Something that I love about writing (well, I love everything about writing, except those aggravating times when you’re staring at a blank screen with a cursor flashing incessantly at you) is that no two books are ever the same. Not even your experience while writing is the same.
By now it’s pretty clear that I’m an author of mostly stand-alone novels/novellas/short stories. Book series are something I don’t do as often. A series is a commitment. Your readers may or may not read the whole series, but you, as the author, are going to be in that town with your books’ “people” for months, maybe even longer.
Throughout my career I’ve only created two series. Well, three, now that I think about it. The first published series, which I wrote as Consuelo Vazquez for Kensington’s Encanto line, about three Cuban-Dominican sisters. The second, and most recent, published series is The Larkspur Valley Series (with Book 3 waiting in the wings).
Just for fun: There was also a third (and unpublished) series, The Ladies. Targeted to a middle-grade audience, that was a fun little series about a group of kids who form an all-girl singing group. Back then, as a new—and green—unpubbed author, I thought I had to have a series all set and ready to go, so we’re looking at about 8 books that I wrote for the series. That's a whole lotta writing that never saw the light of day.
Lord knows, it came thisclose a few times, including with Simon & Schuster. With The Babysitters Club at the height of its popularity, no publisher wanted to take the chance on an unknown series or author. That was how it was in the “dark ages” of publishing, when authors were basically at the mercy of publishers. They called all the shots. Yay for today! Unfortunately, I’ve since lost all of The Ladies books, both the hard copies and the MultiMate files (yes, it goes back that far!).
But who knows? Maybe I’ll revive and rewrite it in the future…as a much shorter series this time.
Ah, but all that was then, and this is now. The Larkspur Valley Series has seen the light of day, I’m happy to say. That said, both More Than Sparrows and The Christmas Waltz were books that seemed to write themselves. Forever in My Heart was a harder book to write.
The thing is, even though it was tough getting through that first draft, it was also challenging and rewarding as a writer. As we all know, characters make the story. There comes a point, almost instantly, where it’s evident that the characters are in the driver’s seat and the author is their first passenger.
That was the case with me, for sure. Book 3 sees the return of familiar characters, one in particular who experiences both loss and growth as a person and in his Christian walk in this book. There are new characters, too, including Kyle and Lauren Jamison. Kyle is a complicated man. Besides having some secrets that bring intrigue to the book and a painful childhood, he struggles with issues pertaining to faith.
Through his wife Lauren’s eyes, we get a peek into the mindset of a “trophy wife” (though I don’t believe that term was used, at least not widely, in the 1960s when the book takes place). Lauren is a few years younger than her husband; she’s attractive and absolutely loves miniskirts and other sexy clothing. Otherwise, she is a traditional homemaker. Lauren also deals with her own self-worth issues.
I didn’t really expect her to become a favorite character of mine in the book, but during the course of writing her story she did. I loved her vulnerability and, by contrast, her strength, and the love she and her imperfect husband had for each other. Especially, I liked her childlike faith in her Savior.
There was one more surprise character. He’s not seen very much, yet he had an important role. I liked him so much, that young guy almost got his own book! Because, after all, I couldn’t close out an inspirational series set in the 1960s without touching upon what became known as “The Jesus Movement.” Chris Lampier seemed like a character with so much yet to be said about him. Where would he have been in the 1970s? Or now?
But with Forever in My Heart, this series is concluded. However, who knows? That’s one of the wonderful things about being an indie author/publisher. Since I hold all the rights, I own all the characters. Maybe, in the future, we’ll catch up with Chris and see where his walk with the Lord eventually took him.
So that is some background on the last book of my mainstream inspirational series. As I said, it was a challenge, but it was also rewarding. It’s my hope that it will also be rewarding, as well as a blessing, to readers.
And now that the editing process is underway, I can announce that Forever in My Heart will be released on April 19. Before then, I’ll have an excerpt up on this blog. A little something to stir up your curiosity and interest!