It's release day for SWEET SURPRISES.
Another book written during the toughest times of my illness, this book was produced through sheer grit and determination. It seems appropriate that the heroine of the book is also filled with grit and determination. She's had some tough turns of fortune, and she's returning home to gain perspective and come up with a plan to begin again.
In some ways, her character is a grown-up version of my oldest daughter - tough and strong on the outside with a soft sweet spirit that always longs for home and family.
Brenna doesn't plan to stay in the tiny little town of Benevolence, Washington, but family and love are calling her back. What she finds there? It's something she didn't even realize she was missing.
I have said before that we should write what we know, and when it comes to the Home Sweet Home series, I am living that trite advice.
Last summer, family called me home.
After being diagnosed with an incurable and chronic disease, I realized how far away from home I really was. My husband, kids and I had moved to Spokane, Washington eight years before. I had friends, a nice group of church family, and (of course) Marge.
But, when I realized how sick I was, I knew that I wanted to go home. And, so, my family and I moved back across the country to the DC suburbs. I found myself wrapped in the comfort of the familiar, drawn deep into that tender dance that family does - the one that involves so many disparate people, moving around each other with grace and understanding, frustration and acceptance.
I discovered in those first weeks and months that everything had changed and nothing had. I was still my parents' daughter. My mother still love to feed me great food, and my father still loved to eat my homemade bread. They still liked to give me advice, and I still liked to do my own thing.
My siblings were still my staunchest supporters, my greatest allies. The people I had grown up with who had seen me at my worst and at my best.
It seems so strange now, but it it is the truth: While I wrote about Brenna Lamont, I lived a very small part of her story, learning to fit back into the rhythm of my family.
If you want to understand what I value and what I believe, you can find my world-view woven into every book that I write. The Home Sweet Home series gave me the opportunity to go deeper than that, to explore what family means, how it defines and shapes and changes us. We are -whether we want to admit it or not - created by our family experiences. Good or bad, they mold who we are. As we grow and mature and change, it isn't a bad thing to revisit that. Perhaps we need to heal from old wounds. Perhaps we need a place to hide from new ones. Perhaps we just need to understand a little more about who we are and why we are.
As SWEET SURPRISES hits the shelves, I'm beginning my newest project for Kensington. A trilogy about three brothers who return home to care for their six orphaned nieces and nephews, it's also set in Benevolence. It is about creating something strong and lasting out of the ashes of a very traumatic past. It is about binding family together with the frayed chords of childhood memories. Like every other book I write, it is - at its core- about love and belonging and acceptance. It is about hope and faith. It is about family and home.
It is about the things I know best and love most.
I'm looking forward to the new writing adventure.
I'm also looking forward to seeing the cover for the third book in the Home Sweet Home series. BITTERSWEET will be out next summer!
It has been a hard year, but it has been a good one.
Happy release day to me!
Happy Tuesday to you!
Whatever else this week brings, I hope it leads you closer to the place you call home.
For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings, I sing for joy.