Release Day!

Today is the day, friends! Dress Shop Miracles is live on Amazon and it’s dedicated to those with a dream. If this is you, be sure to read the Dedication page.

Here’s the blurb:

Molly is determined to achieve her dream as a dress shop owner before accepting Ted’s marriage proposal. As the Christmas-season grand opening approaches, an unexpected curve derails her plans—which means possibly letting go of her career hopes. But at least she has Ted . . . or does she?

Ted, a former city guy turned small-town farmer, longs to marry Molly more than anything. He also wants her happy doing what she loves. He uses his city connections to help solve her problems when his secret comes to light and she wants nothing more to do with him.

As if life isn’t hard enough, a stranger enters Molly’s life, testing her faith even further. She tries to move forward with a broken heart when she learns that God had been working behind the scenes all along and that Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without His miracles and healing grace.

I can’t reveal all the characters, but I can share the following personalities that carry small but significant roles.

Hetty isn’t bashful. She has all the answers to Molly’s problems and she’s not afraid to speak her mind.

Mr. Hollow, a booming, older man bearing threads on his apron, leads a pack of merchants when members need help.

Simon, a shopowner of exotic creatures gives a freshwater fish to Molly for good fortune.

Noah and Julia are sure their natural methods will make life easier for Molly, at least for the moment.

Shanna, a bookshop owner, believes the answer to Molly’s problem is to read a book.

Then there are the pets! But you’ll have to read the story to learn about them and their owners. So get your ebook copy today!

Dress Shop Miracles is available on Amazon. Get your copy now!

Want to catch up on previous blog posts about Dress Shop Miracles? Here are the links:

It Took a Miracle or Two

The Book title Challenge

The Truth about Snow

Writing about a Farmer

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Writing about a Farmer

Now that we’ve discussed my research about the weather—more specifically, snow—how about talking farmer? As in Ted, Molly’s boyfriend in Dress Shop Miracles.

As a master gardener, I’m familiar with sowing and harvest schedules for home gardeners in my zone. Not so much with commercial crops in snow country. Naturally, a list of questions ran through my mind. What type of winter crop would a farmer harvest before the ground freezes and the first snowfall? What does a packing building look like? What equiptment and material would it contain? How does a farmer keep busy during the off-season?

A trip to Apple Hill during harvest season, where I walked through a packing building, had all the elements I needed. Google data and a California crop calendar answered my other questions. I had a pretty good idea of what farmers do during the winter, but I wanted to gather as much information as possible. I found an award-winning website with a blog post titled, What Do Farmers Do in the Winter? A second website broke down winter tasks by the month, with photos of Montana snow. 

Pinewood Village isn’t in Montana, but farming tasks are much the same in most states: fertilization, seed purchase, plant, and crop harvest, storage, farmers’ market, export, hiring field hands, and the list goes on. 

If all this sounds boring, trust me, it’s not. The details are weaved with plenty of drama and special moments at Ted’s farm. There are also tender scenes at Molly’s Pinewood Village apartment. In one scene, Ted helps her preserve a batch of his apples. Here’s an excerpt: 

Ted removed the last of the pint jars containing apple-cinnamon butter from the water bath. He eased behind Molly and untied her apron bow. She tossed her apron onto the preserves cooling on the counter and then twisted around in Ted’s arms.  “I’m beat. How about you? “

“I’m never too tired to hold you.” Ted kissed her on the neck, the jaw, then her earlobe. 

I can’t tell you what happens next but I assure you this is a clean Christian read. I can tell you there are a lot of surprises. Life isn’t all kisses and hugs for Ted and Molly. Bad choices are made. Undeserved adversity enters their lives. As it’s true with all of us during difficult times, they needed supportive friends. I’ll reveal a few of them in the next post.

Release day is November 1, so be sure to get it now on Amazon while it’s discounted. Still not sure? Read the blurb here.

I’d love it if you would 1) share this blog post; 2) follow me on Facebook and Instagram.  

Thank you for reading!

Top Photo Background: Dianne Marie Andre; Couple:  Joanna Nix, Unsplash

The Truth about Snow

In the last two posts, I shared the hardships and miracles of writing Dress Shop Miracles. This week, let’s visit the story’s fictitious location, Pinewood Village.

This quaint little town portrays similarities between those from my past and my current residence. I live on rolling hills eight minutes from an unincorporated community with less than ten businesses surrounded by agricultural land. The nearest city with ample shops is twenty minutes away. In the process of bringing Pinewood Village to life, I blended the charm of a small rural area with mom-and-pop shops, agriculture, and distant groves.  

I had one challenge. Raised in a region where it rarely gets cold enough for snow to fall or accumulate on the ground, I lacked experience with snow country. I wanted a snow-covered storybook village.

I’ve watched many Christmas movies with beautiful, romantic snow scenes but how actuate were they? What does the sky look like before a snowstorm? Do snowflakes float? Are six inches enough to cause roadblocks? Is it windy during snowstorms?

Dissatisfied with Google search results, I turned to my street team. Terri Lynn Flowers whose annual winter scenery is covered with white fluff, read the snow scenes I had written, corrected my misconceptions, and answered all of my questions. Thanks, Terri!

Did you know snow doesn’t adorn one’s hair with pretty little flakes? They melt. Terri explained it this way: “Your head radiates heat so snowflakes don’t usually linger.” She also said if someone is in a blizzard for any amount of time, their hair would be stiff or frozen.

Leave it to Hollywood to manipulate nature. 

Regardless, I loved writing the snow scenes—the beauty, even the avalanche of trouble it brought into Molly’s life. Yes, there is misfortune in my protagonist’s life—lots of it—and for her boyfriend, an ex . . .

Oops, you’ll have read the story to uncover Ted’s mysterious past, but you can learn more about Dress Shop Miracles by reading the blurb here.

How about you? What type of winters do you have? Are you a city or country dweller?

To read more about this story, subscribe to my blog. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

Release day is November 1, so be sure to get it now on Amazon while it’s discounted. 

Email from a Reader: “I loved Kiss under the Lemon Tree – I read it in 3 days, that’s a record for me, lol, my mind usually wanders to other things when I read, but that story kept me engaged. So I am looking forward to [reading] and sharing this new story [Dress Shop Miracles].”

Top Photo credit: Jill Wellington, Pexels

Bottom Photo credit: Celine Ylmz, Unsplash

The Book Title Challenge

Last week, I shared how Dress Shop Miracles came about and why it was delayed a year.

Today, I’d like to tell you about the original title and my reasons for abandoning it. 

When I began writing this story, I knew the title was Open for Christmas, which hinted at a Christmas story and the plot. It can take weeks to articulate the right book title and minutes to search online for other possible books with the same title. There are several reasons to avoid this, but today I’ll spare you those details.

Fortunately, I didn’t find any books titled Open for Christmas. Whew! The three words I had chosen in hopes of reaching the hearts of readers were a go. 

For more than twelve months I worked under that title. It inspired me to keep with the theme, to move my protagonist, Molly, forward with her dream and Ted with his. It helped me to shape the unexpected twists and turns into meaningful messages with an ending I prayed readers would love. 

It was a beautiful partnership: the title, the story, the characters, and me.

Then, last November, I sat down to relax in front of the TV only to come across a Hallmark movie with the title Open by Christmas. My heart sank. It was too similar to my story’s title. Titles can’t be copyrighted so I could have kept it. However, if a reader searched it online without my name, the results would direct them to the movie, not my book.

I had to start fresh. Not an easy task. Approximately four million new books were published in 2021! That’s a lot of titles!

I scribbled various words on several paper scraps. My critique partner and I tossed ideas back and forth. The good titles were taken, and the washouts made me cringe. I sought my husband’s opinion regarding possibilities. I even tried an online title generator. I think there’s an online generator for just about anything writing-related. 

The title I loved and worked with remained the best option, and honestly, I didn’t want to change it.

Have you ever tried to let go of something in order to redo it differently? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Frustrated with the title challenge, I put my efforts aside several times to clear my mind. Let me tell you, once again I felt like Molly.

Preoccupied

Deflated 

Beat

A few weeks later, I gathered my papers with the handwritten possibilities, mixed and matched words and phrases, then drew a line through the titles I disliked. One remained: Dress Shop Miracles and it wasn’t taken!

I stared at it for some time, read it aloud, and thought about what it conveyed. It was better than the original title.

I wanted to open the dress shop door and take hold of the Christmas miracles!

Why couldn’t I see this before?

Sometimes we try too hard. Sometimes we just need to relax and wait for God to give us what we need. As Molly’s friend said to her in Dress Shop Miracles, “That’s when we learn the most, often about ourselves.”

Release day is November 1, so be sure to get it now on Amazon while it’s discounted. 

To read future posts about this story, be sure to subscribe to my blog. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

Background Photo: Tim Umphreys

Ebook Pre-order: It took a miracle or two

Let’s pretend you have a dream you want to accomplish. Now, imagine you are one step from achieving it when something goes wrong and there’s nothing you can do to change the outcome.

Most of us will experience this at least once in our lifetime.

Writing novels requires hard work and determination. Sometimes this isn’t enough. Sometimes an author’s only option is to pray and wait for a miracle. This was the case with my new novel Dress Shop Miracles.

But first, how Dress Shop Miracles came about:

I was going through old college papers when I came across a Christmas story I had written for a creative writing assignment. I sat down to read The Victorian Lady about a widow who owned a dress shop. Prior to reading it, I had been thinking about writing a Christmas story and this one had the potential for a novel.

I began retyping the story, weaving in new ideas and before I knew it, I had a new plot, theme, and characters. Instead of a middle-aged woman, I created a young lady, Molly who is in love with a dream, and her boyfriend Ted, a former city guy turned small-town farmer. 

I had a great deal of hope for Molly and Ted’s story, and for readers. I planned to release the novel in 2021 for the holidays. Then the unexpected happened. I kept getting knocked down with various ailments. My dream, like my character’s, came to a halt more times than I care to count.

It wasn’t until mid-July of this year that I turned the manuscript over to my editor. Several weeks had passed when I learned she was dealing with a family emergency. I had to find a new editor.

Often, reserving a date with an editor is three months out! I had three weeks to meet my deadline!

Was my Christmas story going to be delayed for another year? I felt all the emotions Molly and Ted experienced in unfortunate hardships.

Disappointment

Doubt

Fear

Friends reached out to me with suggested editors. I researched possibilities and made inquiries. The only thing left to do was pray and wait for a miracle. It came! I hired an editor who was willing to squeeze my manuscript into her busy schedule. I had to hustle but instead of another year’s delay, I had a suitable, extended deadline.

Then I needed more miracles!

There was a 10-day delay in receiving the proofed copy, and two days before announcing the preorder I kept getting an error message with my software program. Again, prayer was my only resource. Faith in this project—small as it was at this point—was all I had to hang on to.

My dream like my characters’ hopes came to a halt more than once. Maybe I should take extra thought to the next book’s plot. I’ve certainly grasped that “To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

Will Molly and Ted learn this as well?

How about you? Have you experienced a period of waiting for a dream to bloom? If so, please share in the comments so we can encourage one another.

Release day is November 1, so be sure to get it now on Amazon while it’s discounted. 

To read more blog posts about Dress Shop Miracles subscribe to my blog. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

Top image: Arek Socha, Pixabay