Chautona Havig

It wasn’t intentional. Really, I promise!  There I was, blissfully writing along, when that character appeared in the scene. Though it wasn’t nearly as interesting in real life, the effect could have been written something like this:

“Um, wrong book, lady. You don’t belong in here. Let me help you back—”

The character interrupted me with a roll of her eyes. “I live close.  I’m part of this community, and if I want to know the other characters, what’s it to you?”

Okay, that took me aback. Most of the time, characters just aren’t quite so sassy.  This one especially. Everyone knows her as sweet and while firm-minded, non-confrontational. Uncertain what to do, I just said, “Well, all right then,” and kept writing.  I could always discretely remove her presence from the scene later.

Except I didn’t want to. I liked having her in there. And by the end of that book, another character had appeared that I knew I’d put in her own story someday.  After that, well… yeah. Characters came in and out of stories willy-nilly.  I never knew what would happen next, but hey.  It’s been a wild ride.  From cameos that no one knows are cameos yet to combining series like Past Forward and Aggie’s Inheritance.  Hearthland intertwined with The Agency Files—totally different genres.

And last year, a couple of characters from a book I had in the CrossRoads collection, Yesterday’s Mail, appeared in my annual Christmas “noella,” Snow-Crossed Letters. I should have known it would happen.  I needed two streets with similar names and remembered that I probably had already created some in that book.  So, I checked the map I’d made for Operation Posthaste, and sure enough, very close to each other were Maidstone and Martin Courts.  Perfection.

Gabe had an Italian surname.  Is it any wonder that my brain “went there” and had Gabe going to Rudy Vincenzo for help making dinner for a girl? Yeah… but that’s not the only time Rudy (or his house, rather) ended up in a book!

No, if you read The Nutcracker’s Suite, you’ll get to see Rudy’s older brother being held by his mother in the very restaurant he grew up in.  And in that book, another series came into play.  Those who like the Meddlin’ Madeline Mysteries will, if they pay very close attention to dates and characters, see someone that should make them very happy.  Three distinct eras—Edwardian, Roaring 20s, and contemporary—all featuring something with a secondary character, no less.

And you know what?  My readers seem to love it as much as I do.  So, I don’t have to say goodbye to characters anymore… and neither do you!

Psst… I even figured out how to put descendants from my 16th-Century youth novel into my 1940s Ever After Mysteries… and maybe beyond!  EEEP!

As for Operation Posthaste, it’s finally available on Kindle. The CrossRoads collection ebooks have been disbanded, so now it has to stand on its own two feet!

Don’t know about it? Here’s a teaser.

{ Neither rain, nor sleet, nor seventy-five years… }

Brandie Oliver is starting a new life with her son in Elmhurst—one of Rockland’s oldest neighborhoods. It’ll just be the two of them now, and she’s determined to be the best mom possible. Heaven knows she hasn’t been in the past.

Then Dylan starts acting strange. His teacher, the grandson of her matchmaking neighbor, says he is falling behind and sleeps during class. Why, when he nearly passes out at dinner, she can’t understand. Is he sick?

Rudy Vincenzo hasn’t had so much fun in years. He’s finally found a girl his grandson can’t seem to resist, Dylan isn’t too cool to talk to an old guy like him, and he’s helping the boy with a secret mission.

Every night, he follows Dylan up and down streets delivering mail—ensuring the boy’s safety. Jack’s worried about him. Brandie’s worried about Dylan, and conveniently, they’re spending all their time trying to figure out what’s going on. Could anything be better?

Operation Posthaste: They must finish the mission before someone catches on.


Melissa Wardwell

Am I Ready?

I find myself asking this question often as I write my final book for The Independence Islands Series. I’m not sure that I am, which is why it has been such a struggle. The story for Delicious Devotion is very clear in my head but sitting my backside down and writing is difficult (I apologize now to my publisher). It has been like pulling teeth and I don’t think it has anything to do with it being the last book or that life around me is playing out like some sort of daytime drama.

So, why am I not ready to put this series to bed so I can start the next two?

Answer: I’m not ready to say goodbye.

When I started writing these books, I was excited at the idea that I could continue to write. Many readers know that I was about to quit. This journey has been a blessing that I will always cherish. However, it came at a time that a very important person was fading away as each day passed.

Grandma Peg was the last of my grandparents, the last of the people that were beloved and pivotal to my growing up years. My earlies memory of her is going to her house so that my parents could be with my baby sister at Children’s Hospital in Detroit. She was my second mom and four-year-old Missy loved every minute with her. I think I spent more time at her house and my Grandma McKay’s during those three months than I did at home.

Grandma Peg died in the middle of publication for Heart Pressed. In fact, the book was dedicated to her. It was one of the hardest goodbyes I’ve ever had to go through for a grandparent. I was a part time caregiver of hers for five years and we enjoyed hours of Skip-Bo and Big Band Music, I racked up miles of car rides, we drank gallons of coffee, and shared at least four peperoni pizzas. But the laughter…oh it was a hoot of a time. The more of her mind was taken over by dementia, the less of a filter she had. Not that she had a great one to begin with. I loved her crass honesty, but I loved that she didn’t care what your life was like because she loved on you anyway.

So, this last book feels like my last goodbye and I’m not sure I’m ready. I guess that is the danger in writing—you pour so much of your life into these stories that fiction and reality can merge together. You all know how “Gram” is a mixture of both my grandmothers, but Grandma Peg was the most influential in the end. Maybe it is because Grandma McKay died ten years ago, or maybe it’s because in those ten years grandma Peg shared some personal and intimate details with me. She trusted me to care for her and sometimes, see and do things no one wants their grandchildren to do. It all built a stronger bond, a bond I’m not sure I’m ready to put into the memory box only to pull out once in a while at reunions.


Stacy T. Simmons

Living in Faith

My debut novel arrived on Amazon in January, it has been a five-year exercise in faith stretching and prayers. Many family members and friends have been behind me all the way as I’ve rewritten the story, submitted it to various places and gotten oh so close to being published.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”- Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

The Lord had other plans and wanted me to wait until 2021 to sign a contract with Celebrate Lit for this much-loved story of mine. Now, thanks to our Lord and Celebrate Lit, they’ll be more books in the works about Briar Creek and the Fuller family and friends in the upcoming years. What a blessing!

Now to answer the question you might be thinking, why is there a bracelet in the photo? Author Karen Witemeyer posted in her reader’s group about a certain store five years ago that would engrave anything you wanted to a stainless-steel bracelet for a reasonable fee. I prayed on what to have the artist put upon my bracelet, I knew the Fuller Sisters-Faith, Hope, and Grace, needed to be etched in faith upon this jewelry. During the years I’ve warn it, I’ve prayed about these stories feeling like a beacon of light in my heart fired up with each sighting of the names.

I’m hoping to add more bracelets in my future as the stories begin to take shape-all with Jesus’ guidance, as He is the author and perfector of our faith. My hope for you is something you’ve prayed about will come to fruition if it’s in our Heavenly Father’s will, He gives us exactly what we need. . .with faith.