The Man Must Marry

By: Janet Chapman

“But if it is a girl, can we name her Rose?” Willa asked, looking up at him. He kissed her nose. “I suppose that would be appropriate, considering that she was conceived on the RoseWind , which was Bram and Grammy’s private little love nest. Then he held a finger to his lips. “Listen,” he whispered. “Do you hear that?”

Willa went still, then gasped. “What is that?” she whispered back. “It sounds like…”

“Exactly, Mrs. Sinclair. That is definitely Bram laughing his head off!”

Letter fromLakeWatch

Dear Reader,

Robbie and I are in the habit of loading the camper onto our pickup whenever the mood strikes us, and simply driving out of our dooryard. When we reach the stop sign at the main road, it’s only then that we look at each other and ask, “Which way do we want to go? Right or left?”

Right takes us toward the mountains; left toward the ocean. More often than not, Robbie votes we turn right. He likes heading into the mountains, as there aren’t many places to spend money in the wilderness. Whereas the coastline ofMaine is awash with tourist attractions, most of which have a way of sucking the dollar bills directly from our wallets. Lobster shacks, antique shops, amusement parks, pottery and craft coops, and schooner rides call out as my husband tries to sneak by, his fists clenched on the steering wheel and his foot heavy on the gas as he steels himself against my softly spoken, “Oh, that looks interesting. Let’s stop.”

For those of you who might not know, stopping a heavy truck camper in Route One summer traffic is about as easy as bringing a 22-wheeler loaded with saw logs to a halt. But my husband of thirty years knows that if mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy, and he smartly finds a place to turn around and

go back.

But sometimes a girl’s just gotta shop. I mean, what’s the point of venturing out into the big beautiful world if you can’t lug some of it back home with you? Granted, when we go to the mountains I return with unusual rocks, beaver-sculpted sticks, and maybe a discarded antler or two. They’re all fantastic treasures to display around the house, but so are bird feeders that look like lighthouses, wind chimes that sound like offshore buoys, and lobster trap coffee tables. And the blueberry jam fromWashingtonCounty is to die for.

Robbie is loading the camper right now as I write this, and just between you and me, I already have a destination in mind. When we reach the stop sign, I’m going to strongly suggest we turn left.

“Why?” he’ll ask, even as he sighs in defeat.

Because, I’ll tell him, I am writing a book that takes place in KeelStone Cove, an imaginary town on the downeast coast ofMaine . And everyone knows that authors must thoroughly immerse themselves in their story settings.

After all, it’s been a full year since I’ve taken a schooner ride. I also believe we should eat lobster on the pier, just to add some authenticity to my work. And what kind of writer would I be if I didn’t peruse the craft shops? How can I hope to convey the essence of KeelStone Cove if I don’t hit every attraction each tiny fishing village has to offer? And I have to lug something home to place beside my computer, to nudge my muse when I find myself staring at a blank screen.

So I urge you to also get out and explore your own corner of the world. Lug little bits of it home with you. Leave your chores, your challenges, and your worries behind, and have fun. Can’t get away right now? Then find a good romance novel and indulge yourself in a minivacation!

Until later, fromLakeWatch …keep reading,