Random ideas, a stray thought, or passing conversation can lead to some of the most unexpected blessings.
My entire Grace Series started by a stray thought about my new journaling Bible. Seeing the script-like font for ESV (English Standard Version), I thought, those look like initials for a pretty name… Elizabeth Viviane Stanton was born.
From there, the character of Viviane grew to become the first novel, Restoring Grace, published last August 2018. I pulled from my experiences of living in Atlanta, my love of Cartersville and an original desire to be a photographer.
Many of the incidents which happen to characters in the book, happened to me:
Passing out in Michael’s craft store and my mom being used to it, finished checking out before feeding me
Visiting the Booth Museum with my grandmother (read more here)
It was my art teacher who told the story of breaking her leg on a field trip to a Paris museum
Fainting in a church play and being the angel dragged out through hell – that was me, too!
A special night out at the Sun Dial restaurant
When I started writing my first novel, I had no idea it would be this on-going series about different characters introduced in the different stories. Most of the time, when a secondary character is first mentioned, I don’t know a future book will be about them until much later!
I wrote about Hillary Blake in the context of her overbearing mother trying to sabotage Viviane’s relationship with Cole, not knowing she would be featured in her own novel. Accepting Grace’s story came from the recent teacher testing scandals happening and I really just wanted to know what was going to happen to Hillary and her mother.
Luke Toledo’s name came from M*A*S*H episodes where Klinger talks about trying to get back home to Toledo, Ohio. Luke was a firefighter because I knew many firefighter’s and could get a lot of detailed information. One of my assignments in design school was to design a firehouse and I visited several for research.
Accepting Grace has been one of my favorites to write because I worked with a new co-worker who was from Miami and she gave me great insight into the Cuban/Mexican culture. A random idea of a Hispanic background led me to learn more about a young woman at work who became a dear friend.
Bailey Evan’s was introduced to give Grace Cartwright a reason to leave early and force Viviane to interact with Cole in Restoring Grace. I didn’t know when I wrote those paragraphs about her, she would become one of the main characters in my third novel, Trusting Grace.
She was a chef, because of ALL the cooking shows I’d been watching. I placed in her Colorado Springs after I visited a friend from college one summer. (WOW the mountains!)
Andrea’s character was fun to write with all of the mistaken identity issues she had with her age and her son’s ages. I created two brothers and didn’t realize one was going to be the perfect guy for Laura’s character introduced for the first time in Trusting Grace. At the time I just need to show Joshua’s sweet side of helping others.
It wasn’t until the end of book three that I knew Andrea’s story would be featured in novel four, Renewed by Grace. Thankfully, God had me already write in some tidbits which I could use for Andrea’s story. The orthopedic doctor turned out to be Mark Lawson’s son Kip. The physical therapy sessions lead to where she met Noah, Mark Lawson’s grandson who’s in PT for a soccer injury.
Each story wove itself to lead into the next one with very little effort on my part! One of God’s little miracles from a mix of random ideas.
I was so sure when I wrote about Preston Dyson, III, he would be this stuck-up, uncaring, and selfish guy and he was… for a time! Seeing his transformation from Trusting Grace to Renewed by Grace is a testament of God’s abundant grace! It was a surprise to me when I wrote it!
Right now, I’m in the process of writing book six, Giving Grace which will feature Preston Dyson and Sharon Pruitt. Sharon was shy, recently having moved to Cartersville, a filler character in book one, Restoring Grace, and now she will have her own novel!
Laura’s story, Healing Grace Book Five is AVAILABLE NOW and it’s one I’d been itching to write for a while. Her story of abuse and Jacob’s PTSD trauma are similar to my own growing up with my father. God has worked a lot of healing in my own life, physically and mentally for instance.
I’m finding it’s a never-ending process, but writing Laura’s story gave me a glimpse of just how far I’ve come. I struggled to start. I only had bits and pieces, nothing solid until one day I was at Starbucks, early on Saturday morning and one of the baristas jokingly said I should use his name in a novel.
Tyler… Immediately I started typing out the prologue to Healing Grace. The words flowed almost faster than I could type. Tyler… Tyler Clark, fellow Marine.
Before I knew it, I had the first two pages of my fifth novel. After that, the rest of the story just flowed.
Random ideas… Yes
Stray thoughts… Yes
A glimmer of a possibility… Yes
And it is truly a miracle to see where they lead me to.
It is a unique gift from God how all of these random ideas turn into stories and characters which weave themselves together. I do not take it lightly how everything works out.
Not always easy, but always worth the effort I put in to see what God does with it in the end.
Healing Grace Book Five is available now. Learn more here.
Check out my other novels here. Available at many online retailers.
Until next time, may God’s grace surround you,