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Where Jane talks about everything on her mind…and yes, as usual, there is quite a lot on her mind.

Special Guest Author: Brenda Novak

I’ve known NYT bestselling author Brenda Novak a long time.   Not only is she one of the first authors I ever met, she is also one of the most generous.  I love Brenda’s voice, her stories, her talent, and her comittment to the finding a cure for Type I diabetes.  I’ve participated in her auctions for years–donating items–as well as bidding like crazy, winning some amazing items from dinners with a favorite author, to business lunches with publishing executives, to hard to find signed editions.

But Brenda isn’t here  to talk about her auction.  She’s here because she has a brand new book hitting store shelves today!  I LOVE Brenda’s Whiskey Creek series, and am thrilled that the newest novel in the series, When Summer Comes, is available now!  Without further ado, here is Brenda Novak !

Hello to all of Jane’s readers and friends, and welcome to Whiskey Creek—the Heart of Gold Country!

I’m really, really enjoying writing this new series—mostly because the group of friends that form the backbone of it feels so real to me. When I started WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES, I had no idea how long I wanted the series to be, or what any of the subsequent books would be about. But then, as I became more familiar with the characters that form the backbone of these books, so many people and businesses began to populate my head I knew I had the beginning of what could be a long-running series. And it all came from watching my oldest son (high school age) and his group of friends. His clique is a large one that includes both boys and girls, none of whom are romantically involved with each other (and they never have been). It’s just that they’ve known each other since kindergarten—have gone through all their school years together—so they’re very close. They call their group The Family and support each other in everything (for instance, when one of the girls didn’t get invited to prom, one of the boys took her so that she’d get to go). I’d never really seen anything like it before, where there was so much genuine friendship and a complete lack of cattiness and jealousy. This group fascinated me enough that I wanted to write about a similar network of friends, put them in a small town and jump ten years into the future to see where they’d be in their relationships.

Now that my son has graduated, his group may eventually fade away. But my group will always be as close as family. They get together at Black Gold Coffee (a fictional coffeehouse) every Friday morning and their love and support of each other plays a key role in all the novels.

Another element that’s making these novels so enjoyable to write is the setting. Whiskey Creek is fictional, but it’s modeled after other towns in the Sierra Nevada Foothills that were founded during the gold rush. I don’t live very far from these places—places like Angel’s Camp, Coloma, Jackson and Sutter Creek. My husband and I love to go visit them. We shop in the old mercantile, pan for gold, tour a defunct gold mine or stay at one of the Victorian Bed & Breakfasts. I love the historic architecture and how nothing there seems to have changed. I’ve been so taken with building my gold rush town, that I’ve actually created logos for some of the businesses. Fans of the series can purchase (at brendanovak.com) a Black Gold Coffee mug, for instance, or an Amos Auto Body T-shirt. And I’ll be adding new products to the Whiskey Creek store as the series goes along. It’s just one more way to enjoy your stay!

Whenever I create a series, I have several people ask me which story is my favorite. In this case, it’s too hard for me to pick—too much like asking me to name a favorite among my five children—but I do have at least one favorite thing about each. I love the redemption theme of WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES, the deep emotional underpinnings of WHEN SNOW FALLS and the triumph—for both the hero and heroine—in WHEN SUMMER COMES.

~~~

Thanks for joining us today, Brenda!  Readers, do visit Brenda’s website for more great information about her books and events.   I’m also giving away three prize packages that include Brenda’s When Lightning Strikes, a $5 Starbucks drink card, a signed copy of my novel, Odd Mom Out, and  JP reader goodies.  The Brenda Novak contest runs through Friday February 1st, and I’ll announce the three winners on Sat morning, February 2nd.  How to win?  Tell me if you have a favorite small town somewhere that you like to visit, and if so, what makes that town special to you.  Good luck to all and I can’t wait to hear where you love to go!

88 Comments

  1. Mary Preston says:

    Brenda I know I could not pick a favorite from among your books, I’d have to just say them all. I look forward to reading WHEN SUMMER COMES.

    I will not be visiting my favorite small town as much now since my parents moved from there, but it felt like home more because they lived there I think.

    • Brenda Novak says:

      Mary, I really apologize for being so late. My son’s best friend (only 16!) was on life support on this day (he just started with the flu) and has since died. I haven’t quite recovered. But I SO appreciate your kind thoughts about my books.

  2. ~kb says:

    Jane,

    You really must of bumped your head hard and the waxing incident probably didn’t help any but your contest end date is going backwards, unless you can turn back time?! [If so, please take me back about 20 years]

    This series sounds awesome- will have to check them out!

  3. ellie says:

    What a wonderful post. This series sounds captivating and special. I do have a small beach town which I love to visit each summer, although I haven’t been able to for several years. Best of success.

  4. Gretchen P says:

    Hope you mean Feb 1st and I didn’t miss it!! :) I’ve never read any of Brenda’s books but certainly will now–they look great!

    I think my fave small town to visit would be all the small towns along M-22 in Northern Michigan. :) Leland for one.

  5. Marlene Engel says:

    A small town I enjoy visiting is Allentown, PA. My father’s family grew up there and it holds such wonderful childhood memories for me and my family :)

  6. Linsey T says:

    Jefferson, TX is my favorite town because it’s where my husband and I went on our honeymoon. :)

  7. Elisabeth says:

    I always love it when you introduce us to other authors.
    The stories sounds interesting and something that I could love reading.
    My favorite small town is in Denmark and it´s called “Ledøje”. It´s very old and charming. I used to buy old comic books there and go feed the ducks in the pond. It has a lot of childhood memories and I guess that´s why I like it so much.

  8. Alysha says:

    I love Brenda’s books. I am currently reading The Dundee Idaho Series. My favorite little town would have to be Gueydan LA, because after 27 years, I found my dad. However, he passed away 13 years ago. Fortunately for me I found my aunt and grandma. I feel so blessed that they welcomed me into their family. The town is so small about a little more than a thousand people.

    • Brenda Novak says:

      Thanks, Alysha! You might already know this, but currently two of the Dundee books are on sale (only for one more week). A HOME OF HER OWN and STRANGER IN TOWN are only $1.99. Might want to download those (if you haven’t already) before the price goes back up!

  9. Maureen says:

    Congratulations to Brenda on her new book! Her town sounds like a fun place to visit. I like the town of Cape May, New Jersey but unfortunately they have quite a bit of destruction.

    • DENISE says:

      I was in Cape May in December– it was not devastated by the hurricane. Some minor damage to buildings and beach erosion, but nothing compared to LBI.

  10. Bridget O'Neill says:

    My favorite small town is Green Lake, Wisconsin. My mom and stepdad have a house on the lake, and we love visiting, especially in the summer so we can go boating, tubing, and swimming in the lake!

  11. Stephanie G says:

    My favorite small town to visit is Hanford, CA because that’s where I grew up and it will always be home. :)

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Brenda and the Whiskey Creek series. Dylan is my favorite so far. I am impatiently waiting for my copy of When Summer Comes to get here! :)

    • Brenda Novak says:

      Stephanie, definitely send Anna your receipt (tinkabela776@gmail.com). I’m doing an Amos Auto Body T-shirt giveaway to my fan club and that will make you eligible (I thought…since you’re a Dylan fan, you might like one ).

  12. Crystal R. says:

    Hi Jane. I like the small town that I live in. Bellefonte, PA. It’s a small historical town that is just so cute. :)

  13. mary hay says:

    I love Brenda’s books. Best wishes for the new series. I’d love to win this one.

    • Brenda Novak says:

      Thanks so much, Mary!! I’m thrilled that you like my work. I’m sorry to be so tardy in responding. As I explained above, we had a tragedy we were dealing with. The funeral is today.

  14. Shari says:

    Love the series! Looking forward to reading When Summer Comes. I have been reading Brenda’s books for years!!

  15. CateS says:

    Always love a new series.. I’m also a history buff and love Williamsburg!!

  16. Runner10 says:

    I don’t have a favorite small town. It is hard to pick one. I love the unique shops found in small town.

  17. Sherri M. says:

    Every now and then I’ll go on a road trip through the flint hills to Parsons, Kansas. My deceased Grandparents lived there for many years and I have such special memories of visiting them in that small and sleepy Kansas town.

    Lots of sweet and happy memories…

  18. Kathryn in Montreal says:

    Hi Jane! I have also bid on and won items in Brenda’s auction… it’s a fabulous fundraiser, huge effort and an all-around wonderful idea. I grew up in Montreal, but moved to a small town in the Laurentian ski area north of Montreal just after I got married. I love it… but I also just adore Arrowsic, ME… my uncle lives there and we spent time every summer there while I was growing up and I have many fond memories (even of the icy cold Maine Atlantic Ocean)!

  19. Vivian says:

    Can’t wait to read this new book by Ms. Novak. My favorite small town is Lewisburg WV, voted “America’s Coolest Small Town” in 2011 and host of an annual Chocolate Festival each April.

  20. Michelle Harlan says:

    My favorite small town is Fredericksburg, Texas. I love to walk through all of the little shops and visit the small museums. My favorite is the Pacific War Museum. There’s a beautiful garden to walk through. Another draw to the area is Market Days, because they set up a huge market outside of town. Lots of interesting things to find. Of course, my absolute favorite reasons to visit is that it’s centrally located to a lot of my favorite wineries.

    • Brenda Novak says:

      Michelle, have you ever been to Napa Valley? I love to go out there. It’s not that far from where I live (neither are the gold country towns–they’re just the other direction).

  21. Nova C. says:

    I have a lot of small towns I adore. The newest one is Glendale, Kentucky. Every October they have “Crossings Day” and a huge craft show/flea market. We park in a huge cornfield that has been tilled under and walk the streets with vendors lined up. It is so much fun!
    thanks for a chance to win!

  22. Raynore Jones says:

    favorite small town? Parkton, NC and why is it my favorite? because that’s where my daughter lives!
    Congratulations on the new book!

  23. Maxcine says:

    I am glad others noticed the date you posted, thought it was just me and my memory acting up again (the older I get the worse it gets). My favorite small town is Ogunquit, Maine. I am a fan of Brenda’s but I haven’t read any of this series yet, but looking forward to do that.

  24. Janine says:

    Brenda’s book series does sound like it would be very enjoyable to read. I never had a close friendship like that growing up. Where I went to school, people just didn’t get close. Or if they did, they had other plans (either take your boyfriend or borrow clothes and never give them back). There is one small town I would love to visit again. The first 10 years of my life, I lived in a town called Staatsburgh, in new York. One of my sisters goes back often to visit relatives and she still talks about moving back. She says the old house we lived in is still there, though not in the best of shape. Some things in the town have changed, but some are still the same. I loved living close to the river and walking down there (even though we were told not to). I’ll always remember how quiet it was except for when the trains would come by. I still love the trains when I hear them at my house now. But, back then, I will always remember laying in my bed (on the second floor) and my bed shaking and rocking me to sleep when the trains rolled by.

  25. Kimberly says:

    How did you know that I was just looking at this series and was thinking of ordering it today. I love series books and this really appealed to me.

    I have family in a very small town in Indiana called Loogootee, I loved spend time there when I was a kid. I loved all the Amish in the area and all the wonderful homemade stuff you could get. My best friend there had a horse. My great aunt and uncle owned the feed store and when my uncle passed the whole town came out for the funeral. You just always got a sense of family there.

  26. Quilt Lady says:

    Brenda I love your books and I want to read this one really bad.

    I was from a small community and we had a couple of country stores so to me it was a small town. My sister still lives there so I get to visit every now and then. They don’t have the stores anymore but I still love the place. It was home to me. Love living more in the country then in town. I live in a small town now but its not like when I was growing up. Everyone new each other then and we didn’t have to lock our doors, its just not the same now.

  27. JanieC says:

    Happy Release Day to Brenda. I’m not sure which small town I would love to visit, but a fictional one I would love to visit is Fool’s Gold in California from Susan Mallery’s books.

  28. Amy P says:

    Hi Jane!

    I love to visit Avalon, on Catalina Island! My husband and I first went there for our 5th anniversary (13 years ago). For being so close to LA it feels like you’re in another country! Love it!

    Take care!

    Amy

  29. Rosemary K. says:

    Good luck to Brenda on her new release and to you Jane on The Good Daughter. My favorite small town is Pacific Grove, California. So peaceful with the Monarch Butterflies, the Victorian homes and the cottage where John Steinbeck lived for a time.

  30. denise says:

    Doe Valley/Mountain City (don’t let the city fool you, it’s a small town)–spent so much summer time there at my grandparents. It’s my second home. It’s in my blood.

  31. Debra S. says:

    Brenda, I can’t wait to read your new book! My favorite small town to visit is Montauk, NY. It’s perfect.

  32. Melanie J says:

    Great post. Love both of your books. I have a small town that I love but it’s not here in teh US, it’s in England. It’s called Norwich and I love it.

  33. Pam Asberry says:

    My favorite small town is Mt. Carmel, Illinois. After more than 30 years away, it still feels like home!

  34. Ann Sheiring says:

    You and Brenda write such great books thanks for the chance to win. I live in Northern California and my favorite small town is Sonoma. It’s not so little anymore, but when I was a. Kid my parents took us there almost every weekend for a picnic. It has a town square and we would play on the swings and get a comic book from the little store on the square.

  35. chey says:

    I live in a small town, so if I’m going out of town, I’m usually going to a city.

  36. Sandy M. says:

    My favorite little town is Cannon Beach, OR. I go there each summer with six friends who I have known now for over 30 years. The town has great restaurants and fun shops to browse in, plus a beautiful beach.

  37. bn100 says:

    No favorite small town to visit.

  38. Jessica M says:

    I can’t think of any small towns I like to go to, sorry! I don’t leave my hometown much.

  39. Linda Mc says:

    I love to go to the little town of Julian, CA which is up in the the mountains in San Diego County. My husband and I went there the night we were married and spent two nights at a wonderful bed and breakfast (Orchard Hill). Julian is just close enough that it is an easy drive for us, but just far enough away to be able to experience a small town up in the mountains, away from the big city. And the apple pies there are great.

  40. Jane says:

    I have fixed the date in the contest…I think most of you knew I was talking about this Friday, which is Feb 1st. Thank you for allowing me to make mistakes and you still comment! Good girls. :)

  41. Melinda says:

    Hi Jane,
    I would love to go the small town where Dante’s Peak was filmed. I don’t where it was filmed but I picture it to be so cute, warm, and friendly.

    Melinda

  42. Emily T says:

    I love to visit a small town a couple hours drive from here named Julian… they have a bakery that makes the most yummy apple pies. And a diner with really yummy soup :)

  43. Mariska says:

    oh, I’m dying to read Odd mom out !! pick me :)

    small town ? i think my DH hometown, Metro will be my favorite :)

  44. eli yanti says:

    Brenda’s book sounds great :). So far I don’t have fave town

  45. Susan says:

    I often drive up the mountain to visit a small town where I work at our satellite office. As I drive up the mountain, I see cows, sheep, deer, and the occasional rooster. The mountains are normally snow capped this time of year. Life is simple there…no commercialism….just the nicest people in the world.

  46. karenk says:

    i love living in my small town…everyone knows & helps their neighbor.

  47. Janet Wiebe says:

    Looking forward to reading some of Brenda’s books too!! Love the small beach town of Gimli, MB. on Lake Winnipeg. It is the perfect little romantic beach town with lots of shopping. Would love to win this prize pack!!

  48. Library Lady says:

    Oh Jane, thank you for introducing me to Brenda. Those books sound great…reminding me of your new series and the series with the good friends starting with Odd Mom Out, a favorite of mine. Brenda, I will look for your books and I understand about your son and his group of friends. Our youngest son has that same kind of thing with a group of friends that have now married and are starting families. They were all great friends in college. My favorite small town(s) are the ones in the Hill Country of Texas: Marble Falls, Kerrville, Fredericksburg, Georgetown…I could go on and on. Thanks again Jane for the introduction and hope your writing is going well, too.

  49. Glenda Kuehn says:

    I love reading series where you get to know everyone in town. I’m definitely going to read these. My mom & dad’s family both live in Adolphus, Ky. There’re no stoplights, and no stores-unless you count the one gas station. It’s beautiful there, and I find it soothing to just drive through there.

  50. Debbie Theis says:

    My husband and I LOVE Columbia and we stay there frequently in our 5th wheel (at the 49er RV Ranch) and also at Baretta Gardens…. a really beautiful victorian bed and breakfast in Sonora! I am excited to read this series!

  51. Natalie says:

    Great post! I’ve always wanted to visit the small towns of Newfoundland. I don’t know why; something about it just calls to me.

  52. Donna M says:

    I like to visit the island of Catalina. The small town of Avalon there is fun to walk around. It’s a nice place to spend the day.

  53. Crystal says:

    I LOVE Brenda’s Series. I’ve read them all so far & look forward to the lastest!

    I actually live in a small town with a Beautiful large lake. It’s fun to visit the lake often even though I live here. It’s like a mini vacation.

  54. QuenKne M says:

    It’s not really a small town, but I love Toronto Canada. I haven’t been there in very long time but I have fond memories. Both books sound amazing..I’ll wait ’till Sunday before buying them, just in case I win them!! hehe, wink

  55. Gay Passano says:

    Wow, After reading some of these posts, I want to go to many of the small towns mentioned. For me though, I love Red Lodge,MT. It has historic buildings, an old time candy store, great restaurants, a tea house/book store,an International Festival & the best little small town bakery around, with the proprietors right there rolling out dough and serving up coffee! It is a gateway to the famous Bear Tooth Highway, a beautiful scenic mountain town and not far from Yellowstone Park. Truly special!

  56. Ruth Bousquet says:

    Love Brenda’s covers. We enjoy a weekend getaway to Allentown and Easton, Pa. They are quaint and charming, old steel towns and just a fun getaway for us that’s close enough to do on a weekend.

  57. kathleen says:

    My favorite small town is Seward, Alaska. It is beautiful, quaint and right by the ocean. The mountains go right into the water. It’s perfect during the long days of an Alaskan summer.

  58. karla says:

    Even if you live in a large city, a certain neighborhood or section can feel like your own “town.”

  59. Kortney says:

    My favorite little town to visit is Door County in WI. It is great to visit no matter what time of year you go.

  60. Linda Henderson says:

    My favorite small town to visit is Eureka Springs Arkansas. I’m not sure if that qualifies for a really small town, but it has that feel about it. It’s a beautiful place, it’s a tourist town and they have lots of shops to browse in and the Crescent Hotel is there and it’s supposed to be haunted. My youngest daughter got married on the lawn of the Crescent and they spent a few days there for a honeymoon, it’s a beautiful hotel. I also spent my first honeymoon there when I was 18. I know, way to young to get married. But I’ve always had fond memories of that town.

  61. Cindy says:

    The last time I visited MT (almost 2yrs ago) Cheryl took us to Red Lodge. It was so quaint. Lovely little shops including an old fashioned candy store. With the mountains in the background, it was just so pretty. This book sounds so good…looking forward to reading it :)

    Cindy

  62. Jill W says:

    Sounds like a great series! I love to read stories that take place in small towns. I particularly enjoy beach towns. I love the cover for When Summer Comes!

  63. Kirsten says:

    Florence, Oregon. My family used to have family reunions there when I was a kid. I loved it because it’s a coast town so we also spent time on the beach…it’s beautiful, peaceful and just so nostalgic to me.

  64. Jane says:

    Hi everyone,
    Here are the winners for the three prize packs with Brenda’s books -

    #13 Mary Hay
    #28 Amy P
    #33 Pam Asberry

    Please send me an email with your mailing details and if you mention the title of the blog in your email too, it makes it a bit easier for me. I’ll get your prize in the mail very soon once I hear from you.

    Hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend. I’ve been busy trying to get organized for my trip. I leave in the morning for Newark and can’t wait to see my friends on the East Coast!

    Have a lovely Sunday!
    Jane xoxoxo

  65. Kimberly says:

    Congrats to the winners!

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