|(Front and back cover--click or double-click to enlarge.)|
Almost exactly five years ago, on August 2, 2007, I started work on this novel, finishing the final chapter on December 1, 2011. I was at daily Mass with my husband that long-ago morning, thinking about the fact that in a matter of weeks, my youngest son was going to be starting high school and I was going to have a lot more free time than I'd ever had since I first became a mother in 1983. I decided that I would use the years my baby was in high school to fulfill a dream I'd had since I was a young girl: I was going to write a novel. I knew that I wanted it to involve a love story, and that I wanted to inspire young adult readers with it. I knew that I wanted it to have Catholic characters and show the beauty of the Faith, but without being preachy. I knew that I wanted it to be unabashedly pro-family, pro-chastity, and pro-life, but that it should balance the serious messages with humor and a great deal of compassion for the flaws and foibles of humans trying to live good lives in a confusing world.
I just didn't know how to start. So I prayed, and I prayed hard.
My prayer was that if I was meant to write a book, that if it would be for the good of my own soul and for the greater glory of God, He would guide me so that I could figure out how to begin such a daunting task. That very day (during Mass, in fact--where my mind wandered, unfortunately), a main character, her family, and her love interest began to take shape, along with a vague outline for a story; and I went home and furiously typed up 20 pages of notes. The first chapter, with a conversation between the main character and her father, practically wrote itself. And I was off.
Over the years, I was often distracted and didn't produce pages as quickly as I could have. For instance, I found it hard to sit at my desk for hours on end when all the boys were home from college on their summer breaks. I think one summer, I only got one chapter out of the 32 written, since I was just enjoying having my family about me and didn't want to spend all of my time on my computer. Then my mother went through a serious illness, and that was followed by the sudden death of my mother-in-law. There were times, such as those, when I simply couldn't write. But other times, I wrote for six or eight hours at a stretch and the chapters just kept on coming. I started out giving myself a one-year deadline (as Bugs Bunny would say, "Ha ha, it is to laugh"), which stretched to two years, then three...and then finally, I decided I would just finish when I finished. I am a manic re-writer, and every chapter went through about 15 drafts before I thought it was good enough, then would get little tweaks and fixes--a process that continued almost until the day I gave the publisher my approval for the final galley of the manuscript. But truly, over the years I was working on it, I had trouble even believing that the book would be published at all; so I allowed myself to enjoy the writing process, thinking that maybe I would just run off copies to hand down to my kids and grandkids.
Then, just as I was about finished with the final chapter of Finding Grace, I came across an article about a wonderful Catholic publishing house called Bezalel Books, where I was able to self-publish my novel and see a lifelong dream come true. I go on the Amazon website and there it is--and I have to pinch myself or I'd think I was dreaming!
So today's blog post is basically an advertisement for my book. It's just a lousy commercial. Do you feel like you've been had--like Ralphie in the movie A Christmas Story, when he used his Little Orphan Annie decoder ring for the first time and the secret message was "Drink more Ovaltine"? If so, sorry about that...but buy Finding Grace! :)