Have you ever been reading along and wished you could see exactly how a house or plot of land looked that the character lives in. Well, today is your lucky day.
In going through the edits for Writing Home, my editor couldn't picture exactly how everything looked the way I had described it. To make both our lives easier, I sketched out a rough (seriously, super rough with no measuring whatsoever) floor plan of the land Jordan's family lives on (see above) as well as his cabin (see below).
Let's talk best friends. Because, to be honest, Christiana and Jordan wouldn't have much of a story in Writing Home, if not for Tina.
Tina and Chris grew up down the street from each other in their Nashville suburb, and were almost inseparable until Chris left to go to Huntsville for college. Now, Tina is still at home, and wishes Chris were, too.
When Chris asks for a pen pal, Tina immediately thinks of her cousin Jordan, who she used to write in middle and high school. And maybe for a few other reasons, too, but she's not disclosing those yet.
Jordan White, the other main character of my book, Writing Home, lives in Louisiana. Just outside of Shreveport on his family's land, to be exact. He inherited his grandfather's cabin, just down the yard and across the driveway from his parents' house.
Growing up in that part of the world, it's natural for him to love all things outdoors--hiking, fishing, hunting, football. And since they have several acres of wooded area, as well as a pond, he's pretty happy to stay right where he is.
As we gear up to welcome my newest book into the world in a week and a half (not that I'm counting or anything), I wanted to give you a sneak peek at the characters and some other behind-the-scenes tid-bits.
Here's Christiana Jones. She grew up hearing stories of Huntsville from her dad, who went to college there. It became her dream, so she went to school there and stayed. But for some reason, it doesn't feel like home to her. Maybe that's why she hasn't unpacked all of the boxes in her apartment despite having been there almost three years.
She's working at a pediatric clinic as one of the receptionists, and is good at her job, but it no longer brings satisfaction.
When I first wrote Saving Grace back in 2013, I started it in a slightly different spot than where it starts now. The scene was deleted during various editing stages, for various reasons. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share it here, where you could see my original beginning, before you actually get to read the story itself.
**By the way, just two more weeks until it releases, and next week I'm planning to give some sneak peeks of chapters that are still in the book itself, just to give you a taste for it!
Leah’s breath came out in a whoosh. Her abdominal muscles tightened, starting from her back and then reaching around to her front. The baby gave a kick, as if to say she didn’t appreciate being squeezed that way.
“Just a little bit longer and we’ll get you out of there.” Leah rubbed the spot where the foot had bumped. “Trust me. Neither one of us is comfortable right now.”
John looked over at her and she gave him a smile of reassurance.
“They’re getting closer together.” He looked more concerned than she was. It was so cute.
“And that’s why we’re on the way to the hospital.”
I have been in many, many church buildings through the years. Perks of being a preacher's daughter, among other reasons. Apparently, though, some of them stuck with me more than others, and they're sneaking into my writing.
As I was rereading Saving Grace during edits, it hit me that I'd pictured a particular church building from my past when describing the one in the story. Greg is the youth minister, so several scenes take place there.
The church building in my head is the one I was married in. Since I can't go running off to Arkansas right now to do a walk-through video and show you this charming building, I am doing the next best thing and showing pictures as I describe it.
In my upcoming book, Saving Grace, Gregory Marshall, or Greg to his friends and family, is the fun-loving youth minister at the local church. He drives a Jeep and loves going to eat the greasy pizza at the local high school simply because it means he can hang out with his youth group kids, and maybe even reach a few others, too.
It wasn't easy at first, coming back to the church where he grew up. But despite it taking a few years for him to prove he was more than the goofy teenager they'd watched grow up, he's now beloved by everyone more than ever. Including some of the youth group girls who rather wish he'd stay single long enough for them to be old enough to marry him.
My newest book, Saving Grace, releases in just over a month, on October 6th. Over the next weeks, I'm going to be giving you behind the scenes peeks, insight into my characters, a deleted scene, and even a glimpse of a chapter or two to get you ready to hold this book in your hands. Today, here's my main character, Michelle Wilson.
Michelle Wilson grew up in the little town of Cedar Springs, Arkansas. Her goal in life? To be one of the star reporters on the local paper.
When the job goes to the nephew of the main editor instead of Michelle, she takes a job in Little Rock for a few years. But now the position is open once more, and Michelle is headed home. She plans to start up a small photography business on the side, and already has a wedding booked.
Several readers have requested I write a sequel to my book, An Unexpected Legacy. Well, I don't have enough ideas for a whole 'nother book, but I thought it might be fun to gift you a short story set a year later with the same characters. I warn you, though, that this story does sort of give away how the book ends. ;-)
I will be posting one bit of the story each day this week so be sure to stop back by and read the rest.
And, ever since writing this, I've had this image in my head of what the glider on Aunt Ruth's front porch looked like. When I saw this picture over on Sarah Orsborn's blog, here, I asked if I could borrow the photo since it matched my imaginings so well. She agreed, and now you can see an image of what I imagine Aunt Ruth's front porch looks a bit like.
“Maybe bringing you wasn’t such a good idea.” Jessica tugged Chad out the front door of Aunt Ruth’s house and into the old metal glider the morning of Christmas eve. She zipped up her puffer vest against the fifty-degree chill.
“What are you talking about? I thought we agreed we didn’t want to spend Christmas apart.” He pulled her to his side, his arm around her shoulders.
She snuggled into the warmth. “I know. But have you seen the way she’s been acting?”
“I guess not because I don’t know what you mean.” He glanced at something over her shoulder, but by the time she looked back at the window, there was nothing to see but curtains.
“What was that?”
“There’s nothing there. Must have been a reflection or something.” He squeezed her bicep. “Now tell me what you think you’re seeing Aunt Ruth do.”
“I’m not even sure.” She rubbed a circle on her temples. “She’s casting you sideways glances and ... it’s almost like she’s trying to meet your eyes but not at the same time. I don’t understand. I thought she was over her vendetta against your family, but now I’m beginning to wonder if she’s gone back to her old ways. I mean, it’s been a year since she really saw you. And I know she’s going to counseling, but maybe it’s not working?”
“I think you’re looking for things to see.” He pressed a kiss to her hair. “But you’re worrying for no reason. She’s been nothing but kind to me since we got here two days ago.”
“Really?” She looked up to make sure he was being serious.
“Really, truly.” With one finger, he drew an x on his chest. “Promise.”
“I know it’s not ideal. I mean, that couch has never been the most comfortable—”
“Jess, I promise. There’s no other person I’d rather spend the holidays with than you. Your family is great. And besides, I can’t escape to my grandfather’s house this year. Remember? We finally had the estate sale and that place is empty and almost sold.”
“So, you do want to escape!” She poked him in the shoulder.
“No!” A look of exasperation crossed his face. “I told you—”
“I know. I’m teasing.” She leaned up and dropped a quick kiss on his lips. “I’m glad you’re here, too. I’ll try not to be so skittish.”
Yet, she couldn't quite shake the unsettled feeling gurgling in her stomach. Was there really something wrong or was she simply paranoid after the previous year?
Come back tomorrow for day two! And if this has made you want to check out these characters in their original setting, you can find that story here.
If you've been following along on my facebook page through the last month, you know I finished Nanowrimo with a higher word count than ever before for me. My next highest is around 67500, but this year, I passed 75,000 words in less than 30 days. I honestly wasn't sure I was going to make it. After all, I was working again, have two rambunctious kids, and wondered at times if I'd given my plot enough substance to need that many pages. Instead, the more I wrote, the more I discovered that these characters had depths and backstory that needed exploring and that took time. I also wrote this one from two different perspectives (his and hers) so that added some to it, as well. My dream for this novel would be to have Hallmark snatch it up down the road. Feel free to pray for something amazing like that to happen. Until then, it's going to rest a while before I start editing. I like to let it simmer on the back burner so that the next time I look at it, my eyes are fresh, and I can catch more mistakes. And this being written so quickly, I'm sure there's plenty.
Thanks to all of you who have supported me through this process. I look forward to the day when I can tell you it's available for buying, because I think you're going to love it. Want to know more about it before then? I made a pinterest board for it that you can get to by clicking here. It's full of recipes, decorating ideas, game instructions, tidbits about Waco, TX, where it's set, and more. I enjoyed pulling out all the different features to include, and I hope it blesses you somehow, too. Some of those recipes look really yummy.
This is a place for me to tell you about what I'm writing, talk about the process or where some of my ideas came from, or even have other authors come in and talk about their books.
Authors I Love to Read (in no particular order)