Books sometimes begin as a title.
Okay, I’ll admit that it’s not often, but it happens. Like Premeditated Serendipity. The words just came out of nowhere when I started writing a book about a floral fiasco for the now-disbanded, Out of the Blue Bouquet collection.
The title, of course, is an oxymoron. The very definition of serendipity includes “happenstance” which is the opposite of premeditation. But what if something were meant to look like an accident of Providence or something. Okay, that is also an oxymoron. Accident of Providence. I can’t stop laughing.
At the time I wrote the book, I wrote at nights in a local prayer house, and this place is such a huge blessing to our town that I wanted to show it for all it can be. Inspired by the movie, The War Room, the Lighthouse gives people a place to go to be quiet before the Lord. You can write out your prayers on a sticky note and place them along the walls. You can even ask the on-site watchman to pray for you.
Since the book had to have a floral fiasco, and since I had a delightful character who had appeared in most of my Fairbury books, handing out his free daisies, I knew I wanted Wayne at The Pettler to be involved somewhere. Flowers, prayers, and a mix-up… all in Fairbury.
Take a few Bible verses, stir in a little godly interference, give a pinch of meddling, and mix well. Bake in the oven of misunderstanding until true feelings rise and come out clean.
Meet Kelsey: One of Fairbury’s most beloved nurses, she spends half her time assisting at Fairbury’s clinic and the other half singing her prayers at the local Prayer Room. She’s also waiting for Reid to decide to take a chance on her.
Then there’s Reid: An ex-convict, he’s still learning that he can’t repay for the crimes he committed—not really. That is something only Jesus could do. And he’s really ready for a change in his life, one that includes Kelsey.
So why aren’t they together? That’s what Wayne wants to know and why he meddles with a little bit of premeditated serendipity.
The result is a story about hope, forgiveness, and love—of the Lord, of friends, and yes… of two people perfectly suited for each other. I hope you’ll give Premeditated Serendipity a read. It’s one of my favorites.
Why did I set my book Persuade Me in the bush and not in the outback?
I could have done the latter. After all, the outback is more exotic than the bush and more recognisable too. The outback is probably the first thing people from other countries picture when they think of the parts of Australia that are outside the cities and beaches. It would have been easy to say that was where my book was set.
But I didn’t do that. I couldn’t do that.
Because that would have felt like a lie.
Because I chose to set the book in a particular place and I know where that place is.
Because as far as I am concerned, there is a difference between the outback and the bush.
Now, I know this is a personal opinion and I know this opinion is not shared by all people living in Australia. Some think the outback is anywhere there aren’t traffic lights. However, this book is based on my own personal experiences, and those of the people I know. So I polled my family and friends, those living in the bush and those who consider themselves city-folk, and we all came to the same conclusion: The outback is the red centre. The heart of the country.
One relative put it this way: “Outback is the vast unpopulated arid parts of Australia. Think red dirt and sparse vegetation. When I think outback I think unpopulated areas with extremely large stations.”
That is how I see it too. Which means… Clermont and the surrounding areas aren’t in the outback. They’re in what we think of as the bush. The part of the country that lies between the coastal, highly populated areas and the outback.
I grew up in the Clermont area knowing we didn’t claim outback status because we weren’t that far out. We lived in the bush. We didn’t live in that red dirt, sparse vegetation part of the country. We had grasslands, hardwood forests, and the like. It only took a two hour drive to get to town or a four hour drive to get to the coast. An area that is still dry and arid, still subject to drought and flooding rain, further out than farm country.
But not the outback.
And while I know my experiences and opinions might not be true of all Australians, I wanted to be true to what I and my family knew. True to what the people in the area where I set my book would think.
More than words
(If you enjoy 80’s music at all, you are now humming a tune – you’re welcome.)
I see readers comment often how books inspired them or evoked an emotion. How they related on a deep level with the character or understood the situation so ardently than it may have triggered some thoughts and memories. The moments created on the pages of books mean something to the people who read them. That means that the books authors write are more than words on a page, it’s art inspired by life.
Think about how many times you have read a story and a collection of simple words jumped out at you and wrapped themselves right around your heart. You set the book down in your lap and ponder what you read a couple times. If it is a kindle, you might even highlight it so that you can go on Goodreads and visit that moment again. I do not know about you, but I love those moments.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
Psalms 40:1-2 NIV
Yes, I know it might be unusual to drop a Bible verse in the middle of an article, but stay with me.
If you read my article from last month, you read about my conversion to Christian Fiction. Well, I guess this might be a continuation of that because there was a time in my life when this passage applied to me. Now, I believe that if God wants your attention, He will use what ever means necessary to get your attention.
Imagine, if you will, I am sitting on my second hand, order blue couch with Elmo on the television and two little boys and my one year old daughter running crazy. My husband is gone over the road to better provide for our family. My mind is blank, my heart is lonely, and my motivation to do anything has ceased to work. I worked at a bridal shop at the time and it was right in the middle of prom season (this meant ten hour days in high heels dealing with teen aged girls who are a little on the sassy side, mothers who have big opinions and ideas, and teen aged boys there to get tuxes that they don’t want to wear). Anyway, I picked up my first Kindle that a friend gave me for my birthday the previous December and looked for a book that grabbed my attention. That was when I came across a book from an author I had never heard of – Chautona Havig – and her book Ready or Not. The title resonated with me because ready or not, I was a single mother. Ready or not I had to manage a household, a work schedule, a babysitting schedule, and find time to go to church. When I read the synopsis of the story, I knew that it would be just what I needed.
Now, Chautona knows how much I love this book and Aggie’s journey , but I don’t think she knows how profound and timely this discovery was. I felt Aggie’s pain, frustration, and the overwhelming amount of things that needed to be done – and I didn’t have that many kids. Then, enter the little old neighbor lady who guided Aggie along her path and she whipped me right into shape at the same time. I learned that I needed to depend on the people around me that loved me and wanted to help. But I didn’t have to do this single – not single – motherhood thing alone. I learned that I wasn’t superwoman and that I needed not just a tribe of helpers, but I needed to feed myself spiritually as well.
Over the last fourteen yes, I have come across several books that I’ve done the same thing. I couldn’t tell you all the titles but I can’t tell you how many of these books touched my heart, ministered to those lonely places, and encouraged me to pull my bootstraps up. They’ve opened my eyes into a world of Christian-based thinking that I hadn’t witnessed before and it only broadened my perspective of the Scriptures. You can definitely tell we’re an author stands based on the kind of book they write in regards to the Bible and practicing their faith.
Don’t get me wrong, there is no book greater than the Bible and as Christians, the Bible should be our only source of growth. But like I said earlier, God will use whatever tools necessary to get our attention. Whether it be a movie, a theater production, a simple phrase, or a book that is a work of fiction, He will use it because he is God. And if the author that wrote the book currently on your bedside table spent any time at all praying over that story, then maybe that book could be more than just words.
Mountain Brook Ink Featuring Miralee Ferrell
What are the Chances? With God, all things are possible!
A number of years ago, my editor with Summerside contacted me, saying they were in desperate need of a book set in Sundance, Wyoming, for their Love Finds You line, and asked if I had sold one that I’d written yet. I said no, but my agent was shopping it as a three-book series. Long story short, their contracted author had some kind of setback, and she was unable to fulfill the contract and turn in the book on time. They offered it to me, but at a lower rate than I or my agent wanted to accept. Finally, I reluctantly decided to move forward and give up my plan of using it as the first book in a new series. After all, I’d first written it thinking it might be a good fit for the LFY line.
The book was published in the late summer of 2011, a very fast turnaround time. A couple of years later, I got word that a Hollywood production company had optioned several of the LFY titles, including mine set in Sundance. Three Love Finds You movies were made and aired on the UP Channel over the next two years, but nothing more was said about Sundance.
Then, in 2015, I received an email from Chevonne, the associate producer who had made those movies, followed by a phone call. Imagine my surprise when she asked if I’d be willing to write a book for them. They were no longer producing the Love Finds You books into movies and were working on a totally different project for UP, a possible three-movie series, and she hoped I might be able to work with them. As anyone would be, I was curious why she’d chosen me. She explained that she’d optioned Sundance two or three years earlier and loved it. Of the thirty-five or so titles she’d read of the line, that was her favorite. However, UP didn’t want to make historical or Old West movies, so she’d had to shelve it.
During that time period, I’d gotten my rights back to all of my LFY books and had retitled them Finding Love in Last Chance, California; Finding Love in Tombstone, Arizona; and Finding Love in Bridal Veil, Oregon. Love Finds You in Sundance became Outlaw Angel, and all four are still in print.
Here’s the amazing part. I came very, very close to turning down that contract offer with Summerside for Sundance. I was disappointed in the advance and royalty rate, and shortly after they released it, they sold the line to Guideposts, and that company didn’t continue the line much longer. Understandably, sales waned on their final releases, and I was disappointed with my sales from that final book as all three of my others had done quite well.
For a long time, I wished I hadn’t taken that contract and held out for one with another company for a three-book series. However, had I done that, I doubt Runaway Romance or From the Heart would ever have been written. It was Sundance that grabbed Chevonne’s attention and caused her to contact me.
Since then, I’ve been blessed to get to meet Chevonne and her husband George (the producer) a couple of times, and we’ve developed a friendship. We chat often on the phone or email, and I’ve been able to help brainstorm several projects. Right now, we have three movies that have been filmed, and two of them, From the Heart (aired on Hallmark in early 2021) and Finding Love in Mountainview (based on the book Finding Love in Bridal Veil, Oregon) last fall on Hallmark as well. I am currently working on Finding Love in San Antonio, only I’m writing that one with a good friend and new co-author, Kimberly Rose Johnson, which will release as an ebook and print book May of 2022, and will also become a TV movie, although it hasn’t been slotted on a channel yet. God has indeed blessed me, and He’s allowed me to learn so much that I didn’t know about the movie industry—it’s a ton of work, it moves very slowly, but it contains wonderful people whom I’ve loved getting to know.
You can subscribe to Miralee’s newsletter and get to know more about her at www.miraleeferrell.com
Stacy T. Simmons
When ideas for A Promise for Faith started to form in my thoughts, I wondered where would the story take place? Flipping through memories in my mind, the beautiful state of North Carolina nudged ahead of some other great vacation spots we’d visited.
Growing up in Florida, my family and I had many happy days spent with our toes in the sand and floating on bright rafts in the Gulf of Mexico’s manageable waves. We would trade the sun and warmth of our home state for the cool nights, and beautiful mountain scenery in North Carolina on a few occasions.
My sister and I would beg our parents to buy huge pails of “treasure” or dirt to pan for gold. As the tiny flickers of dust in the rinsed pan would herald our finds, we’d jump for joy. We’d also go cave exploring in Linville Caverns in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. My mom was not a fan of this and she’d wait outside for my dad and me and my sister. While there we’d go to the auction and see all the antiques and bric-a-brac townspeople had for sale. To me, it was a sheer delight, especially the “genuine” turquoise bracelet I begged my parents to purchase.
My husband and I took our kids to the same areas when they were younger, and they too were enchanted by the “gem” mining, cave exploration, hikes, and scenery-we gorged ourselves on it like a state fair caramel apple.
The setting for my series is Briar Creek, it’s a compilation of Boone, Beech Mountain, and Blowing Rock all rolled into one. It’s exciting to retell some of our memories through fiction, and I’m delighted that the Lord laid it on my heart to write them.
Have a wonderful April, may you gather many memories to store and treasure and happy Easter!
Has fear ever stood in your way?
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been afraid to do something. As an author, fear and doubt are all part of my journey.
I confront a bit of that fear in From Shore to Shore, only in a different route. Bree has been burned by love and she’s afraid to test the waters ever again. As a marine biologist, Bree is no stranger to diving into deep waters, but love is the one ocean she refuses to even stick a toe into.
Until Cooper comes along.
Cooper has made it his mission to be content in his singleness. Bree challenges him every moment they spend together, though it’s never intentional.
These two characters kept me on my toes as they danced around each other and their problems.
And Bree presented an extra challenge. Being a marine biologist, Bree scuba dives to study coral reefs. Quite an accomplishment and a career that makes my fear of deep water twist my insides into knots. We persevered together, and From Shore to Shore became a story of overcoming fear, a theme I didn’t know I wanted to confront until Bree walked onto the page.