Just What Is a Dual Power of Convenience, Anyway?
I had this nebulous idea about a “billionaire romance” that wasn’t quite what it purported itself to be. I knew I also wanted a marriage of convenience, but how could I combine those two? I didn’t want just another guy running from gold diggers, but I couldn’t ignore that this would be an issue. That wouldn’t be realistic at all. Still… what is realistic about a young, unmarried American billionaire? Not much, if you want the truth. Most are married, over fifty, and many of them are foreign to boot.
But that foreign thing is what really cinched it for me. That could explain the need for a marriage of convenience. If my guy was in an Islamic country, meeting Christian women might be difficult. He could be a convert!
One problem… how would that work with the islands? See, I already knew who my gal was.
I originally named Lyla Santana, Monica. In fact, I actually still think of her as Monica half the time. It’s so sad when you have to change a name, but with Mallory and Monica in the same book, not to mention a main character, Melody, in others… well… Not happening.
Enter Lyla. She grew up with a single mom in Phoenix, Arizona. After getting a degree in antiques from the only university in the world to offer them, Oxford, no less—yes, that Oxford—well, she’d come home, gotten engaged, and decided that men weren’t for her after all. As in ever. So, when the job of cataloguing a houseful of antiques and then managing the property of the Danforth Estate appeared, I knew I had my story.
That introduced me to, Richard Danforth. He’s the world’s newest billionaire, and he’s too busy making money to prove himself to a family who won’t accept “new money” anyway, to have time for a family. That means occasionally having to have a date for this function or that, and those things just get awkward.
But why would they have to get married? There’s no way Lyla’s going to do something for some guy’s convenience. No. Way. Period.
Then I remembered the hassle we’d had a couple of months before. We’d spent a fortune on financial and medical powers of attorneys (because my mom couldn’t leave the house, we had to pay a gal to come over. Twenty-five bucks a signature plus a hundred to drive six miles. Ouch!
And then, after all that, a lot of places wouldn’t accept it anyway. So… what if…?
A story was born.
One thing that I did that I love and drove a few advance readers nuts is that I made Richard and Lyla do something very stupid. They left God out of their decision to marry for convenience. They were so caught up in their own plans and the fact that it was just a “paper marriage” that neither one of them even thought to find out if they were marrying a Christian.
My idea had been to explore this more in the next book just so that everything wasn’t too tidy, but I did decide to add just a bit of discussion so as not to appear to totally ignore it. Still, it’ll come up more later. These things usually do.
And just because Richard and Lyla left God out of their plans doesn’t mean He didn’t have plans of His own for them. Because as Proverbs says, “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps” (16:9).
I hope you love Richard and Lyla as much as I do. And Mallory? Well, if you read her beginning in Christmas on Breakers Point, you’ll get to see more of her, too. She’s got someone hanging around already, but it’s not time for her story. Not yet. But you’ll see pieces of it in this one and in the next three. Then, and only in the final book, will you get it all.
Because I’m cruel like that. 😉
Do you have a life verse?
I know that can seem very choosy, to pick on verse and almost claim it above all others (I don’t do that, but I do have a verse). I don’t think a life verse has to be more or less important, nor should it be shoehorned to fit you. But if there is a verse that just hits you deep every time you read it, that might just be yours.
For me, it’s Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This verse resonates with me because whenever I hear it I am immediately reminded of what Christ has done, what He is doing, and what He has promised to do. His promises never fail, and they never cease. No matter what. I love this version, but I also love the NKJV which says ‘no created thing,’ in place of creature. No created thing will defeat him…and according to Genesis, he formed everything. That’s a comfort. That’s the best “The End” ever.
We are supposed to commit verses to our heart and mind to refresh our minds. This has been one of those verses that, no matter what, it lifts me. I hope that you have a verse like that for you and if not, I pray that as you’re reading and studying you will come across one that just speaks to you more than the others.
Peace, be blessed
Working from home
Working from home isn’t a new shift for me. Even at the age of twenty, I had an online business. Perhaps I have entrepreneur blood because I can’t help but build an enterprise, sell it, and then create an entirely different one.
Once, I had a business idea for my best friend, who needed an income stream. My friend had five children and felt it was too much for her to manage the accounts. Fair enough! We all have seasons in our lives, different capacities, or giftings. She does well as a dedicated home educator.
At the time, I had four children under the age of seven. When they didn’t take up the opportunity of the niche market idea in our area, I decided to start the business myself. It was a home delivery service for organic food. In the first week, I had thirteen people order an organic seasonal box. Next, I started to advertise through google marketing. I thought by the second week I’d double the numbers, but it wasn’t as quick as I’d imagined. I also didn’t know that I wasn’t allowed to run a food business from my garage . . . oops. We relocated the packing to a rented unit.
Five years later, we had a team of nine part-time workers and turned over $650,000 a year. During that time, I had three more babies. How did I do it? No, I’m not superwoman or supermom, as some would say. I had a team around me. I had two admin assistants who would take shifts of working from my home office. The packing facility was twenty minutes away, and my workers would fax details of the completed orders.
I would look after my children as usual from home, and my admin ladies would come out of the office to ask me questions as needed. When the children were in bed, I would work out the driver’s delivery route for the evening deliveries. As the business grew, I created systems so I could have holidays.
After I sold this business, I took six months off, and then I had another idea. I couldn’t help myself! I created an organic smoothie and latte range. I had packers and salespeople to help me. We supplied forty specialty stores with our products. After a couple of years, when there was a dip in the economy, I decided it was a good time to finish up and focus on my writing career. I had already written my first novel. My passion for writing grew, and I needed to focus on one extra activity. I set a date to close the manufacturing business and sold the last of my stock.
After fourteen years of homeschooling, I enrolled my three youngest children into private school this year. I planned to pursue my writing full-time. A term later, COVID-19 restrictions hit, and I had to home educate again. I had already written two novels with children at home, so I didn’t let this stop me. In the month of April this year, I wrote 60,000 words and completed my first draft of Polarized Love. When the children had finished their school work in the morning, I would write a chapter in the afternoon. Having a large family doesn’t mean your personal life stops, or that a mother can’t have interests of her own. In fact, I think it helps to have hobbies or activities besides house duties. Some women might scrapbook, read, Facebook, or watch Netflix for their downtime. I like to write, edit, and publish.
However, to be effective, we need to have balance. I have chosen to work from home, so I can pause and attend to my family as they need me. We also can’t compare ourselves to others. Some people are great at cooking, keeping an immaculate house, ministry, business, or creative writing. Perhaps you’re a good listener or have a heart for lonely people. In the body of Christ, we may be an ear, a hand, or the mouth. We need to understand our talents, giftings, or interests and embrace what we are good at and let it bless those around us. As women, let’s encourage each other to be all God has destined us to be without comparison or jealousy. And in some seasons, remind each other to be content and rest in His love. We don’t need to prove anything to anyone. Just be the best you.
Have a blessed week.
One word. One action. One attitude.
Have you ever thought about what might impact the lives of the people around you? The person sharing your home, or your lane, or the aisle or line at the grocery store?
I’ve thought about this more and more this year as I’m focusing on the impact that the Lord can make through the way I live my daily days. Even through the emails I send out and the books I write. We have no idea how are actions can influence those around us – even strangers. I mean, I know my household reacts to the way I’m feeling. When I’m stressed, even my dog reacts. But I don’t often think about the fact that the lady packing the groceries in my trunk or the man making my Sonic order can be influenced by anything I say.
But they can.
And they are.
My son used to work at Kroger. He really liked the job, but he ended up hating working afternoons because the customers were angry and verbally abusive. He’d come home scowling day after day – for over a year before he moved to college and then still every time I saw him at his store. He started going to work at the last minute, sleeping long into the day when he had the afternoon shifts, and had nothing positive to say about anything.
Now, I know that part of this was him processing the transition from teenager in the home to young adult on his own. Still, I’m convinced that the constant griping and cursing and insulting that came from his customers made a huge and horrible impact on my boy. His whole outlook and demeanor changed when he began working at La Madeline. He didn’t like the job as much, but he enjoyed engaging with the other workers and the customers quite a lot.
So I had a situation yesterday. I went to Chick-Fila. It was after two o’clock. I thought I’d be in and out during a lull. Ha. No such luck. But the line wrapped around the building twice. Seriously, I’d never seen it so long. The car in front of me couldn’t pull all the way into the lot because of the SUV in front of him. The truck behind the SUV let the car in front of me in. The van behind the truck had come around after I’d gotten in line, so I expected to be able to go in after the truck, but that van was hugging the bumper of the truck. Fine! (Please, someone, tell me you’ve felt this way and that it isn’t just me!) I waved my hand out in a by your leave gesture. Very sarcastic, and I regretted it immediately. The woman in the van waved me on to get in front of her, which just panged my remorse even more. So much so that I paid for her milkshake, in an attempt to give her some encouragement after I’d been rather rude.
I’m working more and more on being aware of how my words, gestures, and attitudes can affect those around me. Not in an attempt to please people, but in order “so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 ESV).
This type of thing happened to my main character Annalee. She wasn’t a Christian at the time, but she had a strong impression of what was right and wrong. And with one word, she not only changed her own life forever, but she changed the lives of so many others, most of them strangers and completely distant when she uttered her word.
You can read about her story – and the word she uttered and why – in AIN’T MISBEHAVING, and it’s only 99¢ this month. I’m also giving away one free e-copy of the book this month. I hope it inspires you to continue doing good and not grow weary of it. The story certainly inspired me.
Forgiving the unforgivable
When I wrote my first book, ”What God Brings Together” I gave little thought to what I was writing. I just let my fingers recklessly fly over the keyboard and called it good. There was so much I didn’t know or understand about writing. I just told a story. It was messy. Readers hated it. I wanted to cry.
Then the reviews came in and I was confused. They kept saying that it didn’t make sense. That no one could forgive like that. So I went back and read the story. I couldn’t recall what was so impossible to believe. What I found was a retelling of my own life during the previous four years. My husband was in a terrible state of depression after two pivotal women in his life lost their battles with cancer. He had become emotionally detached from all who loved him and I quickly became resentful and bitter, which made things worse. I guess you could say we were emotionally divorced. Friends told me to leave him but I just couldn’t. Something was off with my them mate and I couldn’t figure it out because I let my own emotions get in the way. After four years and a conversation that ripped my heart out to have, we got to the bottom of things and made a plan of action. And the forgiveness journey began.
You see, ”What God Brings Together” is about a broken family; husband, wife, and their children. The husband is hurt pretty bad and makes snap decisions that alter the course of not only his life, but the lives of his loved ones. His wife is left stunned and confused while he skips town and hides.
Characters move on, but the pain follows them. Even as the kids grow, the oldest is protective when mom meets a new guy. The middle child is angry all the time. But it is the youngest whose heart is ready. The mother still has issues of her own. I mean, who wouldn’t. Eventually, she realizes that in order to move on in life, she has to forgive the wrong that has been done to her and her children by the one person who was supposed to always be there.
I was baffled by readers comments about this. ”That isn’t possible.” ”People don’t forgive like that.” ”Unrealistic.”
What I found disheartening is that they most likely had not ever experienced forgiveness like this. To forgive and let go is not an easy process. It can take years of telling yourself that you are done with the hurt and have released it. There is no special formula, just a choice. More importantly, we are told to forgive those who’ve wronged us by God. And with God, there is nothing He can’t forgive. So why is it so unimaginable for us?
”What God Brings Together” is so much more than a love story, it is about forgiveness and hope for a better future. All that needs to be done is letting God have the hurt.
It Only Took Thirteen Years For Me To Be An Overnight Success
June was a wild month. My daughter turned eighteen, which was weird because it feels like just a few days ago she was a sweet baby sleeping in my arms. My newest devotional was published and it debuted as the #1 New Release on Amazon in Christian Devotionals. And to finish off the month, I found out my contemporary Christian romance novel Mission Hollywood is a finalist in the 2020 Maggie Award for Excellence. Put all those amazing blessings together, and my heart is so full of joy that I can barely speak.
But it wasn’t always like that.
My first book was published in 2007. I didn’t get a #1 New Release until thirteen years later. Thirteen years, six books, and countless nights of discouragement. My book might look like an overnight success, but it’s really the product of thirteen years of hope, prayer, and a lot of hours at my computer.
It makes me think of King David. David was anointed as king, but he had to wait fifteen years before he actually got to be king. In those years he defeated Goliath, fought for Israel, served King Saul, and when Saul turned on him, David led loyal men and women through the wilderness to protect his life and theirs. David wrote beautiful psalms while he was hiding in caves, trying to stay ahead of the man who was trying to kill him. When Saul and his sons died in battle and David was finally made king, he wasn’t an overnight success. He had been working, preparing, and maturing for fifteen years. King David sat on his throne carrying the memories of fifteen years of hardship and discouragement, but also fifteen years of faithfulness and tenaciously clinging to the promises of God.
It’s easy to feel discouraged when our dreams seem so far away. It feels like the mountain is too high, the journey is too long, and the road is too hard. We’re tempted to give up because the disappointment is just too great and the task seems impossible.
But we have this promise. “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). God is the one who sustains us in our weariness and strengthens us in our weakness. He leads us through the wilderness and into the fulfillment of His promises. What feels like trudging, insignificant work, is actually the process that prepares us for what the world sees as overnight success. It may seem instant to an outsider, but to those of us who have walked through the wilderness of God’s refinement, it is a culmination of months, years, even decades of holding fast to the One who loves us and leads us according to His timing, for His glory and purpose.
As I was considering this month’s #BecauseFiction post, I remembered the best part about writing. The readers!
Over the years I’ve blog a lot about craft and the writer’s life. But today I want to celebrate the Beloved Reader!
Readers, you must know you are the life blood of every writer’s life. Where would we be without you? Readers are the reason books exist.
Or maybe it’s a catch twenty-two: readers exist because writers exist? Oh, who cares? We’re in this together!
I love readers. I love being a reader. Reading inspires our hearts in a way television, movies and music can’t because books allow us to insert ourselves into the story. We somehow “fit” between the lines and go on the journey with the cast of characters.
When I’m writing, I try to “leave space” for the reader to write her, or his, own storyline. I don’t have to fill in every little detail, overwrite, over tell, or over show because the reader’s imagination can turn the smallest description into whatever she wants.
I imagine if the Holy Spirit is writing through me, helping me tell the story then maybe He’s helping the reader too.
Reading is the only entertainment venue in which the “consumer” can become a participant. Where elements of their own heart or experience fill those “cracks” in the story.
Hopefully the stories we tell inspire the reader to something good, to hope. Even in moments where a character’s journey hits too close to home, a story can help bring healing.
I first encountered the “cracks in my story” philosophy several years ago while writing “How To Catch A Prince.” A never before physical issue knocked me for a loop.
As I came up on my deadline, the book wasn’t working. Six weeks before the book was due, I started over. I’d planned to power through and get it done. I knew where I wanted to go and writing five to six thousand words a day was very doable.
Then wham! An expected physical set back. I felt very cracked and broken as I stumbled up to my office every day after a sleepless night—where those five thousand words waited to be written or rewritten.
By the grace of God, the book came together. But it always felt kind of incomplete to me. Like it had cracks. A few months later as I prepared to lead Sunday morning worship, I had the impression God would fill the story with His own message for the reader.
That’s when I began to understand what a book could be. And good news, the physical struggle ended a few months later. All good now.
As a writer, my reading is hampered by my own ideas of what makes up good fiction, by my understanding of craft as I’ve spent the last 16 years writing full time, swimming in a world of words, plot lines and craft lanes.
But readers… ah beautiful readers… have the ability to see beyond the craft and words and find the beauty of the story.
I learned early on that readers love stories that ring true. Characters that connected with their hearts.
I love how readers can just read. Marvelous! They read for pure enjoyment without being overly critical of well… everything. (Okay, maybe some things… come on now. 😉
I love discovering books that sweep me away. Make me forget I’m also a writer. A story that turns me into a reader is a good book. Like every reader, I need to be inspired.
I love hearing from readers. I love when they write me, telling how a book touched them. Or how God “filled the cracks” for them.
I am so honored to share the world of words with people all over the world. Those little notes and message remind me this writing gig is bigger than me.
Thank you readers. You are beautiful!
I have an idea…
That innocent phrase has been the beginning of so many wonderful, and some not so wonderful, book plots.
It’s also what led me to signing up for book conferences. Three, actually. This summer. Somewhere between finishing my last year of college and writing Mishaps off the Mainland I lost my mind. I don’t think I want it back either. I’m having a grand time. Just ask the dancing pirates in my next Independence Islands book. (Please note that sarcastic humor is part of my genetic makeup. I can’t turn it off, just know that I’m joking…except for that last sentence. There really are dancing pirates. You’ll have to wait to find out more though.)
Before I get all giddy and gushy about that book, lets go back to Mishaps. I’m so stinkin’ happy with how it turned out. Proud parent moment…
And the idea that started it all.
As soon as I heard about the series idea Sandy had, the stories came to life. Characters walked onto the page like they owned it, and they’re still strutting around like proud peacocks. Mel and Zeke are the focus of Mishaps and Zeke is the mischievous best friend who always knows exactly what to do when trouble knocks on the door.
The trouble comes this time with Mel not only knocking on his door but blowing up all his summer plans. All of a sudden, he’s running around Merriweather Island looking for his grandmother’s lost dog. I mean, he had some serious plans. Like avoiding his dad until doomsday.
And Mel, well…she just wanted to groom pets.
Have you ever wanted something so much you believed it was the only thing that could make you happy?
Mel has this one goal, one dream that she holds onto with all her might. When everything goes against her, she holds on that much tighter.
I think we all know what that’s like. We want something, and it’s the one thing we ask for. If we get that, we promise to never, ever ask for anything ever again. I know I’m guilty. Sometimes we get what we’ve asked for. Not always. God does say no when the need arises. He does know what we need and when we need it, after all.
It can be hard to accept.
Remember this guy? He held on to that “bunny rabbit” for all he was worth. He had what he thought he’d always wanted. Loved it so much he couldn’t see it wasn’t what he thought. It wasn’t his dream.
Have you ever gotten so wrapped up in the dream you forgot to ask if God approved? Mel did. She held this lifelong dream for so long that when the opportunity came for her to grab it, she took it…without asking. And it turned her world upside down. In a bad way.