Most of my novels are historical romance. Broken and Beautiful is not. I wanted to do something contemporary, but that wasn’t the only drive behind it. The influences are far reaching—everything from the praise band at the church I attend now, to the bar band I followed in my younger crazy days. And though it is fiction, the events and happenings in the lives of the four main characters—Casey, Kyle, Aster and Matt—were entirely taken from real life experiences, some told to me by friends, and others that I witnessed. Yes, the grossly unjust punishment Kyle endures in chapter three—if you read you’ll know what I mean—did happen to a friend of mine. Casey, struggling while playing piano at the funeral of a close friend… well, that was me. My dearest Pam, I still miss you every day!
The original manuscript was written as the dates in the book unfold, so when we had rain, there was rain in the book. Except for the end, because I got ahead of myself and wrote the August chapters in July. Writing in first person from each character’s perspective was actually a self-imposed exercise to improve upon character development. That summer, after getting my kiddos off to summer day camp, I hightailed it to my couch (my office) and laptop, squeezed my eyes shut and said, “Today I am [fill in the blank].” If I was Kyle or Matt, I had to think and talk like a guy. Not the easiest thing to do. And I had to remind myself of things, “Oh, yeah, I’m Aster. Have to drop the f-bomb every other word.”
Why a tragedy? The short answer is Ned Stark. Yes, my husband and I are both huge Game of Thrones fans. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
Although much of the story is centered around Matt’s spiritual journey, this cannot be considered a Christian book. Due to the subject matter and graphic content, it would probably never be allowed on the shelves at Christian book store, and that’s okay. However, I believe God gave me this story to convey a message. It is simply this: No matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been, you can find redemption and forgiveness in Christ. We are all broken. But in God’s eyes we are all beautiful.
Healing Grace is here! This novel, the third in the Grace Series, brings back many of the characters from Concealing Grace and Saving Grace, not only those we came to love, but also a few we didn’t like so much. We meet some intriguing new folks as well–Constance, the schoolteacher and Sam, the dedicated adjutant. The storyline focuses primarily on Julien’s brother, Etienne. Etienne, the valiant young colonel and Etienne, the wounded soldier. If anybody deserves to find forever love it’s arrogant, eccentric, sometimes silly, but always endearing, Etienne. I hope you will fall as much in love with him as I have.
One of my favorite people in Healing Grace is someone you may remember–Sadie, the young girl Jessica taught to read. Despite the circumstances of her life, Sadie has grown into quite the young lady. I like to think of her as passively formidable. Perhaps you will as well.
In writing this book, I took a chance in the plot twist. Of course I can’t say more than that without claiming, “Spoiler Alert!” What I will say is this: We are all people, no matter the color of our skin, no matter our interests or orientations. We all have triumphs. We all make mistakes. And we all feel. It is not our place to judge, but to love.
One last question: Have you ever wondered how and why the Sovereign Sons of the South came to be? Find out in Healing Grace!
I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it!
All my best wishes and God bless!
The house was small, just the east half of duplex. Nothing set it apart from any of the others lining the main street of a little coal mining town. But to me, it was more than a house. It was a little piece of heaven.
We would go there every summer—my brother and I—for summer vacation. There, we had toys to play with. Lincoln logs were my favorite. We spent hours trying to get the cat to come out of the rafters in the cellar. That old cat didn’t like us kids very much. We colored in old fashioned coloring books that had at one time belonged to our mother. Even though we weren’t supposed to, we raced in the hallway upstairs. Starting at the bedroom in front, we ran to the step, jumped off and landed like surfers on the carpet runner to see who could make it slide the farthest. Yeah, I cracked my tailbone that way. Every morning, we sat at the breakfast bar in the tiny kitchen on squeaky stools that went round and round until we were dizzy, waiting for a scrumptious surprise to be served by Grandma.
I remember many things about that house, like the way the door between Grandma’s room and the middle bedroom wouldn’t open because the house had settled so much it was stuck shut. I remember the scary cellar steps and the upstairs balcony we weren’t supposed to go out onto, but always did. I remember the closet full of my mother’s fancy ball gowns, and the crocheted doilies on the arms of the chairs and sofa in the front room. We weren’t allowed to play in there. I remember the pink and blue plates and the shiny purple cups we drank from. But what I remember most is the rain.
The house didn’t have AC, so to keep it cool, every evening Grandma opened the front door and the window beside it, and in back she opened the kitchen door and window over the sink. Summer breezes, filled with fresh scents of cut grass and rose bushes, would drift from one end of the house to the other. Even better were the dewy aromas that accompanied the rain—rain that crackled and popped on the porch roof in front, and tinkled and zinged on the big green awning in back. Those droning splatters were my music. They were the melodies we danced beneath and fell asleep to. They were the harmonies of peace and kindness. They were the symphonies conveying how precious we were to the one caring for us.
To this day summer rain compels me to open windows and doors. To stand in wonder and soak in the sounds and smells. To let memories wash over me. Apple dumplings and shoe fly pies. Snuggles and giggles and bedtime stories. Kittens and puppies and purple fingers from picking raspberries. Great big smiles of greeting and the voice of an angel saying, “Welcome home, little doll.”
My grandmother has been gone for many years, and still not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. And rain… it’s not just rain to me. Rain is and will always be the shower of Grandma’s endless love.
One February 20, 2016, I had the great privilege of being at TG Books in York, Pennsylvania, for the release of Unveiled, the series. This series features two novels initially, One Fine Beast and One Fine Man. I say ‘initially’ because who knows how many more books the future of this series may unveil. I hope you enjoy Gabriel and Lilly as much as I enjoyed creating them!
I have a new series coming out very soon entitled, One Fine Beast. This suspenseful historical romance takes place in the 1880’s near Philadelphia. It was inspired by a young girl who I used to teach piano to–Aria. Of course, Aria is no longer a little girl; she is a lovely and quite admirable teenager. But, back when she was seven, her favorite movie of all time was Beauty and the Beast. Funny, this Disney classic has always been a favorite of mine, too. The challenge, of course, was how to create a beast who doesn’t actually change into a prince at the end. After all, we don’t really live in a fairytale world…
Happy reading to all!
Hello friends. Just thought I’d share some pics of my fur babies. Life wouldn’t be nearly as grand without them!
Why do cats like boxes so much?
The best way to spend a yucky rainy day.
Or better yet, leaning on their humans at night.