I've just given my editor the manuscript for the fifth book in the Orchard Series. It's so new it doesn't even have a name yet.
The first four books in the series span Meg Corey's first year in the small New England town of Granford, from her arrival through the harvest of her first apple crop. It's been a hard year for her: not only did she move to a new and unfamiliar place without any friends or any idea how she's going to support herself, but she's been involved in four murder investigations. You'd think a quiet corner of Massachusetts would be relatively safe, but apparently that's not the case where Meg is concerned. In A Killer Crop (due out December 7th) she even had to clear her mother from suspicion of murder.
Of course, there have been happy experiences along the way. She's found a slow-growing relationship with neighbor Seth Chapin. She's made friends. She's helped to start a new restaurant in town. She's learned a lot about herself and what she's capable of, and she's beginning to feel at home in Granford. If it weren't for those pesky murders that seem to keep happening, things would be looking pretty good.
The most recent manuscript takes place in winter. The harvest is over, and Meg is adding up the figures and trying to decide if she can afford to stay in Granford, and if she wants to stay in Granford. She's found out that farming is both hard and uncertain–one bad storm can destroy a year's worth of effort. She's learned that people in a small community can be both wary and welcoming. She's an outsider with historic roots in the area, and she's discovering what it means to become an insider.
In a way the new story highlights both the good and the bad sides of living in a small town. People there have long memories. Once they accept you, you become part of their history–sometimes for centuries. That's the central story of the new book: something that happened over two hundred years ago enters Meg's current life, and affects her decision about her future.
A Pew Research Center Survey from 2008 says that almost 12% of Americans changed residences between 2007 and 2008. Most Americans have moved to a new community at least once in their lives, although at the same time, nearly 40% still live in the place where they were born. How about you? Have you moved around during your life, and been the "new kid" at least once? Or do you still live in the same town where you grew up, and everybody knows your name?
Enjoy Sheila Connolly's December release, A Killer Crop, where she manages to include mother-daughter relationships, old and new romances, and Emily Dickinson! For the record, she has lived in seven different states and has moved more times than she wants to count.
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