Home Place: A Novel

Will Kat Patterson manage to save her family’s farm when all her brother wants is cold hard cash? Paul’s hired Whip Tyler to develop the property against Kat’s wishes. Whip Tyler, of all people! Hasn’t their family lost enough at Whip’s hands? Hasn’t Paul Patterson caused enough damage in Whip’s life? But if he won’t take the job, Paul will find someone else – a developer who will rape the land and throw Kat’s hopes to the wind. It would be easier if Whip didn’t care. Or if that long-ago promise didn’t stand between him and Kat.

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Sally Explains How This Story Came to Be

Farming is a tough, tough business with pressures beyond those many might consider. Certainly, weather, insect invasions, disease, low prices – all those make farming tough. But so does the legacy of the land itself and what will happen to that land over generations. Because farming is a generational business. There must be farmers who choose to farm even though they didn’t themselves grow up on a farm. But those are surely a minority. How would they even gather the capital necessary to begin? The land, the equipment, the seed and stock – these are huge investments!

What pressures, then, does a farmer face at the end of his life when land that his great- or great-great-grandfather homesteaded will pass to two children whom he knows will never choose to farm that land? These are just a few of the strains Kat’s father feels as he reviews his life as he lay dying. Except, in his instance, the inheritance of the land was taken out of his hands. He and his parents before him were only given lifetime use of the land before it would be passed to his surviving son Paul and daughter Kat.

This circumstance may sound unique, but in fact, it’s how my great-grandparents set up the succession of their land. It went to their son Eli and his wife – for their lifetime only, and then to their children of whom my father was the youngest and the one to remain and farm that land. Their plan aimed to keep the land in the Crosiar family. But that plan backfired when my Grandma died. I was thirteen, and it took a full year for me to come to grips with the idea that my parents and I would be forced to move from the only home I’d ever known. You see, my father inherited only one-fifth of the property, and my cantankerous uncles who wanted no part of it themselves, would refuse to sell their shares to us even if we’d have been able to afford them.

But though I spent only fourteen years on that land, I still think of it as my Home Place. Did I say I came to grips with losing it in just one year? Yeah, I lied. That place still grabs at my soul, though it’s been decades since we moved, and decades since I’ve even seen it again. The novel Home Place was in part a way for me to re-invent the reality of that place, to turn it again into a home, to preserve the parts of that land I loved the most – the hills, the creek, the timber in fiction. Or rather to see if Kat Patterson could face down the overwhelming odds against holding onto that land, that house. All through the writing, I kept hoping she could as we could not. But I didn’t have a lot of confidence she could.

I feel compelled to say it again. The place is real. The story is fiction. Not autobiography. Every single character in the story is entirely fabricated. Fiction. In particular, Kat Patterson is not me. I am not her even though we share some things in common – similar ancestors, the house where we both grew up, the land and a deep and abiding love for that land and its history. But Kat has her own story in Home Place and though her quest to hold onto her home is a big part of her story, it’s not all she has to solve. One brother died when she was too young to understand, her other brother wants her to sell out. Is it even slightly plausible to make a fifteen-room house into a viable home for herself and her dog? Oh…and a budding interest in a guy she’s sworn to hate for the role he played in her brother’s death. Kat’s got a story.

And so does Whip Tyler. He knows better than to give Paul Patterson so much as the time of day. Or to let himself feel something for Kat. But…there’s something about her eyes, something about his own losses, the heavy burden she carries, something that makes him want to protect Kat, that draws him in even when he knows their relationship is doomed.

As much as I still love my Home Place, the characters in the novel Home Place earned my love too. I love Kat’s can-do attitude and vision for the impractical house I grew up in, her loyalty, her feisty nature. And given the chance, I’d flip over Whip, his profound respect for the land even as he transforms it, his deep hurts and the compassion that grew from them. I’d love hanging out at Darcy and Luke’s diner, observing and taking part in their lively banter, feeling their ever-present support for the people they regard as friends. I even love Whip’s mom, Kat’s boss, and oh my yes, the dogs! How I love the dogs!

Find Home Place on Amazon, and please let me know with an Amazon and/or Goodreads review how you like it. Your honest reviews truly help others find stories and lift the oft-flagging spirits of authors who spend lonely hours at their computers.


See more about my old Home Place in this video from Wood Library’s Books- Sandwiched-In program where I talk about the Home Place novel and the place.

Read blog posts, ‘The Actual Home Place’ and ‘More Home Place Pics to see more!

Did you love Kat and Whip’s friends Darcy and Luke? Check out their story, “Darcy’s Valentine!

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