After a three year break, I’m back. For those of you who once followed my bungalow retreat website, you probably noticed it was removed a couple years ago. After seven years in our beloved D’Lo, Mississippi bungalow, we felt God leading us to sell our home and relocate.

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My husband, Joe, is now serving as pastor of Dry Creek Baptist Church in the Simpson County Dry Creek Community. Although we stayed in D’Lo during our first months of service here, God ultimately helped us see the importance of actually living among the people with whom we now serve. It’s a decision we’ve not regretted making. Not only is it a blessing to be a part of this loving community, some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen have been viewed from our backyard.

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sunset 1

During the three years I was away from my website, I’ve been busy writing my latest novel. Lead Me Beside Still Waters, the first novel in the Southern Heritage series, releases May 21, 2016. It took me much longer to write this book than it did any of the Island Legacy novels, and for good reason: its length is equal to that of two novels. But while it’s longer than I originally thought it would be, I believe you’ll find it well worth your time to read.

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My Southern roots grow deep. I was born and raised in the state of Mississippi, and although we were gone for twenty years before returning in 1997, I have lived two-thirds of my life in the Magnolia State. During the writing of Caribbean Freedom, the third and final Island Legacy novel, I began entertaining the idea of setting my next novel in my favorite Southern state.

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From the onset, I knew the heroine in Lead Me Beside Still Waters needed to be an outsider, someone seeing the South with fresh eyes.

Joe and I came upon the exact location of Stillwater Springs, Mississippi (the fictional town where much of the storyline in Lead Me Beside Still Waters takes place) quite by accident, but I believe it was where God intended all along that this town would be located. Following a trip to Red Bluff in Marion County, Joe and I took Highway 587 back toward Monticello. Not far from the Lawrence County line we passed an old cabin sitting under a stand of trees in the curve of the highway. I made Joe stop so I could take pictures; as I photographed that rustic old cabin, I knew I’d found my town’s location, and the cabin quickly became a part of Stillwater Springs’ history.

Old Cabin - Mississippi

More than half of the homes in Stillwater Springs are bungalows. The idea of creating a town where bungalows reign was birthed from my own love of bungalow-style homes — like this old place in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, that Joe and I once considered buying.

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Although I included historical facts in all three of the Island Legacy novels, Lead Me Beside Still Waters was my first attempt at including whole sections set during another time period. I did my best to stay historically true to the era represented, but I also realize I certainly made mistakes. And while most all of the characters are fictional, I did use numerous last names common to Lawrence, Marion, and Adams counties in Mississippi in the storyline. Also, other than Stillwater Springs, all other cities and towns in Lead Me Beside Still Waters either still exist today or were in existence during the time period in which they were included.

These various accounts included in Lead Me Beside Still Waters actually occurred: historical facts related to Natchez, Mississippi, during the Civil War; beliefs during the late 1800s that natural spring water (both hot and cold) held medicinal qualities; the tornado that practically destroyed Monticello, Mississippi, on April 22, 1882 (including names of dead and injured); the hurricane that pummeled South Louisiana and Mississippi in September 1915; the Spanish Influenza outbreak of 1918-1919; the 1918 outbreak of Spanish Influenza at Camp Forrest, Georgia; the speakeasies of the 1920s; and the stock market crash in 1929. In these accounts as well as others, although various cities, towns, businesses, and establishments may be or were real places, the descriptions in Lead Me Beside Still Waters may not always be exact, as they were derived from both fact and fiction. On numerous occasions I used artistic license to make the descriptions work with the storyline.

Starting with today’s post, I will be sharing something new each Wednesday. It may be an excerpt from Lead Me Beside Still Waters, a trivia fact associated with the state of Mississippi, a passage of scripture or devotional, a theme-related collection of photographs I’ve taken, or some personal tidbit I feel led to share. Whatever the week’s subject matter, I hope you’ll make plans to join me.

And don’t forget, you can also connect with me on Facebook: Author, Teri Metts, or follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.