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Guest Blogger: Nikki Lynn Barrett
Monday, September 9th, 2013

Hi Everyone! Thank you, Delilah, for having me on your blog today. I really appreciate it.

So, I’m a big city girl… I was born in El Paso, Texas and I now live in Phoenix. I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a small town.

There is a neighborhood I lived in from 1990-1994 that holds some of my favorite memories.  That was one of my favorite places to live, and it was hard moving away from there when we did.  What I remember and love the most about living there was our sense of community. Our next door neighbor became the neighborhood grandmother to everyone. She and my mom were always talking, so one of us was always at her house or she came over to ours. I’m fortunate that to this day I still get to talk to her, and when I go back to El Paso to visit, she’s always on the list. She was one of the first people to read my writing, when in 1993, her granddaughter passed away from spinal meningitis. She was only two and a half, and it hit me hard, so I wrote a poem.

Anyway, on that street we looked out for one another. We were there for tough times in life, and there for fun. There were quite a few neighborhood kids that my sister, brother and I befriended and had plenty of fun and games with.  It’s like we were all a big family, even though we weren’t blood related.

I miss those days.

I don’t know many of my neighbors here. I know the ones beside us on each side, and there’s a lady a couple houses down that apparently likes to stick her nose in everyone else’s business.  I don’t hear kids playing.  I want the kind of community that I grew up in for my son to play in.

I loved that street so much I wrote a memory book about it. It’s in one of those one subject notebooks, all handwritten, tucked away in my memory box. When we go visit El Paso, my husband drives me past all my old houses (Yes, we moved around quite a bit), and it’s just so different from what I remember. I close my eyes and see us having scooter races down the street, or throwing snowballs when it actually snowed, to making a snowman in our neighborhood grandmother’s front yard.

I needed to be able to re create that same sense of community. That’s why I created the fictional town of Harmony’s Echo, Texas in my Love and Music in Texas books. It’s just a small little off the highway town, but it’s a place that feels like home for my characters. And when I’m writing in that world, I feel like I’ve been taken back to memories of my own childhood.

So far a lot of the story is centered around the inn, where Avery Callimer was found as a baby. Her adoptive parents run the inn and there are always new guests coming in. There are a few new strangers in town in the Baby Stetson band, one of them being Lucas Bennett, the man that Avery can’t seem to stop thinking about.  Very quickly Lucas learns the ways of a small town community. He’s moved around so many times and has never really felt at home anywhere, except for Harmony’s Echo.

In Book 2, The Melody In My Head, Melody Roland also learns quickly about this little town. She’s from a small Colorado town herself, but she can’t go back there now. She meets Jameson and Lucas the first night she ends up stranded and while she doesn’t think she’ll ever feel safe, there’s something about quiet little Harmony’s Echo that calls to her…not to mention Jameson, the guitar player who has his own struggles but puts them aside to help her.

Even though the Baby Stetson band has big city dreams of making it in the country music business, they all know their small town roots and love them. Just as I love my version of a small town. That’s what it feels like to me.

Thanks for reading and letting me share my story with you today.

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This is Book 2 in the Love and Music in Texas series. Baby Stetson kicks off the series.

Welcome back to Harmony’s Echo, Texas…..

Melody Roland is on the run from the one person she trusted completely. One who hid a dark past she could never have imagined. When a pregnant woman on the bus she’s fleeing on goes into labor, Melody rushes to her aide. Now she finds herself stranded in a tiny remote town just off the highway, with no way to her original destination.

She’s alone, on edge, and unsure who to trust. Her instincts scream to get far away and fast. But how and where?

Jameson Grant struggles through the roughest year of his life. Suffering from the loss of his father, one grief stricken night, he made a mistake. One which cost him the only woman he’s ever loved. Each lonely day he’s faced with the constant reminders of how quick things can change. Throwing himself into the one thing he has left, his music, helps dull the pain he fights to keep hidden. His last salvation begins to crumble as things spiral out of control and he has no choice but to face the ‘music’ of his past.

The last thing he needs or wants in his life is a woman with more trouble on her heels than the best of country music lyrics. But Melody sings a sirens call within him that can’t be ignored.

Jameson and Melody bond in ways stronger than either could have imagined, but one dangerous person from her past may threaten it all…

If she doesn’t flee before he can convince her to stay, and that some love songs last an eternity.

The door shut softly behind them. Jameson grabbed the lantern from the porch and held it out to Melody. “Here. Hold this. We’ll need a little bit of light.” She took it hesitantly from his hand. Jameson turned away and smiled.

Carefully holding the guitar case, Jameson climbed the ladder resting on the ride of the house. He should take it down, but until now, he’d forgotten about it. He set the guitar case at the edge of the roof, then glanced down at Melody. “Okay, hand me the blankets and the light.” He called to her. Stepping down a few rungs, he reached for the requested items.  Once on the roof, he peered back at her again.  “Come on up!”

“Jameson, what are we doing?” But she was laughing. When her head appeared at the top, he held out a hand to her, helping to ease her up onto the roof. He’d already set one blanket down for them to sit on. The other he brought for her in case she got cold.

“Getting a great view of the stars.” Jameson pointed.  One of the things he loved about living in a small town was being able to see the sky at night. One of the best views ever.  Melody settled next to him on the blanket, staring at the same direction.

“It’s beautiful. I can’t remember the last time I just stared at the stars.”

It had been awhile for him, too. But he knew when the last time he’d been up here.

Jameson set the lantern at the edge of the blanket and turned on the light. It was bright enough for them to see, but not too bright to ruin the view of the stars.  “Are you cold? If you are, I have an extra blanket.”  He pointed to it, next to the guitar case.  “The only thing I forgot to grab was something to drink.”

Melody laughed. “I’ll forgive you, you thought of everything else.”

He enjoyed the sound of her laugh.

Jameson shook that thought away and reached for his guitar.

“Do you do this often? Come up on the roof late at night with your guitar?”

“Not in some time.” Jameson held the guitar, pulling a pick out of the case and strummed a few chords. “Sometimes, I need a different environment other than the garage, you know? Nice thing is, there aren’t a lot of neighbors nearby, so I’m not disturbing anyone. “

“It is nice.” Melody mused, lying on her back. She crossed her arms behind her head.

Jameson started to play the chorus to a popular Taylor Swift song. He even sang along, raising his voice a few octaves to mimic the sound. Melody turned her head and laughed.

“I’m not sure that song fits your voice,” she teased. She rested her head on her elbow, now interested in watching him.

Jameson stopped mid-play. “No? Damn. Here I thought I was being all cool.”

That got another giggle out of her. “You are cool! Just…sing a different song.”

“All right, all right. I’ll find another song, since my Taylor impersonation isn’t appreciated.” Jameson pretended to pout, which made Melody laugh again. He was on a roll, and his plan worked. The mood had been lightened.  “Okay, how about this?”  He started to play and sing an older Shania Twain song.

Melody sat up, covering her mouth with her hand. He could see her body shaking as she tried to hold in her laughter. “You know, Jameson, that don’t impress me much, either.”

Pretending to be hurt, he put the guitar down. “What am I doing wrong?  Is my singing that bad? That’s a first. Usually, I win them all with these songs.”

“Oh Jameson. You’re so funny.”

“Okay, one last time, and hopefully third time will be the charm. Are you ready?”  Reaching for his guitar again, Jameson watched her as he started a new tune. This time, he played the tune to the song he’d been working on with her.   Even in the dim light, he noticed her face light up as he sang the first few lines from her song.

“You win, the third time is the charm. Now that fits your voice. Brava!” She clapped her hands.

“How about you sing it with me?”

“Oh, no. I don’t think so.”

“Oh come on. Let’s serenade the stars. Maybe we’ll catch one falling.” He pleaded. “It’s your lyrics. I’d love to hear from coming from your lips.”  As he started over on the guitar, he shot her what he hoped was his best pout.

“You’re relentless!” Melody exclaimed, raising her hands in defeat. She still smiled, though.

When Jameson got to the chorus, Melody chimed in. He had to force himself to keep going as he listened to her voice. She was pretty good! She had this soft, gentle ease about her voice. It didn’t ring out with a lot of power backing her up, but she had a sweet sound that radiated into his mind. He lowered his voice a little bit to let her shine. He couldn’t keep his eyes off her as he watched her lips move, and heard the words.

When they stopped, it was his turn to applaud. “You have a great voice. You sounded really good, Melody.”

He wasn’t sure, but he thought she was blushing. Melody turned away from him for a second.

“Thank you, Jameson. I’m not one for the spot light, but that was really neat to sing my own lyrics.”

“You know, we’re still looking for a song or two to add to our demo. I like this one a lot.  What would you think about  putting the finishing touches on it and playing it for the band?” As shy as she was about these things, would she even go for that? The words really were great, and he liked the melody he’d put to her words.

“I- are you serious?” She sounded caught off guard.

Jameson nodded, setting his guitar down once again. “I am. I like the way it’s progressing.  And when you sang with me just now, I liked the idea of having a back up on it. It would be a great addition.”

Buy Links:
Amazon Link | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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nb4437_1090856669700_2534921_nNikki Lynn Barrett lives in Arizona with her husband and son. She’s an avid reader, a dreamer, and loves everything about books. She runs a book blog, an online used bookstore, and writes various genres of romance. Nikki can also be found outside with her camera when a storm is near, snapping photo after photo. Her dreams of becoming a writer started when she was young, when she started writing books in one subject notebooks by the fifth grade. The Secret Santa Wishing Well is her debut book. You can visit Nikki’s site at: www.nikkilynnbarrett.blogspot.com for more information. She is working on her next book. Nikki would love to hear from readers. Email her at nikkilynnbarrett@yahoo.com.

7 comments to “Guest Blogger: Nikki Lynn Barrett”

  1. Nikki Lynn Barrett
    Comment
    1
      · September 9th, 2013 at 9:40 am · Link

    Thanks so much for letting me hang out on your blog today!



  2. andrearcooperauthor
    Comment
    2
      · September 9th, 2013 at 10:24 am · Link

    Loved the excerpt. I can’t wait to read this. :-D



  3. Judy Stone
    Comment
    3
      · September 9th, 2013 at 10:57 am · Link

    Thanks for appearing as the guest blogger today, Nikki. Your Love and Music in Texas series sounds amazing. Harmony’s Echo, TX is my dream town–a place where folks care about each other. I’ll add “The Melody in My Head” to my growing wish list.



  4. Karen Lopp
    Comment
    4
      · September 9th, 2013 at 12:13 pm · Link

    Hey Nikki, I’ve always lived in a small towns and love it. I recommend your books. they are great.:)



  5. Nikki Lynn Barrett
    Comment
    5
      · September 9th, 2013 at 1:45 pm · Link

    @ Andrea- Thanks! :)

    @Judy- Harmony’s Echo is my dream town too. I love creating it and the people there and I love the memories it gives me :)

    @Karen- I like the small town feel. And thanks! Glad to know you’d recommend my books :)



  6. Melissa Keir
    Comment
    6
      · September 9th, 2013 at 5:32 pm · Link

    I loved growing up in a small town. It really was the way you described. It’s nice we can have those small town memories in our heads and hearts forever.



  7. Melissa Porter
    Comment
    7
      · September 9th, 2013 at 7:21 pm · Link

    I grew up in a small town… a logging camp. There was maybe about 100-150 people living there. Our school had 3 or 4 grades in one room with only one teacher. It proved to be entertaining. Now I live in Ketchikan, Alaska the population is about 8000 some say it is small. I think it is just right.
    Thanks for sharing your story.
    I will be checking it out.