Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mariah Stewart - Guest Blogger

I always look forward to the next book in Mariah Stewart's Chesapeake Diaries series. And, her latest, Hometown Girl, is just as much fun as the previous books. So, when I was offered the opportunity to host her on a blog tour, I jumped at the chance.  I did ask her if there's going to be a librarian or a bookseller in a future book. You'll have to read the blog to find the answer!

Guest Post for Lesa’s Book Critiques

I am pretty much convinced that I am one of the luckiest people on the planet. I not only get to work from home in comfy clothes, but I’m doing something I truly love to do: I’m a storyteller. That means I get to make up people – who and what they are, their secrets and all the things that make them happy or reduce them to tears - and where they live and what they do. How fun is that!

For my current contemporary romantic women’s fiction series, The Chesapeake Diaries (book number four, HOMETOWN GIRL, was released on September 27), I made up St. Dennis, Maryland, a little community on the Eastern Shore. Once upon a time, St. Dennis was the home to generations of watermen, men who made their living off the Chesapeake’s fish, crabs and oysters. Pollution and over-fishing had pretty much decimated the Bay’s industries, and for years, St. Dennis, like other Bay towns, suffered a decline. But the people on the Eastern Shore are a hardy bunch, and down is never considered out. The residents here have taken a proactive approach to breathing life back into St. Dennis, first by looking at what the town had, more than what it had lost. They found a charming village with beautiful old homes, some with pedigrees going back to the 1700s; a center of town that, with some dedication, could become a smart shopping area; and then there were those Bay views...

 Fast forward a few years, and St. Dennis has been “discovered”. Thanks to those forward thinking folks, the town now attracts tourists year round and has a growing population of “summer people”. Of course, to accommodate them all, more historic homes have been turned into B&Bs, and the center of town has become a shopping destination that attracts day-trippers every weekend throughout the year.

That’s how I saw St. Dennis – and here is where my fun began.

My newly revitalized town needed restaurants to feed not only visitors but residents as well, so I gave it Café Lola (upscale dining), Captain Walt’s (for seafood right off the boat), Let’s Do Brunch (you can figure out that one!) and the favorite of the townies – Cuppachino, where everyone meets in the morning for coffee, a muffin, and gossip. There’s also One Scoop or Two, the ice cream shop down near the Bay that serves only ice cream made on the premises and that’s been written up in several of those newspaper and magazine columns as one of those can’t miss spots on the Chesapeake, and the just-about-to-open Cupcake, a bakery that specializes in...well, cupcakes. There’s Bling, an upscale women’s boutique, and Sips, where those weekend visitors can pick up a cool drink or a hot beverage, depending on the weather. There’s the historic Inn at Sinclair’s Point, the grand dame of the town, which seldom has a vacancy these days, and since the owner renovated the old place, has become the destination wedding spot on the Eastern Shore. There’s an in-the-works film production company owned by a Hollywood A-lister who makes her home in St. Dennis and is committed to making films there. And oh, there’s so much more...

Now, for me, a story is only as good as its characters, and a town with all this heart needs – deserves – some great characters. Not necessarily perfect ones – because let’s face it, no one’s perfect – but characters who stumble and fall, yet pick themselves up and find their way. St. Dennis is just full of people...I mean, of course, characters who are searching for their place in this world. In Hometown Girl, Brooke, the widow of a soldier killed in Afghanistan, returns to St. Dennis to raise her son and start a bakery (see Cupcake, above), and Jesse, the son of a disgraced lawyer, comes to town hoping to earn a place in his grandfather’s law firm. Both have an agenda, both have baggage. Both needed a happy ending. It was my job to make sure they got one.

In the works - a wedding planner (in next year’s Home for the Summer), and yes, a children’s librarian who has a deep (so deep that no one knows) and dark (really really dark) secret. Now that should be a fun book to write, so stay tuned! In the meantime, I hope you pick up HOMETOWN GIRL, and the other books in the Chesapeake Diaries. Happy reading! 

Thank you, Mariah. I'm looking forward to next year's book, as well as the one about the librarian. Thanks for letting us in on the past and the future stories of St. Dennis. I love the characters and community you created.

Mariah Stewart's website is

Hometown Girl by Mariah Stewart. Random House. ©2011. ISBN 9780345531216 (paperback), 384p.


Kay said...

OK, I added the first book in this series to my Kindle. Look forward to more books, especially the one about the librarian. LOL

Lesa said...

If you liked Debbie Macomber's series, Kay, I think you'll like this one. You'll have to let me know.

Karen C said...

I think I've pretty well gushed over this series already. I promise I'm a fan, not a stalker!

Lesa said...

Hmm. Never saw my answer, Karen. I know exactly what you mean about that. I'm a BIG fan of a few series as well.

heathertlc said...

My in-laws really enjoy the Eastern Shore towns like this!

Thanks for featuring Ms. Stewart on your blog.