Melissa Wardwell

Meet Seth Mikels & Sarah Reid

As many of you know, I have been introducing you to various characters that you will meet in my book for The Independence Islands. After taking a couple months off and knowing there is a new release coming on February 22nd, I thought it would be good to start again.

Seth Mikels (pronounced Michaels) is a character that is probably the most like my husband than all the male characters I’ve created. Devoted, hardworking, thoughtful, and quiet. He is also the father of two tween-aged girls and a widower. In the morning and evening, he is dad, and throughout the day he is an island handyman. The dedication he shows his family, he offers to his clients—he gets that from his training with the Coast Guard.

Seth, however, is so faithful to his family, that even after his wife tragically loses her life in an undertow, he refuses to entertain the idea of remarrying. His girls are his priority and there is nothing that will encourage him otherwise. (To get some ideas on how Seth would handle being a single dad to two girls, I just had to think about how my husband would approach the more, shall we say, feminine aspects of life. Some of the imagery was hilarious.) They need him to be focused on their needs and providing stability for them. Adding another woman or other children would only take his attention away from the girls and he can’t have that. It would be too chaotic, and his life has had mor than enough of that.

Enter a pretty blonde neighbor with two young boys in need of a helping hand. She is a stubborn sort that won’t ask for help but he is drawn to her kind eyes and friendly behavior. He enjoys their conversations and companionship but refuses the flicker of more that tries to ignite. Friendship is all he needs but is it what he really wants?

Now, Sarah Reid is in the same boat as Seth. She is a widow, single parent, and not ready for a relationship. Frankly, she has no time for anyone else. Her two young sons keep her on her toes with their mischievous behavior and her crumbling bungalow drains her bank account. (Readers have meet Sarah and her boys before in Scrumptious Independence and Seasoned Grace so you know the kind of fun her two young boys can offer.)

Sarah was sheltered by her husband throughout their marriage. After he lost his battle to cancer, she begins to see how her life with him was content but maybe he held the rains of their life a little tighter than some would consider healthy. Now that she is on her own, she is not always sure what to do next so she does the best she can to keep her family above water. Her neighbors like to toss speculative rumors around the islands as to her associations, so obtaining a job is difficult thus keeping up on repairs to their dilapidated home and feeding her boys is overwhelming.

When Seth hires her to help with his girls, the fun begins. Their children hate each other, and his girls want nothing to do with her, but Sarah refuses to let the hiccups keep her from providing for her family.

The friendship that builds between her and Seth seems to fill some of the empty places her husband left behind, but it also throws a curveball in her decision making as her parents plead with her to move home. Seth and his daughters find a place in her heart, right next to her boys and leaving them behind feels unimaginable. If she stays, she and the boys will be living in the car. That is, unless Sarah and Seth can make that one choice to stop living in the past and look to the future.


Stacy T. Simmons

A “Blind Date” with a Novel

We’ve all seen those cute Pinterest ideas, “101 Ways Craft with Ribbon,” or adorably decorated cookies. One intriguing idea struck my fancy-go on a “blind date” with a book. What it entails is butcher paper wrapped books with notes attached to them about some of the characters attributes, the noteworthy setting, theme, etc. The mystery of the unknown is tantalizing, like discovering a new place to vacation, a really good restaurant, or an engrossing new novel to read. We’ve all had the ones where you have your nose into the pages and time slips away from you, those are a true delight.

When we comb an online shop or slowly browse our favorite section in a local bookshop, aren’t we doing the very same thing as this? Dating a book? Are we wooed by the cover, whether it’s a gorgeous mountain scene, cute family, or the like? It too beckons us to open the pages and begin reading.

As Valentine’s Day is coming closer, wouldn’t it be fun to do this blind book date with a friend? They choose yours, and you choose theirs. Wrap it up, meet for coffee, and giggle over the fun you’ll have while reading. Come to think of it, I’ll pose this question to some of my fellow literary loving friends and see if they’re game. I’m so thankful that Jesus puts people into our lives who fit like puzzle pieces as they click together, aren’t you?

I’d love to hear if you do this with a friend. May this coming month bring you many days of smiles, pages read, and maybe a “date” with a novel, enjoy friends!