Featured Author: Hope Ramsay

Hope-Ramsay200pxI am so excited to have Hope Ramsay as my featured guest author.  I love her writing and am such a huge fan of her books.  Hope writes fun, fresh and warm  stories that delight.  She’s one of my favorite novelists and perfect for a summer read.

Originally from New York, Hope spent many summers visiting family in South Carolina, which inspires her Last Chance books.  Today, while I’m in College Station, Texas with my son Jake for his Aggie Freshman orientation, Hope has agreed to join us to talk about Watermelon Memories!

From Hope:

My Uncle Buck was a giant of a man.  He stood well over six feet and probably weighed close two-hundred-fifty pounds.  His real name was Rupert, but I don’t think anyone other than Aunt Thelma, his wife, ever called him that.  Uncle Buck lived and died in the tiny town of Estill, South Carolina, located in Hampton County.

As a little girl of eight or nine, I thought Uncle Buck was the watermelon man.  I had this impression of him because he would show up at my Aunt Doss’s house with dozens of watermelons in the bed of his beat-up Chevy truck.  He’d bring them a couple of times in July and he’d stash them on Aunt Doss’s back patio, under one of the benches.  I had to grow up some before I learned that Uncle Buck was a boss on one of the picking crews that worked the watermelon fields in Hampton County.

Last Chance Beauty Queen cover_hi res

Well, anyway, thanks to Uncle Buck, we had so many watermelons that it t took real dedication to eat them all.  We ate a watermelon every day in the afternoon.  And what we didn’t finish got thrown away, because Aunt Doss’s icebox wasn’t big enough to hold that much watermelon.  Those watermelons were tasty.  And they would cool you down on a hot summer day, which was important, because in those days no one had air conditioning.  Not even in the middle of nowhere South Carolina.

Watermelons are still a pretty big deal in Hampton County, which claims to be the location of the first, ever watermelon festival.  I don’t know if that’s true, but the Hampton County watermelon festival has been happening every summer for 71 years.  It’s got everything you’d want in a small-town festival, too:  watermelon eating contests, seed spitting contests, a street dance, a pet show, a 5K mud run, a couple of watermelon queens, a parade, and a lot of contests.  In short it’s sort of like a southern take on a county fair.

And since I write small town romances set in South Carolina, I was practically required to include a watermelon festival in my books.  So for the Last Chance watermelon festivals I borrowed from the Hampton County festival and then I embellished. . . a lot.  I introduced the fictitious Allenberg County Watermelon Festival in Last Chance Beauty Queen, a story about an ex-watermelon queen who is trying, desperately to live down the experience.  The short story, Last Chance Bride, is about another watermelon queen who runs off with the man of her dreams.

Last Chance Summer cover_lo res

But my upcoming short story, Last Chance Summer is the only one that takes place entirely during the watermelon festival.
It’s the story of Abigail Wright, a war widow with a somewhat precocious four-year-old son, and a slightly senile eighty-year-old grandmother.  She’s taking them both to the watermelon festival for a day of fun.  But fun is a relative term, and Abigail isn’t all that keen on riding the Ferris wheel with her son, or hanging out at the kissing booth with her grandmother.

Only one thing makes it all bearable:  the dulcet tones of broadcaster Grant Trumbull, whose watermelon festival show, complete with interviews of Allenberg County’s quirkiest citizens, is being blasted live through loud speakers all over the fairgrounds.


Abigail has never met Grant, and even though she finds his voice funny and charming, she’s not about to succumb to the matchmaking antics of the Last Chance church ladies.  But her grandmother and young son have other ideas.

The short story will be available on August 6, 2013 in e-book format from Forever Yours.  I don’t have any ability to send an early copy of it, yet.  But to get you in a watermelon mood, I’m happy to give away a copy of Last Chance Beauty Queen, in a cute watermelon tote bag that I made myself.


Thank you, Hope, for sharing with us today.  I’m so glad you took the time to connect with my readers.  I know that they will love your voice and your stories.

Readers, look for Hope’s books next time you’re stocking up on your reading list and be sure to visit her website to learn more!  I’m also going to double the fun and add to Hope’s prize of Last Chance Beauty Queen by offering up a second copy to a second winner!  For a chance to enter this contest, leave a comment and tell me what’s your favorite summer activity or your favorite summer fruit?  Contest runs through Wednesday night and I’ll announce winners on Thursday.  Good luck!!


  1. My favorite summer activity is going to the beach in the evenings with my family, having dinner and visiting with them, and watching the sunset. My son’s family does this a couple times every month and it is very enjoyable. I love getting to see the ocean.

  2. I have to admit, watermelon is on the top of my list of favorite summer fruits (along with strawberries). I really don’t have a favorite summer activity because it’s just too hot to do anything in the summer here (as I’m sure you are learning being here in Texas right now). I hope you and your son are having a good time checking out his new college. I love the sound of Hope’s books. they sound like great summer reads.

  3. Summer–I love eating watermelon….and grilling outside–since I live in Tx–it gets hot here–so not a lot of time sitting outside though

  4. Hi Jane,
    I love watermelon, nectarines, and fresh blueberries in the summer.
    My favorite summer activity is getting to go to Cannon Beach with a group of lifelong friends- we leave tomorrow!

  5. My favorite summer activity is going to the beach and spending hours walking along the shore, reading on the beach and enjoying the day. I enjoy watermelon the most of all fruit in the summer.

  6. I love watermelon and cantaloupe in the summer! Great giveaway and I’m from South Carolina!

  7. My favorite summer activity is water with my granddaughter. It doesn’t matter where. Our back yard. The little pool. Splashing in the water draining on the side of the road. The fountains at the mall……the ways are infinite. And if you see a beautiful 4 year old and her grandma soaking wet in her clothes playing in the fountains at the mall, it just might be me. I always go intending to stay kind of dry and wind up running in the water with her. Watermelon is good, but strawberries….love those strawberries. Love the sweet bag! So cute.

  8. My favorite summer activity is spending time with grandchildren. Since my children live out of town in various directions from home, it is especially wonderful having my grands come to visit. Happily, this family isn’t through yet, our youngest son and his wife are expecting their first in September. (Since I was blessed with three wonderful sons and three fantastic grandsons, please pray for a granddaughter! We need a little pink in our lives.)

  9. My favorite summertime fruit is grapes! Nice and cold with a little bit of jello sugar sprinkled over them! That is the BEST!

  10. The best part about summer is that I get to work outside in my gardens. Living in upstate New York, where the summers are very short, we try to get in as much outdoor time as possible when the weather is warm. Our winters are way too long!

  11. My favorite thing to do in the summer is laze around the beach!! With a good book! I was just thinking the other day I really miss the days when the kids were younger and I’d pack up the beach toys and they’d play for hours! Now I’m lucky if they last an hour or two with me, lol!!

  12. Hope your enjoying your time at College Station!

    Mmmmm….watermelon in the summer : ) I also enjoying going by the water in a small town to eat dinner while the sun is setting.

  13. Hope, How have I not read your books, I love small town fun series like this. I will defintely be checking them out.

    Jane, enjoy your time with Jake as he gets ready for college. Hope that the weather is good for you.

    I don’t know that I have a favorite Summertime thing anymore, but growing up I lived in the pool from Memorial weekend until Labor Day weekend. I have such fond memories of being a kid and my grandparents buying a giant watermelon sprinkling salt on top and giving all of us cousins a fork and letting us dig in.

  14. Hi Jane and Hope! The book sounds wonderful! Our favorite summer activity is to sit outside in the evening after the sun starts going down & usually the humidity, too! My favorite summer fruit is watermelon!! Delicious!

  15. Hope, that sounds like a wonderful childhood memory. Who can forget sitting on the curb having a watermelon seed spitting contest as a child?

    Favorite summer fruit for me, though, has to be peaches, just picked and so juicy that you need a washcloth to wipe the juice off your hands, arm and face. Yum!

    1. I didn’t mention this, but Uncle Buck was a boss on a peach picking crew, too. We had more peaches than we knew what to do with. I adore peaches, and I think peaches on a bowl of Cheerios is just about the best breakfast a girl could ever eat. 🙂

  16. Another great author feature! Thank you! My favorite summer activity is eatting corn on the cob – love it! (not that that is an activity, but it’s summer which means corn!)


  17. Hi Jane!

    My favorite summer fruit is watermelon! So refreshing when it’s hot outside!

    Have fun at Jake’s orientation!


  18. My favorite summertime activity is grilling outside.
    My favorite fruit being from Georgia is the “peach”.
    We also have a watermelon festival not far from where I live in Monticello, Florida they just had their 63rd festival this year.
    I love southern stories about beauty queens.

  19. Swimming – anywhere! Pool, river, ocean, pond. My now favorite summertime fruit is raspberries which I pick as they ripen in my very own raspberry patch. When I water, I often “flush” the rabbit that likes to nap under the raspberry bush.

  20. It wouldn’t be Summer without sitting in the sun getting tan, dipping in the pool to cool off, a great book to read, and ice cold watermelon!!

  21. I love blueberries and you-pick places and was delighted when I found out that there is a place close to where I live.

    Have a great summer.

  22. I love watermelon and I love to go swimming in the summer. I also love to read books out by the pool.

  23. favorite summer fruit would be watermelon. activity would be watching the kids play in the pool. 🙂

  24. My favorite summer activity is bar-b-q’ing and my favorite summer fruit is watermelon.


  25. Picking blackberries at my Grandma’s in Tennessee was one of my favorite things to do in the summer.

  26. My favorite activity this summer was my daughter’s high school graduation. Best thing ever!! 🙂 Favorite summer fruit? Tie between watermelon and strawberries.

  27. Favorite summer fruit.. peaches! Favorite activity is going to my family’s beach house or spending lots of time outdoors with my pups. Thank you for the giveaway!

  28. My favorite summer activity is attending ‘Symphony on the Prairie’ – outdoor symphony orchestra at Conner Prairie (a ‘living history’ museum), which is a perfect picnicing oportunity!! Music, munchies and relaxing under the stars.

  29. Lately my favorite activity has been sitting in front of a fan reading. I love fresh berries! Dee

  30. Watermelon is my favorite summer fruit if its a fruit. I just had some a few min. ago. I have been out in the heat all day bleaching my deck. Love coming in from the heat and having a watermelon snack. I usually spend my summer doing outside work. Then reading in the evenings.

  31. My favorite summer fruit is peaches. I wait all year for those yummy bites of summer. And my fav summer activity would eating peaches and drinking a nice, tall, cold drink on my patio while reading a good book. Thanks for this awesome giveaway!

  32. Oh my…my favorite fruit is watermelon, but fresh ripe peaches run a very close second! My fav activity in the summer is spending time with my grandbabies.

  33. When I was little summer time meant lots of time spent at the local dirt race tracks. I think when I think of summer I can still smell the cars, their fuel, the dirt, the mud… Oh and the sounds of summer the cars running with that thunder that just makes your heart beat a little different. Now that my Daddy is gone I watch the NASCAR races on TV for my fix and forego the local dirt tracks. They are just not the same with out Daddy. Thanks for letting me take my short trip down memory lane 🙂

    1. I don’t have childhood memories of dirt tracks. But I married a Georgia boy who loves dirt track racing. He’s gotten me hooked on racing too. You might be interested to know that I’ve got a NASCAR driver as a hero in one of my books — HOME AT LAST CHANCE.

  34. Love, love, love summer watermelons, strawberries, and even though not a fruit, sweet corn….look forward to them so much every year. I think I could live on those 3 things all summer!

  35. My favorite summer activity is letting my little guy play in the city fountains. All the kids have so much fun. Plus we love watermelon!

  36. I love strawberries and watermelon. My favorite summer activity is reading as many books as I can.

  37. I love all the summer fruits, but black cherries would be my absolute favorite. Icy cold watermelon on a hot day can’t be dismissed though.

  38. My favorite summer activity would have to be just hanging out, reading and being lazy. To do so while eating watermelon and cherries just makes it even better.

  39. I’m gonna have to pick up her books! She sounds so fun! My favorite Summer fruit is strawberries!!! And I guess my favorite Summer activity will always be swimming, even if I haven’t swam in many moons. Oh, and waiting for Football Season! 😉

  40. Love Door County Wisconsin apples and cherries! The trees are gorgeous when they blossom in the spring time too.
    Favorite summer time activity camping outside and sitting by the campfire making s’mores!

  41. I love all kinds of summer fruit at the moment been picking bluebrries for I have a friend that her bushes are so full and she ask if I wanted some, so now I have a few bags full…come winter I’ll enjoy them, and am now too. I’ve never have read Hope’s books, they both seem like a fun and enjoyable books to read. I enjoy reading at the beach or just being outside playing with my 2 dogs.

  42. I grew up around all the peaches in South Carolina and still love them….unfortunately, I have heard the orchard we used to stock up on them, is gone! I love taking my kids swimming, they have so much fun! Have fun, and thanks for the intro to another new to me author!

  43. Summer… I live near a large lake and our favorite summer activity is to pack up the kids and dog and head a mile down to grandma’s house to spend the day on the lake. The dog loves it, too!

  44. Jane,

    Thanks for inviting me to guest blog on your site. My favorite summertime activity is baseball. I’ve got season tickets for the Washington Nationals and I love it when the boys of summer are playing at home. I have the baseball game on right now!

  45. My favorite summer activity is reading and traveling. I enjoy a great number of fruits…hard to say. Thanks for the chance to win.

  46. Enjoying the warm weather w/family & friends. I love love love all fruits but Watermelon is by far the best!!!

  47. Jane thank you for hosting Hope Ramsay today. I missed commenting earlier as I was working.
    I have enjoyed your books and Hope is also one of my favorite authors-which I think you knows!
    Watermelon is my favorite fruit as well as my pet rabbits & dog. I can pick up a whole watermelon and cut them entire Mellon up and it will take 10 minutes for myself an the herd to consume it.
    It’s quite a site to see. The juice is everywhere down their faces, noses and at times the carpet! But we al love it.
    Hope I am looking forward to August 6 release

  48. Watermelon and Strawberries are two of my fav fruits in the summer, well any time really.. Love the bag and I loved that book…

  49. Growing up Middle Tennessee my Grandaddy always stock an entire deep freezer with a truck loaf of Popsicles and icecream for us 10 grand kids. Until I was in jr high I thought everyone did this for summer. He also had tons of watermelons for us all summer long. Every time I eat watermelon and ice cream it’s like he is still miss us. He was the best Grandaddy in the world.

  50. Grilled pineapple is a great treat with pork during the summer grilling months. Love the bag.

  51. I must admit that I am an avid reader and collector of books! But,not familiar with you, Hope. But, after reading this, I will be a big fan!Can’t wait to get your books!

  52. I love Watermelon and am sad that it is full of sugar as I now am a Diabetic.

    We used to take a bite of Watermelon and spit the seeds on the ground (we had a high step on the house front on the farm.

    I have even pickled Watermelon pieces and my Mom and Dad used to pickle Watermelon rinds with a wee bit of melon left on.

  53. As a kid it would have been swimming and just hanging out with my friends.
    I’m from the Peach State so got to ay peaches, I ate my share as a kid.
    I love Hope Ramsay’s books and how she’s willing to talk and share with her readers!

  54. My favorite thing about summer is that you can sit outside in the evening longer before it gets dark. Just relaxing and enjoying being outside. I cannot wait for this next book to come out!!

  55. Who doesn’t love blueberries…with the corresponding cobbler, crisps and ice cream that can be made with them.

  56. Loved your watermelon memories Hope! Watermelon is my favourite fruit and I remember many summers when we were carrying one during our mountain hiking, put it in one of the really cold mountain streams and enjoyed it fresh and sweet. Watermelon never tasted as good as those days!
    Will check out Hope books, for sure.

  57. I love fruit salad in the summer with watermelon, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries,and kiwi, all my favorite summer fruts.

  58. Watermelon, hands down, is my favorite summer fruit. Favorite summer activity is going to my mom and stepdad’s lake house and relaxing on the boat!

  59. My favorite summer fruit is a nice piece of juicy seedless watermelon. It’s so refreshing and it definitely cools you off during hot/humid weather.

    My favorite summer activity is going swimming and laying out by the pool.

  60. I think I’ll be making a summer fruit salad soon! Thanks for all the great comments. 🙂

    Our winners are –

    #25 Sonny N.
    #61 Cathy Genna

    Winners, email me soon with your mailing address, comment # and the title of this blog so we can get prizes in the mail to you!


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