keyboard. I still choke up thinking about what they had to go through to re-establish their family. And that’s what the series is about; everyone needs a fresh start from time to time, be it in their life, their faith, in a relationship, or any number of life’s challenges.
And since the first book, “Fresh Start Summer,” has won several awards, I have to admit the two compete for my brag and swagger. The others were also fun to write, and each one has a special place in my heart.
I like how Grace overcame one of her fears in this book, do you have a list like Grace to get done after retirement?
Oh for sure. As a homeschooling mom, I’d already started “reinventing” myself a couple years ago. When our youngest graduated high school and started college, I took the Christian Writer’s Guild “What’s Your Story” course and honed my creative writing skills. I’d been a business writer, but I wanted to pen more fun things than computer manuals and white papers. Yawn, right? So writing fiction was at the top of my list.
And then when both our kids decided to marry within three months of each other recently, my husband and I sold our “bricks and sticks” five-bedroom home and moved into a motorhome so we could have more freedom, and get used to life on wheels. When the day comes when we can hit the road, we’ll be “living life at the speed of diesel!” I’ll continue writing, and hope to add more small, as well as larger, towns to my research for future stories.
That sounds like fun! You are very descriptive with the architecture in your story, is that a love or pastime of yours? Do you have a favorite architectural style?
I think my fascination comes from living in and seeing so many places. Born and raised in Texas, I’ve also lived in England, Florida, New York, Ohio, Maryland, California, and traveled to many other states and countries. Geographical locations have unique styles that are like fingerprints, but even more than that, where we live becomes a metaphor for our outlook on life. In Cherryvale, every character’s home defines their personality. For instance, Carl and Carolyn Sims operate a Victorian Bed & Breakfast while raising their rambunctious twins-they create a warm home overflowing with enough love even for weary travelers. Maggie has transformed her childhood farm into a rescue facility, which tells you volumes about her. Even when she’s short tempered, we know her heart is huge.
You have quite a few positive reviews for your Cherryvale books, do you read reviews, try to avoid them? Do they influence you at all?
My readers and fans mean the world to me, they are so supportive and keep me banging away at new stories. Yes, I do read the reviews because I want to know what speaks to people. I’m in a couple of critique groups, and I have several first readers who tell me what does and doesn’t work. I believe in listening to all comments and remarks, even the ones that aren’t quite so complimentary, and learning from them to become better and better at my craft.
Thanks so much for having me, and for your wonderful contribution to readers through your reviews and interviews!
FRESH START SUMMER
San Diego Christian Writer’s Excellence in Writing
Realsimple.com Best Summer Books
2014 Reader’s Favorite, Honorary Mention-Inspirational
2011 Grace Awards-Finalist
Available in paperback, Kindle and audible
Beverly Nault writes Fresh Start Stories, because everyone needs one from time to time, summing up the importance of new beginnings in life, and God’s redemptive grace. Bev understands well the challenges of starting over since she and husband Gary have moved dozens of times, lived in six different states, and two countries. (She promises they weren’t running from the law!) Now settled in Southern California, they enjoy traveling, photography, and spoiling their granddogs, Gracie and Chloe. Their grown children, Lindsay and Evan, have happily married their ones and are both employed in their chosen career fields.
Humorous, faith-filled, and thought provoking, Beverly’s award-winning fiction series, The Seasons of Cherryvale, will draw you in and won’t let go. The characters quickly become friends you’ll adore. Thought-provoking themes and poignant moments abound, and her gorgeous settings and plots with twists and surprises will entice you to settle in for a cozy armchair escape to a town you’ll want to return to again and again.
Beverly’s nonfiction includes the international bestselling memoir, “Lessons from the Mountain, What I Learned from Erin Walton” co-written with actress Mary McDonough. This important book has earned literary and fan praise. The recipient of the 2011 Ella Dickey Literacy award, and hundreds of five-star reviews, the book has touched reader’s hearts, and become an important look at what it’s like to “grow up Hollywood.”
Connect with Beverly Nault