Four Reasons I Set My Novel in a Small Town by Janice Cantore

Four Reasons I Set My Novel in a Small Town

I’m a relative newcomer to the Pacific Northwest. I was born and raised in Southern California, attended college in San Jose, Irvine, and Long Beach, California. My police career was spent in Long Beach, and it was there that I patrolled the streets with a badge and in uniform.

But four years ago, I made the big switch and moved to the small town of Eagle Point, Oregon. Quite a change. Long Beach is the third largest city in Southern California, behind Los Angeles and San Diego. There aren’t as many people in the entire state of Oregon as there are in the Los Angeles basin. Eagle Point has a population of about 5,000.

To the untrained eye, there are no borders to cities in the LA area. Concrete sidewalks and asphalt streets roll on and on. Where one city ends and another begins can be a mystery; Long Beach becomes Compton or San Pedro or Seal Beach without any stark change in the landscape.

Here in southern Oregon, wide-open spaces still prevail. Ranches, farmland, and forests rim towns and hamlets. It’s a different world, a slower world in some respects. Arrestees and ticket recipients’ names are printed in the local paper. There is also a greater sense of community here; people don’t seem to be as transient.

And that was my overarching reason for setting my new novel, Crisis Shot, in a small town, to project a sense of community.

As I began to write, I found four other good reasons to set a story in a fictional small town in southern Oregon.

In no particular order:

1. The challenge of the small town—Fewer people generally means less conflict, and a lesser degree of crime. Yes, crime is everywhere, and a lot is petty. But here, everyone knows everyone else, and many people are related in one degree or another, so there is nowhere to hide. There is no sprawling metropolis—no amorphous mass of people for a bad guy to disappear into. A criminal likely has to hide in plain sight.

How do I draw out the crime and the criminal? This was the challenge—playing the what-if game—and I enjoyed it.

2. The beauty of the area—I set my fictional town of Rogue’s Hollow against the backdrop of the powerful Rogue River, forested hillsides, and the national treasure of Crater Lake. This area has a history as colorful as the landscape: Native Americans, pioneers, logging, mining, etc. There are a lot of great stories in the history of this area. Stories of pioneers coming here on the Oregon Trail are rich and documented in any number of old, interesting cemeteries and small local museums. Author Zane Grey—famed for his Western novels—had a cabin on the Rogue River.

3. The potential for crime—When I moved to Oregon, recreational pot had just become legal. Consequently, I’ve watched the implementation play out with a lot of local drama. Run-down small farms were bought up quickly, crops planted . . . It seemed as if marijuana farms were going in everywhere, the promise of fortunes to be made drawing people in like ants to honey. A lot of locals were not happy to see fields of hay or corn or some other food crop replaced with pot.

And there are other issues as well: pot is still illegal as far as the federal government is concerned. There were rumors that all these new farmers had to do everything in cash; banks wouldn’t take money generated by something the feds deemed illegal. Robberies happened, crooks looking for cash—often it was product that was stolen. Plus, the state of Oregon may be loopy, but it’s impossible that all the pot growing here is only being sold in state. But exporting to another state is illegal. This new market opens a whole can of worms.

4. Unique attributes of the area—While the Oregon Bigfoot Highway is in the northern half of the state, near Mount Hood, down south, we don’t lack for stories about the illusive Sasquatch. Locals talk of sightings in Parker Meadows and in Butte Falls, about fifteen miles from where I live. I’ve sat around campfires and heard stories, including one about an Airstream trailer sporting dents after being pelted by rocks thrown by Sasquatch. I don’t write fantasy, but the lore stirs my imagination. Visiting the spots he’s supposedly roamed gets ideas flowing for human monsters and settings for suspenseful scenes.

Writing suspense or crime or mystery novels requires a fertile imagination. I’m glad I live in an area that keeps poking my imagination. And I’m glad that I left the concrete jungle for greener pastures.

Janice Cantore

About Janice Cantore

Janice Cantore is a retired Long Beach police officer who now writes suspense novels to keep readers engrossed and leave them inspired. Her twenty-two years of experience on the force lend authenticity to her stories. She has penned nine novels: the Cold Case Justice series, the Pacific Coast Justice series, Critical Pursuit, and Visible Threat. Crisis Shot is the first in the Line of Duty series. She also writes a blog about police work.


About Crisis Shot (Tyndale House Publishers, September 2017)

Tess O’Rourke dreams of becoming the first female chief of police in Long Beach, California. As commander of the East Division, she is well on her way . . . until the night she responds to an officer-needs-assistance call and fatally shoots an unarmed teenager. Despite being cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury, Tess is so hounded by the public that she takes a job in Oregon to escape the bad press.

Winning over the residents of Rogue’s Hollow might be more difficult than adjusting to her new role as police chief in the small, backwater town. Especially when her closest friend, the pastor’s wife, goes missing and the woman’s cousin is found shot. Tess finds an ally in sheriff’s deputy Steve Logan, but as they track down Rogue’s Hollow’s first murderer, she worries that she’s breaking one of her rules and getting too close to him.

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An Amish Lifestyle Short Story by Tracy Fredrychowski


Growing up in Northwestern PA I had the joy of being surrounded by multiple Amish settlements. Their culture and lifestyle became embedded in how I view the world and made me fall in love with their simple lifestyle. While I am not Amish I do live by many of their God centered, family focused, hard working values and admire their uncomplicated existence.

I invite you to join me as I take some of my experiences and write about the fictional town of Willow Springs. Come and meet the Byler and Troyer families through a series of short stories that are sure to give you a glimpse of authentic Amish life.

While the heat of summer is fading and the crisp cool air of autumn making its appearance, many Amish farmers are busy harvesting their crops and preparing for winter. Most men look forward to this time of the year and are already thinking about the first day of hunting season.

Come join me as we visit with Anna May as she take a short walk down memory lane in …

It was before dawn as Anna May hurried out of bed to get the coffee going before her son Martin came knocking at her door. It was the first day of hunting season, and she wanted to make sure he had a good breakfast before he went to the woods.

It was the Monday after Thanksgiving, and all the men in her Amish Community had been planning this day for weeks. As she filled the coffee pot, she looked out the kitchen window to see the moon reflecting off a fresh layer of early snow. A deep sadness overtook her as she remembered how Walter loved the first snow. It was all she could do to keep her emotions inside.

She set the coffee pot on the stove, added a few pieces of kindling wood to the firebox and busied herself rinsing the beans that had been soaking overnight. As she set the pot of beans back on the stove, she was reminded of the day the stove was delivered.

Tracy Fredrychowski

To read the complete Amish Lifestyle Short Story – A Forgotten Memory click here>>

Tracy Fredrychowski lives a simple life in a modern world on her South Carolina farm. Writing for the popular blog, Our Simple Homestead, she strives to preserve the art of homemaking and homesteading while encouraging her readers to slow down and live a quiet stress-free life. With a focus on Amish fiction, she inspires her readers to live a God-centered life through faith, family, and community.

A Different Amish Mystery By Amanda Flower


The Amish Candy Shop Mystery Series debuted at the end of August with the release of Assaulted Caramel. When I was asked to write another Amish mystery series after I had written the popular Appleseed Creek Mysteries and the Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries, which I wrote under the pen name Isabella Alan, I was a little bit hesitant. After writing ten Amish mysteries, what more did I have to say? How many more ways could I have a murder occur in Ohio’s Amish Country without jumping the shark? Despite my reservations, my agent and editor were both convinced that I should write another Amish series, and I started to think how I could make it different even though it was still set among the Ohio Amish. Here are the ways the Amish Candy Shop Mysteries are different from any other Amish books I’ve written before.

1) The protagonist, Bailey King, is an opinionated New Yorker. She also made some mistakes in her past. They are big mistakes too. She is unlike innocent Chloe Humphrey from Appleseed Creek or quirky Angie Braddock from the Amish Quilt Shop. Bailey is more edgy.

2) For the first time, I am writing a series built around food and with recipes! Believe you me, this terrified me as I am a mediocre cook and never until writing this series attempted to make candy. The candy thermometer scares me. I will only test recipes with a much more experienced cook by my side.

3) There is bad boy in the series. Usually, my characters fall for the nice guy, but Bailey is a little more daring with her heart.

4) The candy shop is built around the many candy shops that I had visited in Holmes County while researching the series. The types of candies, how they are made and packaged, and how they are displayed, comes straight from those visits. Yes, I do know that it is a tough assignment to visit candy shops for a book. Even worse, I had to EAT the candy. All part of the job.

5) There is a big surprise near the end of the book, and no, it’s not the identity of the killer although I hope that surprises you too! This surprise was totally unexpected and set the course for all the books to come after it. It even surprised me when I wrote it. Nope, I’m not going to tell you what it is, but if you read the novel and figure out what I am referring to, message me on Facebook or shoot me an email. I’d love to hear what you think it is!

Amanda Flower is a national bestselling and Agatha Award winning mystery author. She also writes mysteries as USA Today bestselling author Isabella Alan. In addition to being an author, Amanda is librarian in Northeast Ohio. Follow Amanda on Social Media at: Facebook Twitter Instagram

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