Monday, May 13, 2013

Spring, Lilacs, and Ann Gabhart

Spring has arrived here in Kentucky, just in time for Ann Gabhart's visit. Ann's here today to share the story behind the story in her book, The Scent of Lilacs.  She's also giving away a copy to one of my readers. Be sure and check out the details below.

Welcome, Ann! It's great to have you back.

Thank you, Karen!

Here is the Book Description:

Life changing events rarely happen in Hollyhill, Kentucky, and when they do, they are few and far between. But for young Jocie Brooke and her family, they happen all at once during the summer of 1964. Though on the surface things are just fine, it seems everyone in Jocie's life has something they're not saying, something they're hiding from her - and from themselves. As Jocie digs into her family's past, she stirs a whirlwind of discoveries. Will she find the answers everyone so desperately needs? Or will her questions lead to truths better left hidden?

Here is the Story Behind the Story, in Ann's Words:

Several years ago I’d hit a wall. Yes, I was writing, but I tried several different genres, and nothing was working. So I decided to take that age old advice to “write what you know.” What I knew were small towns, country living, and country churches. I set the book in the 1960s and cranked my memory into full gear to come up with the background of my story.

The little town of Lawrenceburg where I grew up became my fictional town of Hollyhill. I took what I remembered about Main Street in the Sixties and set my characters right down in the middle of it in the newspaper office. Town was two blocks with the courthouse on one end and the post office on the other. The library was up the street on one end of town. We had two grills, two banks, two hardware stores, two dress shops, two laundromats, two furniture stores, two doctors, and two stoplights. (Everything must have come in twos.) Saturday afternoons all the farmers came to town and you could walk down the street and meet friend after friend. You knew everybody in the county and not only knew them, you knew who their family was. You knew what their houses looked like and whether they kept the weeds out of their garden or not.

So that's the kind of town I wrote about in my Heart of Hollyhill books, starting with Scent of Lilacs.  I came up with a girl whose father is the editor of a small town weekly newspaper, and on the weekends pastors a little country church. I stirred in a few eccentric characters. Don’t all small towns have their share of those? I didn't exactly model any of them after people in my town (with the exception of Old Sally and even with him I made changes), but I did take a smidgen of this person and smidgen of that person and come up with some people who felt right at home in a small town and a country church.

That didn't mean I didn't change what needed changing to make the story better. I wanted Hollyhill to be Small Town, America. A place readers could recognize and maybe say "I grew up in a place like that." The books are all being re-released. Scent of Lilacs was first in March 2013. Orchard of Hope will be out in October 2013. Summer of Joy will be re-released in February or March 2014.

In order to celebrate these books back in print, Jocie, the young heroine in the book, is reporting from Hollyhill once a week on her own blog, the Hollyhill Book of the Strange. No spoilers or excerpts from the book. All new small town adventures. Hope you'll stop by on Monday nights or Tuesdays to see what Jocie and her Hollyhill friends are up to.

You can check out Jocie's thoughts here, on Hollyhill's blog. 

Thanks Ann, for stopping by. It's always a pleasure. Wish you all the best with your books! 

Thanks so much, Karen, for inviting me over again. I always love visiting your place.

For more info on Ann, visit:

Ann's website

Ann's blog

Buy Scent of Lilacs here

Find Ann on Facebook and Twitter 

Here is My Review of Scent of Lilacs:

One thing I like about Ann Gabhart’s books is that they have personality. It’s present not just in the characters, but in the story. Ann has a gift for creating characters that most anyone can relate to, a setting you can see, and a plot that tugs at your heartstrings. Then she wraps it into a neat and touching package. 

Scent of Lilacs is no exception. Jocie’s summer contains pleasant surprises and answers to several prayers. Sadly though, she encounters hard lessons as well. But they are inevitable, considering that Jocie’s mother ran off some years before with Jocie’s older sister Tabitha.

Originally published in 2005, the Scent of Lilacs was released again this spring. I’m thankful for the chance to read it now, as the combination of surprises and humor provides a heartwarming and inspirational read. Will look forward to checking out the rest of the Hollyhill series soon.

Here are the Giveaway Details: 

  • You must be a Google Friend Connect follower and leave your email address with your comment. 
  • Gain bonus entries (+1 each) by posting this on Facebook, your blog, and/or Twitter. Please total your entries and include links with your comment.
  • Open to residents of the United States.
  • Deadline to enter is noon EST Friday, May 17, 2013. Winner will be chosen by, notified via email, and will have 36 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Winner will be announced Monday, May 20, 2013.

So tell us, what was it like where you grew up? Big city or small town? What are you reading this spring?

Happy reading and writing,


  1. Thank you, Karen, for introducing a fascinating author.

  2. Great interview, Karen and Ann! I haven't seen many books set in this time period. I'd love to win. :)

    susanjreinhardt AT gmail DOT com

  3. Small towns always have their share of odd characters. Congratulations, Ann.

  4. Carole,
    It's my pleasure! Ann is indeed a great writer. I've had the privilege of meeting her in person too. :)

    Thank you - Ann makes it easy with her wonderful contribution. :) I added you to the list. Think you will enjoy this one!

    They sure do! Great fodder for fiction, that's for sure! :)


  5. It's always fun to come visiting here with you and your friends, Karen. Alex, you don't have to look too hard to find those odd characters in Small Town, America. Maybe they're everywhere, but we just get to know them better in small towns.

    Susan, you're right. Not many 60's books out there, but you may see more in the years ahead. It was a fascinating time with lots going on. Hippies, sit-ins, the Vietnam War, etc. Things were changing.

    Carole, hope if you give one of my stories a try, you'll enjoy the read.

  6. Nice article. Ann is one of my favorite authors. I loved the other Hollyhill books, with their slightly quirky characters.

  7. Hope you had a GREAT Mother's Day - just stopping by to say hello. sandie♥

  8. I enjoyed this post with Ann. I grew up in a small town where everybody knew each other (and their business too!). We never locked our doors or windows and in the summer left the doors wide open so the air could flow through the front and back screen doors. I would love to win a copy of, Scent of Lilacs. I know I'd feel right at home while reading it.

    I earned two extra entries. 1) I posted about this post on my FB wall, and 2) I am a GFC follower.

    Judy B

  9. Great review. I'd like to win this book.
    Carolyn J.

  10. Ann,
    And it's just as much fun to have you come by! :) Hope you are enjoying this pretty KY day!

    It's nice to meet you! I agree, Ann is one of my favorites too. :) Thanks for following!

    Good to see you! Hope you had a great Mother's Day weekend! :)

    Thanks so much for following! It's nice to meet you. I too, grew up in a small town. :) Added you to the list. Thanks for passing the word!

    So glad you stopped by! Thanks so much for your kind words! :)


  11. Beautiful - looking forward to reading it!

  12. I would love to read this book! Thanks for the giveaway! I follow via GFC under the username Bethany and I posted about it on Twitter for extra entries:


  13. Always secrets in those little towns. Sounds like a wonderful book.

  14. Annie,
    Hope you get a chance to read it soon! :)

    It's nice to meet you! Thanks so much for following and spreading the word. :)

    They make great plot ingredients, don't they? It's a good read. :)


  15. Sounds like a great book! I love those quirky characters. One of the best parts of every book (and small town). :)

  16. Betty, thanks for coming over to read about Scent of Lilacs. Appreciate that.

    Judy, I grew up in a house with a backdoor that didn't have a lock. We didn't lock the ones that did. You never had to worry about losing your keys. You'd like Jocie.

    Dear HelenHartman. Love your page, Annie. Such fun. Thanks for stopping by.

    Good luck in the drawing, Bethany. Hope if you do win the book, you'll enjoy the story.

    Diane and Lydia, I do like to add some quirky characters to my stories. But Wes may be the only character I've had who claims to be from Jupiter. Thanks for dropping by and entering the drawing.

  17. Hi Karen! Nice to see your post. Susan

  18. I enjoyed the interview. This sounds like a great book. I remember 1964 well, and at that time I did live in a small town, but had recently moved there from a small city. It will be fun to compare what I remember of that time frame. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of The Scent of Lilacs. I am now a GFC follower.
    may_dayzee (at) yahoo (dot) com

  19. How nice to "see" you again, Ann--I met you at Cincinnati's Books by the Banks last fall, where I purchased your book, The Gifted. Loved your story there and am sure The Scent of Lilacs will be a great read, too. Best of luck with the series. And thanks, Karen, for hosting Ann. I really enjoyed learning about her new work.

  20. thanks for the chance to read this wonderful novel...I grew up in a small town...and still live there. Planning to read a few novels this spring/summer on my front porch :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  21. Congrats, Ann! I love small towns--real and fictional!

  22. Thank you Karen for introducing another wonderful author.

  23. Everything about this story sounds wonderful! Thanks for the great interview, Karen. Best to you, Ann~!

  24. Sounds lovely! Thanks for the offer. I think I'm a google+ follower, and twitter, and facebook. I follow this blog for sure. Email addy is jeanette(at)jeanettelevellie(dot)com

    Congrats on the re-release of Lilacs!

  25. Lydia,
    Quirky - how can we do without it? :)

    Good to see you, as always. Got you on the list! :)

    It's good to meet you! Thanks for following. :) I think you might enjoy this one.

    So you got to meet Ann in person! She's a treasure. :) We do all live in the same neighborhood, so to speak, don't we?

    Karen K.,
    Good to see you. You're right, this is a good one for reading on the porch! :)

    Your small town is one I really like! :)

    You are welcome! Glad you could stop by. :)

    It is a wonderful story! You just might like this one too. :)

    You are surely a faithful follower! :) Added you to the list.


  26. I like how writing what she knew came together for her.

  27. Theresa, I like how writing what I knew worked for me too, especially how it got me started in a whole new genre of writing and one that I love. Of course, the next book I wrote was about Shakers and I knew very little about them until I started researching. :)

    Jeanette, Susan & Rachna, thanks for reading about my book. Good luck in the drawing.

    Joylene, thanks so much for your good wishes. Glad to meet you here.

    KarenK, KayM & Jennifer, there's nothing quite like living in a small town. But I love it! Also hoping readers will love my 1960s small town, Hollyhill. Front porch reading sounds wonderful, KarenK. A glass of iced tea, a hummingbird feeder hanging from the eave, a swing and a good book. A mini-vacation waiting to happen.

    Kenda, I'm so glad you enjoyed The Gifted. I always have such a lot of fun meeting readers and friends at book fairs. So good to "see" you here again. :)

  28. My WIP takes place in a small town, and I agree that the setting lends itself to interesting characters. This looks like a great book to read. It's on my list!

  29. I'm really looking forward to reading this!

  30. Theresa,
    It so often works this way, doesn't it? :) It's comforting, I think, in some ways.

    Let us know how you like it when you get around to reading it! :) There are so many interesting characters out there!

    Hope you get a chance to read it soon. It's a good summer read! :)


  31. Lisa, hope your writing is going well and thanks for adding my book to your reading list. That makes me smile.

    Gina, it's great to hear you're wanting to read Scent of Lilacs. I hope you will like the story.

  32. Congrads Ann. I will be adding your book to my TBR pile. It sounds wonderful. The title is a grabber and the cover beautiful. I live in small town America. I'm sure I'll know some of the characters in your story. Hahaha.

    Amigo thanks for showing me so many wonderful books. This one especially. Love you.

  33. Robyn,
    I think you will like this one, amigo! You just might know some of these characters. Love you too!

  34. Thanks, Robyn. I hope you'll like my small town characters and the story too.

    Karen, as always, it's been fun to come visit you and your friends. And a big congrats to you on your good news about your book. That's exciting!!

  35. I missed the entry date but will check out the blog and book. I love lilacs!

  36. Ann,
    Always love having you over! We need to do it again soon! :) Thank you!

    You just might like this one. Hope you get to read it soon! Glad you stopped by:)



Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!