Donna Everhart

First Sentence Friday and Free Book Friday!

Hello Readers!

Welcome again to this week’s installment of First Sentence Friday and Free Book Friday! The free book is a signed Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of When the Jessamine Grows.

Please note: If you answer the question/comment (the way to win a book) out on the blog site, please be sure to add your name at the bottom of your comment because some of them are showing up as Anonymous. ????

Joetta McBride has a special spot she likes to visit. She goes there several times in the book and it’s what I’d call her thinking place. It’s her refuge from the farm and her daily life, where she is often confronted by all the work required of her. It’s where she goes for peace of mind, for solitude to consider an important event, or simply to enjoy the quiet. She goes when she’s happy, sad, or angry. This special spot is real, not fictitious and is called Fishing Creek.

When I began writing this book, I had to dig deep to figure out a couple of things about the town of Whitakers, NC, and Fishing Creek. Whitakers is where I have the McBrides purchase dry goods like flour, sugar, and coffee, that is, until they can’t. It’s where Mr. McBride gets the news of the day, where grain is taken for milling, and where you might bump into a neighbor. Part of the research dealt with the name of Whitakers, or was it Whitaker’s Mill? Somewhere along the way as I was exploring the viability of the town for the story, I ran into a bit of information that said it was called Whitakers Mill at one point. This is a long-lost rabbit hole, because for the life of me I can’t find where this was mentioned, except there IS a suggestion of it here in this old map, which I saved from a year ago. It’s hard to see, but, if you click on it, that enlarges it a bit.

It shows several things. For one, you can clearly see a different creek called Swift Creek. Fishing Creek is at the very top, and you can see parts of it looping down in the photo. This map interested me, however, because for one, it shows the Wilmington/Weldon RR that’s mentioned in the book. There was a section of track added near Whitakers that once allowed trains to stop and get wood and water, and it became known as Whitakers Turnout. (not mentioned in the book, just interesting) Even more important is the “M” near Whitakers. Can you see it? This made me wonder if it was true, that at one point the town was called Whitakers Mill. Also, you can see Whitakers X Roads, for Whitakers Crossroads, and the name of R. Whitaker. After the railroad came through, a town developed around it on the land owned by Richard Whitaker. This too, was fascinating, how they included the names of people living in the area. You can see other names, too. And, obviously it became Whitakers for Richard Whitaker.

Why might it have been called Whitakers Mill? There’s a mill that was built in 1859 on Fishing Creek. It originally functioned as a spinning mill, and workers there made uniforms for the Confederacy. It’s called Bellamy Mill. History also references other names for Whitakers like Depot, and Ashland, and Mayonia, in 1886, to honor Major J.M. Mayo, but this was only for three months.

Bellamy Mill, Historic site in Nash County, NC

Here is a current map of the area, showing the town of Whitakers and Fishing Creek. When I traveled up to Arlington VA a couple months ago, I passed by signs on the highway that said I was in Nash County, the county of the McBrides, then I saw signs for Fishing Creek and Whitakers. I thought to myself, I’m in Joetta’s neck of the woods. ????I would have stopped to take pictures, but, I-95 is the highway. I don’t think I’d want to risk life and limb for a photo.

All this to say, research can be a lot of things, interesting, educational, exhausting, and confusing, but it’s always worth it. ????


Chapter 23

She sat on the embankment of Fishing Creek, her voluminous black skirt tucked beneath her legs, hands held still in her lap, head bowed.



For this week’s chance to win a signed ARC of When the Jessamine Grows, do you have somewhere you like to go, a spot in or around your house, or elsewhere that you consider something of a haven, or sanctuary?

For me, if at home, it’s out in my yard, except when it’s cold, and then, quite honestly, it’s my office. (weird?)  My extra-special place, however, is when we spend time in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I never want to leave when it’s time to go.



Pre-orders gauge the interest and signal to the publisher readers are eager for an author’s work! Please consider pre-ordering because it really does help! If you’re holding out because you might win an ARC or a finished copy, remember you can always give away the extra as a gift to one of your reader friends. ????

Pre-order links for your convenience:

Kensington Publishing Corporation

Barnes & Noble




Last, but not least, don’t forget to:


16 thoughts on “First Sentence Friday and Free Book Friday!”

  1. When I’m at home, our screened in back deck is my happy place. That said, the Ocean is my Zen and the Cape (as in Cape Cod) is my true sanctuary.

    Julie G.

    1. There’s definitely something about the expansiveness of the ocean. I love going there too, and standing on the beach at sunrise or sunset. Glorious! ????

  2. My happy place is my home since I retired 8 years ago. Don’t have to go out if I don’t want to.

    1. It’s true – we stay home more now than ever, although neither of us is retired. But here is where we love to be – except for those mountains I mentioned!

  3. I enjoy sitting on the deck reading a book. The birds come in with a song and the squirrels come for a visit. ????

  4. My special place is a wooded area between our subdivision and the neighborhood next to us. It is my favorite place to walk to see wildlife and be in nature. My favorite place to read is our screened porch off of our bedroom, with my cat on my lap!

  5. I grew up with my grandparents & my dad. They had an Apple orchard with concord grape trellis’ growing on the edges of the orchard. The back lot had black berry, raspberry & strawberry bushes. I had a single apple tree by my dad’s smoke house for smoking fish that was of great comfort.. I read there I could climb it, & sit. It was just off the orchard so under it I could see & hear everything. Peaceful. We had no neighbors just land.

    I guess it is probably much like Joetta’s special place.
    We have been happily, lovingly, blessed married over 40 years relocated around the country as husband was promoted with work. Built houses, bought new… each one had a lovely spot like that. Retired now since he got cancer, recovering, enjoying our quiet lovely big back yard carved out with spots to escape???? but we enjoy being side by side????

    1. My husband and I often talk about wanting to walk out our back door and see nothing but land, trees, anything of nature. We love our house, and neighbors, but it’s something we think about a lot. I hope your husband is doing better. This came through as anonymous, so I don’t know who I’m replying to – but best wishes for his recovery.

  6. I like to go outside and just clear my mind by watching nature and looking at the sky or flowers or something that catches my eye

  7. I enjoy going outside on nice days and just have a peaceful time looking at nature.
    Also on cooler days or rainy I enjoy driving to a book store to look round and check out new books. or some days I enjoy going into my room to watch a movie or nap with my kitties.

    Teresa Bawa

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