Sweethaven Summer, Sweethaven Summer Series #1Sweethaven Summer, Sweethaven Summer Series #1
Courtney Walsh
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Suzanne's daughter, Campbell, journeys there in search of answers to her questions about her mother's history.

Suzanne's three friends-Lila, Jane, and Meghan-were torn apart by long-buried secrets and heartbreak. Though they haven't spoken in years, each has pieces of a scrapbook they made together in Sweethaven.Suzanne's letters have lured them all back to the idyllic lakeside town, where they meet Campbell and begin to remember what was so special about their long Sweethaven summers.

As the scrapbook reveals secrets one by one, old wounds are mended, lives are changed, and friendships are restored-just as Suzanne intended.
     


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Courtney A. Walsh - has lived, traveled, studied and worked abroad in both Europe and Asia. With two screenplays under her belt, Ms. Walsh continues to fan the flames of her ongoing love affair with words and their formidable powers of self-expression.

In her own words:
"I've always been a fan of globe hopping. Adventurer, seeker, gypsy—that’s how my friends and family know me. My own mother has taken to putting my addresses in her phone book in pencil. I change locations more than some people change their clothes.

Favorite Verse: Exodus 14:14 (NIV): The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.


 

 Our Interview with Courtney Walsh


 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I wear a lot of hats. I’m a work-from-home mom to three kids (ages 10, 8 and 4) and wife to the most creative person on the planet. We spent eleven years in ministry and just over a year ago, we made a huge life change and moved across the country to Colorado where my husband now works for Group Publishing and we have mountains out the front door.

I’ve written two paper crafting books, Scrapbooking Your Faith and The Busy Scrapper and spent over two years as a Contributing Editor for Memory Makers Magazine. Currently I work as the PR Manager at Webster’s Pages (a scrapbooking company) and as an instructor at Big Picture Scrapbooking.

I start every day with too much coffee. I live for couch dates with my husband. I think Friday Night Lights was gone too soon and ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a devoted fan of Robert Downey, Jr.
 
What is your favorite Bible verse (translation too, please)? Why?

This changes periodically, but right now my favorite verse is “The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.” –Exodus 14:14 (NIV). I think this verse comes to me as a reminder that I don’t have to do it all on my own (which I’m known to try and do.) For so long, I’d have to get to my absolute wit’s end before I’d pray and ask for help. Now, I start each day still and let God fight for me. (Or I try to, sometimes I have to re-read this as a reminder!)

What was your inspiration to write Sweethaven Summer?

A few years ago, some wonderful friends of ours offered us vacation time in their cottage on Lake Michigan. They told us the story of how this beach community had been founded in the early 1900’s and the cottages were passed down through the generations—the same families going there every summer, their kids growing up together in that little utopian world. It just stayed with me. I could imagine being a part of that—scrapbooking with my old friends in the big common building, spending the days on the beach and the nights in the park. It was like something out of a book. So I decided to put it in one. 

 

How much of the story comes from personal experience?

A good chunk of it, though no one character is exactly like me.  The scrapbooking aspect of it is obviously very near and dear to my heart, as that’s something I’ve always loved. There are moments in each character’s life that I think resemble moments in mine, but a lot of this storyline is the result of letting my mind wander.

How much research did Sweethaven Summer take?

I LOVE research! So, before I started writing, I did a lot of digging around into towns and communities like the one I was creating. I sort of melded a bunch of my favorite ideas together to create what I considered the perfect cottage town. Then, there were little details I had to research about where each of the characters came from and that sort of thing. The scrapbooking and art elements I added from my own experience and I watched a lot of Paula Deen to get Adele firmly planted in my mind!
 
What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing Sweethaven Summer?

One of the coolest things I found was in this little beach town in Michigan. There had been an old wooden carousel that had been completely restored. For whatever reason, I fell in love with the whole idea of a carousel down by the lake—of families taking their kids there for ice cream on warm summer nights. It’s like that little tidbit unlocked a whole world for me, and it made its way into the book. Someday I want to go ride that carousel. 

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
 
I think the same as anyone who is “putting themselves out there.” You go through this litany of questions and self doubt. “Will anyone read this?” “What if they hate it?” “What if I never write another book again?” blah blah blah. It’s one of those things you just have to hand over to God, I think. Because really, I can’t do any of this on my own anyway.

The other big challenge? My back. I’ve thrown my back out SO many times which makes it impossible to sit in a chair for any length of time! I’m constantly reminding myself to take a break and move around.
 
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

I love using my imagination to create a whole new world. I really enjoy the process of writing and I think I always have. I’m definitely an introspective person, so being “alone with my thoughts” suits me quite well. And to imagine that maybe someone will be challenged or changed by something I’ve written, well, that’s just icing.

Also, I love to name characters. It’s probably my favorite part of this job!
 
What clubs or organizations are you involved with helping with your writing?

The big one for me is ACFW—American Christian Fiction Writers. One of the first things I did when I started writing fiction was join that organization. I took classes, read the loop, read the articles, asked questions. People are so giving and so generous with their knowledge. It’s such a tremendous blessing to be a part of something like that. Someday I hope I can help new writers the way my mentors have helped me.

What new projects are on the horizon?

I’m just finishing up the second book in the Sweethaven series and almost done with the first draft on the third one! I’m excited because I think the characters have really gone full circle by the end…beyond that, my husband and I are writing a musical for Christian Youth Theatre—Chicago; a stage version of Hercules and I’ve got a few other ideas brewing! My husband hates that I can’t focus on one thing at a time, but I like to have lots of pots boiling. I think I’m more productive that way. 

What message would you like your readers to take from reading Sweethaven Summer?
 
In my mind, this story is about a lot of things…scrapbooking, redemption, forgiveness…but at the heart of it, I think it’s really a story about friendship. I want women to really walk away cherishing those old friends, even the ones they’ve maybe lost track of or haven’t talked to in a long time. Female friendships are so unique and so precious. I’d love it if someone finished the book and picked up the phone to call a very old friend.

What were your favorite books as a child?

My very favorites were To Kill a Mockingbird and Anne of Green Gables. I’d like to re-read both of those soon.

What is your greatest achievement?

Gosh, is it cliché to say my family? Beyond that, I don’t think it’s happened yet…

What do you do to get away from it all?

This is a rare occurrence with me. I LOVE to work. I really love writing and I love putting my mind to something and doing, doing, doing. But when I need a little therapy, I usually paint or my husband and I watch TV. Since we live in Colorado now, I’d like to take advantage of the beautiful weather more and get outside for long walks, but so far that’s still a pipe dream!