Summer in Mossy Creek

Summer in Mossy Creek

Debra Dixon, Sandra Chastain, Deborah Smith, Martha Shields, Anne Bishop, Kim Brock, Patti Henry, Judith Keim, Bo Sebastian, Shelly Morris, Carolyn McSparren, Susan Goggins

$14.95 June 2003
ISBN: 0-9673035-4-0

Book 3 of the Mossy Creek Series

Summertime in Mossy Creek is a time to kick back, reflect, and remember. Join the town for this sweet look inside the town's heart.

Our PriceUS$14.95
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Synopsis | Reviews | Excerpt

The third novel in the acclaimed Mossy Creek Hometown Series continues the warm, witty and wise doings
in a small southern village you'll want to call home.

It's a typical summer in the good-hearted mountain town of Mossy Creek, Georgia, where love, laughter and friendship make nostalgia a way of life. Creekites are always ready for a sultry romance, a funny feud or a sincere celebration, and this summer is no different.

Get ready for a comical battle over pickled beets and a spy mission to recover hijacked chow-chow peppers. Meet an unforgettable parakeet named Tweedle Dee and a lovable dog named Dog. Watch Amos and Ida sidestep the usual rumors and follow Katie Bell's usual snooping. In the meantime, old-timer Opal Suggs and her long-dead sisters share a lesson on living, and apple farmer Hope Bailey faces poignant choices when an old flame returns to claim her.

Your favorite authors are back along with some wonderful new storytellers—plus more recipes from Creekite chef Bubba Rice. Pull up a wicker rocker, sip some peach-flavored iced tea, and listen as the townsfolk of Mossy Creek share their lives with you once again.


The Rock Hill Herald, Rock Hill, South Carolina
Reviewer: Chloe LeMay

Funny and heartwarming.

Romantic Times BookClub Magazine
Reviewer: Jill M. Smith

SUMMER IN MOSSY CREEK, Deb Smith, ed. BelleBooks
* * * *1/2 - Top Pick
Belles, rejoice! It's time for another peek into the warm, offbeat, fun-loving place that is Mossy Creek, GA. Once again the inhabitants of this unique town share pieces of their lives and all the regulars are back, including Mayor Ida Hamilton Walker and Police Chief Amos Royden. Join the fun and find out what a summer is like in Missy Creek.

The stories that make up the Mossy Creek anthologies should be savored--they make readers hunger for more. Do not miss the third installment of this wholly entertaining series by Deb Smith, Sandra Chastain, Debra Dixon, Martha Shields, Anne Bishop, Kim Brock, Susan Goggins, Patti Henry, Judith Keim, Shelly Morris, Bo Sebastian and Carolyn McSparren.

Romance Reviews Today
Reviewer: Astrid Kinn

My favorite town is back in SUMMER IN MOSSY CREEK, the third installment of the Mossy Creek Hometown Series, and I've missed it. For those of you unfamiliar with the first two books in this series, Mossy Creek is a small town in Georgia, established in 1839, with a population of under two thousand. The Mossy Creek Storytellers Club is the collection of authors that gathers to tell the stories of Creekites in these charming books that have fast become among my favorite reads.

This time around, we are treated to 13 short stories during one summer in Mossy Creek. Interspersed are excerpts of the editorials written by Katie Bell in the Mossy Creek Gazette. Katie is a recurring character -- she's in charge of reporting the local town news, or gossip, if you will. In fact, she's the snoopy character who is reportedly letting the characters tell their stories in these pages. There are also a few other recurring locals that are mentioned in almost every story. For instance, Amos Royden, the town's Police Chief not only pops up every now and again, he is also the subject of "Amos and Dog,” a heartfelt story about how the love of a pet can come in very handy in these times of need. Amos is often seen about with town mayor, Ida Walker, and there's talk about the two of them, but no one really seems to know exactly what is going on.

There are also plenty of new characters in stories that are often sad, funny, delightful, tender and always, always clever. Meet Therese, a ten-year-old hell-bent on redeeming the rotten reputation of her female relatives and making them acceptable to the rest of Mossy Creek once again. Or Mamie and Grace, neighbors and sworn enemies for decades until the fateful day nature steps in and ends the seemingly impenetrable feud. As in so many small Southern towns, much of the town's heritage stems from two families, the Bigelows and the Hamiltons, and their mutual hatred. Still, there are many newcomers, many old-timers, and many locals that leave, but inevitably find their way home again. Meeting them all has been absolutely enchanting.

My favorite pick for a great summer read, SUMMER IN MOSSY CREEK is as good as it gets. I can't recommend it enough. It will put a smile on your face, bring a tear to your eye, and leave you feeling positively charmed.

The Best Reviews
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner

"Sweet southern literature"

If the Lovin' Spoonful had been in the Georgia village of Mossy Creek rather than Greenwich Village, they would know that hot time, summer in the mountains means plenty of fun, ole southern style. The townsfolk look for a quiet uneventful season, but also know their enemy in slimy Bigelow still remains on the prowl. Meanwhile the librarian pushes the Police Chief into bluffing an abusive parent while the Mayor leads by example applying common sense to seemingly difficult problems. Much of the townsfolk meet eating dessert at the diner, but along with fans will find hot fun in the summertime here.

The third Mossy Creek tale is a series of vignettes written by a virtual who's who of the iron maidens of the south (more talented than steel magnolias). The contributions differ in size while providing a slice of life in a small remote Georgia mountain town. Each story builds up on the previous contribution so that the audience receives an anthology that uses the best elements of a novel and that of a short story into a tremendous collection. SUMMER IN MOSSY CREEK holds in own with its superb predecessors. Fans of the series already know that the first two books flow smoothly; the third tale shares in common with the previous duo a southern comfort smoothness.

Source: WMAC-AM, Macon, Georgia
Reviewer: Jackie Cooper

SUMMER IN MOSSY CREEK by Various Authors

SUMMER IN MOSSY CREEK is the third in a series of novels which focuses on the lives of the good folk who live in the fictional town of Mossy Creek, Georgia. The writers are Deborah Smith, Sandra Chastain, Debra Dixon, Martha Shields, Anne Bishop, Kim Brock, Patti Henry, Judith Keim, Bo Sebastian, Shelly Morris, Susan Goggins and Carolyn McSparren.

These talented writers create stories which are unique and separate, but they also write with one voice which is that of brotherly love and human compassion. You won't find offensive behavior treated as the norm here. Bizarre behavior yes, but offensive behavior no.

This particular group of stories seem to have the theme of friendship. You see it most positively in two of the best stories in the bunch, "Amos and the Dog" and "Sadie and Etta." These are the two that caused me to choke up a bit while reading them.

But even if these two are my favorites, it doesn't imply that the others are without charm. They all reach inside your heart and find that certain place where far away days reside. Then they lull you into their rhythm and take you back to a time when the dirt beneath your feet was hot and the air through the open windows was cool.

If you have read the first two books then you know that Mossy Creek and the town of Bigelow are eye to eye competitors. And that feud/race continues in this book. Plus we learn more of just why Mossy Creek is the absolute best place to live.

If you are from the South, living in the South, know someone living in the South, or have ever wanted to live in the South; then you owe it to yourself to visit the pages of SUMMER IN MOSSY CREEK. It takes you to a land that time has not forgotten, but has embraced. It is a place where all the good things still thrive and all the bad things move on down the road.

I don't usually subscribe to the notion that it "takes a village to raise a child," but when the village is Mossy Creek, well I say more power to it. And any child raised here has surely been blessed by God.

In the South the drink of choice is iced sweet tea with extra lemons. I raise my glass to the writers of SUMMER IN MOSSY CREEK. They have done themselves proud one more time.

SUMMER IN MOSSY CREEK is published by Belle Books. It contains 320 pages and sells for $14.95.


Chapter One


"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”


A GOOD leather recliner.

That’s all a man really needs to be happy. I ran my hand possessively over the butter-soft leather arm of my just-delivered chair and leaned back into heaven. The recliner was a custom job, extra-long when stretched out full-length. Josie McClure over at Swee Purla’s helped me pick it out weeks ago. The start of summer is a strange time to acquire a hot leather chair, even in Mossy Creek, where summer and strangego hand-in-hand as the temperature rises. I hadn’t really intended to buy an honest-to-God-real-leather chair that day. The thing cost more than a month’s salary.

But, as Josie carefully explained to me when I balked at the price tag she put on paradise, there comes a time in a man’s life when he has to stop living like a bear in a cave. She’s an ardent believer in the Japanese art of feng shui as a way to visualize and change your life. I wasn’t so certain furniture philosophy was going to change my life, but I was willing to be convinced. A leather chair was the pot of gold at the end of enlightenment. So, I nodded and made hmm-ing sounds.

Sort of like I did now. Mac Campbell was on the other end of the phone, having a great deal of fun at my expense.

"Patty said Josie’s worried about you. Apparently you’re about one feng shui faux pas away from total chaos.”

"You’re about one crack away from about a dozen parking tickets.”

"Touchy, aren’t you?”

"You would be, too. Patty’s blowing this all out of proportion. I only agreed with Josie that it was about time I replaced the castoff furniture I’ve either inherited or liberated from divorcing-couple garage sales. I haven’t agreed to anything else.”

Mac’s hoot of laughter kept me honest.

"Okay. Not much else.” I could actuallyhear Mac’s grin all the way through the phone.

"Son, you are living in a house with a toilet in the wealth area. You’d better agree to change something. Patty thinks you need to focus on your relationship area first.”

"Mac, why do I need a relationship area if I don’t have a relationship at the moment?”

"You’re right. The first order of business is having your chi all messed up because your back door and front door line up.”

"They aren’t actually lined up.”

"Close enough that Josie made you promise to keep the toilet lid down and avoid opening the back door until she could do a full-scale analysis of the problems—free of charge.”

That much was true. Josie had declared a state of emergency and had taken my case on a pro bono basis. At least for the consulting. The rest of it she charged through the nose for. That first consultation with Josie shocked more than my pocketbook. It shocked me out of denial. She was right, I had to change some things. I had to stop pretending that this job, Mossy Creek and the house were just way stations in my life. That I’d be moving on to bigger and better things eventually. Truth is... I’m not going anywhere and really don’t want to. There might be bigger, but I doubted there’d be better. It was time to accept Mossy Creek was my town for better or worse, until death do us part.

Especially now that I’d made the supreme sacrifice and engaged a decorator.

"Trust me, Mac. If I’d known what I was letting myself in for, I’m not sure I would have gone through with the consultation. I thought I was just shopping.”

"You don’t shop at Swee Purla’s; you have a consultation. Everyone knows that.”

"Apparently not me. I thought it would be easy to get someone to fix up the house for me and save me all the trouble. How long can it take to buy a few pieces of furniture and maybe new blinds? Dammit, Mac, I didn’t want a place worthy of some national design magazine centerfold. I didn’t want fancy. All I wanted was to make my house feel a little more like home and less like an empty military barracks.”

"Hey, I understand. Me and the boys are rooting for you.”

"What?” I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

"Well, you’re in Josie’s cross-hairs now. Won’t be long before you’ll be looking at paint chips. Unless you can break free.”

"I have to go.” Bang my head into the hallway wall. The one with test paint patches on it. I hung up.

I had been foolish and naive. I hadn’t known anything about feng shui. But my biggest mistake was not realizing that the force was strong with Josie. I was toast. Quite literally.

My idea of color theory is that tan is, well... just tan, and it pretty much goes with everything. Ha! Apparently there is some worldwide conspiracy to fragment the color tan into about a million sub-colors that all look exactly the same but are called foo-foo names like sandstone and harvest wheat and toast. Then—just when you think you’ve got a handle on the tan thing—the decorator asks trick questions like, "Which of these three paint chips is closer to your wall color?”


My walls are white. Don’t get me started on what the decorators of the world have done to the color white! It’s actually scary.

If color torture weren’t enough, whatever furniture you order has to be delivered to you when it finally arrives—by a big truck with Swee’s logo plastered all over it. Every woman on the block now thinks I’m just one big-screen TV short of having a wicked bachelor’s pad. That’s what happens when you’re single and have a new stereo system delivered the day before you have a leather chair delivered.

The combination is fatal.

My buddies thought I was going over to the dark side. The women in town thought I was going over to the dark side. The two groups just didn’t agree on what the dark side was.

Sighing, I hauled myself out of my newly beloved chair so I could haul myself down to the station. Might as well give Sandy her chance to comment on my sudden wild streak. She wasn’t expecting me until later in the day, but I figured there’s no time like the present to get the unpleasantness over with. A little grilling never hurt anyone. Not much. Besides, Sandy could use some cheering up.

"HI, CHIEF.” SANDY reached for the pink message slips she had piled on top of the row of file cabinets and walked them over to the counter. When she actually handed them to me and turned back to her filing without saying a word about my new chair or the messages, I began to worry about my favorite dispatcher. She never, ever, allowed me to sort my own messages. Hell, I was rarely allowed to touch them.

Looking at the slips in my hand, I had to admit the truth. The effervescent Sandy Crane was officially depressed, and I knew why. Not that I could do anything about it.

Sandy still spent most of her time in the office even though she’d been promoted to "officer.” She was having some trouble qualifying on the firing range. With a rifle and a decent scope she can shoot the tail feathers off a hawk at 600 yards, but using a pistol she couldn’t put more than two in a row in the kill zone of a paper target. Why? Closing your eyes as you pull the trigger pretty much insures a bad score.

She was shooting herself in the foot... so to speak.

My guess was Sandy’s soft nature couldn’t reconcile itself to shooting anything that looked like a person. Or she was afraid she’d make the wrong decision when push came to pull. God willing, she’d never have to pull a gun or shoot anyone in a town like Mossy Creek, but I have a responsibility to the citizens and, more importantly, to Sandy. I can’t put her on the streets unless she can do the job. All the job.

She either qualifies like every other officer or she works the desk. Even Battle wouldn’t have bent that rule. The issue is strictly black and white, governed by state regulations. For once, there isn’t even a smidgeon of gray area for me to agonize over.

Sandy doesn’t blame me, but it breaks my heart to see the sparkle fading from her smile. She worries that her dream of being a real officer is slipping through her trigger finger. The harder she tries the worse her scores get.

The hell of it is, Sandy was born to be a small town cop. She loves the people, makes it her business to know everyone and genuinely wants the best for Mossy Creek. Watching Sandy quietly filing our meager stack of incident reports, I knew I’d have to give this problem some more thought.

In the meantime, I had a couple of questions about my messages. I’ve gotten used to Sandy putting them in context and making sure I had all the important background on the issues. Seeing the pristine, un-annotated messages in my hand was a little like reading a book with blank pages. I didn’t quite know what the plot was.

"Hannah called? Someone moving the books in the library again?”

"Nope.” She didn’t even turn around to answer me. "That whole book moving thing doesn’t usually happen for a few more weeks.”

Okay, now I was really worried. The old Sandy would have practically bounced as she relayed the info, making plans to stake out the library for the annual moving of the books event. It happened every year near the beginning of the summer and near the end of the summer. Well, it had happened for the last year and a half, long enough to establish a pattern of harmless mischief. A mystery. But Sandy wasn’t even interested.

"So,” I prompted. "Why is Hannah calling?”

"Don’t know. Didn’t ask. I figure that’s her business.”

I clamped down hard on my response. Now was not the time to remind Sandy that as our dispatcher it was her job to screen my calls. I made a mental note to have a talk with Jess, her husband. Then I asked, "Okay. Next question. Did Dwight say why he needs me at the special council meeting he’s calling tomorrow night?”


"Sandy, I know he wouldn’t actually saywhy. That would ruin his little surprise plan. It’s always a secret coup with him. But, you, you know, right? You’ve always got an ear to the ground. I count on you for the good stuff. Don’t let me down now. What’s Dwight’s emergency?”

She looked up from her filing, a tiny bit of the sparkle was back. "I think he’s tired of the kids playing in the park.”


"Little Ida rode her bike past him this morning and rang that fancy bell on the handle bars to warn him. But Dwight being Dwight, he jumped ten feet and splattered coffee all over his new suit.” She looked at me speculatively. "And...”

Now this was the Sandy I knew and loved, waiting for me to finish the deduction. "And...” I concluded, "Dwight being Dwight, now it’s war on kids enjoying their own public park?”

"Right, Chief. That’s what it looks like. You know he’s been in a bad mood since last fall’s reunion.”

I would never forget Dwight’s expression as he realized his old humiliation could be traced to Ham Bigelow’s ambition. Ham had gotten rid of his rival for the state senate by making Dwight look incompetent. Twenty years ago Dwight had been busy barfing in the bushes instead of guarding the high school mascot and symbol of Mossy Creek’s honor. That stolen ram was the first link in a chain of events that ended with a fire that destroyed the high school.

The loss of a high school is hell on your political capital.

Probably didn’t help that Dwight irritated Battle Royden enough that the former chief finally roared, "Sorry doesn’t get it done. Now does it, Dwight?” Half the town had quieted down just in time to hear those words. The news anchor from Bigelow heard it, too. Got it on film. Battle’s question made a good sound byte.

I tried not to smile at the memory. It just wasn’t neighborly, but I couldn’t help it. Dwight never had been very good at getting people on his side. "I do have to admit that solving the mystery of the fire was political, if not poetic, justice.”

Sandy grinned and slapped an empty file folder against her thigh. "It was a moment to savor. Yes, indeed, it was a moment.”

"I imagine another moment will be watching him face-off with Ida over kids using the park.”

"The smart money’s on Miss Ida,” Sandy advised.

I didn’t even try not to smile as I headed for the door. "My money is always on Ida.”

My thoughts were on her more often than not as well, but I didn’t volunteer that information. I considered it "need to know” only. And nobody but me needed to know.


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