This summer I was at a conference and a friend attended a workshop where they asked the authors, "What is at the core of all your stories?" We sat around the table discussing it and when it came to my turn, I answered without hesitation...family
I find the idea of what makes a family fascinating...there are endless variations. In my Whedon, PA series, the family came together because of adoption. In my Valley Ridge series, family was formed through friendship and happenstance. In August's Her Second-Chance Family, my heroine is a foster parent.
But April's award winning book was a bit different. Carry Her Heart isn't about a family that's formed, but rather the family that's left behind...specifically the birth mother who gave a child up. And even though her child went on to be raised by another family, ultimately the story still is about family. It's about a mother's love for her child. And it's that love, more than blood that makes her that child's family. Like so many of my books, that book is built around the idea that a family is formed...not necessarily born.
And in my newest two releases, there are no children involved, but they both deal with family. In 13 Weeks: A Novella, the hero is losing his grandmother...the last of his family. He learns that those who pass on aren't truly lost...not if we have our love and memories to keep them alive in our hearts. And in These Three Words (which is out in 11 days...but who's counting??) my hero and heroine are a couple who's been torn apart. I came up with my tagline for the book early on and I held onto it as I wrote: Sometimes the greatest loves aren't discovered...they're rediscovered.
For me, it's everything. When I started writing I decided that for me, family came first and writing came second. Everything else just squeezed in where I could manage. All these years later, I think that was one of the best decisions I ever made. I've watched my kids grow into such amazing human beings. And I'm thrilled to confess, they've grown into my best friends.
So as we sit down to Thanksgiving soon, I'll be thankful for many things. My writing is right up there. But at the top of my list—at the very top—I'm thankful for my family. They're my inspiration. To be honest, they're at the heart of everything I do.
PS last year's holiday book, A Valley Ridge Christmas, and Carry Her Heart are both on sale this week for $1.99.