Olivia Newport mountain scene

Photo by Kara Zimmerman

I moved to Colorado 23 years ago. I’ve lived in California (twice) and the Pacific Northwest (gorgeous!), but the Midwest, where I grew up outside Chicago, seems to be in my bones (Go Cubs!). A number of times when I’ve written about small towns, they were situated in the Midwest, such as here or here . Even though I’ve lived away from the Midwest for a long time, at some deep level, the Midwest still felt like what I knew best.

I once wrote a novella that started in Colorado, but most of it took place on a train.

So after living here for so many years—and loving it—why haven’t I written more about Colorado? I’m going to fix that in this new series and celebrate the state where my husband and I put down our roots and our children grew up. We don’t live in the mountains proper, but one of my favorite things about where we live is that it is impossible to leave our driveway and go anywhere without seeing mountains. Sometimes I choose my route specifically for a rise in the road that gives a particularly panoramic view, but basically the mountains are familiar friends in the landscape of our lives.

And I love that.

Over the years, we camped and drove through and explored our share of small mountain towns and the mining history that undergirds our state. Canyon Mines, the fictitious mountain town outside Denver in my new series, celebrates all of that. In a way, when I invite you to visit Canyon Mines and the people who live there—Jillian and Nolan and Nia and Leo and Kris and Veronica and Luke and Clark—I’m welcoming you to my pleasure in where my family saga has brought me.

Come to Canyon Mines. I’ll be waiting.

In the Tree of Life series, stories are uncovered and woven together by the endearing duo of Jillian and her father, Nolan, and characters learn about who they are, where they come from, and their unique faith journeys as they discover their own trees of life. It all starts when Meri runs as far as she can get from her family and discovers that Jillian and Nolan have her back, no matter what.