Mindy Hardwick, enjoys writing sweet contemporary small-town vintage romance as well as children's books which celebrate art and community in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more about Mindy and her books at her website and blog.
I love to read and write small-town romances. I love the cozy feel of neighbor helping neighbor, the small businesses supporting each other and the tension that can build when people disagree and there is nowhere to hide in those small-towns!
When I created the fictional town of Cranberry Bay, I based it on the real towns of Nehalam and Wheeler along the North Oregon Coast. I love the flowers that fill the sidewalks in the summer, browsing the Wheeler Station Antiques and taking a fall train ride on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad.
One of the central gathering places for the women of Cranberry Bay is the New Leaf Sewing Shop on Main Street. I based the shop on the real store, Creative Fabrics in Wheeler.
Heroine Katie inherits this shop after her mother dies and teaches sewing classes to young and old. Katie is in charge of the Cranberry Bay Friends Group who meets at her store, and the group plans how to ward off big development such as the Liberty Bay Square proposed by hero, Sawyer Shuster. Katie also hosts the sewing circle where the women meet to discuss life, love and work on different projects each month.
In the first Cranberry Bay book, Sweetheart Cottage, the women are sewing aprons and more can be read about vintage aprons here.
In the second novel, Sweetheart Summer, the women are sewing tote bags. Here is a link to some bag patterns the sewing circle women might be working on.
Both books also have a Pinterest page with lots of fun vintage patterns and ideas that you can browse: Sweetheart Cottage Pinterest Page and Sweetheart Summer Pinterest Page
A fun part in creating a town is imagining the people who live in that town, and it’s not just the primary characters. It’s also the secondary characters who can make a town so lively! In my most recent story, Sweetheart Summer, secondary character, Sasha is involved in a pie contest with arch-rival Beth Dawson. Both are competing to see who will provide the pies for the July 4th baseball tournament. The following recipe for Cranberry Pie is something they might have baked.
1 package (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup butter, melted
4-1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
Pastry for double-crust pie (9 inches)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place cranberries in a food processor; cover and process until finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl; stir in brown sugar, walnuts, melted butter, flour, orange peel and salt.
On a lightly floured surface, roll one half of pastry dough to a 1/8-in.-thick circle; transfer to a 9-in. pie plate. Trim pastry to 1/2 in. beyond rim of plate. Add filling.
Roll remaining dough to a 1/8-in.-thick circle; cut into 1/2-in.-wide strips. Arrange over filling in a lattice pattern. Trim and seal strips to edge of bottom pastry; flute edge. Cover edges loosely with foil.
Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack. Yield: 8 servings.
Pastry for double-crust pie (9 inches): Combine 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/2 tsp. salt; cut in 1 cup cold butter until crumbly. Gradually add 1/3 to 2/3 cup ice water, tossing with a fork until dough holds together when pressed. Divide dough in half and shape into disks; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.
Cranberry Bay sewing shop owner and activist Katie Coos campaigns tirelessly to preserve the community feel of the town she loves. Savvy and successful developer Sawyer Shuster, meanwhile, seeks to provide a future for his beloved childhood community through large-scale developments. When Katie reluctantly purchases an auction certificate for Sawyer’s handyman skills, both are determined to keep their distance. But as summer heats up, Katie and Sawyer’s feelings ignite until both must find a way to trust each other or risk losing not only their businesses but also their chance at love.