Plain and simple, my primary goal in writing stories is to impact lives for the Lord.
Even from my early days as a professional writer, my focus was and continues to be to write “heart-stirring stories of God’s life-changing grace.”
His grace impacts us all, and I feel so incredibly blessed to get to do the work that I do.
Impact Lives Through Story
I recently posted this question on my Facebook author page:
What does it take in a book to become one of your all-time favorites?
The comments were eye-opening and insightful.
Many said their all-time favorite books were those that touched and impacted their life. And most mentioned the importance of real and authentic characters.
Stories Have the Power to Change Us
Stories truly have power to change us, in both big and small ways.
Yes, that often happens through characters, but it also happens through truth.
A personal friend commented on the post with that thought. She also mentioned that it doesn’t have to be a new truth, but going deeper into that truth in a way that draws us closer to God.
Isn’t that exactly what Jesus did in His parables? He taught truth wrapped up in the intrigue of story. That is indeed powerful.
The Story That’s Currently Changing Me
I shouldn’t be surprised, but I always am.
The Lord uses the stories I write to impact and change me.
It’s one I started years ago and never finished.
Though I’ve changed the setting to Miller’s Creek, the spiritual theme of the story hasn’t changed. BUT my understanding of that spiritual theme has deepened both prior to writing the story and during it.
In short, the story is impacting my life in profound ways.
I’m still in the pre-writing stage of writing THE UNLIKELY CHOSEN. Though I’m eager to get to the actual writing of the book, I’ve learned that if I take my time now, the actual writing will be much easier and quicker.
I thought I’d use the rest of this post to introduce you to three of the characters. While I won’t spoil the story for you, I do want to give you a book blurb and a brief look at the story through the eyes of the three main characters (one you’ve met before as the hero of THE WAY OF GRACE).
All of the following comes directly from my pre-writing process.
The Unlikely Chosen (Miller’s Creek Novel #8)
An abused teenager wants nothing more than a loving family to adopt her little sister.
But when that dream comes true, it also derails her plan for a life on her own terms far away from all the hurt she’s experienced.
Then a ghost from her past appears with an unthinkable demand. One that could forever jeopardize the lives of those she loves.
With so much at stake, she’s forced to face her greatest fears with a plan she prays will work.
Can she overcome forces of evil and discover a love like no other?
From the Perspective of the Characters
When we first met Matt Tyler it was in book 2, A PATH LESS TRAVELED, Andy Tyler’s college-aged younger brother. But he made his appearance as an older-and-wiser Matt in THE WAY OF GRACE, and he’s been a reader favorite ever since.
Now he and Gracie have been married for a few years and decide to adopt a child.
Here’s a snippet of the story THE UNLIKELY CHOSEN from Matt’s viewpoint.
“The minute I saw Crystal knock the bully to the ground to defend Lyla, she captured my heart. But my head and psychological training questioned the wisdom of adopting someone like her. The statistics and conversations with Gracie and Professor Dan all told the same story. Girls her age who had experienced neglect and probable abuse usually didn’t recover to live a ‘normal’ life.
Her only chance was a life-changing experience, and that was something I could only introduce her to. The choice of whether or not to accept it would be hers and hers alone.
It didn’t help matters that Gracie was so opposed to adopting Crystal in addition to her little sister Lyla. Her reasoning was spot on. How could we possibly parent a young child, hold down busy jobs, and take on the psychological issues of a troubled teenager all at the same time?
In the end, the decision came down to love.
While I also loved Lyla, there was something about Crystal that drew me in. A love I can only contribute to a father’s heart and the love of God for me.
In spite of that heart love, there was nothing easy about Crystal.
She balked at being adopted. She struggled at school. Her relationship skills were all but non-existent.
Her psychological profile revealed an underhanded and scheming side that left me quaking in my boots.
She was closed off, fearful, and unpredictable, and I wasn’t sure I could ever get through to her. Sometimes it felt like all we did was put out fires because of Crystal. Time we could have spent with Lyla or with the troubled people we worked with on a daily basis.
There were times I was ready to throw up my hands in defeat and send her packing.
But love wouldn’t let me.”
“All my life I’ve been abused, neglected, and left to fend for myself. I guess in many ways it’s made me stronger. But it’s also left me afraid and struggling to find my place in the world.
Worse yet, I feel pressure. And lots of it. The sort of pressure that builds like a boiling pan of potatoes right before it spills over and makes a huge mess.
Mess. That’s me in one word.
Damaged goods. Me in two words.
I could go on, but I’ll spare you the gory details.
In addition to me, there’s my little sister, Lyla. Our mother has never really been in a place to take care of us. I’ve been more of a mom to my sister than her. Lyla was born when I was ten.
My job on this planet is to take care of Lyla and keep all the bad things that have happened to me from happening to her. That’s one reason I got us to the children’s home.
The other reason was to find loving parents to adopt Lyla. She’s cute and lovable and young, so I knew it would happen. Who wouldn’t want her?
And to be completely honest, I had a reason for myself too. Once Lyla had a family, I could move as far away from Texas as possible and make a new life for myself. A life to help me escape the abuse, my own mistakes, and the constant fear I feel.
When Matt & Gracie Tyler showed up at the children’s home, I could tell they were perfect for Lyla. Kind, friendly, loving, good. Nothing that showed me they were in it for any other reason than to provide a good home and family for a child.
But I wasn’t prepared for them to want me too. I wanted to warn them about me. Warn them that I was beyond repair. A problem child. Prone to schemes and revenge when anyone dared cross me. And worse yet, prone to erupting without warning.
Why would they want me anyway? There’s absolutely nothing beautiful or good about me.
I tried to get them to change their mind, but then got scared they wouldn’t take me or Lyla. I just couldn’t let that happen. So I went home with them to Miller’s Creek, a place very much like the Mayberry TV show me and Lyla used to watch. I went willingly on the outside, but on the inside I was already scheming.
Scheming up a plan to escape.”
We first met Brody as a young boy in THE WAY OF GRACE (Book 3). He’s the son of Andy and Trish Tyler (and younger brother of Little Bo), and has inherited his Mom’s dark eyes and hair.
Though popular and well-respected at Miller’s Creek High, he’s determined to offer friendship and compassion to the intriguing girl his Uncle Matt and Aunt Gracie just adopted.
Here’s a bit of the story from Brody’s perspective.
“I distinctively remember the first time I met Crystal.
She was hard not to remember.
For someone who’d had such a rough start in life, she did so well at communicating intelligently with the rest of our family and friends. I could tell that she truly wanted to make a good impression on all of us.
Though her communication style was what impressed me, that wasn’t what made me remember her.
Instead it was the haunting sorrow in her eyes when she thought no one was looking. Like she wanted to believe that the love my family shared for one another could be hers too, but wasn’t at all sold that was even remotely possible.
That’s when I knew the lessons my dad and Uncle Matt taught me had stuck. They’d always told me to treat other people with dignity and respect, no matter their station in life. That not everyone was born into a life of privilege and security I knew.
Crystal epitomized someone who had absolute no privilege or security.
In other words, she was exactly opposite from me.”
Hope you enjoyed the sneak peek into my writing life and the story that is currently impacting me.
I’m sure you probably picked up on the spiritual theme of the story.
In a nutshell, it’s this:
Jesus, when He taught people to pray, revealed that God is our Father. The heart of a father is one of love, and a relationship with Him is personal and intimate. Because of His love through His Son Jesus Christ, He chose us, wooed us, forgave us, redeemed us, and adopted us into His family, as children and co-heirs with Jesus.
That is indeed great Good News! And nothing impacts lives like that truth!