Wednesday, September 04, 2013

.ARKANSAS WEDDINGS - by - Shannon Vannatter


WELCOME to Journeys To Joy, Shannon. I was so intrigued by this book - I can hardly wait to read it for myself.

I find I'd like to visit the place that became the foundation of your soon to be released book.

ROMANCE, ARKANSAS, USA
I stumbled upon Romance, Arkansas in 2009. In my pursuit of getting a novel published, I'd learned that a publisher in Ohio was looking for inspirational romances set in real life small towns with local flavor. I got my atlas, searched my home state, and found Romance, Arkansas.
Since I live in Cleburne County and travel to Little Rock often, I'd seen the Romance sign but never turned off Highway 5 to go there. I vaguely remembered something about a Love series postage stamp being released there and people getting married there. With a little research, I realized Romance, Arkansas was the perfect place to set my romance and made several research trips there.
Romance, Arkansas, population 1772, is in west central White County. According to legend, the community of Romance was named many years ago by a school teacher who thought the view from the bluffs on the community’s eastern side was particularly romantic. Couples used to spark at a gazebo in front of the old general store. Over the years, members of the community have maintained the gazebo and it still stands.
Romance is one of several post offices to participate in the re-mailing program. Romantics send stamped, addressed Valentine’s cards and wedding invitations in manila envelopes which are re-mailed from Romance, AR with a hand-stamped postmark.
According to former Postmaster Angie Davis, they have three or four weddings a year on Valentine’s Day at the post office. Couples exchange vows in the lobby or outside the office often near a heart someone carved in the parking lot declaring it the Heart of Romance.


I incorporated the re-mailing program and the falls into my book. After nine and half years of writing and over two-hundred rejections, my setting captured an editor's attention and my dream of publication came true. The book turned into a series of three, all set in Romance, Arkansas.
When the news came out that 3700 post offices might close, I wondered about Romance. According to Lisa Tolliver Gay at the Arkansas Postmasters Office, the Romance Post Office is safe. For now.

Looking for a more romantic wedding setting? The Romance Waterfalls--once a popular swimming hole--is now a wedding destination. Owner, James (Buck) Weatherly gave me a tour of his privately owned property, which he and his wife rent to the public for weddings and events. Wisteria drapes over an archway leading to the landscaped garden with numerous flowers and bushes. A wooden walkway leads down to the waterfalls, surrounded by jutting rock/steps.

You can hear the waterfall long before you get there. Mr. Weatherly built two gazebos and balconies overlooking the waterfalls and he opens his home for receptions and family reunions. When real flowers are out of season, silk blossoms add beauty to heart-shaped flowerbeds and archways, along with numerous planters. 





And the book?
Arkansas Weddings: 
Love’s never easy in three Arkansas romances.
Pastor Grayson loves his wife. The problem is, Sara was killed by a hit-and-run driver two years ago. He knows he needs to move on, but it’s not until florist Adrea Welch arrives at his church that the seeds of healing are planted in his heart.
Laken left home eight years ago and never looked back. Who knew when she applied for the promotion to postmaster that she’d end up in Romance, Arkansas, and much too close to her past—and Hayden Winters?
Shell doesn’t have a good reputation. But no matter what everyone in Rose Bud, Arkansas, thinks of her, she’s back in town with a job to do. Ryler also has reasons for being in Rose Bud, and they don’t include Shell.
But God’s love can soften the hardest heart and overcome the darkest past. These hearts may not know it, but they’re about to change.

Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. Vannatter has won the 2011 Inspirational Readers Choice Award in the short contemporary category, The 18th Annual Heartsong Awards 3rd Favorite New Author and #1 Contemporary Award.
Her books are available at christianbook.com, barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, harlequin.com, and barbourbooks.com. Learn more about Shannon and her books at http://shannonvannatter.com and check out her real life romance blog at http://shannonvannatter.com/blog/. Connect with her on Facebook: facebook.com/shannontaylorvannatter and Twitter: @stvauthor

Thanks for coming by, Shannon and for sharing your latest with us at Journeys To Joy...

Leave a comment AND your email address to get your name in a drawing for a PRINT COPY of ARKANSAS WEDDINGS -  Drawing will be held Monday evening, September 9, 2013


14 comments:

Bonnie Traher said...

Wow sounds like an awesome place to visit. momtr3@yahoo.com

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

It is, Bonnie. But there's not much there. The post office, the waterfall, and three churches. That pretty much sums up Romance. It used to boom because you had to go there to get to Little Rock, but the highway by-passed it.

Connie Cortright said...

What a delightful sounding book. I love reading books like this in such a small town setting - and with the name of Romance. Perfect. I'll make sure I remember this one.

JoyAveryMelville said...

Hi, Bonnie and Connie;
Glad you stopped by and left a comment this morning.

I've got your names placed in the drawing for next Monday evening.

Isn't it amazing - three churches and no bar - in a town? Seems like here in our state of MI, when you have a small village or town you have at least as many bars as there are churches and that saddens me. Romance might have more to it's name than just LOVE. ')

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

Connie,
I was pretty amazed no one had written a book set there before. Especially a romance.

Joy,
Thanks for having me here. Romance is in a dry county. There is a pocket of counties in central Arkansas that are dry. So there are no bars or liquor stores. There a few restaurants that have liquor licenses and can serve alcohol, but other than that, no booze around here.

JoyAveryMelville said...

AH - NO WONDER!
Not any of those in MI that I know of. ';) Too bad, so sad.

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

Every few years people get it on the ballot to have the dry county laws overturned. So far, we've won.

Martha Sturm said...

My husband and I went to Arkansas for our honeymoon 31 years ago. We were living in MO at the time, so went south into Eureka Springs over to Hot Springs then on to Little Rock. It has been too long ago to remember if we saw the sign for Romance. If we ever renew our vows, would love to have a backdrop like that.
Martha
josieringer(at)gmail(dot)com

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

Hey Martha,
The Waterfall is gorgeous and the owners have it all landscaped with lots of flowers, arches, and statues. They have two pavilions for seating and the ceremonies take place on an overhang above the falls.

by Pegg Thomas said...

I'm I too late? :)
twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

Maybe not, Pegg. I'm not sure what time Joy does the drawing. I'm glad you popped in.

JoyAveryMelville said...

Pegg made it in under the wire, Shannon - but - alas, she isn't the winner.

THE WINNER IS . . . .
DRUM ROLL PLEASE >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

MARTHA STURM
josieringer@gmail.com

and CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU, MARTHA - Thank you for stopping by and for leaving a comment.
Blessings to you!
Joy

JoyAveryMelville said...

Thank you, again, Shannon. It's been a quick week and I fear with all those getting ready for the ACFW 2013 CONFERENCE in INDY - this week - our number of readers/commenters have been down - I apologize for that.
Your posting was tremendous.Thank you for sharing more than the book itself - It's been wonderful to get to know more about you as well.
BLESSINGS ABOUNDING WITH ARKANSAS WEDDINGS!

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

I enjoyed the visit, Joy and I wasn't disappointed. I had fun. Safe trip to Indy. I'm staying home for the first time since 2005. Indy is a long way from Arkansas. I'm planning to be in St. Lou for the conference next year though.