Home: A Moving Target

The last weeks have been packed full of surprises.  Unexpected knee surgery.  Selling our house to builders who will tear it down and build two where it used to stand, a not uncommon occurrence in Northern Virginia. Our offer accepted on a house in Florida, which, after making  plans and finding movers, had to be withdrawn because major problems were uncovered during the inspection.

So now we have a limping author scrambling to finish a book while her husband–just completing a forty year career–madly scrambles to find movers who can store most of our worldly possessions for some undetermined number of months while we search for another home.

Okay, are we having fun yet?

Of course, through all this, I was and am aware how lucky we really are. We have health insurance. Our house sold quickly. We have an unheated cottage in NY where we can stay until cold weather. And we learned about the leaky roof in the house we had planned to buy BEFORE we bought it.

Luckiest of all, we can decide where we want to live next. The world is open to us–at least the portions of it that we can afford. We’ll be near our grandchildren all summer to watch them grow. Wherever we move we’ll see our children frequently, but for the first time we don’t have to consider school systems, distance to work, job opportunities.


I realized years ago how important setting is in my novels.  I’ve had as much fun designing places to live as I’ve had creating characters.  Emerald Springs, Ohio, home of Aggie Sloan Wilcox, my minister’s wife sleuth, was a particular joy, but would I want to live in Emerald Springs–with its abysmally high murder rate, nosy neighbors and snowy winters?

Or how about Toms Brook, VA, home of the Shenandoah Album series and a real town?  As much as I love Virginia and the Valley, I’m ready for something a bit warmer in winter, a place I won’t regret leaving in summer when I head to Western New York.  That goes for the very real Asheville, North Carolina, too, home of my newest series, Goddesses Anonymous.

Of course that leads me straight to Happiness Key. . . But wait, I think Happiness Key is, ahem, no longer habitable.

Creating all these wonderful places and researching those that exist, has taught me a lot about what’s important. It’s not (all) about weather. It’s not (all) about roots. It’s not even (all) about being down the street from family. It’s about settling in, making any house a home, turning neighbors into friends and finding out what we can contribute.

The next months will be an adventure, but I’m glad I have my imagination to help me. After all, if I can create a home for my characters, I’m confident I can do the same thing in real life.  I’m looking forward to it.

In the meantime, in the next weeks you may find fewer posts here.  Just bear with me until we’re temporarily settled again.


  1. Marna on May 29, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Glad you found out about that roof before the papers were signed! I’m sure you’ll find something better, and in the meantime, home is where you hang your hat, right?

    • Emilie Richards on May 29, 2012 at 8:25 am

      We were lucky, which is why I can’t recommend getting a thorough home inspection highly enough. Our guy called in a roofing inspector when he suspected problems. And now we’ll start all over, but who knows what fun we might have in the meantime?

  2. Lynn Ross on May 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Knee surgery!! Is there more of that to come, or are you speaking of the first one? I loved this article, Emilie. As many times as you have moved in real life, I have every faith in your ability to make a house a home under all kinds of circumstances. And with your attiude of gratitude, you can’t fail. Sending good vibes for your finding the right place. Wishing you a great summer a Chautauqua! <3

    • Emilie Richards on May 29, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      No same surgery, just recovering which takes time but goes well. Thank you for the nice words. We have an adventure ahead of us, but we’re both looking forward to it.

  3. Tina on May 29, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Emilie, I’m sure you have had your share of frustration lately and you still managed to put it down on paper (or “screen”) so beautifully! I choked up reading this. I love all of the sentiments that you expressed and while I will certainly miss your postings, I am glad that you have this opportunity. So, enjoy finding the house you are going to make into a home and relish every minute spent with family and friends (both old and new)!

    • Emilie Richards on May 29, 2012 at 7:37 pm

      Thanks so much, Tina. And I’ll definitely still be here, but I might miss a day or two of blogging until we’re settled again. We’ll see.

  4. Sarah in Houston on May 29, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Hope all goes well for you. I’m coming to the Chautauqua Institute this summer – 2nd week starting June 30. Hope the weather is nice. Here in Houston we are having a week in the 90’s already!

    • Emilie Richards on May 30, 2012 at 6:05 am

      Chautauqua can be hot in the summer, but more often than not, it’s lovely weather. And it will definitely be cooler than Houston. I hope you have a wonderful time.

  5. Nancy Badertscher on May 29, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Emilie, sorry to hear about the FL roof – but definitely glad you found out about it now. Helpful to have that house in NY to stay in for the summer. Are you still thinking FL for the permanent place? Too bad Happiness Key is not available!! We’ll be looking for your posts whenever you can do them.

    • Emilie Richards on May 30, 2012 at 6:04 am

      FL is our top pick, and yes, HK would be perfect, although who can afford to live that close to Wanda and her pies?

  6. Debbie on May 29, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    I feel your pain on the move! Had to sell my place in 08 after getting laid off! My roof leaked in a storm 3 nights before closing. I called my realtor and disclosed info. Just couldn’t do that to any one.

    • Emilie Richards on May 30, 2012 at 6:03 am

      You’re exactly the kind of seller the world needs, but I’m so sorry that happened to you. I hope you landed on your feet in a good place.

  7. Karen LeMore on May 30, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Emilie…you’ve got the right attitude about all these changes. You are looking at them as opportunities and the unplanned changes as blessings, not negatives. Sending you wishes for a speedy recovery…and have fun searching for the right place to settle down for your next home!

    • Emilie Richards on May 30, 2012 at 8:23 am

      Many thanks, Karen. The knee improves daily. Can long walks be far down the road?

  8. Pat on May 30, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Honey, y’all need to move to East Tennessee in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains. With the most visited National Park in the U.S., five lakes and more history than you can ever imagine – check out Popcorn Sutton, Cades Cove, etc. you would have more inspiration than you could ever imagine.

  9. Renie in MN. on May 30, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Whiskey Island has to be my favorite book of yours! (I think) :)I love genealogy and so it was a perfect read for me. I think I will have to reread it one day. Happy Trails 🙂 What a happy little comment for your upcoming move.

  10. GladysMP on May 30, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    Thought about Texas? It has a host of great places, choice of climates, something for everyone.

    • Emilie Richards on June 3, 2012 at 9:44 am

      Texas has a lot to offer. We loved a six week stint we spent in Austin. But we’re sticking to the East Coast where our family lives. We can always visit and enjoy the Lone Star state, right?

  11. Cathy Leitner on June 1, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Sorry Emilie about the house. I know you will find a wonderful house to move into soon. Hope it is our neck of the woods here in St. Pete? Good luck on your move. Have pre-ordered your next book, sounds as wonderful as the others.

    • Emilie Richards on June 3, 2012 at 9:43 am

      We love the Tampa Bay area, but we’re looking on the other side right now. So many lovely places and you definitely live in one of them. I hope you enjoy One Mountain Away.

  12. Lou on June 27, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    I can honestly say I never heard of you until yesterday when a patient was shouting your praises. She said her favorite series was Shenandoah Album and that it was based in Toms Brook. I was born and raised in the Valley, so I want to start reading your books. Wedding Ring will be my first. I work long hours and am also the caregiver to a parent, so when I have a few minutes, I escape into a good book.

    • Emilie Richards on June 28, 2012 at 10:22 am

      I like that phrase “shouting your praises.” Warms an author’s heart. I hope you enjoy them, too.

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