Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
Valerie writes Farm Lit where food meets faith, injecting experience laced with humor into her stories. Please visit her site at http://valeriecomer.com to enjoy her blog, connect with her on social media, and join her e-newsletter list.
Writing What You Know
by Valerie Comer
Many of us lead pretty boring lives. If we truly only wrote about things we’ve experienced, our stories would be equally as tiresome, and no one would want to read them. That is, if we could bring ourselves to complete the telling of the tales. Yawn.
For many years I took the mantra and switched it to, “write what you want to know.” That is, if I were interested in sailing, I’d study up on it enough to write a convincing scene with some amateurs in it, though a story about an around-the-world circumnavigation would still be well beyond my ability.
Before stumbling upon my current niche within the contemporary romance world, I wrote half a dozen stories of fantasy and science fiction. (I’ll be releasing some of these independently over the next year or two, starting with Majai’s Fury later this spring.) Obviously these genres cover a lot of ground that no one has ever experienced. Still, human emotions and reactions are universal, and it can be enlightening to explore our current issues where the worlds and rules are different.
But then it clicked. Write what you know. And I realized that my life, while thankfully not that exciting most of the time, does offer a backdrop that fascinates many people.
And so the Farm Fresh Romance series was born.
This refers to the setting for my stories, Green Acres, a 40-acre farm purchased by three college graduates—women—who want to prove to the world that they can make a go of it.
What do I know about that? Well, I live on a farm, and have for about half my life, give or take. Not a big agribusiness scenario, but a small family farm where we grow a large garden, keep bees and a few fruit trees. Chickens, pigs, and cows are part of my kitchen-window view. What can I say? I like to keep an eye on my food.
The farm I bequeathed to my characters is about twenty miles from where I live, give or take. It happens to be the same size and in a similar climate. This gave me a solid foundation for the stories without a lot of research, allowing me to focus on the characters and their plights. Because I love giving them trials. I’m nasty that way.
Fresh refers to the food my characters grown. They believe in growing their own and buying from their neighbors when at all possible. To one of the women, it means ditching coffee and only drinking herbal teas they’ve grown.
What do I know about that? My family and I are involved in the local food scene. We grow a lot of our own food and can purchase nearly anything else we’d truly need from others in our valley. Notice I said nearly and truly need. We’re not ready to do without coffee or chocolate (to name two), but we do make a point of buying organic fairtrade. Why? Because we can afford it? Because we think we’re special and deserve it? No. It’s because we believe the growers deserve to be fairly paid and not required to use chemicals that are toxic to them to make cheap food for us.
Every story fits into a genre of one kind or another. I’ve chosen to write my farm fresh stories as romances because that adds a fun set of conflicts. It’s not that hard to write conflicting characters in the local food scene.
In my first book, Raspberries and Vinegar, a feisty environmentalist and local-food advocate falls for the junk-food-loving reluctant farmer next door. In my new release, Wild Mint Tea, a local-food chef who’s rooted deep in the farm falls for a man whose job and life enable him to lead the live he loves, flying free.
Do I know anything about romance…and conflict? As a matter of fact, I do! I’ve been married to the same man for nearly 34 years, and conflict, at one level or another, plays a part in pretty much every day. Yet our love grows deeper every day, as well.
One of my favorite verses is this one:
To me it means that we don’t all need to lead lives in the middle of busy places with full itineraries and ministries in the center of everyone’s attention. Our first job is to be faithful. To lead a quiet life, working with our hands. This, I can do. This, I can know. This, I can write about.
by Valerie Comer
She’s rooted deep. He flies free.
Local-foods chef Claire Halford envisions turning Green Acres Farm into an event destination. Weddings prove trickier than she imagined when the first one comes with a ruggedly handsome brother-of-the-bride, who has everything but a fixed address. Oh, and faith in God.
Noel Kenzie loves the freedom his reforestation company affords him. Why worry about deep stuff like God and commitment when he’s in his prime? Except there’s a woman who might make it worth giving up his wings…and digging in some roots. If he dares.