When I started writing about Hillary, I was hooked, wanting to know more about her life. Her character was someone I knew I wanted to write more about even from the brief mention in book one, Restoring Grace. I knew her controlling mother would cause Hillary to have a unique story, very similar in ways to my own.
Most people don’t know, but I understand completely how Hillary felt.
My father was very controlling and manipulating. He had my life mapped out from birth… and it was not the life I dreamed of. His plan had me going to a two-year college for an AA degree in computers, then on to a BA in computer programming… ugh… not my idea at all. Anyone who knew me, understood that I only tolerate computers.
I remember vividly on a Tuesday morning in middle school about to leave for the day when he informed me he would not allow me to be a teacher. That wasn’t his plan for me, and I could just stop thinking that was an acceptable career goal right then and there.
Even now, I can remember sitting in the bathroom at school crying my eyes out because the dream of being a teacher died right then and there. I never went back to the idea of teaching, even though like Hillary, I made my poor sister play school, even grading worksheets I made her do. (Sorry, Erin!)
It was a terrible way to learn I wouldn’t be happy as a teacher.
As I’ve posted before in another blog post, it wasn’t until my senior year that my best friend told me I was to be an interior designer that I made the decision to go to college to get a degree in studio art. Writing went on the back burner and interior design became my focus.
As I wrote Hillary story, it brought back a lot of memories about my father. He left when I was sixteen and I have not seen his face since my high school graduation, even now we have no contact. Not having a dad in my life is hard, but I would not be where I am today if God had allowed him to stay a part of my life.
God has a plan and it is for my good!
Which is why I know he sent LuLu into my life. Lauren Thomas joined my team at work in 2016. She was a bubbly, singing constantly, young designer who brought a desperately needed breath of fresh air to my life. Less than a year after she started, we were paired together as designers on a smaller team. She called me Banana and I started calling her LuLu.
We started spending our lunch hour together at the Ingle’s Starbucks near work. It was during this time I reworked Restoring Grace, and finished writing Hillary’s story. Lauren loved to read on her lunch hour and started reading Restoring Grace after I finished re-working it.
Those lunch hours will always be some of the most precious times in my life.
If you are ever blessed enough to have Lauren for a friend, make sure you spend time with her laughing!
It doesn’t matter your mood, once she starts to giggle, it’s not long before you’re joining in. Many of our “lunch” sessions were me working on editing/writing while she read my books. Laughing at the characters and story line. She read book two, Accepting Grace, chapter by chapter as I wrote it offering so much more to the story.
The book would have been very different if she hadn’t been an active contributor. Much of the Spanish phrases and culture came from her direct knowledge growing up in Miami, Florida.
When I was getting this book ready for publishing, I knew I wanted to dedicate it to a special group of friends.
Elaina Davis and Denise Okafor, my two close friends, I met at Mount Paran’s young adult group, Kardia. They were the inspiration behind Erica and Daphne in Restoring Grace. As well as LuLu, Lauren Thomas who helped make Accepting Grace my favorite book to date.
Each one of these special ladies has taught me about love, friendship and God’s grace. I will always treasure each one of them, especially when I see this novel.
Everyone needs to have a supportive group as an author (and as a human being)!
I’m truly blessed to have both family and good friends that I think of as family support me and my endeavors.
If you’re a writer, find family and friends who will support you! It can be hard, and I know how blessed I am to have support from my mother and sister. However, if you don’t have support from your family, look for it elsewhere. Find your support system, ask God to send you one. HE WILL!
Don’t forget to reach out to me. I’m always on the lookout for more friends.
Until next time, may God’s grace surround you,