So I figured I'd tell the story behind my book, His Wounded Heart that released yesterday.
This book began in Calgary in 2009. I was living there for a short time, getting to spend some time with one of my best friends that I almost never got. I had just joined RWA (Romance Writers of America), ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and was just about to graduate from Seminary.
I woke up from a dream about a scene that, oddly, wouldn't end up in the final draft. But it was a dream about the hero, Sean. I woke up feeling his pain so clearly that I felt like I'd been living his life. I sat down in front of my laptop and wrote the very first words, about Sean throwing shoes, and sat there staring at the screen, thinking, no one is going to like this guy. Even though I loved him.
My Scribes critique groups ate up my chapters, which was a fantastic experience for me, and when I finished the book, I entered it in the Genesis Contest put on by ACFW. Back then, there were only finalists and winners, and when I was in Wal Mart one day, I got a call from the contest committee letting me know that I had finaled in my category. I was floored.
Everyone told me that I would sell this book immediately, having been a Genesis finalist. I ended up getting a full request from Harlequin, and the wonderful editor finally rejected it for (very viable) plot issues, but she gave me some insight into things that I needed to fix in the book.
Meanwhile, I graduated Seminary, found a new job at a church in Montana, moved into a tiny apartment, and then found out that I'd sold HWH (then titled New Nineveh) to Pelican Book Group. We started working through the edits, and I realized just how much work I still had to do to learn as a writer. So while I'm very happy with my experience, I have no doubt that I will continue to grow as a writer, especially when it comes to my particular difficult areas.
But what I learned the most through this experience is that my books are a product of me. I have particular experiences and knowledge. I have a Seminary degree. I was a consultant. I love sports. I travel (to places like Baltimore). I have a high preference for narrative theology. All of my me-ness together is going to produce a book that's just different from other authors (in the same way that their difference from me produces different books). And what I'm learning is to lean into my difference.
And of course, I like to say, I don't think my Seminary professors ever thought they would be training the next generation of romance novelists. :) Still... they had to know I was a different kind of a character. We'll see what kind of story I tell about the next books, but I hope that I always remember how much of myself will come into and out of my books. Either way, I look forward to seeing what the future holds.
Don't forget about my release party. Lots of prizes to win. And, of course, a book to highlight. Tune in tomorrow for my very first excerpt, in honor of my reading at the release party. :)