It's still unbearably hot and terribly smoky in Montana. Every day, the news is monopolized by how much each fire has grown, how we should expect it to get worse, and if that isn't terrible enough, how viruses continue to rage through the population. It long-ago became depressing, and I find myself more often searching for happy and triumphant stories to balance everything out.
When that fails, I retreat to another world—the Gallagher's world . . . and pictures of snow.
Of late, my imagination has been steeped in winter, specifically December 1885 in the town of Briarwood, where the townsfolks and the Gallaghers are getting closer to the opening of the new inn (first mentioned in book 7, The Healer of Briarwood), but that's not all. Christmas is only a few weeks away, and one newer resident is still struggling with life and all the changes she faced during the past year.
Rachel Watson, introduced in The Healer of Briarwood, and nursed back to health by the wonderful Doctor Finn Brody. A lot of people helped Rachel in her recovery, but one man—Pinkerton Agent Julian Frank—is who she owes her sister's life. If you're not sure who I'm talking about, you'll get to know Rachel and Julian in-depth in book 8 of the Gallagher series.
Life is never easy for any of my fictional friends, and that's because real life isn't easy. Even during what should be the happiest times, tragedy happens, which is why they have earned every happy ending. And why we should grasp onto every moment of joy possible. Rachel and Julian have plenty of personal demons to battle in their story, but they won't have do it alone.
We're still a long way from Christmas, but it's where I'll be spending the rest of the summer.
With any luck, by the time I emerge from Briarwood, it will be autumn, and all the incredibly brave men and women battling blazes will be home with family and friends, and preparing for their own holiday seasons.
With the holidays comes Christmas tree hunting (it's a thing), with the Hawk's Peak kitchen filled with delicious aromas as the women bake, and the laughter of children and friends. The Gallagher clan is growing.
The new Whitcomb Springs novelette is with my editor, so stay tuned for its release. In the meantime, I'll be in 1885 with snow and a horse. There are always horses.
The winner of the June giveaway, for a copy of The Women of Crooked Creek, is Joyce from Illinois!
The book mentioned in this post, where Rachel and Julian were first introduced, is The Healer of Briarwood. Finn (Doc Brody) and Katharine were integral to Rachel's recovery, and will be there for her, along with the Gallagher family, when she faces what comes next.