Saturday, July 12, 2008

From Me for You...About Dry Creek Sweethearts

Attention: some of you have asked when Louisiana Saturday Night is going to resume. August 2nd. We'll have our next author interview on that day. Okay?

I picked up a Love Inspired yesterday called Dry Creek Sweethearts by Janet Tronstad. Evidently it's one of many books that take place in Dry Creek. Makes me want to put it back and pretend I don't know it exists. I tend to shy away from series because I feel obligated to read them all.

This book grabbed me because of its wonderful first line: "I don't care if he did grow up in Dry Creek; he's still not one of us. Not anymore."

Anyone who is anyone knows you can't just plop down in a small town and ever fit in or belong. You have to be born there. So, I read on to the second line, and the third. Soon, before I knew it, I was nearing chapter three.

To tell the truth, the plot of this book is like one of my own: hero sets off to achieve his dream and leaves heroine behind. How many times has that been written? And why did it grab me this time? My goodness, the heroine's name is Linda. How simple can you get? To make matters stranger, the hero's name is Duane Enger--and Duane is a real person--but not the person in the story. The real Duane Enger is the author's brother-in-law and he gave Tronstad permission to use his name. That alone is curious, isn't it?

Tronstad uses a lot of back story in the first couple of chapters. She does a lot of telling too. This is stuff I'd really mark up if I was her critique partner. And you know something. . . if I did mark it up and tell her to change it, then I might have really screwed up her voice. 'Cause this works.

I'm notorious for putting a book down and not finishing it if it doesn't flow for me. The older I get, the shorter my attention span. I have to admit that I've been troubled as to why Dry Creek Sweethearts holds my attention. I think I've finally figured it out.

Tronstad's style is nice, smooth. She writes visually. I can picture heroine Linda stacking chairs and mopping the floor of her cafe over and over again.
A woman who needed to mop a floor that often didn't have time to be thinking about some man who had left her behind to pursue his fantasy of stardom.

And then Duane hits town, sick and lonely and filled with some deep dark sorrow that even he doesn't understand. We know sparks are going to fly as soon as he gets well--maybe sooner. Poor guy doesn't even know why he's returned to Dry Creek.

Here's one of my favorite paragraphs:

No one had told him that being a rock star would ruin any life he'd planned to have. Although the thought had been coming to him lately, that maybe he didn't really want a life after all. That maybe the idea of having a real life scared him to death. That when he asked Linda to marry him someday, he'd never really expected someday to come. A man like him had no business getting married anyway. He'd never even seen a marriage up close. He wouldn't even know how to fake being a good husband.

Talk about a lost soul. Have you ever pursued a dream only to have it gobble you up and spit you out? Looks like Duane has. In fact, I think I've pinpointed just why this book grabbed me the way it has, and why I'll finish reading it.

Because. . . Dry Creek Sweethearts reads like a good country western song sings. I love the angst, and I sure do like my country.

But here's what I learned from author Janet Tronstad: Showing is good, but don't be afraid to tell. Give back story when the story screams for back story. Introspection is okay too, if and when it draws us closer to the characters. In other words, write your story the way it naturally falls. Someone will tell you if it doesn't work. It might be a crit partner, an agent, an editor or a reviewer, but it will always be your story and if it makes it to book form, someone out there is going to love it.
I've never read Janet Tronstad but yep, I'll be checking out her other stories set in Dry Creek, Montana. Maybe you should too.

1 comment:

christa said...

Hey--this sounds like a book I need to read!