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Sometimes I connect immediately with an author through my first experience with her work, today’s featured author is one such example! After falling in love with her novella Mowed Over in the Love at First Laugh collection, I knew I needed more of her stories in my life! (btw, that collection is going away very soon so snatch it up while you still can, y’all!)
About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Christina Coryell was born and raised in southwest Missouri, where she lives with her husband and children. She had plenty of people tell her that her degree in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing would be useless. They were probably right. Added to her dual major in History, she became the least likely candidate for nearly every career on the planet, save being a writer. That suits her just fine.
Christina has written from the back hatch of an SUV, in a lawn chair while at soccer practice, in the front seat of her car, with kids climbing on her, and often with extremely loud noise in the background. At least half of her books have been written during baseball games.
She believes great fiction mirrors life, and great life contains a little humor, so it’s difficult not to sprinkle a little funny business throughout her work. Oh…and character is everything.
She loves hearing from readers. You can connect with her on her website and social media.
Favorite holiday tradition
Christina: Okay, this is going to sound totally nuts, but my family has a Christmas Day marshmallow war.
I’m not even sure how it started – my sisters and I have talked about it recently. We think people were just generally quiet one year and my mom broke out a bag of marshmallows to liven everyone up.
Now it’s this major thing…people hiding behind couches, sticky marshmallow smeared on our jeans, generally in my case a big sugary ball of fluff directly to the eye. No one ever wins or loses, and my parents are still finding marshmallows in their sofa a month later.
It’s mass chaos, but it works for us.
Beth: Whoa. This makes my cookie baking seem so boring.
Christina: At the risk of sounding author cliché, my favorite has always been Ann with an E – Anne Shirley, from Anne of Green Gables. Anne and I have always had so much in common.
We friend hard, immediately thinking people are kindred spirits (although I tend to keep that info inside my head, where she blurts it out). I love that she has a thirst for knowledge, that her imagination is way bigger than her world, and that she has a penchant for fancy words.
And of course, her poetic side always called to me. (Seeing the PBS movies with Jonathan Crombie as Gilbert Blythe didn’t hurt either. My favorite movie leading man of all time.)
Beth: Ah, Christina! Now I KNOW we were meant to be friends! A fellow Anne lover HAS to be a kindred spirit! ????
Christina: I’m sure at different times in my life this would change, but right now the words that always pop into my head are: I have this hope. I can’t tell you when it started or why it’s there, but it always bolsters me. No matter what comes, I have a promise to cling to.
Beth: One of my daughters’ middle name is Hope. I get it!
Christina: Is it horrible that these favorite questions are so difficult for me? I am having difficulty narrowing things down to only one.
This time I’m going to answer with my favorite recent fictional couple I’ve read, and I think it’s Grace and Devin in Kristen Heitzmann’s Told You So. I’m a huge sucker for intelligent, witty banter, and these two had that in droves. They were also masters of the comeback, which is something I lack in real life.
Give me a computer and I’m fine, but face to face, eloquence is not my friend.
Beth: Talking about your favorite things is supposed to be easy but yes, choosing just one is so hard (sorry)! GREAT choice!!! Eloquence also escapes me.
Christina: I don’t have a favorite genre per se, but the genre I find myself perusing the most is romantic comedy. When I read a book that checks all the boxes and is subtly funny, witty, and charming, I get excited about it. Most of my book browsing time is invested in reading samples looking for that perfect combination. ????
Beth: I always say variety is the spice of life but I do have a soft spot for rom-com! ????
Tell us about your latest release
Christina: Written in the Stars is book one of the Backroads series. The town setting is similar to the place where I grew up in the middle of nowhere, and a lot of the book was inspired by country music I heard on the radio.
A feisty pint-sized Arkansas hairdresser and a former beauty queen from Texas rekindle an unexpected friendship to take them through their respective rock bottoms, learning about one another and themselves on the journey.
Throw in a couple of good old country boys to make it even more interesting where matters of the heart are concerned.
The number on the population sign might seem insignificant, but a few short steps from the beaten path, there’s more than meets the eye.
Look a little closer… That sleek out-of-town convertible is bringing former pageant queen Brooke Langdon back into town for the first time in a decade. She’s dragging nothing with her but the hyphen in her last name.
Gatlin Moore is running his tractor along the fence line, spending his days keeping up his parents’ farm instead of living out his dreams in Nashville.
The sheriff is pulling into Holly Christian’s driveway, preparing to tell her that her life’s about to crumble.
And Hunter Pearce, the guy everyone calls when they need something fixed? He’s racing to Holly’s place too, wondering if things are too broken to put back together.
Welcome to Hope Canyon. This is our backroads story.
Beth: Y’all this book feels like home to me, too! Check it out!
Tell us about your next release
Christina: My next release is Written in the Dust, book two of the Backroads series. Where book one eases into matters of the heart, book two tackles them head on. It delves a little more into the guys’ stories and unwraps more of the history that shaped the various small-town relationships. It releases on October 3rd.
Fun fact about the two books: Three of my four cover models attended the same little high school I attended.
Beth: Yipee! I’m so excited! These are great covers, too!
What inspired you to create this setting for your book?
Christina: I’ve read so many novels about small towns and seen a lot of movies that feature small towns, but very few things that feature the kind of place where I grew up.
There weren’t a bunch of cute mom and pop shops on the town square. There was a population sign and a gas station. Period. If we wanted food in our refrigerator, we had to drive twenty-five miles to get to the nearest grocery store.
There’s a kind of neighborly attitude there that I’ve found to be unique in my life experience.
Beth: I love it! Your hometown is even smaller than mine (and at population 2000 and the county seat, that’s saying something)!
What kind of research did you do on this setting?
Christina: About twenty years’ worth. ???? The feel of the place wasn’t difficult to pin down, but I did map everything out on the state of Arkansas. Made sure my directions made sense and the scenery would work.
And I asked my husband a lot of questions that made him roll his eyes: When is the optimal time to cut hay? How do you repair a barbed wire fence? He loves it when I ask him questions (note the sarcasm).
Beth: If your husband is anything like mine, I can imagine! Thank you for visiting with us today, Christina!
Something was wrong.
Holly knew it with every fiber of her being, like that weird sixth sense she had that told her when lightning bugs would begin illuminating the dusky sky. The color of the atmosphere around her would change ever so slightly, and she would start anxiously watching the grass for the little boogers to begin darting up into the air, putting on a show.
Whatever this was, it had nothing to do with lightning bugs.
If someone were to break in through the back door, her dog Skittles would destroy the place with his weak bladder. Not that a person would try to pull anything roundabout her neck of the woods, where everybody and their brother packed heat. Her eyes nervously darted to the shotgun above her doorframe, held up by strategically placed nails. She’d never used the gun for anything other than taking out that snake lurking around the premises, waiting for her dog to get a little too close. She wasn’t too keen on using it now if the need presented itself, although it had nothing to do with her aim. That was top notch. If anyone doubted it, they could ask the snake.
This wasn’t an ordinary snake in the grass though. Whatever it was, she sensed it in her bones, and she didn’t like it one bit.
Nobody would get in through the back door, she assured herself. She’d locked it on the knob and the little chain up above, which she knew because she’d already checked it twice. And Skittles wouldn’t be tearing up the place either—the little Havanese was tucked away in his crate for safe keeping.
Even the zipper on her jeans was secure…she’d checked that more than once too. Most recently while she peered at her reflection in the mirror for at least the tenth time, but she looked down once more for good measure. Yep, right where it needed to be.
Her eyes darted back up to meet themselves in the mirror. It must have been nerves, that was all. Of course she’d have a hard time following through when it actually came down to it.
“You can do this,” she whispered, smoothing the ends of her shoulder-length blond hair. She couldn’t remember the last time she had taken so much time on her appearance, or the last time she looked quite so pulled together, for that matter. The center of her bottom lip shimmered a bit when she twisted, the light meeting the sparkle in her lip gloss.
With a determined nod at her reflection, she grabbed her purse, took one last look around the room, and crossed to the front door. But before she fully committed to stepping out into the night, Holly Christian drew open the drawer of the beaten-up desk, slid the diamond ring off her left hand, and tucked it safely inside.
Tell us reader friends, how small is your hometown?
What are some of its unique or endearing qualities?