The Inside Scoop!
and her contemporary romance
Where She Belongs
I grew up in Madison County, Ohio, a farming community southwest of Columbus.
I was inspired to write my first published novel by close friends who read another story I wrote and wanted a sequel. About the same time, I watched two documentaries: The Rape of Europa and The Hidden Child. These two motifs, the protection of artwork and children during World War II, tugged at my heart. In my debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, art and children are saved by the protagonists.
The books that have most influenced my life are My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien, and Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. These are books I read again and again. (The Bible is a given—I read it every day.)
My biggest challenge when writing is moving on when I can’t find the perfect word or get a sentence just right. Sometimes I use brackets as placeholders, and that seems to help. In many ways, rewriting is easier than writing. I also tend to be too descriptive.
One of my favourite authors is Ann Tatlock because she writes beautiful phrases and tells unique stories. (I’m also a Charles Dickens fan though I haven’t yet read all of his books.)
If I wasn’t a writer, I would be devastated. But if I had to choose another career, perhaps a genealogist, a historian, or an archivist.
The superhero talent I would love to have is to fly. My grandchildren are in Ohio and Florida while I’m in Tennessee. It’d be great to just take a running leap and pop in on them whenever I wanted.
Shelby Kincaid is ready to move on from her grief. With high hopes for the future, she longs to purchase her family’s ancestral homestead so she can raise her young daughters in the only place she ever truly belonged. She plans to transform the abandoned house into the perfect home of her memories. But she’ll have her work cut out for her.
AJ Sullivan never wanted the homestead. Inherited as a punishment from his grandfather, it has sat empty for fifteen years and fallen into ruin. He’s glad to finally unload it. But a clean break isn’t possible when he can’t get the young widow Shelby off his mind.
My latest novel can be described by these 5 adjectives: emotional, engaging, heart-warming, nostalgic, and uplifting.
My main characters are Shelby Lassiter Kincaid and Anderson John “AJ” Sullivan IV.
More than anything, Shelby wants to recreate her memories of a golden childhood for her own children. That can only happen at her grandparents’ home—a house that has been empty since their deaths several years before.
AJ, a popular high school history teacher and football coach, is seldom seen without a ball cap bearing The Ohio State University logo on his head. He believes a relationship with Shelby is impossible unless he apologizes to his first love for abandoning her. But when he finds her, he learns she has secrets, too.
My main characters resemble the girl next door and the high school jock all grown up. I don’t “cast” my characters unless someone asks who would play them in a movie. I now see them as the people who appear on the cover.
A previously unknown fact about this novel is that readers may know that Shelby’s house is based on a house I lived in as a teen that was later abandoned. They may not know that the cottage AJ lives in is also an actual place that’s nestled into a hillside and was once hidden from the road just like the one in the story. I moved it though so Shelby and AJ live closer together.
My story’s spiritual theme is trusting God to put us in a “spacious place.” This concept is found in a few passages, but my favorite is Psalm 18:19: “He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me” (NIV). Shelby thinks she knows where her spacious place is, but she learns it might not be a literal place at all.
While writing this novel I was challenged by all the details of what happened in the long-ago past. The protagonists—their values, their hurts, their current circumstances—are greatly influenced by events that occurred before they were born and also, for Shelby, when she was a teen. As important as the past is to the present, it couldn’t overshadow what was happening now.
The title was chosen by the publisher. In the manuscript’s pre-publishing life, it had several titles, and this one is the most perfect. I submitted it as Into a Spacious Place which caught people’s attention. But it sounds more like a poetry book than a contemporary romance.
As an author, the hardest scenes for me to write are the openings. So many elements need to come together in just the right way to pull the reader into the story so she never wants to leave. I usually have a few false starts before everything comes together in the best way.
The story I’m currently working on is the third novel in the Misty Willow Series. The second book, When Love Arrives, will be out in September. Book #3 features another family member who is struggling with the consequences of her choices.
You may not know this about me, but I have a small herd of alpaca. Unfortunately, I have yet to learn to knit.
If I could be a character in any novel, I would want to be a Lothlorien elf living in Middle Earth. But since I’m five foot nothing standing on tiptoe, I’d probably end up in Hobbiton instead.