If you’re a regular reader of the blog with a good memory then you know that I wrote the Broken Trail because the character of Katherine came fully-formed to my head and I knew I wanted to describe her journey from bitterness to forgiveness. I had pitched the book as part of a three-book series planning for book two to feature Erin Sullivan and Pastor Dan Connors. Once the Broken Trail was out in the world it was time to write book two. I sat down at the keyboard, ready for the words to flow and they didn’t. And they didn’t for a long time.
It was bad. I had my plot outline, my key scenes, but I couldn’t fill in the details. The heart of the book wasn’t there. Something was missing. It didn’t help that I was busy at work and life and that election… No matter who you voted for, the summer and fall of 2016 was grim. The hate, fear, and mud-slinging was intense. It sucked all the creativity out of me. By December I had a book due and no book to give.
Due to the awesome generosity of my publisher I got a few extra months and I wrote and wrote and wrote. Oh, but dear friends, it was terrible stuff. First drafts usually are, but this was especially bad. I showed it to no one. I knew without one of my trusty beta readers that I had a clunker on my hands. So, I screwed my courage to the sticking place and deleted 50k words. Then I started over.
It took weeks and weeks, but the heart of this book came to me in a scene, not with the main female lead, but with the male. Dr. Dan Connors, Pastor of the Calvary Church is one of those men who seems to good to be true. He’s everything he should be, a former missionary, a coach of high-school basketball, the kind of pastor who visits the sick, the downtrodden, and even the good son who visits his mom in the nursing home praying one day for her to recover from her stroke. But, beneath all that good lies soul-crushing doubt. No one knows his struggle, no one sees his turmoil, no one, that is, but Erin.
That’s when I found the book and the words finally started flowing. Thanks to the seriously talented Rachel Lulich, my content editor, I was able to put the book together in time. My publisher, who is also a talented writer and editor, suggested some brilliant changes, and finally we had a book. This book, like my first, says something that’s more than girl meets boy and falls in love. There’s a lot in there; the struggles single moms face, the mean-girl tendencies of women to criticize each other, the way the opioid epidemic impacts kids of users, but the heart is that spiritual struggle we all face.
On the outside so many of us look like we’ve got it all together, don’t we? On Sunday morning we’re in the pew and maybe even at Wednesday night Bible study or the ladies’ breakfast on Saturday, but inside we’re in turmoil. A community of faith should be the safest place to admit to weakness, to doubt, to struggle, but often that’s where we feel the pressure to act like everything is fine. Christian’s aren’t supposed to struggle, are we? Somehow in the modern church we’ve forgotten that we are all sinners.
The struggle is real and it’s life. Reach out, find help, and if you don’t see anyone reaching back- pray. God is listening. Sometimes we humans are really bad at that. We’re either wrapped up in our own problems, or we don’t know how to help. When I’m feeling alone in my struggles I read. I’m hoping this book helps someone else when they’re feeling isolated and unsure. If you read it, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to sound off in the comments below or reach me at my Facebook Group or on Twitter.