I Stepped Out of My Comfort Zone Yesterday

I’d been thinking about doing this for a while, but held back out of some low-level fear. Yesterday, I sent an e-mail to the chair of the Shalbourne Parish Council. Rose in Bloom is set there, and I decided to tell someone. Here is the text (name redacted). I’ve added some links here as well (they are not in the e-mail) so that you can see some of the things I’m talking about.

Rose in BloomDear Mr. L.:

My name is Sharon Cathcart; I’m an author in the United States. I’m writing to you because I set my novella, Rose in Bloom, in the village of Shalbourne and I thought you might wish to know that.

It came about like this:

Like many creative people, I struggled during the pandemic. Shortly before the lockdown, I was in Pompeii and Herculaneum, doing research for a historical novel (my usual genre). I spent the early months of the pandemic doing additional research for the work. However, when it came to writing it, I found myself challenged. I would sit and stare at the blank screen and be unable to do more than a sentence or two.

In 2021, I discovered a game that allowed me to design both a country cottage and a London townhouse. I began to wonder what kind of people might live in those homes, and how they might meet. That’s how the story for Rose in Bloom started. I decided I wanted the country house to be about 90 minutes outside of London, and created a radius on the map. The minute I started reading more about Shalbourne, I knew it was the right place. While the novella has given your town a couple more amenities than it appears to have (a hair salon and a consignment shop, specifically), it is very much grounded there. I refer to the village hall, The Plough, and The Stores.

I truly came to love my characters and the little village that I’ve only ever visited on-line, and that seems to come through in my story, a contemporary romance (not my usual genre at all) which is presently in the running for four awards. In fact, I’ve decided to write another novella about one of the side characters. This one already references the Shalbourne Community Growers and their darling cat, Dirty John.

Perhaps it seems strange to hear this from someone who has never set foot in your village in person (although I hope to one day), but I have found it to be a charming place of serenity that helped me get my creativity back on track. The Pompeii book is sitting in a file, waiting for the day I’m able to complete the manuscript, but Rose in Bloom is out in the world, and I could not be more happy about that.

Thank you for your kindness in reading this.


Happy Birthday, Janis!

DOTCOL V2Jo came back from LA with my jeans and a ton of new records that he insisted on playing for me while we shared a pizza.

“My friend Diane painted them for you; she’s got a little boutique on Melrose and one day she’s going to be really big. She’s doing stuff for Janis and Jimi.”

Of course I knew who they were. Janis Joplin was practically a neighbor, and we saw her all the time. I loved going to her shows; she was so full of energy. Plus, I have to be honest; it was nice to hear a Southern voice besides my own now and again. — Down on the Corner of Love

A while back, I realized that all of the female singers I liked had big personalities and voices to match. Janis Joplin, who would have been 80 years old today, was definitely in possession of both.

Another TikTok Video

It took me almost a week to be ready to put this together, if I’m honest. It Happened in Memphis was one of my favorite projects to research and write, and I took Jerry Lee’s passing hard.

Rest in Power, Jerry Lee …

I’ve said it many times: despite all logic to the contrary, there are some people whom you think will go on forever.

For me, Jerry Lee Lewis was one of them. I had the privilege of seeing him perform live twice. He was one of the main characters in It Happened in Memphis. I could listen to his music all day long and never tire of it.

He passed away this morning, at the age of 87.

I am just the kind of sobbing mess that I predicted I’d be when he left us.

One of my favorite quotes was from an interview Jerry Lee did with biographer Rick Bragg.

Bragg began, “Didn’t I hear that, this one time, you …”

Jerry Lee interrupted with “Yeah, I probably did.”

He is, and always will be, unforgettable.

Author’s Inspiration: “Rose in Bloom”

My friends-to-lovers contemporary romance novella, Rose in Bloom, releases on Nov. 1. Today, I thought I’d share what inspired me to write it.

Rose in BloomLike so many, I really struggled creatively during the pandemic. I thought I’d use the time saved in commute to write, but that isn’t how it worked out. I would sit down in front of my laptop and draw a complete blank. I kept trying, researching for my dual timeline set in Pompeii, but I couldn’t make the words come.

Anyway, I use an electronic greeting card service, Jacquie Lawson. The cards are lovely, and the membership cost is low. Each year there is an Advent calendar, and there is also a Country Cottage game. In the game, you do puzzles to earn points to decorate a cottage. The Advent calendar last year was Christmas in London, with a townhouse as your home base; each day, you collected an ornament for the townhouse tree.

As I played the games, decorating both homes, I found myself wondering what kind of people lived in the houses I created. That’s how I decided that the cottage was being let to an American author who was writing her first book. Then, I decided that the townhouse belonged to a gentleman whom she would meet. But how might that happen?

That’s how Rose Davis and Gareth Llewellyn were born. I decided to write a story just for myself, not caring how long or short it was … and, honestly, whether it was worthy of publication. I just wanted to finish something.

And, I did! I came to love Rose and Gareth so much, and was really happy with their story. I asked a friend to read it and, even though romance is really not her jam, she had the same reaction.

That’s when I decided to publish Rose in Bloom.

I hope you’ll love Rose and Gareth’s story as much as I do. You can pre-order from your favorite bookseller at this link.

Back cover copy:

Rose Davis always prided herself on being sensible. But when she loses her job, she takes an uncharacteristic leap of faith and agrees to spend six months living in Wisteria Cottage, just outside of the tiny village of Shalbourne, England. It will give her the chance to fulfill her secret dream of writing a book, and an opportunity to figure out next steps.

What she doesn’t reckon with is Welsh gardener Gareth Llewellyn. With his long hair and scruffy beard, he’s definitely not Rose’s type. And yet, there’s something about him …