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Mysteries in a Small Town with Lois Breedlove

Thanks for inviting me here! I’m Lois Breedlove and I write suspense of all kinds — both as Lois and as L.J. — much of which is set in small towns. No mystery why — I grew up on a cattle ranch outside a small town in Oregon. My first job after college was in Sitka, Alaska as a newspaper reporter. From there I went to Payette, Idaho. Then to Canton, Texas, to start a newspaper for a family company. When I made the switch to higher education? You guessed it. Small towns. Moscow, Idaho. Ellensburg, Washington. And now that I write full-time, I’m living in another small town, Ashland, Oregon. I’ve lived and worked in big cities, and I love them too. But my heart is in small towns. And I love to use the towns I know best for the settings in my books: a mystery series in Talkeetna, Alaska, a historical mystery set in a small town newspaper in Texas in the 1980s. And most recently, a contemporary romances/romantic suspense series in Moscow, Idaho. (It’s rhymes by the way — Mosco. Moscow residents are kind of particular about that.) The series is called Second Chance Romances. It features four women friends who have each other’s backs as they face life’s challenges and still find the courage to take a risk on love again. Not that a HEA is going to be easy, you understand, but it’s at least possible with some help from your friends.

Why small towns? Because the town itself becomes a character. Small cafes run by the owner, coffee shops where they remember your order, interesting little shops. Yes, there’s a McDonalds out on the strip, but the heart of a small town is still on Main Street. And man, are those towns full of interesting characters! Quirky individuals — some you love, some you hate, but you know them all and they know you.

One of my favorite characters in the Second Chance Romances series is Marilee Dupont. She grew up on a ranch (ahem) and became a professor at the nearby university. (I write what I know, what can I say?) When her brother dies, she takes over the family ranch. And it isn’t easy. Now there’s a new banker in town.... Marilee is wicked smart. She can dress up in heels and silk dresses to teach, and then go home and drive the old wheat truck if need be. Everyone knows her. She knows everyone. And she knows all the good gossip. “The feed store,” her friends agree knowingly. Marilee just laughs. “That’s how you know you’re from a small town,” Marilee’s attorney teases. “You don’t even protest that it’s no one’s business. You’re just grateful that people gossip so that you don’t have to repeat yourself.” “True,” she said and sighed. “Oh, Mark, things can get in such a tangle.” But she knows she’s never going to leave Dupont Ranch. And the banker, Trent Williams? He doesn’t plan to stay — not in a small town like this. Not when the big city is calling his name. And that’s the other thing about small towns. Some people stay. But they’re not for everyone. (At one point, Marilee rewrites the words to the old country western song Lucille to make it about a man who won’t stay, and a woman who can’t leave. She sings it at Pete’s, the local bar, when she and her banker are fighting. Because of course there’s a local bar. And you can find Marilee and her friends there on Friday nights. Probably half the town is there too. They were that night, and they’re still talking about it.)

So check it out: Second Chance Romances, wherever you buy your e-books. Full of strong women, the men who love them and the town they call home. It’s not the only small town I write about. You might try the crew in Talkeetna — a woman who came to Alaska to kill herself and finds a reason to live. A cop who’s running from his mixed Tlingit/white heritage. A pilot who can’t keep an office manager. A woman who drives an 18-

wheeler up the haul road to the oil fields. And all the other characters that populate small town Alaska. And if Marilee thinks her small town has characters? They’re nothing compared to those in Alaska. Trust me. I lived in both places. And there is no comparison. Now Texas? A booming small town in Texas that hires a Yankee woman to modernize the newspaper? It might have enough oddballs to even rival Alaska. And really, that’s why I write —to tell people’s stories. And in small towns, there are no anonymous people. I borrow liberally from the people I’ve known from my childhood on a ranch, to the towns where I was a reporter, to the universities I worked at. This summer I ventured out on a road trip with my dog Sam — a husky mix who is the best companion in the world. And we ended back in some of those small towns: Payette, Idaho, where I once ran a newspaper, the ranch I grew up on in Union, Oregon, and a host of places throughout eastern Oregon and Idaho. And I realized how much of who I am — as a person and as a writer — is rooted in these small rural towns. They still feel like home. And true story? When I left home for college, like a lot of kids I couldn’t wait to get away to a larger city. Two years after that my parents sold the ranch and moved away. I graduated from college, went to Alaska. In the ten years after graduation, I lived in over a dozen towns, spread across five states, from the West Coast to the East. But you could send a postcard to Lois Breedlove, Union, Oregon, and I would eventually get it. (People did, yes.) It had to be a postcard, I figured out, because the postmistress was nosy, and wanted to know what I was up to. And then she’d track down an address and forwarded it on. (She called my Mom once for an address and an update. I stopped by to say hello on a trip that took me through town — and she updated my forwarding address right then. I was sad when it finally stopped; I figure she must have finally retired. Small towns. Where everyone knows everyone and everyone’s business. Even when you’re gone. Lois Breedlove is a former journalist and journalism faculty member. In this new romance series, Second Chance Romances, she's writing about what she knows: Moscow, Idaho, and the Palouse. And universities. Mark Twain said university politics are so vicious because there is so little at stake. That's what he thinks. Welcome to a university where there's a lot at stake.


Lois Breedlove also writes suspense novels under L.J. Breedlove. Second Chance Romances by Lois Breedlove Breedlove And check out these small-town suspense series written under L.J. Breedlove: Talkeetna A Newspaper in Texas Thanks for having me! If you’d like to learn more about my books, you can subscribe to my newsletters: Start with Love Notes if you like. There’s a free short story about the four women who are ready for a second chance at love.


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