I have a new book out this month, a sweet Christmas romance titled, Their First Noel.
It's a story about a southern baker and a New England builder with totally different outlooks on life who work together to help her enter a gingerbread house contest, as a means for her to spend time in Vermont in hopes of finding her birth father and seeing her first real snow fall.
The Bible verse: Proverbs 16:9 In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
I had no idea the steps God had in mind for this book, that they would include great sadness and a humble gift, that God would take these things and use them to help others hear about something - someone - important.
The First and most important thing you have to know about this book and story is that it is not about me. I love this book. I love the story and characters. Love them. But then I could say the same about all my characters. I have always done my best with each book (though sometimes it wasn't THE best result). Being a series book, it's as much about distribution and cover and publisher and many other things as it is about my name/writing. What has happened with this book is about the power of love.
That love takes many forms. A mother's love for a child, a writer's love for the dream of having your voice heard, the love of God for the broken hearted.
In short, while writing this book I reconnected with someone who's friendship went back all the way to grade school. We caught up on line, talked about our sons and our lives and through that I learned that her son had begun writing. Through Facebook and his blog, I got to read his work and catch up with his mom and it was through Facebook that I learned of Theo's untimely passing last November. He was just 18.
Theo Anderson had the kind of talent that comes when a writer is bold enough to open their heart and write the truth. His work is raw and emotional and good.
Nothing seemed adequate to offer comfort but there was something I could offer that all writers long for -- a place to be heard. So began the journey of getting a few lines of Theo's poetry in the dedication to Their First Noel. From that point everything was out of my hands - each step with the book seemed to have it's own energy. Schedules worked out to allow for timing to get things in order. The book then began to be highlighted when the Steeple Hill used the cover on their catalog (a first for me with Love Inspired) then many people began contacting me to guest blog and do online and radio interviews. Romantic Times Book Review Magazine made it a Top Pick with 4.5 stars (first they've given me in my career) Both of these mean more people will be exposed to the book than usual. Library Journal also gave it a wonderful review (yet another first for one of my series romances)- meaning that some libraries will be ordering it and giving it an even longer reader life.
This isn't my doing. This is about a blessing that gives Theo a voice and a way to share his talent with others.
People make plans but God orders our steps. How cool is that?
Even if you don't buy the book in a store, you can pick it up and read Theo's poem facing Chapter One (another first for me in a book - but it means that anyone who picks up the book to read or even just to check out will see his words). If you want to read more of his work or hear his story:
http://www.ryanlichtsangbipolarfoundation.org/site/c.ltJZJ8MMIsE/b.2107363/k.973C/Your_Stories.htm (scroll down, it's the second story)
Memorials may be made to
Theo Anderson Memorial Fund for adolescent bipolar research
200 First Street
Rochester, MN 55905