September 2021 Featured Article

Wooden flooring—wide plank. Old but well-maintained. Built-in bookshelves with carved molding both painted and original wood. Window seats in bay windows all around the perimeter. Couches in the center of the cozy room. Wingback chairs tucked in any corner, nook, or cranny available. Big-band music playing so softly you really can’t hear it if people are talking.

And books. Great, heaping gobs of books.

I’ve had a mental picture of this place for years, and it haunts my soul. Is it my dream library? Nope. It’s the bookstore I’d own if I ever had the time or money (or both!) to start one. I dream of this place sometimes.

Picture it. You step into the store with your two kids (or ten… or grandkids!) and they’re welcome. There’s a whole section where they can curl up in beanbag chairs, in one of those window seats, or at tables and immerse themselves in books and puzzles.

In a little room off to one side, a book club is debating the merits and demerits of that month’s read. Laughter escapes in regular bursts, and occasionally arguments reminiscent of the movie version of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (regarding Anne Bronte) draw lookie loos.

The staff knows their stuff. If they haven’t read the book you want, they know who has and will get that expert opinion for you immediately. That’s where the old-style store meets modern technology. In seconds a text wings its way to the only other lover of P.Q Humblood’s mysteries, and ten minutes later, you’ve got a list of which ones are the best and which ones are on the top shelf behind the counter next to the untouched Crime and Punishments.

And unlike most independent and chain bookstores, there’s an enormous Bible, Christian nonfiction, and Christian fiction section. Hey. It’s my store. I can have what I want, right?

The only things that comfort me about not owning this dream store (and it may be a reality someday, who knows?) are books about bookstores. I can name dozens, but I’ll try to stick to my favorites. What about…

  • The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrell
  • Hope Between the Pages by Pepper Basham
  • Brought to Book by Barbara Cornthwaite
  • The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

I have so many pushing at this locked door in the back of my mind that the moment this article goes live, I guarantee I’ll be saying, “Wait! What about?” and “Oh, I forgot!” And all the bookness.

Is it any wonder that I decided to create an entire series about bookstores? My Bookstrings Series features Milton Coleridge (yes, that’s his actual name, poor fellow) and his trusty parrotlet, Atticus (not Finch!). By “day” he rescues companies from bankruptcy or takeover. By “weekend” he rescues bookstores from extinction.

The first book in the series, Spines & Leaves takes place near Joshua Tree National Park and is a short novella to introduce the series. It’s a part of the Song of Grace anthology and will only be available on Kindle through that collection for a short while. The first full-length book is slated for November of 2022.

But then I got an idea for a Christmas novella. See, two years ago, I went home to Noel (pronounce knoll), Missouri and an old dream of mine from back when I was fourteen revived. I so wanted to open a bookstore in the tiny house at the end of the bridge. Just recently, someone put an ice cream shop in there, and that was sweet, but… sigh.

Bookstores, right?

Well… the Mosaic Collection’s Christmas Anthology is coming out, and I realized I could do it. I could write a short little novella about how that little house finally did become a bookstore… and what it took to make that store succeed. Milton and Atticus in “my” little town? I had to do it.

So, look for Hart of Noel in this year’s Mosaic Collection, The Heart of Christmas anthology. I hope you love Joshua Hart, Honey Potts (no, really!), and all of my Noel friends. I’m packing as much of real Noel into a book about my dream Noel as possible.

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