Perhaps the fact that I grew up in a small town explains my affection for those little enclaves of eccentrics. Sometimes, small town idiosyncrasies can stop a city dweller in his tracks, but I think they’re charming and endlessly entertaining.
In my contemporary romances, I return again and again to the small town setting. In my Texas One Night Stand series, both The Trouble With Love (Book 1, Texas One Night Stands) and Romeo and Judy Anne (Book 2, Texas One Night Stands) are set in small towns in the fictional Alton County, located in Texas of course.
Life in rural and small town America compared to city life has more differences than mere population statistics.
Business Is Different
In most small towns in Texas, business is conducted Monday through Friday, usually from 9 to 5, except at the grocery story which closes at 8pm at night. Offices are not open on Saturdays, and nothing but the grocery store is open on Sunday.
When you walk into a place of business in a small town, everyone smiles at you and seems pleased to assist you. When you make a purchase, the employee smiles and says: “I hope you have a wonderful day.” The smile actually seems sincere and what they say sounds genuine and heartfelt.
Church is the big attraction on Sunday. Every church—and there are usually several—has a full parking lot, and nearby streets are lined with cars and pickups too.
Water towers are often picturesque with written sentiments regarding high school loyalties or state championships, no matter how long ago or how obscure.
Towns are proud of their local high school athletic teams. If a regional or state championship was won, a sign attesting to that fact will be found somewhere in the town regardless of how many years have passed since the victory.
Old men pass the time of day sitting on park benches in front of stores. They whittle, not any kind of carving or sculpture, but just a stick they shave with a sharp pocket knife. They talk and whittle, with the pile of wood shavings growing in front of them. Some of the men chew tobacco or dip snuff. You can recognize them by the spit cup they carry around.
I’ll be returning to fictional Alton County this summer when I write book three of the Texas series, Forever Starts Tonight.
In the meantime, I’ll just keep people watching in the small towns I visit because I confess that the slower pace is enormously appealing to someone like me who has lived most of her adult life at warp speed.
(Joan Reeves writes funny, sexy Romance Novels. For your consideration, get your flirt on with any of her novels, available at most ebook sellers, with audio editions available at Audible and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and I LUV Books, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Visit Joan Online at SlingWords, her website, or follow on Twitter @JoanReeves and Facebook.