Story Spark: In This Together

Guest Post by Gail Kittleson

InThisTogether_w9364_300Thankful for the Gift of Story

It’s the season for thankfulness, and for gift giving. In my opinion, books fit well in this space, and women who’ve read In this Together, my debut novel, tell me it makes a meaningful gift for Baby Boomers and the next generation.

My story idea came to me in the upstairs hallway of a big old house, much like the one we moved to when I was twelve. That childhood home had a record seventeen rooms, counting two back porches. One of them contained three sinks—yes, three—for the farmer’s three cantankerous sons to use when they came in from the field and needed to wash up for a meal.

The upstairs hallway had those wonderful glass window transits above each door of the five bedrooms, and the entire house was built of golden oak. (It’s torn down now because the upkeep cost so much.)

Anyway, four decades later, the big, airy second floor of a house captured my attention one day, and a single thought floated through my mind. “Someone could work here. This could be a boarding house in the forty’s, and…”

That was it. Dottie, the heroine of In This Together, moved right in and started telling me her story. Last night at a book signing, someone asked about how that works—from idea to plot to a published women’s fiction.

I replied, “I don’t have a clue.” And it’s true. We got into a discussion about “gift,” which is how I see what occurs when a story gradually comes to life. Oh, yes, the process involves a tremendous amount of hard work, discipline, and the humility to submit to rigorous editing.

But still, I see the whole package as a direct blessing from on high. And that’s how I feel as a reader, too. I know the author has performed painstaking research, sacrificed time with friends and family, sleep, and … who knows what all? But the story itself still comes as a gift.

Readers meet Dottie in her workplace, a boarding house in a little rural Iowa town, 1946. She’s doing what she always does—making do. It’s how she survived the loss of her son in the war, and her husband soon after. Dottie’s not a philosopher, simply an everyday woman doing the best she can. And she has absolutely no idea second chances wait right around the corner.

Other conflicts arise for Dottie, and as she faces them, I hope they cheer her on, just as we do our friends in real life. It’s all work, and it’s all gift.

In This Together (Women’s Historical Fiction)

After losing her only son to World War II and her husband soon after, Dottie Kyle takes a job at a local boarding house. Her daughter Cora moved to California straight out of high school to work for the war effort, married a sailor and settled down in the Golden State—another loss.

Dottie contributes to her rural Iowa post-war world by cooking and cleaning, volunteering at her church, and tending her garden. But when troubles arise in Cora’s third pregnancy, Dottie longs to help Cora and meet those two grandbabies out in California. However, old fears prohibit her from making that arduous, cross-country train journey.

At the boarding house, complications arise that force Dottie to speak up for what’s right, and as her confidence grows, so does the unexpected interest of the widower next door. Nary a reason to blush here, but plenty of opportunity to cheer Dottie on to victory!

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Meet Gail

My tagline, Heroines that Dare to Bloom, parallels my own long journey to blooming as a writer. My husband and I enjoy gardening and grandchildren in northern Iowa, and I facilitate writing workshops and women’s retreats.

WhiteFire Publishing released my memoir, Catching Up With Daylight, in 2013, and my debut women’s historical fiction, In This Together (Wild Rose Press/Vintage Imprint) released in November. I also contributed to the Little Cab Press 2015 Christmas Anthology.

Please feel free to contact me—meeting new reading friends is the frosting on my cake, as my heroine, Dottie, would say!

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11 thoughts on “Story Spark: In This Together

    • Gail, I’m so happy to have you as my guest. The creative gift of writing is special to me, too, and I agree that’s it’s a blessing. A lot of hard work (as is anything worthwhile) but also a mystery.

  1. Thanks for sharing about this book, Johnnie. I read Gail’s book. It’s super. The characters are loveable & believable.