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Christa MacDonald

Author of the small stories that ground our feet in a wild world

The Truth Beneath Our Surfaces

As regular readers know, I have a book coming out shortly – The Broken Trail. It’s a contemporary Christian romance in which a smart, successful education consultant travels to a rural Maine town to help turn around the local private school and ends up locking horns with the town’s police captain. I write fiction that reflects the real world so there’s some challenging stuff in it; the challenges of kids in foster care, drug addiction, teen pregnancy, and the damaging impact of church gossip. Not light stuff. At heart, it’s a love story, but it doesn’t look away from all the struggles surrounding the couple.

Katherine, the main character, is downright unlikable in spots (but in the end I promise you’ll love her) because someone who has survived what she has, someone with her wounds can be tough to deal with. On the surface Katherine is intelligent, successful, even nice. To get by she made a habit of not letting anyone below that surface other than her mom, her sisters, and her best friend. They know the real, messy,and complicated person who is in desperate need of healing. I bet you can think of one person in your own life (maybe even you) who fits this description, someone who smiles on the outside while a whirling mass of conflict inside.

A photo by Jeremy Thomas. unsplash.com/photos/jh2KTqHLMjE

As the book opens Katherine has traveled to Maine to work a contract that she’s overqualified for with the hopes that a small town and the wilderness around it will bring her some peace. She doesn’t know how to change and deep down inside, she doesn’t know if she can.  Pete, one of the central characters, spots this conflict from the first time he meets her and she’s surprised because she’s managed to fool everyone around her for years. Little cracks in her surface appear right about the time Mac, our hero, decides he’s falling for her, and she starts to lose hold of her carefully constructed facade.

We all have a version of that facade. It’s the face we put on for the world when we’re hurting, or feel a need to protect ourselves. We put up that shield in all sorts of places,

roman-shield
Source: Wikimedia

cocktail parties, school events, work, and sadly, sometimes church. One of the many things I love about the church I attend is that it’s  a safe place to leave your facade behind. And if you bring it, the good souls there will probably see beyond it anyway. People there are ‘broken in the good way’ so to speak and they encourage others to be the same, compassionate, kind, patient, speaking the truth in love. That doesn’t mean that at coffee hour I don’t haul my shield up in preparation for small talk. Luckily, more often than not, it’s half-hearted and I end up having a conversation with someone who hasn’t bothered with theirs at all.

The truth is that even folks who are well put together and look like they’ve got a handle on it, often don’t. One of my favorite things is getting to know someone who is willing to be real, to let themselves be vulnerable enough to be honest about themselves and their struggles. It’s where true friendship begins. Too many humans are walking around in armor, protecting themselves against the slings and arrows of fate along with the judgement and nastiness of others. It’s a lonely way to be. When we build these walls we keep out more than just the bad stuff.

 

 

Book News!

The Broken Trail will be out on October 1st! Right now you can pre-order the digital version for a ridiculously low price. Click here for the linky-thing: The Broken Trail

If this is the first you’re hearing about it, there’s lots more places to go to get extra content, book teasers, my deepest thoughts etc  My Twitter handle is @CricketMacD. Although I warn you in advance that’s my personal Twitter so it’s filled with all my fandom stuff as well as a healthy dose of politics and the occasional gripe about how hard writing is because we all know…

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I’ve got a whole Pinterest board dedicated to the book and even a board started for the sequel so check it out there as well.

And today I even started a Tumblr blog, cause you know – I’ve got so much spare time (this is a joke I have no free time).

I like social media, although I’m not in love with how you can lose hours to it. Anyone else find they look up from a ‘quick few minutes’ and find it’s six hours later?

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Anyhoots, these are the neat places you can go to check out more content, updates on versions (Print copy links coming soon), and read more incredibly witty things by me!

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A Pitch for Forgiveness

In the business world as well as the creative industries there’s something called the ‘elevator pitch’. It’s a way to summarize your project for a prospective customer/agent/publisher/producer. The idea is to make the pitch concise enough to fit the length of a ride in an elevator from one floor to the next. It’s something that writers have to develop in order to promote their work and it’s something I am terrible at.

I don’t generally do concise. In my day-job world I’ve had to learn to curb my verbose tendencies. My six paragraph, heavily-researched emails have long since turned into bullet points and brief phrases. But in my writing life? Not so much. Pitches are important though so when I was on the spot to offer one a few weeks ago (and I’m not sure how well I did) I knew it was time to sit down and really think about what The Broken Trail is about and how to communicate that in just a few words.

It’s a contemporary, Christian romance, but what else is it? I’ve never written a book with genre predominantly on my mind. Every book I’ve ever written (it’s up to three now) I’ve started with a character and a seed of a plot. First book was Kennedy and her recovery from a trauma. Second book was Elsa and her secret identity. Neither of these books has seen the light of day. The Broken Trail started the same way though – Katherine popped into my head almost fully-formed. “What if a highly-intelligent, privileged, but wounded woman went to teach in the rural North Woods of Maine?” That was the seed that started it all.

Now that the seed is a fully-formed flower I have to find a way to describe it that makes someone want to read it. To describe a morning glory one might say it’s an Impomea, a typically annual climber with trumpet-shaped flowers, but would that do justice to this?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nope. My first few tries at an elevator pitch were just as inadequate.

The book is a love story, sure, but it’s also a story of transformation. Katherine has to change in order to find love with Mac, She has to forgive an old hurt in order for it to heal. It’s a painful lesson many of us have to endure over and over again until we finally accept it. There are people out there who will hurt us and never apologize, never be held accountable for their sin against us. It’s human to refuse to forgive them, but that impulse leads to bitterness and in the end poisons our lives.

If I was into tattoos at all I’d put “Forgive and Be Free” somewhere on my person as a reminder of how good it feels to let go of anger, resentment, and bitterness. It wasn’t until I was well into my twenties that I finally got it, that God had forgiven me for every evil thought and deed so who was I to keep my forgiveness from anyone else? Letting go of the wounds from what was at times, a difficult past, was like gaining wings. The happiness that followed was a bonus I never expected. If you’d asked people who knew me then they would probably say it was about the time I stopped wearing all black. And they’d be right. Color came back into my life when I learned to let go and forgive.

These days I am still the same angry creature of my youth, but it’s brief. I flash, flare, and flame out. I can’t keep a hold of a grudge, or remember a slight, or stay worked up about a hurt I’ve suffered.  It’s not because I’m so perfect, my family can tell you that. I’m quick-tempered, occasionally exacting, and frequently anxious. I am a sinner who has been redeemed, not sin-less, a work in progress.  But I can forgive because Jesus lives in me and He has absolutely no time for that nonsense. Who am I to hold a grudge when the maker of heaven and earth has seen fit to forgive me?

As Forgiveness is a main theme in The Broken Trail, so is Love in all its forms: eros, agape, phileo, storge. There’s something important to know about love.

 

Love Keeps

That list you have in your head that you pretend isn’t there? Time to cross it off and throw it away.  This doesn’t mean that you loan money to your gambling cousin again or you restore ties to your ex-boyfriend who hurt you so badly, it means that you let go of that hurt and forgive them as you have been forgiven. And, like Katherine (or Elsa), you let it go.Elsa Peaces Out

Now, after all this discussion you might be wondering if I ever did come up with an elevator pitch for my book?  Finally, I settled on this: Katherine Grant is a woman with everything but peace. In a tiny town in the mountains of Maine she tries to find it in her budding love for the town’s police captain, but she learns that she has to deal with the brokenness of her soul before she can truly offer her heart to anyone.

Sound off in the comments and let me know what you think!

 

 

 

 

 

Follow me. I have cookies.

Hey folks!

A little news. I have an author page up at Amazon! Right now it only has the short-story anthology I was published in, but coming soon will be The Broken Trail! You can follow me there to get a link to preorder the moment it’s ready! How cool is that? Oh, and sequel info will be there as well so FOLLOW ME! I should have some epic pic here, but all I could find was

I-Have-Cookies-Follow-Me-Cookie-Meme

This is true. I have the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  Follow me and be rewarded!

https://www.amazon.com/author/christamacdonald

Just because I’m nice, I’ll even post the recipe here:

 

  • One stick of butter (not margarine, ladies please. Margarine is oil)
  • 1/2 cup of packed DARK brown sugar – yes it matters that it’s dark
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract (good stuff, regular stuff, just make it the real stuff)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 & 1/4 cup of AP flour
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp of salt (if you’re using salted butter you can reduce to 1/8th or a pinch)
  • 1 bag of Ghiradelli Chocolate chips (This is the ‘secret’ of this recipe. These chips are so dang tasty and at the portion I put them in… guaranteed success)
  • k2-_3f84f02d-ad7b-4eee-af92-01c8552382ea.v1
  • Optional – nuts of any sort. My family does not care for them so I leave them out.

Directions:

Beat butter and sugars together in stand mixer until light and fluffy. If no stand mixer available hand the husband or the kids a bowl and spoon and have them do it. 😉

Add vanilla and egg and beat again until smooth.

Add all remaining ingredients – yes I said all. (I don’t bother with the sifting thing. I put in the flour first, then the salt and baking soda and finally the chips. Only then do I mix and it seems as though the chips aid in making it all fully combined, but not over-mixed. It creates a soft and crisp cookie. I may be wrong, but I think this step is crucial)  Mix until just combined.

On a cookie sheet lined with parchment (or wax) paper scoop out cookies in even portions. Best done with a small disher, but two spoons will do. Bake at 355 degrees on a rack in the middle portion of the oven for 12 minutes.

CHECK THEM AT TEN. I’m not kidding. Depending on how small you dished them out, they may be close to done. Always take cookies out when they are slightly underdone and set them on a trivet on the counter. They’ll need a few minutes to finish cooking. Then slide them onto a cooling rack.

These are simply sublime when warm, but just as good when cool.

Since my husband told me he loved me after just two weeks of dating I know he didn’t marry me just for these cookies.  But sometimes, I suspect these have at least confirmed for him that he was right all along in his choice of a wife.

 

Elsa Peaces Out

 

Fight Club

fight club

Like Fight Club, the first rule of dysfunctional families? There is no dysfunction. It’s all fine here. Nothing to see.  Move along. Ask any veteran of a family with issues and you’ll hear the familiar echo. Someone called DSS? Nothing to see here. A neighbor called the cops? We’re all fine here, officer. Again and again in the stories of survivors of abuse, chaos, and brokenness is the idea that no matter how bad it was, it was better than foster care.

In the sequel to The Broken Trail a character will consider becoming a foster parent. In all honesty, it’s something I deeply desire to do, but know is not the right time for my family at this moment. My kids are too young.  My youngest needs to be at least a middle-schooler before we open our home. I know this, but the longing remains.

Our house isn’t ready either. I’d like to take in multiple kids so we need dedicated bedrooms that currently we don’t have.  Our house is a converted barn so we have a loft that the kids all share and that’s not gonna fly with the commonwealth of Massachusetts. We’ll have to partition the space into real bedrooms or we won’t be able to be foster parents.

So we wait. I pack my hopes away and try not to look at the web sites full of children needing homes. Ideally I’d like to buy a whole new house with six bedrooms and take in a whole mess of kids, but God has not said yes to that dream. I don’t know why and I know better than to rail at Him for it. His Providence has saved our souls so many times over the years that I have learned to trust Him. I can’t tell you how many times something has gone seriously wrong and suddenly, just as we need it, a solution appears. God provides.

Since it’s God that has placed this deep desire in my heart to minister to foster children I can only assume it’s for some work he has planned. So I wait in hope.  Hope that He will use us to minister to His children.

Our youngest has been on us to adopt. He’s noticed that his big sister and brother are close in age (he thinks of them as twins) and he doesn’t have a sibling that’s close in age. He wants us to rectify this by adopting a brother or sister. He’s graciously offered half his bed. We’ve tried explaining the complexities of his request, but he’s not having it.  This morning as he was munching his granola, he again advocated for a brother “I could give him my toys. He’d like to live with us.  You should go get him.” If only we could. If only it was that easy.

God has blessed us with four babies, three living on this earth. That alone taught us that parenthood is some serious stuff. It’s life and death, really. I remember being in the delivery room when they handed me my firstborn. I stared down at him as he looked up at me and I thought “Dear God, please don’t let me blow this.” And I remember being in the doctor’s office after they couldn’t find a heartbeat during my third pregnancy and being told “We don’t know why this happens. It just does.”

Life and death. It just happens. But it doesn’t just happen. It’s God’s Providence. Even if you don’t believe in God. I like to think of the lives we live as being strands of thread in a great tapestry we never see until we reach heaven where it’s revealed in all its complicated wonder. Every struggle you’ve had, every trial you endured, every joy, every pain went into this story – this tale beyond your own understanding.

God is the author. I hope he’s written a chapter where Steve and I get to be foster parents, but even if he hasn’t I’m okay with that. I’m okay with being his actor on the stage. I long to be used for some greater purpose because it’s a privilege to be one of his actors, his characters, his chessmen on the board. Another author recently said God doesn’t use us, he partners with us and I have to admit I bristled at that. I’m not God’s equal, I am his instrument. It’s an honor to be used as I was created to be.

I now have the privilege to be an author myself. Last night I got to see the cover for The Broken Trail. I’m ridiculously excited about it. But I want to say openly that God is the author of that book. Even if it was my fingers that typed it and my life experiences that informed it, and my brain that thought it up, it was still God who authored it through his instrument who is happy to be employed by Him.

A Love Like That

Anne and Gilbert
Sigh….

The love story of Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe told through the Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery is one of my all-time favorites. Gilbert’s steadfast affection and then sacrificial love for Anne is a beautiful thing in both it’s simplicity and faith. Sure he has his weak moments, but overall the reader understands that he wants what’s best for Anne even if it’s not him and that’s downright swoon-worthy.

My daughter, E, was assigned Anne of Green Gables as a 7th grade homeschool project and she was not thrilled. She likes distopians, SF, and fantasy. A book based in an earlier time-period that doesn’t involve steampunk was not likely to spark her interest and it didn’t.  I was disappointed because of the similarities between my unique, imaginative, and willful daughter and Anne. I thought for sure she’d see herself in the main character, but I should have known better.  My daughter is not keen on having her flaws reflected back at her from media of any sort. Once she realized that Tinker Bell exhibited her exact same temper and tendency to over-react she quit her.  Like, that day.  She was O.V.E.R. the Disney Fairies.  Completely.

Today E came into my office to ask me for help on the paper she is writing on Anne.  She wanted me to help her with theme. It’s one of her areas of struggle. We started talking about what Anne was like, what she wanted most, and how her imagination and temper keep her from getting it. We talked about the different ways Marilla and Mathew love Anne and how that love affects both her and them. But E was adamantly against discussing Gilbert in any way other than her appreciation of Anne’s ability to hold a grudge.  My girl is not into romance.  This is a good thing since she’s 12. But I was surprised with her flair for the dramatic that she also rejects any sentimentality and Romance with the big R.

What’s Romance with the big R? That feeling of mystique, glamour, and excitement that can be found in a Gothic novel, or your Aunt Betty’s description of that high school dance she went to in ’57.  Everything’s covered in fairy dust or the filmy mist of nostalgia. It’s a kind of sentimentality that’s not sensible, but sure is fun.

Marilla warns Anne about this in what is one of my favorite quotes from the Anne of Green gables movie and it’s sequel (I only consider one and two as actual Anne movies. I saw the third. The less said about that one the better.) “You have tricked something into that imagination of yours that you call romance. Have you forgotten how he gave up Avonlea school for you so that you could stay here with me. He picked you up everyday in his carriage so that you could study your courses together. Don’t toss it away Anne for some ridiculous ideal that doesn’t exist.”

And in the book, Anne of the Island, Anne’s friend Phil is even harder on her when the quote is hers “You don’t know love when you see it. You’ve tricked something out with your imagination that you think love, and you expect the real thing to look like that. There, that’s the first sensible thing I’ve ever said in my life. I wonder how I managed it?” (Side note- I love Phil. One of the best supporting characters ever written.)

One of the dangers of reading romantic fiction is getting caught up in the idea that love is like fiction with it’s adventure, sweeping declarations, amazing highs, and deepest lows. It makes you think “I want a love like that.” But real love, the best kind, is far quieter. Whether it sneaks up on you over time or hits you over the head on your second date – it’s a slower pace, a steadier march from infatuation to commitment to the kind of steadfast beauty an old couple exudes when they look at each other and you can see that bond they have.

Love stories as roller-coaster rides make for great fiction, but they rip you apart emotionally and rarely end well.  The highs are never worth the lows. Dramatic tension in a novel is absolutely necessary. Probably best not to aim for it in love.

My own path to love early-on was one big roller-coaster. It was the Behemoth.

Behemoth
Nope

I became addicted to the drama. I tricked myself into believing that real love meant suffering because when it was good, it was so good, it fed my soul in a way nothing else ever had. But it never lasted. Every high was chased by a devastating low. One day I’d finally had enough and I stepped off the coaster. After spending some time learning a few hard truths about myself I prayed for God to take over. If He wanted me to marry, He was going to have to find the guy Himself. Well, He did. God sent me my own version of Gilbert. My husband is one of the most steadfast, loving, and patient human beings on the planet. I didn’t make it easy on him since I had some stuff I was still working through, but he showed me in everything he did, large and small, that his faithfulness wasn’t for the moment, it was for eternity.

In the amusement ride analogy the four months it took me to realize this was love was a ride on ‘Soarin. A few months later he proposed and we’ve been married 17 years as of a week from today. The roller coaster is long gone and I don’t miss it a bit.  🙂

SoarinGrandCanyon
Don’t skip this if you have a fear of heights or inner-ear issues (like me, got ’em both) that keep you off other rides. This is like hang-gliding without the plummeting to your death part and the scenery is gorgeous.

So my lovely readers I suggest aiming for a love like that, one that’s constant. All that drama looks good in a BBC mini-series or a novel, but in real life, it just gives you heartburn.

 

 

 

A Little News

Actually, it’s big news.  The Broken Trail is going to be published! This November it’s hitting the shelves published by Mountain Brook Ink.

Kick Gif

 

How’d this come about?  Research.  I was reading up on small presses and Christian publishers and came across Mountain Brook Ink.  I knew almost immediately that this was a publisher I wanted to work with.  The plan had always been to get representation from a literary agent first, but I took a chance and submitted a query and here we are!

I am beyond excited (and yes, nervous – that’s how I roll) about this process.  The next step is the big edit where I will probably cry a lot as I kill off my darlings with the delete key, but I’m looking forward to it. No really.  This is all pretty darn exciting, but I deliberated over every last word and to have someone come along and sort out my angsty choices with what’s best for the work itself?  Awesome.

 

Honestly, it feels a bit unreal. I don’t think it’s going to sink in until I actually have the book in my hands. Squee……

Squee
This will be me.

Work on the sequel is underway and there’s a third book planned as well. It’s been a trip plotting out where these characters are heading next.  The Broken Trail was the product of my third time doing NaNoWriMo and the first time I used an outline.  Since then I’ve discovered plot graphs, charts, and beat sheets, all of which have converted this one-time pantser (writing on the fly, no plan in mind) into a plotter, although still a light one.  I can’t force myself into the kind of in-depth outlining some authors do, but I now see the point of starting out with a roadmap.  It helps you avoid the plot bunnies.

plot bunny

So that’s all the news for now.  You can click here to check out my author page at Mountain Brook.  And if that wasn’t enough goodness, I’ve also started a Facebook group to give updates on all things book and you can join that here.  But Wait!  There’s More…  Sign up here to join my awesome mailing list for all sorts of goodies coming later.  I’m hoping to be able to share bonus content and backstory stuff I cut from previous versions.

And thank you.  Whether you’ve liked a post on Twitter or Facebook, or beta-read and even CP’d for me, your support means more than I can say.

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Romance needs Ugly Heroines, Ugly Heroes

A few months ago our house was battling multiple head colds, strep throat, stomach viruses, basically we were The House of Sick. Being rather incapacitated we vegged out in front of the TV.  We cut the cord on broadcast a while back so it was binge-watching series on Netflix and Hulu. The kids stuck with Phineas & Ferb and the like while the husband and I watched everything from Supernatural to about a dozen police procedurals – we numbed our brains for days.

Sigh... Wait, what was I saying?
Sigh… Wait, what was I saying?

Something struck me as we watched.  It was the same thing that nags me any time I jump headlong into media of all sorts.  Strong female character kicking butt? She has to be hot. Intelligent female character? She has to wear glasses and be a geek.  Strong, intelligent female character kicking butt? She has to have a weakness for bad men, be smoking hot, and like to get naked – a lot.  Is there no chance for an average-looking woman to be awesome? Not on the small screen it appears.

Damsel in Distress

Women get the ‘hot babe’ treatment in visual media on a regular basis and it stinks because tween and teen girls have their eyes glued to that screen and the message being pumped into their heads is that there is almost no place for the plain girl. If you want to be awesome, you’ve got to be considered hot. This message that your worth, your awesomeness, is directly related to how attractive you are to others is rampant, no question, but what about media created specifically by women? Do we do a better job?  Sadly no.

Brace

Hey now – you’re just about to click away, convinced I’m about to go on a tear and this is going to get all preachy. No worries, no lectures here.  I’m more interested in starting a conversation about the media we as women create and consume.

I think most would agree that women, young women particularly, tend to measure their worth by whether or not a man approves of them, finds them attractive, wants them.  For all feminism has done for the cause of female empowerment and equality, it hasn’t put a dent in this.  Far too many of us base our self-worth on our exterior attractiveness the way men tend to base their worth on their level of success in business, in sports, in sleeping with women… you get the idea.

We’ve got to cut that out and help the generation coming up never start it. And we can’t do it by repeating the same old message of “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”  since media and popular culture counter that message again and again.  The content we consume overpowers our best efforts and encouraging both young women and men to see their value in the things that matter, not in outward appearances or arbitrary measures of success.

Audrey

I write romance novels and our genre is full of mixed messages.  For all we emphasize inner beauty, we extol the outer. Show me the book with an unattractive hero and heroine?  Jane Eyre.  That’s about the last time we did that.  Actually, hyperbole aside, there are novels out there who have unattractive heroines, but all too often they are paired with some hot, Greek-god of a hero and it’s his notice that changes everything.  The world doesn’t see her worth until the hot guy falls in love with her and proves it.  Or, worse yet, she doesn’t see her worth until his love proves it to her.

say-what

It makes for a satisfying story, but I hate the message it unintentionally sends; you’re nothing unless a hot guy sees you as valuable.  And the excuse that Romance is escapism and therefore gets a pass – uh…no.  Romance is a wide and varied genre and contemporary romance in particular deals with heavy stuff on a regular basis, cancer, child-abuse, addiction, being just a few topics. If we as authors can tackle real-world subjects like these, why can’t our heroes and heroines reflect the real world as well?

girl_and_boy_expectation_vs_reality

And how about what we do to the guys?  They have to be tall, Adonis-like, and usually rich or at least powerful in some way – an artist or musician or a biker. Short heroes? There are a few, but usually the heroine is shorter than they are. And they’ve gotta be built with great abs.  There are precious few that don’t fit this mold. And hair – long or short he’s either got to have it or he’s got to intentionally shave it because his skull is just that gorgeous. Dang, we’re hard on the guys.

Funniest_Memes_so-short-guys-go-for_13588

I know Romance is the place we go for a fantasy, but if we can tackle the tough stuff, why can’t we have believable heroes?  Not a ton, just a few here and there.  Nice guys  who get the girl.  And how about a few plain Janes who know that they are all that and don’t need a guy to validate them?  I’m not trying to be a crusader for realistic characters in Romance.  I love our genre and it’s cute, pretty, and gorgeous girls, it’s alpha bikers, and billionaire businessmen.  I’m just concerned about the message we send when it’s always two incredibly attractive people hooking up.  I’m concerned when the girl who doesn’t know she’s beautiful always discovers her worth through the love of the gorgeous alpha male.

alpha

I’m working on a novel for NaNoWriMo and my heroine is pretty, if in an unconventional way, and my hero might not be attractive, but he’s tall.  Ooops. Seems I can’t break out of that mold either.

I’d like to think that romance, a genre already so diverse, can handle some ugly heroes and heroines.  I think when we create only the fantasy we reinforce the expectations of the reader.  Maybe we can turn a few of those on their head.  Might be fun.

can you stand on your head

Query Quest: Feedback Anyone?

If you’re a regular reader then you’ve noticed I have been silent for weeks. I spelunked (that’s a word isn’t it?) deep into the editing cave and only just emerged.

The First Writer and Editor: 'Take out that part?! Are you nuts? How is the stampede scene at the end of the cave going to make sense without it?!'

I’ve got two manuscripts that are currently in revisions, one – The Broken Trail – about to emerge ready to query.  So that means it’s time for the Query Quest.

I wish.
I wish.

This novel has been on the quest once before, this past spring, but only to a few select agents and it was resoundingly rejected – not a single request.  So I went back to CPs and beta readers and sought more feedback.  After cutting the opening scene (which I loved) that was all backstory, adding back a subplot I had previously edited out, and changing the ending to include a bit more trials for the lovers to endure before their HEA, it’s about ready.

Now for the query. I would love some feedback on this from folks who haven’t read the MS since the prospective agents won’t have either.  Please feel free to be as blunt as you like – I can take it.

I can take it.

I am seeking representation for my manuscript, THE BROKEN TRAIL, a contemporary inspirational romance complete at 75,000 words.

Dr. Katherine Grant takes the job at Sweet River Christian Academy thinking a small school in the wilderness of Maine sounds like a vacation. But on her first day she is snubbed by the director, finds her rental house is actually a ramshackle cabin, and ends up nearly arrested by the stone-cold, but annoyingly attractive Captain MacAlister. As the scar running down her face attests, Katherine’s a survivor and she plans to put her whole heart into her battle to save the school and its students from an administrator on a power trip. It would be an easier fight if her heart wasn’t such a broken thing and if she hadn’t already begun to give it away.

Mac doesn’t need the kind of trouble Katherine brings. He’s got enough to deal with from pushy tourists, drug crime, and the lousy economy forcing good people to do bad things. In a tailspin following the death of his wife, Mac gave himself rules to protect his heart and maintain his faith, like the rule to avoid women. But the day he meets Katherine, he breaks it. He’s like a moth to her flame, drawn in by her perseverance and strength, getting burned by her quick temper. When he’s shot in the line of duty everything changes as Katherine can’t hide her feelings. Mac convinces her to take a chance with him, even though they argue more than they agree, even though he knows her contract is up in a few months.

Mac’s faithful love is like nothing Katherine has ever experienced, but she’s been alone for more than a decade, content to think it was God’s will. Now she has a choice to make; trust in Mac’s love, or stay safe, dedicated to her career alone. And she has to hurry. June is coming and with it the end of her contract. If she can’t decide, time will do it for her.

I have a BA in English and Sociology from Gordon College and am a member of the RWA. My short story, The Beach Rose was published in the contemporary romance anthology Summer’s Sweet Embrace in August of this year.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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