Just call me George Washington. You know, because of the whole cherry tree thing. Although, now that I think about it, that’s more legend than actual historical fact, and considering Washington was a politician, the likelihood of him never telling a lie is drastically more improbable than gas prices ever lowering to less than a dollar again. So maybe I should stick with my real name because I, Molly Jane Osbourne, really do always tell the truth. Unfortunately, unbending honesty isn’t without consequences, a truth I learned the hard way. And no, the irony of that is not lost on me. Never would I have dreamed, when I awoke that sunshiny morning in spring, that storm clouds formed on my horizon. Clouds that bore a distinct resemblance to a certain teacher at a certain Montessori preschool…
* * *
Mrs. Bardowski steepled her fingers over the stack of papers on her desk and gave me a squinty-eyed look. I tried not to squirm under her scrutiny, but I’d never been called to the principal’s office before. Not as a student and certainly not as a teacher. Well, teacher’s assistant. I still had to finish this semester of classes and student teaching before I could take the CBEST and CSET exams and receive my license to teach in the state of California.
Not that I hadn’t been to Mrs. Bardowski’s office before. I’d had my interview in this room at the end of last summer when I’d been hired, and Mrs. Bardowski often conducted morning meetings with all the teachers—there were only five of us total—here. So the pedestal desk with filing cabinets on each side and veneer wood top was familiar. As was the bookcase filled with children’s books—organized by unit subject—on the far wall, metal marquee letters D R E A M perched on the top. The walls were the same eggshell white as the rest of the small, private Montessori preschool and had framed diplomas proudly hanging on them. One day, I’d add mine to the collection.
But this time my presence in the office had a distinct disciplinary flavor. Which made me itch to reach into my bag and raid my emergency stash of leftover mini candy canes from Christmas to overpower the bad taste.
Mrs. Bardowski puffed out a breath and sat back hard in her desk chair, the back bending with her weight as she shook her head at me. “What am I going to do with you, Molly?”
I blinked back a mental image of the sixty-year-old woman with a penchant for wearing oversized silk flowers on her blouses pressing her palms together, looking up to the ceiling, and starting to sing How do you solve a problem like Molly? But Mrs. Bardowski was not the Reverend Mother from The Sound of Music and I, though I loved kids, was no Maria von Trapp. No one, and I meant no one, wanted me to sing. Even my sweet little preschool charges covered their ears if I had to lead out in the months of the year song instead of Mrs. Turner.
“You’re excellent with the kids and they love you.”
I scooted closer to the edge of my seat. “I love them too, ma’am.” And didn’t love cover a multitude of sins? Not that I was confessing to anything but truth-telling, and since when did having integrity become a crime?
Mrs. Bardowski pinched the bridge of her nose. “Yes, I know.” Rubbing the skin between her eyes, she looked at me.
I met her gaze, the bright red poppy pinned over her heart trying to distract me in my peripheral vision.
“But I’m afraid you’ve gone too far this time. I admire your honesty, I really do, but you need to learn to temper your stark truthfulness with common sense.”
Now wasn’t that a bell that had tolled before. Why did people equate a lack of willingness to deceive with a deficiency of sound judgement? I shifted my weight in the chair. “Would you have me lie to the children, ma’am?”
She mumbled something under her breath that I couldn’t make out before gritting her teeth. “No, not lie, but redirection is a very useful tool when dealing with students.”
I leaned forward even farther. Only an inch of my bottom stayed atop the seat, but I needed Mrs. Bardowski to see how earnest I was in this. How much I believed the truth and nothing but the truth (so help me God) was better for everyone. “We are a Montessori school, are we not?”
“Yes.” She nodded grudgingly.
“And is student-led learning not a pillar of the Montessori method? Would Maria Montessori have wanted teachers to redirect a student when their curiosity had been sparked?”
“I see what you’re doing, Molly, but it’s not going to work. Knowledge and discovery need to be appropriate for the child’s age and development.”
I placed my hand palm down on the top of her desk, reaching in her direction as if I could pull her toward my way of thinking. “Who are we to say what a child is ready for? If they ask a question, shouldn’t we be prepared to answer it?”
Mrs. Bardowski didn’t miss a beat. Neither the sunburst-patterned lines around her eyes nor the parentheses around her mouth flinched. She crossed her arms over her chest. “No.”
I blinked, taken aback. No? A student asked a question in the classroom and we as teachers weren’t supposed to answer truthfully?
“You do not tell a group of three- to six-year-olds that Santa isn’t real—”
I sat up straighter. “But if grown-ups lie to kids, then their faith in our word is shaken. What else might they suspect we lied about? They could conclude that Jesus, like Santa, can’t be seen, and if an adult lied to them about Santa, then perhaps they’re lying about God as well.”
But Mrs. Bardowski continued like I hadn’t said a word. “And you can’t explain to a five-year-old what a tampon is.”
My cheeks heated. Whether from her direct glare or the way she’d said tampon—a two-syllable bark that evoked a guilty sentence all on its own—I wasn’t sure. “In my defense, Cyrus was rummaging around in my bag without permission. I tried to answer his initial inquiry of what the object he was waving around was called and what it was used for with as little detail as possible.”
All the while trying to shield the way he brandished the female hygiene product like a sword, a sure-fire way to attract the other boys. Mrs. Bardowski may think my handling of the situation had been reprehensible, but it could have been so much worse. If Thomas had gotten a glimpse of what he would no doubt have considered a great object to pretend to be a dagger, there could have been a full-fledged duel of menstrual proportions.
I sighed. “He kept asking why. He led the conversation, Mrs. Bardowski.” And didn’t that signal his readiness to learn?
“This is what I mean by common sense, Molly. You tell Cyrus that it isn’t right going through other people’s things and that if he has any questions to ask his mother. Then you go to his mother and explain the events of the day so that she can be prepared to answer Cyrus, not you.”
Easy for Mrs. Bardowski to say. She hadn’t had Cyrus shooting off whys like bullets in a machine gun. And I hadn’t gone into detail. I’d kept everything scientific. The body had different systems. We even taught units on the skeletal and muscular systems. Why did people get all weirded out by reproductive organs?
Besides, I thought most parents had a problem with privacy when they had small kids. As in, they no longer had any. As in, their kids followed them everywhere, even to the bathroom, and picked the lock if the mom even tried to keep them out. How had Cyrus’s mom been able to keep her hygiene products hidden from her son for so long?
I snapped my attention back to Mrs. Bardowski. Her eyebrows were raised expectantly. I rolled my lips between my teeth. I knew what she wanted, but I couldn’t give her the assurances she required—that I would cover the truth in a blanket of, well, what she called common sense but I considered suggestio falsi. Or, for those of us who don’t actually speak Latin, a big fat lie.
I could give her some reassurance though. “There were no mentions of birds, bees, or special hugs. I didn’t use, you know, that three letter word. I didn’t tell him at all how babies are made or where they come from. Just facts. Scientific facts about the human body.”
Whereas her fake poppy pin still appeared as fresh as the day it had come out of the factory, Mrs. Bardowski wilted. She rested her forearms against her desk and looked at me like I was a puppy in the pound and my euthanasia date had come up. “I really hate doing this, Molly, but I’m going to have to let you go.”
My palms felt clammy, and I retracted my hand from Mrs. Bardowski’s desk and laid them in my lap. “You’re…you’re firing me?”
“I am so sorry.”
“For telling the truth?”
Her eyes drooped but held mine. “We both know it isn’t that.”
“I see.” About as well as I could without my glasses. I lifted my hand to make sure the black, vintage-style frames still perched on my nose. They did. The blurriness wasn’t due to my horrid vision problems then.
I blinked and was surprised to feel a single tear glide down my cheek. Notching my chin, I rose, ignoring the tightness in my throat and refusing to draw attention to the tear by wiping at it.
“Thank you for the opportunity to work here, Mrs. Bardowski. The experience has been…enlightening.”
“We wish you only the very best, Molly. I hope you know that.”
Fired. The very best. Po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe.
I turned, and that’s when I noticed the door to Mrs. Bardowski’s office hadn’t been shut all the way. Which wouldn’t have been a big deal if I hadn’t been sacked and if there wasn’t a very long, very masculine leg leading down to an impressive pair of brown leather chukka boots visible in the three-inch crack between the door and the doorframe.
The curse of my fair skin washed over me, and I knew even without the benefit of a mirror that my cheeks pinkened.
An audience to my humiliation. How par for my course. Oh well. Naught else to be done.
I squared my shoulders and collected my bag while Mrs. Bardowski shimmied around me and pushed the door open the rest of the way.
The man in question rose, as did my gaze. Chukka boots led to starched, gray, fitted slacks, a trim waist cinched with a leather belt and plain silver buckle, and a torso covered by a tailored, gray-and-white pinstriped button-up that hugged the man’s impressive arms like the peel of a banana clings to the fruit.
My eyes lingered, but I forced them upward. One humiliation in the span of a few minutes was enough. I didn’t need this man to catch me ogling his toned physique as well. My complexion adhered to my strict honesty policy. The truth of my thoughts would be written all over my face.
Another system mostly ignored in the elementary years: the endocrine system. Mine was working quite well at the moment, hormones shaking their pompoms like mini cheerleaders in my bloodstream.
I shot my gaze away, swallowed, and then resettled on the man’s face. He had a hint of dark scruff along his chin and jaw, dark half-moons under his gray eyes, and a head of thick hair somewhere between a really deep brown color and true black. Our gazes collided and tangled for a second, pity making the slight downturn at the outer corners of his eyes—not too dissimilar to that of a Bassett puppy—become more prominent.
“Dr. Reed, thank you for coming.” Mrs. Bardowski lifted her arm in invitation to enter her office.
Looking down, I held my bag to my chest and hurried through the hall, trying to outrun the voice in my head—that of my close friend, Amanda, and her slight obsession with a certain medical drama and one of the dreamy characters. If she were here, she’d have already come up with several objectifying nicknames and used them in hashtags all over her social media. #doctordaaaaang #doctorswoony #medicinemanofmydreams
“Hey. Hey, wait up a second.”
My ballet flats paused on the heavy-duty industrial carpeting. I didn’t want to stop. If I stopped, I would notice the students’ artwork I’d hung on the walls only a few hours before. The tissue paper flowers I’d helped six of them create. I’d remember Annabelle telling me I smelled like roses and the excited look in Aiden’s eyes when he wrote his name for the first time without the aid of tracing. I’d remember that I wouldn’t get to see any of my precious students again. Never get to say goodbye to them.
I pressed my finger to the corner of my eye and collected the moisture gathered there before it could fall. Pushing my lips up into a semblance of a smile, I turned toward the man who had followed me down the hall instead of keeping his meeting with Mrs. Bardowski, for whatever reason.
“Dr. Reed, was it?”
He stopped in front of me and offered me his hand. It was easier to look at his sculpted fingers and notice how my dainty limb was nearly engulfed in his than it was to look into his eyes. If I raised my face, he’d know. That Amanda’s voice had been in my head. That I was barely holding it together as the sweet reminders of what I’d lost stared at me from their places on the cinderblock walls.
“I didn’t mean to eavesdrop on your meeting. I hope you know that.” There seemed to be an edge of remorse to his baritone voice.
The thin, optimistic thread that he hadn’t witnessed me getting fired severed. I hadn’t put much weight on it—and good thing too, or I would be flat on my face after the swift kick in the pants Mrs. Bardowski delivered.
“But did you really explain to a preschooler what a tampon is?”
My gaze snapped up to his eyes. Not a trace of laughter on my account. No hint of censure for a perceived lack of common sense. I wasn’t sure, but he seemed to be waiting. Almost on bated breath. Willing me to confirm that what he’d overheard was correct.
“In scientific terms?” he pressed.
“Yes?” I’m not sure why my answer came out as a question except that I hadn’t pieced together what any of this had to do with him.
“And you were fired? You are, in fact, now seeking employment?”
Well, he didn’t have to sound all happy about it and rub it in my face. I pulled the strap of my bag up over my shoulder and crossed my arms in front of my chest. “Don’t you have a meeting with Mrs. Bardowski? She hates to be kept waiting, you know.”
His lips tipped in a grin, flashing a set of dimples that had been hiding behind his scruff. “Yes, I know. But a moment more of your time and I think she’ll be quite pleased. With me, at least.”
Was that a jab? Was he teasing me and making light of the fact Mrs. Bardowski was not “quite pleased” with me? I narrowed my eyes, and my lips puckered like I had just tasted a sour lemon.
“Oh.” His small smile vanished. “Don’t look at me like that.” The glimmer of hope that I had detected fled, replaced with a tired, haggard expression. Almost like one beaten. Certainly, like one desperate.
“I’m sorry we couldn’t have met under different circumstances, Dr. Reed.” I turned on my heel, eyes down lest more of my students’ proudly displayed projects pricked at my aching heart.
“Wait!” The good-looking doctor’s voice sounded frantic behind me. “I need you, Miss Osbourne.”
Enter for a chance to win a prize pack inspired by my novella, Bookishly Ever After, in the Timeless Love Collection!
-Jesus and Coffee mug
-$10 Starbucks giftcard
-framed inspirational graphic
-Paperback copies of The Esther Paradigm, Finders Keepers, and All of You
Welcome to the “Kiss or Miss” Scavenger Hunt.
Journey through all eight stops, following the order in the schedule. Each stop will include two or three clue words in red. Collect them all and enter to win our grand prize at the final stop on February 17th on Crystal's site.
Along each stop, you’ll get to meet an awesome author friend, read a super fun excerpt from one of their favorite kiss-or-miss scenes, and enter some sweet giveaways.
Here Are the Deets: Scavenger Hunt Schedule: February 13th through the 17th.
Once you have all the words, arrange them in order to complete the mystery quote and enter it at the final stop of the event on Crystal’s site, 2/17.
Grand Prize: A paperback from each participating author, as shown in the image below.
Ready to Dive in? Follow the blog hop order below:
Stop 1 - 2/13/17: Crystal’s blog, featuring Pepper Basham
Stop 2 - 2/13/17: Pepper’s blog, featuring Stacy Claflin
Stop 3 - 2/14/17: Stacy’s blog, featuring Juliette Duncan
Stop 4 - 2/14/17: Juliette's blog, featuring Sarah Monzon
Stop 5 - 2/15/17: Sarah’s blog, featuring Jessica Patch
Stop 6 - 2/15/17: Jessica’s blog, featuring Melanie Snitker
Stop 7 - 2/16/17: Melanie’s blog, featuring Melissa Tagg
Stop 8 - 2/16/17: Melissa’s blog, featuring Crystal Walton
Stop 9 - 2/17/17: Crystal's blog, final entry
Stop #5 Featuring Jessica Patch
Today's guest is the wonderful Jessica Patch!
Jessica R. Patch lives in the mid-south where she pens inspirational contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels. Her passion to see women’s faith grow into an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ compels her to draw out biblical truths through flawed but redeemable characters in fiction. She’s the author of the Seasons of Hope series, several Love Inspired Suspense novels, including Fatal Reunion, Protective Duty, and Concealed Identity, and a contributing author on Everyday with Jesus, a devotional releasing in April 2017 from Guideposts. She enjoys laughing with her husband, bingeing on Netflix with her teenage daughter, and winning at UNO with her son. You can connect with Jessica at her website:www.jessicarpatch.com
Thank you so much, Sarah, for hosting me today. I’m super excited to be sharing Seasons of Hope with y’all! This book is the full series, so you’re actually getting four stories not just one!
If you’re a fan of Hallmark movies, including Christmas movies, then you’ll enjoy reading this series.
Rather than give you cookie-cutter characters, I’ve chosen a cast that face real-to-life situations and have relatable flaws. Here’s a peek!
Welcome to the small town of Mistletoe, where hope blooms in every season. Sometimes love is discovered with the most unexpected person. Grace is lavished upon the least deserving. Forgiveness is granted to the flawed. And mercy is poured out on the heartbroken.
**For those on mobile that can't see the red words they are "than" and "face".
Ready for Stop #6? Did you collect your clue words in red above? Jot them down and hop over to Jessica’s blog for the next set of clues, goodies, and more.
Before You Go
For a chance to win an ebook of Just the Way You Are, let me know whether you think this excerpt from Just the Way You Are (book 2) ends in a kiss or a miss.
Gabe turned Audrey toward him and framed her face. “He made the choice to leave. You didn’t do that. Don’t you dare blame yourself for breaking up your family. He couldn’t handle his grief. He left. You did this.” He pointed to the flowers. “You did this. Audrey,” he whispered and cradled her against him. “Can I pray for you?”
She nodded and he prayed—his words like a garden of sweetness and beauty; it moved her to fresh tears even through the wave of comfort that covered her like a glorious summer day.
“Amen,” he murmured. “Tell me you’ll come back to church Sunday. Tell me you’ll sit in the front row again. I liked it.”
“You did?” She swiped under her eyes. “I admit I did, too, until Dotty’s butt dial.” She sighed. If every day could feel this peaceful. At this moment she had a confidence that most days she lacked. Not necessarily because of Gabe—though he was definitely a big part. But God had really poured out the peace until she felt content. Able. Ready to face something new. “You’ve been so good for this church…for…the community.” For her. “I just wanted to show you an extra measure of support, and I was going to bake cookies but Eden reminded me I can’t, so…”
“You wanted to bake me cookies?” His voice caught, and he ran his thumb across her cheek bone.
“Chocolate chip,” she murmured. She licked her lips as a delightful shiver raced through her veins in anticipation. Could pastors even kiss? Like did they even know how? She inched closer. “Do you like chocolate chip cookies?”
“My favorite,” he whispered…
Okay, tell me what you think? Enter either “Kiss” or “Miss” and your email address in the comments below to enter for a chance to win an ebook copy of Just the Way You Are.
Second Chances. If we're honest, they're not only something we want. They're something we need . . . most every day. A fresh start. A do-over. A chance to learn from our mistakes and seize the opportunities we missed in the past. There's something intrinsically beautiful and redemptive about seeing that theme come to life on the pages of a compelling romance, isn't there? With the start of a brand new year, we can't think of a better time to celebrate that theme than a sale and giveaway of some of our favorite second chance romances. Sales, Gift Cards, and Giveaways! Each day, Jan 16-20th, one author will be highlighting a clean romance we've put on sale for you this week. Be sure to visit each author's website and Facebook page to catch every deal, see what each author's giving away, and enter the grand giveaway of five signed paperbacks! Day 1: Melanie Snitker - Join her at https://facebook.com/melaniedsnitker Day 2: Stacy Clafin - Join her at https://facebook.com/stacy.claflin.author Day 3: Crystal Walton - Join her at https://facebook.com/crystalwaltonwrites Day 4: Kris Noorman - Join her at https://facebook.com/bykristanoorman Day 5: Sarah Monzon - Join her at https://facebook.com/sarahmonzonwrites Don't miss out on the giveaways each author will be offering. And enter the grand giveaway below for your chance to take home five signed paperbacks!
Today's Feature – The Isaac Project
Buy e-book here for only $0.99!
Becky Sawyer’s life unravels in a single day. Not only does she catch her boyfriend, the man she hoped to marry, lip-locked with another woman, she also receives the gut-wrenching news that her grandfather, the man who raised her, is dying. His last wish? To see her happily married. Heartbroken, Becky seeks inspiration in the pages of the Holy Scriptures. And finds it in the story of Isaac and Rebekah. If love couldn't keep his parents together, Luke Masterson wonders what will make a marriage last. He decides to steer clear of all women—especially crazy ones like Becky Sawyer, who employs a friend to find her a husband. But when he feels the dogged promptings of the Holy Spirit to move across the country and marry a complete stranger, it seems love has little to do with it anyway. With commitment their only foundation, and love constantly thwarted, can an arranged marriage find happiness in the twenty-first century?
I'm so excited to have you visit my little corner of the web and enter this amazing giveaway! The Issac Project is a contemporary story inspired by the Biblical account of Rebekah and Isaac. This, my debut book, was loads of fun to write and I have been blown away by the response it has gotten. My mind has been perculating on writing more books like this--contemporary Biblical retellings. What Biblical story would YOU be interested in reading an "inspired by" account of? Answer in the comments for your chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!
Five-Paperback Giveaway Love clean romances? For a chance to win five paperbacks from authors: Stacy Clafin, Sarah Monzon, Krista Noorman, Melanie Snitker, and Crystal Walton, join their author email lists below and be the first to hear about the latest inside scoops, giveaways, and behind the scenes looks at the sweet romances you love. Earn extra entries for sharing!
Confession time. I'm a book cover snob. You know that saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover"? Well, I do. I know I shouldn't, but I just can't help myself. If it's a new-to-me author and the cover doesn't grab me right away, then I won't even turn it over to read the blurb. I'm sure I've passed over some really great books that way, but that's my punishment for my snobbery.
With all confessions, I'm sure I'm not the only one suffering from this specific character flaw. That being said, I don't want anyone passing over my books because the cover didn't reel them in right away.
That's where you come in. Instead of doing a cover reveal, we're going to do a cover vote. Below are two options for my upcoming release in early summer.
Here's a little info on the book.
The same evil that stole her mother’s demise stalks Isabella Castellano. Afraid for her safety and with no one to help her, Isabella disguises herself as a cabin boy and hires on to one of His Majesty’s treasure fleet vessels. But has her flight from a known threat only led her to be ensnared in a sea of dangers?
Present Day, Florida
Summer Arnet will go anywhere to capture the perfect shot that will get her marine photography noticed by the prestigious natural magazine, Our World—even diving in waters haunted by Great White sharks. When a treasure hunter with a ladies’ man reputation approaches her about a sunken ship at one of her past dive locations, it might be the chance she’s been looking for to launch her career…if his charming smile doesn’t derail her first.
A past tragedy has left a hole in Trent Carrington’s life—a hole he’s tried to fill with women, money, and adventure. Could the feisty marine photographer be the missing piece or will Trent finally accept that the treasure he seeks can’t be found where rust and moths destroy?
So to recap:
Setting -- Florida in the summer and on board a treasure fleet vessel
Time period -- both present day and the 17th century
Genre -- dual timeline so both contemporary and historical romance
Can't wait to hear your opinions. Oh! And bonus points if you can guess which cover I made myself. =)
Have you ever wondered what authors do on the day their book launches? It may not be quite the party you had imagined. Here's a little peek into what my launch day looked like today.
The first thing on the agenda for the day was a weekly bible study I attend with some other young women. Most of these ladies have small children of their own, so while the mommy's get some grown up time and share in God's Word and encouragement in prayer, the littles have fun on the playground. Bible study lasts about two hours then it's time to head home and put my 15 month old daughter down for her nap and prepare lunch. Today we had a gourmet meal of Top Ramen and grilled cheese prepared by my lovely husband while I rocked the baby to sleep.
The kids and I headed off to Petco after my daughter woke up from her nap to pick up a pet fish for my son. It is was going to be a birthday present from grandma but the store was out of the tank mommy wants (I have a history of killing fish so I want to get him this EZ care tank to lessen the chances of mortality).
**Has anyone's eyes glazed over yet?**
And to end the totally exciting launch day festivities, grocery shopping.
What about you guys? Is this how you imagined an author's launch day would look like?
On June 21, I will put all the names of those commenting in a hat and draw a winner. The winner will receive an advanced ebook copy of The Isaac Project the beginning of July (at which time I hope to have the formatting complete!).
Without further ado, here are the contestants.
I was a certified teacher—high school civics and geography were my specialty, and I loved teaching. However, I’m now a SAHM, and wouldn't trade that for anything. Now I satisfy the teacher in me by teaching junior high Bible class and am active in AWANA leadership.
On my blog, www.thefreeslavesdevotion.com, I looked at the twists in my ordinary life—many of which I didn't plan—and asked the question “who am I?” It was a fun journey that I took with my partner in blogging, Susan Roach, and was very revealing to me. At every turn in my life, God has shown me over and over again that He knows my heart, His plans for me are good, and He will ever draw me nearer as I live day to day.
Now that we know a little more about you let's jump in with some fun and silly questions to start with.
If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?
Stuck behind a cage with people staring at me.
Oh…that wasn't what you were looking for, was it? Hmm…well, I asked my Superman what he thought. He said maybe an armadillo. What? Not sure how I feel about that. He said they have a tough outer shell protecting a soft underside, and they were interesting. Like me.
Huh. Still not sure how I feel about that. Armadillos are NOT cute. Oh well…😉
I know we both have kids and so that means Disney movies. What Disney character would play you in real life?
According to the FB Disney poll, I’m most like Pocahontas. Strong, brave…and stubborn. Me stubborn? No. That can't be right! Just because I don't give in doesn't mean I'm stubborn. Does it?
Okay, so they nailed me. I can live with that.
I'm grinning at the armadillo suggestion. A very thought out answer but you're right, not exactly the most cute and cuddly animal.
If you could have any accent in the world, what would you choose?
Can you mix a Texas drawl with an Australian bite? Is that possible? Love the slang in those dialects, and have adopted many of them, though I get a few twisted, “what are you saying?” looks from my Nebraskan relatives. I do it anyway. Because they're fun. And I can. And like that armadillo, I'm unique. And stubborn. So there.
Now I'm trying to imagine a Texas/ Australian accent. Nope. Just can't hear it. Lol. Okay, those were great responses. How about some more serious questions?
Shoot. I'll put on my serious face.
When did you decide to become a writer?
When the people in my head kept telling me to write down the stories they were telling me. Is that weird?
I used to write as an emotional release. Some people journal. I wrote stories, even as a kid. I gave it up for a while for a couple of reasons. First, I had a bunch of small children and my husband had a job that demanded way more than the standard forty hour work week. Spare time was none-existent in that stage of life. Writing wasn't an option. Reading really wasn't even an option. We kind of went into survival mode. And we did—survive, that is.
And second, because I was told by a well-meaning Christian woman that fiction was not an honorable use of time—especially women's Christian fiction (read romance there). I wanted so much to be a godly woman, so I left that dream in the dark.
My husband addressed that second issue for me. He pointed out that Jesus very often taught through fiction. We call them parables. And God revealed himself in stories like Ruth (I know, that's not fiction, but it is my favorite romance from the Old Testament). Story is powerful, and beautiful when used appropriately.
At some point, when my baby (number four) finally started sleeping through the night (he was one…that was the longest year of my life!), the characters in my head called to me, and I began writing again.
Second, I rediscovered a fundamental truth that I would have been eager to voice at that point in time, but was not really gripping in my heart. That is this: Jesus saves. Only Jesus saves. Not me. Not my husband, or my preacher, or anyone else involved. Salvation is Christ’s work, not mine. He graciously allows me to be used of Him—of His choosing, in His timing, and through my obedience—but I am a tool in His hands. He is the redeemer.
So why this book? God was teaching me. I don’t really have a better explanation than that.
What was the hardest thing about writing this book?
Honestly, and I say this with a little trepidation because I don’t want to rumple feathers too much, but the hardest thing was taking in the amount of negative (very STRONG negative) reactions to Andrew, the main character who is a pretty big mess in Blue Columbine. After a contest, one comment in particular really grieved me. The person was so adamantly opposed to any type of character that was so greatly flawed as Andrew that I actually teared up, wondering if this was how the church really responds to people with hard issues. The comment went something along the lines of him being an “unredeemable character.” That broke my heart. Really broke it.
But you know what? It also clarified to me one of the reasons God put this story in my heart—because I needed to know that nobody is unredeemable for our Almighty God. Nobody. That doesn’t mean that every story works out the way that Andrew and Jamie’s did in Blue Columbine, but it does mean that I don’t get to leap off the hook of prayer and compassion and love when someone dives into the muck deeper than I ever imagined they would.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Hmm…everyone is always ready with advice, and I’m no exception…but let me think through this carefully. The one thing I would say is to listen closely to the voice of God. Discern what is His will, His calling, and then follow it. Even if it’s not what you planned. Not the path you’d dreamed of, or the dream that you’d sheltered and nurtured.
I say that remembering the moment I finally decided to go Indie with Blue Columbine. I’d sensed that direction for ten months before I lifted my hopes and dreams of landing a contract with a Trad Pub to God and said, “Your way. Whatever you want.” That moment His inaudible voice said, “Finally. This is the direction I have for you.” And then I argued…(I mentioned I’m stubborn, right?). I said, “but I’m scared. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. I don’t know how. You have to take my hand and hold me through this.”
You know, I’m pretty sure my Heavenly Father smiled—I could feel it in his answer. “That’s exactly where I want you.”
His hand holding mine. Right where I need to be.
For any other writer, or anyone else, I think that’s true. Your hand in His—no matter what that looks like in everyday life—that is exactly where you need to be.
What are you working on now?
Oh boy. So many irons in the fire! Right now I’m finishing the rough draft for my third Contemporary Fiction, The Carpenter’s Daughter. I hope to release it the beginning of next year, but that may prove to be an overly-ambitious goal. We’ll see.
Next month my second novel, Reclaimed, will begin the process of final edits so that it’ll be shiny and clean for it’s reveal in September. And in between all that, I’ll be working on my Young Adult trilogy called The Uncloaked. I’m anxious to get that out into the world as teenagers are special to my heart, and that story was another story like Blue Columbine. It unfolded before me and was simply a story I could not ignore. It is also something I’d never pictured myself writing—a YA dystopian? That’s a massive leap from where I began! But I’m pleased with the way the first book has turned out, and am happy with the way the second is unfolding. I feel like there is an important message in it, and I’m eager to bring it to whomever God leads to read it.
Thank you so much for stopping by and answering some questions.
Thank you, Sarah! It’s been fun to dive into these things, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to “explain” myself!
Carol award finalist and Selah award winner, Sarah Monzon is a stay-at-home mom who makes up imaginary friends to have adult conversations with (otherwise known as writing novels). As a navy chaplain's wife, she resides wherever the military happens to station her family and enjoys exploring the beauty of the world around her.