Help me give a warm, InspyRomance welcome to Jessica Keller! Jess is one of my dearest friends and my NovelSista (okay – that doesn’t mean a whole lot to most people, but trust me, it means something – like I imagine a sorority or something might ;)). I’ve been contemplating what to post today for quite some time, but today is a bummer day for me – it would have been my mom’s 69th birthday. While it doesn’t hold the sting it used to, and my kids and I have cake to celebrate (mmm… cake!), it’s still a bit tough and it was hard for me to come up with a good topic.
Jess to the rescue! She has a new Love Inspired book out (fireman!) and also has some non-Contemp-romance books out – both a contemp/historical combo and a YA – LOVE them both and can’t wait for the sequels! Check them out on her Amazon page :D.
Without further ado… On Moments…
“Lose not yourself in a far off time. Seize the moment that is thine.” –Friedrich Schiller
The question I find most often in my inbox from readers is: How do you come up with ideas for your books? So I thought it would be fun to walk through a thought progression of how my latest book came from a quick idea. What I like to call: seizing a moment.
Tucked near my house is a little, white clapboard church that looks like it belongs in a Hallmark movie, doing double duty as a one room schoolhouse. Headstones in the cemetery beside it date back to the 1800’s. And the name? Church of the Big Woods. Does it get quainter than that? I think not.
Each morning as I drive to work I look forward to seeing the church. Watching the leaves change around it. Smiling as it stands proud, like a sparrow refusing to fly south for yet another snowstorm.
A few years ago, very early on a winter morning, I passed the church as the sun rose behind it. And I gasped. I had to pull over on the side of the rode and just stare. Brilliant orange-pink light hit at just the right angle to illuminate just the church—making it shine in the midst of the woods. Sunlight streamed through century old stained glass windows.
And the worst thought ever hit me: It looks like the church is on fire.
That’s all it took to plant a new story into my head. This happens to many writers I know. A thought like this happens, and we hold onto it and keep asking questions. The entire rest of that week they zinged through my head. Why would someone set a church on fire? What if someone was in the church when it was on fire? What if the person who set the fire didn’t know about the person inside? What if they were kids? What if they crossed paths later and fell in love—not knowing that one had set the fire that caused the other to suffer third degree burns? What if the guy who set the fire became a fireman as a way to atone? What if they both got dragged into rebuilding that same church more than ten years later?
Talk about a lot of tension in a story already…and I didn’t have the characters’ names yet!
Authors seize the moment by noticing little things and asking questions, but I’ve found this can be really powerful in other parts of life too. The lady at work who is suddenly quiet when she used to always be cheerful, see her? Something is going on. She needs us to ask questions and offer encouragement. She needs someone to notice. When your son comes home from school and goes straight to his room and doesn’t emerge even after cookies come out of the oven—ask questions and seize that moment. Out for a walk and spot one courageous flower poking through the still cold earth of pre-spring. Stop and seize that moment. God’s letting you know that flowers bloom even when the world feels like it will never be anything but gloomy.
Life is a series of moments. Don’t miss them.
Care to share a moment from your past week? Or ask a question about how authors get their ideas? I’d love to hear them.
Carol again! Jess has been telling me about this book for like… years now! I read the first couple chapters eons ago and the paperback is staring at me every time I walk through the library. Ah! It’s tops on my TBR stack when I can breathe again and the monumental tasks before me are but fond (or not so fond ;)) memories. I CAN’T WAIT!
Jessica Keller holds degrees in both Communications and Biblical Studies. She is multi-published in both Young Adult Fiction and Inspirational Romance and has 100+ magazine and newspaper articles to her name. Her latest release is The Fireman’s Secret. She also has a speaking ministry and loves to talk books. Jessica lives in the Midwest with her amazing husband and their very giggly daughter.