Valkyrie Magnusson, a former Marine photographer injured while covering a goodwill interaction with Iraqi children in 2010, is haunted by flashbacks. She travels the U.S. as a photographer for Rider magazine. A self-proclaimed nomad, Val has little inclination to settle down. But something keeps calling her back to a little tourist trap called Cool Springs in rural West Virginia. The sign at the quirky little store boasts, “Good food, groceries, ice cream, hardware, feed store, taxidermy, gifts, and gas.”
Cool Springs is owned by Laurel Stemple and her grandmother Ree. Laurel is charged with the daily operations of the catch-all little store/diner and the care of her octogenarian grandmother. A frequent visitor, Val has become like family at Cool Springs. Interesting characters like Mule, aptly nicknamed for his braying laughter and Wunder, whose child-like questions keep everyone in stitches, create a unique tapestry of community in the little store.
Over the years, Val and Laurel have gradually fallen in love without acknowledging it. Personal secrets and scars have left the pair unable to move toward a relationship. While covering an annual Memorial Day Ride to the Wall, a near tragic accident forces Val and Laurel to confront their feelings and fears.
About the Author
I grew up a voracious reader, feeding my imagination with books. I spent hours exploring the woods around my farm, pretending I was "Hawk-eye," surviving in the wilderness. I climbed into the hayloft of our barn, looking for "Charlotte" among the spider webs. Later, I looked in every wardrobe I could trying to find "Narnia and Aslan." As an adult, I can still remember reading my first novel with a lesbian character and how it made me feel to finally identify in an entirely new way. My adventure into writing came at the suggestion of my wife. Several years ago, she asked me to write her a story. I began crafting her personalized gifts for holidays and special occasions, by writing stories for her. I'd weave in pieces and parts of our life. My brain started asking "what if" after she mentioned forgetting I'd written the story until something sounded familiar. My wife and I are part owners of an active produce farm and a U Pick strawberry operation on my wife's family land all while I continue into my twenty fifth year as a full-time firefighter. On top of all that, we built our dream home in 2016, on property we've been clearing and preparing for fourteen years. Now we reside on 221 acres of woodland in the mountains of West Virginia, with three cats as I pine away for another promised Border Collie. We love to go watch our Mountaineers, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Steelers. We love leading our great niece and nephews on adventures to fuel their imagination and creativity as we watch them grow.