It Take a Village by Karen Shughart

The setting for the Cozies I write is a village on the south shore of Lake Ontario in New York, and while fictionalized, it closely resembles the village where I live. If you’ve read the books, you might remember that typical of the genre, there’s a close-knit group of characters who, in addition to solving crimes, also get together for social and community events and to provide support in times of stress.

It’s no accident that I chose to model Lighthouse Cove after Sodus Point. It’s much easier to write about what you know, and while the characters in the book are mainly figments of my imagination, the preponderance of people here are as kind and caring as those, other than the villains, portrayed in the books.

Without going into a lot of explanation, a couple of weeks ago our 21-pound Blue Tick beagle, Nova, escaped from our fenced-in yard on a bright, sunny day.  My husband was out running errands, and when I discovered she was gone, I sprang to action and started walking the streets calling her name. One of my neighbors checked to see if she had perhaps wandered into her carriage house. Another, on her way out of town, took a few minutes to drive around to see if she could spot her. A young woman I’d never met was walking her dog and said she’d look, too, and would bring her home if she found her.

After my husband arrived, we fanned the neighborhood on foot to no avail. We decided to post her photo on a couple of local Facebook sites and then get into the car to continue the search, but before we did, I checked my phone. There was a message. One woman who lives about three blocks away had spotted her, and while she wouldn’t come when called, that person herded her to the home of a friend who always keeps treats and a lead at her house. Fortunately, Nova had identifying tags with phone numbers, and we were notified.  Within an hour of her escape she was home safe and sound, tired and a bit scared, but no worse for the wear.

Around dinner time that evening, my phone rang. A friend, who had heard about her escape from another, asked if we’d found Nova and said that earlier, when he’d heard the news, he’d gotten on his bike and ridden around our village looking for her. The next morning, when my husband walked her, a man he didn’t know stopped him on the street and told him he was glad we’d found our dog.

For some, living in such a tight-knit community would be claustrophobic and confining; for us it’s been a blessing. There are many more incidents I can recall where people have banded together to help those experiencing some sort of crisis that I’ll write about at a different time. But for now, I’ll end with expressing gratitude for living in a village where the call for help is always answered.

8 thoughts on “It Take a Village by Karen Shughart

  1. Karen, Glad your dog was safe. I think this is something that we can all relate to. Out where I live, we are a mile or better apart but when the call goes out for help, there is always someone(s) who comes to the rescue. Small town or rural community we have each other’s backs. Good post.


  2. Karen, there’s a lot to be said for living in a small town. But probably equal things to be said about city life. Depends on your preference. I’ve done a little bit of both and enjoyed them for what they had to offer. Now we live in the outer burbs, with lots of wild life. Writing cozies myself, I think the location is just about the topper. Of course, the story and characters have to be good, but a good location, atmosphere the reader can just drink in, is the key to writing a memorable novel. Thanks for a really fun article.


  3. Thank you, all, for you ‘likes’ and positive comments. It truly is a wonder to me that we somehow found our way to this beautiful village.


  4. I certainly recognize your village, Judy. For the setting of the Mellingham series I used the town where I grew up on the New England coast. I changed the name and added and removed features as needed, but I was glad to have a known location to help me keep straight distances, sight lines, and more. And yes, people helped each other out as the need arose, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Good post.


  5. I’m so glad Nova made it home safely. I really miss living in our small village. I hope to return to the Finger Lakes permanently one day.


  6. I lived in Sodus Point for a couple of years when I was a kid (many decades ago!) and have fond memories of skating the sidewalks there (back when we had a skate key!) and going up three blocks and being able to see Lake Ontario. I currently live in a small, tight-knit community in Wisconsin and wouldn’t have it any other way. Glad your pup was okay!


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