frame by frame
Golden Crown Literary Award (Goldie)
By CJ Murphy
A picture captures a moment in time, while love captures a lifetime.
Valkyrie Magnusson, a former Marine photographer injured while covering a goodwill interaction with Iraqi children in 2010, is haunted by flashbacks. She travels the U.S. as a photographer for Rider magazine. A self-proclaimed nomad, Val has little inclination to settle down. But something keeps calling her back to a little tourist trap called Cool Springs in rural West Virginia. The sign at the quirky little store boasts, “Good food, groceries, ice cream, hardware, feed store, taxidermy, gifts, and gas.”
Cool Springs is owned by Laurel Stemple and her grandmother Ree. Laurel is charged with the daily operations of the catch-all little store/diner and the care of her octogenarian grandmother. A frequent visitor, Val has become like family at Cool Springs. Interesting characters like Mule, aptly nicknamed for his braying laughter and Wunder, whose child-like questions keep everyone in stitches, create a unique tapestry of community in the little store.
Over the years, Val and Laurel have gradually fallen in love without acknowledging it. Personal secrets and scars have left the pair unable to move toward a relationship. While covering an annual Memorial Day Ride to the Wall, a near tragic accident forces Val and Laurel to confront their feelings and fears.