In Monthly Dares: January 2017, I mentioned that on Sundays I was writing a different novel than Enhanced in order to try to honor the Sabbath more, and today I shall be talking about that novel!
The decision not to write my normal novel on Sundays came…I don’t know, a year or two ago, when I was doing NaNoWriMo. I decided that I wanted to not have to think about it or worry about it on Sundays, and just go to church and spend time with my family. Sometimes, it’s hard not to write when the characters are crowding my head, but I haven’t done it since then.
However, doing the 365k challenge this year posed a problem…if I was to write 1000 words every day, that meant I’d have to write a thousand words on Sunday as well. And so I found this novel that I’d written a prologue and part of a first chapter of beforehand and decided to continue it this year. (See, that way, it doesn’t count as starting a new novel, so I’m not breaking any resolutions.)
It’s a contemporary romance about this independent, stubborn girl (well, adult) named Scarlett, and some of the challenges she has to go through with her faith and life. I’ve read a lot of romances by LDS authors, and while some of them touched on the subject of their faith, I’d never really found one that really showed the progression of faith and how that changed the character–they were all just about the romance.
So this novel was born from me wanting to write something where the main character has to really go through some big spiritual development, with some romance on the side.
Basically the idea is that Scarlett has been running from her life for the past year or two because of a lot of really hard things that all occurred around the same time, and she just felt like she had to get away.
One day, she finds herself back in her home state of Utah, in a little town called Heatherfield, where her old car (lovingly called Miss Must) breaks down in front of a box of zucchini and a house for rent.
A series of “coincidences” occur, and Scarlett finds that everything has fallen in place for her to settle down for a few months in Heatherfield. Throughout her time in the little LDS town, she has to show her resilience and be humbled, to give up her pride and fears and trust in the Lord–and those around her.
It’s about her spiritual journey and how she herself improves, and has to give up things, and try new things, and fix her mistakes, and…I’m really happy about it. I don’t know yet what specific things are going to happen to her, but I love the concept of the novel and that I can include my faith and testimony in it, which is so precious to me.
Since this is a Spotlight, I’m going to include a little excerpt here of one of my favorite parts that I’ve written. It’s by no means polished, but I love its message.
All the way out of Heatherfield, my mind was drawn back to Lane and that old house. It wasn’t that either had been particularly special, but…it was just nice to talk to someone normally again.
Missy started stuttering as I drove past the church. “Don’t you dare break down again, Miss Must.”
Even with me threatening her full name, Missy still shuddered to a halt, just in front of the church where I’d prayed earlier.
I leaned my head against the steering wheel and closed my eyes. “This is it. Next time I can get to a car dealership, I’m going to buy something better than you,” I muttered to Missy.
After I let the threat sink in, I tried the car again. Nothing. I then tried to appease Missy, telling her how much I appreciated her, but nothing worked. What was it Lane had said he’d done? Something about the engine…or maybe the battery? I couldn’t even remember.
I’d learned in primary to pray in situations that seemed hopeless, so I figured it was worth a shot. Heavenly Father, please help Missy to start again so that I can leave. Thank you. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Nothing. Of course it hadn’t worked. It wasn’t like any of my other prayers had ever been answered; why should this one, the smallest of them all, be the one He listened to?
I looked out the window again at the church. On the other side of the street, just an hour ago, I’d sat there and prayed for an answer. I hadn’t seen a vision; I hadn’t heard a voice. I wasn’t even sure if the Spirit had said anything.
But five minutes later, Missy had broken down just in front of Lane’s house, where he’d shown me a house that should have been on sale but the owners were considering renting. And now, just when I was about to leave Heatherfield, Missy had broken down again.
Heavenly Father…? Maybe I shouldn’t even have to ask you this, but…is this the answer to my prayers? Am I supposed to stay in Heatherfield? Is this where I’m supposed to be?
I hadn’t even said “amen” when I felt something a little indescribable. I hadn’t felt it in a long time, the sense of warmth and complete peace that filled my heart, emptying my mind of all its doubts. The Spirit.
Thank you, I whispered to my Father.