by Ann H. Gabhart, @AnnHGabhart
Have you ever thought about the moments in time that can rise from the shadowy depths of memory, nudged up to the surface of our thoughts by a chance word, an image or even a certain scent?
Of course, we know about those tragic and world changing events so intense we remember exactly where we were or what we were doing when we got the terrible news. The bombing of Pearl Harbor was such an event. While that was before my time, the characters in my Rosey Corner book, Small Town Girl, were stunned by that news and their lives going forward were never the same as the country geared up for war. I could imagine how those characters might have felt by thinking of how the news of other tragic moments in history is seared in my own memory. President Kennedy’s assassination. The space shuttle explosion. 9/11.
But less dramatic snippets of ordinary moments in my life also linger in my mind. For example, years ago, a mockingbird would perch in the topmost branch of a tree at my old house and sing to me while I hung diapers out to dry. That bird not only sang but would flutter up in the air in a dance of joy. Then the echo of my baby daughter’s precious giggles while I rocked her to sleep is forever in my ears. I know how warm my furry little cocker spaniel pup felt as he lay on my foot while I was working at my kitchen sink. I remember staring into the wavy mirror on my aunt’s wall and trying to believe her when she said I was pretty. I can still hear the slap of the screen door slamming behind me when I came in from school. And how could I ever forget the deliciously cool feel of the linoleum floor after I peeled off my bobby socks. Those socks left a pattern of little indentations on the top of my feet that felt funny as I tried to rub them away. Such small moments in time and yet they and many others stick in my memory simply because they happened.
As a writer, I have to invent all those moments in time for my characters. A story needs big moments when a character faces challenges and life changing events, but to make my characters spring to life for me as well as for readers, I also have to imagine plenty of ordinary moments in time for them. That’s why in my recent release, These Healing Hills, Fran, my midwife nurse heroine, not only has her dramatic moments of bringing babies into the world but she is also out in the garden picking beans. She’s watching the sun sink down behind the mountains as night comes sneaking in. She’s fetching water from the spring and milking the cow.
Moments in time. That’s what makes a story. Those moments in time can be strung together in a forward march to find out what happens next or in flashback moments to see what happened before. A writer’s challenge is picking the right moments in time to bring his or her characters vividly to life and share their story.
What moments in time find a spot on the top shelf of your memory? If you are a writer, do you draw from them to add richness to your stories?
Francine Howard has her life all mapped out—until the man she loves announces his plans to bring home an English bride from war-torn Europe in 1945. Devastated, Francine seeks a fresh start in the Appalachian Mountains, training to be a nurse midwife for the Frontier Nursing Service.
Deeply affected by the horrors he witnessed at war, Ben Locke has never thought further ahead than making it home to Kentucky. His future shrouded in as much mist as his beloved mountains, he’s at a loss when it comes to envisioning what’s next for his life.
When Francine’s and Ben’s paths intersect, it’s immediately clear that they are from different worlds and value different things. But love has a way of healing old wounds . . . and revealing tantalizing new possibilities.
Ann H. Gabhart, the bestselling author of over thirty novels, has been called a storyteller. That’s not a bad thing for somebody who grew up dreaming of being a writer. Ann’s historical novels have Kentucky backgrounds like her popular Shaker series and her new release, These Healing Hills set in the Kentucky Appalachian Mountains. She also writes about family life, love and sometimes mystery (as A.H. Gabhart) in small towns like her Kentucky hometown. She and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren and enjoy life out on the farm. To find out more about Ann’s books and to check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, visit www.annhgabhart.com. You can also join in the conversation on her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/anngabhart or Twitter @AnnHGabhart.