Monday, August 7, 2017

Building Up by Anna Adams

Mountains?
My cousin recently sent me that meme about spending one more day with Grandma. We had an amazing grandmother. She could do anything. Literally.

She saw a dress she liked—she made up a pattern and sewed the dress. She decided we children needed more sleds when we had a particularly snowy January in Tennessee. She built us wooden sleds and painted them with the names of Santa’s reindeer, and then she gathered her clan of grandchildren and herded us all up the hill to sled. She and my grandpa were going to Newfoundland, where a plane dropped them off in a remote area to hunt. She was 69 years old, and my little brother told her she couldn’t go because she was too old. She said that if something came after her she’d climb a tree, and she told him to choose one in her yard and she'd show him. He chose one that frankly scared me, but Grandma just climbed it.

We all love our grandma. But I realized when Frank sent me the meme, it wasn’t just all the things she did, or even the love she gave so freely that I deeply miss abut her. When Grandma was still with us, we were all together. We were our most important community. Since then, we have one day a year when we all try to be in the same place, but as Frank said, we’re so scattered now, that not everyone makes it.

I’ve been thinking about this because I’m starting a new book, and I’m building a community. I love tight-knit communities, and I’ve finally realized that our books with their sweet, sometimes trying, always loving families appeal to me because I’m an introverted hermit who’s never happier than when she’s with her family.

And I’m from the South—down here, family is a pretty wide-ranging net that hardly requires blood or proximity.

Or Beach?
So—I’m building that community again. Will it be family and friends in a two-room New York apartment, as in Mary, Mary (a great Debbie Reynolds movie)? Or, maybe a collection of misfits like the ones Nick and Nora Charles always collect in the Thin Man movies. A family like my own, sprung from the Smoky Mountains? Or maybe I’ll go to the beach and build a boarding house full of the quirky characters I love best who create their own family out of love that knits them together.

Where would you build your community? And who’s the person you’d love to spend one more day with there? I'm going to need a big place, because I want my whole, huge family, and there are lots more of us now.

My Heartwarming series, set in the Smoky Mountains begins with Now She's Back, followed by Owen's Best Intentions, and A Christmas Miracle. I always enjoy visiting the community I built in Bliss, Tennessee! 

31 comments:

  1. Lately my communities have been in the Shenandoah Valley, but I'd love to venture to the beach. Being the snow lover that you are Anna, I think a ski resort is just the place for your story. :)

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    1. Oh, Jill, such a beautiful place! I don't blame you there. And--hmm--skiers. Snow. Mountains. I think you've made my job easier! :-)

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  2. Your grandmother sounds like a remarkable person, Anna, and I can understand you'd miss her a lot.

    I loved the community where our cottage was situated near the south-west tip of Ontario's beautiful Algonquin park. With a large property backing on to 3,000 acres of Crown (government-preserved) forest, I could get all the seclusion I wanted (since I'm also an introvert), yet if we went into the small town of Dorset, people always had a friendly greeting to offer, whether we knew them or not. If we ever needed a hand with anything, there were always more than enough kind-hearted people offering help. I think you would have liked it there, Anna, especially in the winter! :)

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    1. Thanks, Kate. She was pretty amazing--as you can tell, a legend in our family. I wish my children could have known Grandma.

      Your cottage site sounds like a bit of heaven on earth! I definitely would have loved to visit there. It sounds as if you don't go there any more? You must miss it!

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  3. Hi Anna, (you need your name in big print on this post) Thanks for sharing your memories of your grandmother. Family is so important, isn't it? And it is important to build your community in your stories. They add so much depth to the characters and plot. My current community is in Sedona area in Arizona. I love it there. So much beauty. Happy writing.

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    1. Thanks, Sandra! I do that every time I post! :-)

      Totally agree about family. It shapes us, whether we learn things we should do--or things we should avoid doing. :-) I've never been to Sedona, but everyone I know who's been there has loved it. I'd like to go sometime--but in winter! The heat just kills me!

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  4. Anna, what a lovely post. Your grandma sounds like a fascinating woman. I had an aunt, my mom's sister, who sounds a lot like your grandma. I call her the original Martha Stewart. She could literally do anything and she just sort of made fun things happen. I would love to spend one more day with her. Thank you for making me thing about her this morning.

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    1. Carol, that's my grandmother for certain! And she was always fun. She taught me to embroider and she let me have the run of her attic (where all good books suddenly just appeared), and she made me happy at a time when I didn't actually even feel safe. The best things about me--my ability to face bad stuff, my inability to choose to do the wrong thing--all came from Grandma. I wish that you could have another day with your aunt, and I wish we could all four meet for embroidering or reading under the trees in my back yard on a quilt Grandma would bring--and we'd make a picnic! :-)

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  5. Anna, your grandmother sounds a lot like my mom. She made all of our clothes including leather jackets from deer hide she tanned herself. Like Carol, thanks for the memories. We need more communities of nice people. I know where you choose to set your next book will be great.

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    1. Roz--I hesitated to mention hunting because so many people are against it, but Grandma and Grandpa used everything. Someone else tanned the hides, but Grandma made coats and gloves, and even a hat for my grandpa from them. You're so right about needing more communities of nice people--but I figure we're all making some of those! Lovely to "see" you!

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  6. I'd love to have met your grandmother! I'm writing the third book in my little central-Indiana lake community. Although I've loved it there, I'm ready to do some traveling. I think I'm going back to Vermont, but we'll see...

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    1. Liz, I wish you could have met her, too! And I have to tell you--I'd love to go Back to McGuffey's! :-) (And anyone who hasn't read it, should! Go take a peek at that cover. See if you can resist!)

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  7. Those are great questions, Anna. I like tight-knit communities, I know yours will be intriguing. If I could, I'd spend one more day with my dad's sister, Opal, because she was just so much fun.

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    1. Patricia, my dad had a cousin, Opal. I'd love to have another visit with her, too! I hope that we all have young relatives who are saying even now--I want to go visit Auntie (Insert our Names), because she's so much fun!

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  8. I've just come off a small family get-together for my mother's 90th birthday. My dad and sister have passed and the kids are nearly grown, so beneath all the endless laughter and crazy amounts of food was an awareness (at least, for me) that these rare gatherings are numbered.Have deep joy making your community for us, Anna. Looking forward to reading all about it!

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    1. I know what you mean, M.K. Because of my husband's job, there were times earlier in life when we couldn't really get back home very often, and I deeply feel those years without family now. I hope we'll both have many, many more of them.

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  9. Oh Anna! You're grandmother sounds like a hoot! What wonderful memories. I love being part of a small, tight-knit community and you're right, that's one of the things that makes Heartwarming so special.

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    1. LeAnne, she was pretty wonderful. And honestly, I love so much being part of our community of Heartwarming authors. Hope things are going well with you! ;-)

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  10. So glad you had such a great grandmother. I'm sure she contributed to you being a writer! Such a fun and encouraging post.

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    1. Thanks, Patricia! My family are all pretty good storytellers. It must be in the blood--all of us fighting to get out a story--or performing the maneuver my husband calls the Cate Cackle! (Family name and sound of what we loosely term laughter!)

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  11. Your grandmother sounds like someone who should be in a book,Anna! What wonderful memories you have of her. And you're right, communities are so important for us living in such a vast, diverse world. Creating one to write about would be rewarding as reading about it. If I could spend more time with anyone, it would have to be my parents - just to be able to say, "I get it now!" :). Thanks for this post!

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    1. Janice, I'm pretty sure she's in every one of my books in some form or other. Because she's so much in me. :-) One of the best things about writing--especially a series--is building the town and then populating it.

      And I couldn't agree with you more. Why does it take so long for us to get it? Guess it's all part of the stages of life. (I'm going to need to remember that for a book, too.) Nice to "see" you!

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    1. Shirley, I can't tell you how many times I've thought just that. (Except if I touched any sort of power tools, there'd be havoc!)

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  13. Anna, you know I love the great Smoky Mountains. I would build my community there. Your grandmother sounds like mine. She seemed able to accomplish anything she put her mind to (although I'm not too sure about climbing trees), but she'd do anything for us, her grandkids. I wish I could spend another day with her and my dad. I miss both of them so much. Congratulations on the upcoming book.

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    1. Laurie, how nice to "see" you! And I do always love when you visit the mountains and I get to see your lovely pics! You all have adventures! I wish we could both spend another day with our lovely grandmothers. But I'm betting we were both wise enough to appreciate them with all our loving hearts!

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  14. Your grandmother sounds amazing. I just got home from a nephew's wedding in Mexico. My mother, who just turned 91, got her first passport so she could be there. It was a great family gathering.

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    1. Wow, Beth, I want to be like your mom, too! So glad you had fun with your family--and at a wedding! Will there be scenes in one of your next books? ;-)

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  15. I was adopted when my parents were in their forties so when I met my grandmother, she was already nearing 80. I remember she still had an old fashioned washing machine and she had a cellar for canning. Family is everything. I'd love to spend another day with her.

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    1. Pamela, my grandma had a wringer washer, too. She scared me half to death of that thing because one of my older cousins had hurt his arm in it--but she was still using it in the 1970s! ;-) And like your grandma, she had lovely canned goodies in the cellar. I remember working in her garden with her when I was pretty young. My aunts still have a garden, and every year, one of them brings me canned green beans during our "girl's week." I hold out on eating them until I just can't make myself wait any longer! :-) I'm positive all that family love makes them taste so good!

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