When I started working on Finding Grace in August of 2007, I seriously didn't expect it to ever become a book. I mean, my goal was to write a full-length novel, sure; but I never really believed it would get into print and become an honest-to-goodness BOOK--as in the published variety, with a front and back cover and professionally printed pages and everything.
My girlhood dreams involved imagining that I might someday produce one "great American novel" (just one! That's not too much to hope for, is it?), inspired by my early favorite authors, Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell. Lee had stopped at To Kill a Mockingbird and Mitchell at Gone with the Wind--two of my all-time favorite books; I figured I could stop when I'd written my one novel, too. (I also loved the romantically brooding works of those talented Bronte sisters, but I was looking for inspiration on this side of the pond, in modern times.)
I tucked away this dream while I was busy raising my boys. By the time I felt ready to try my hand at novel-writing, when my youngest boy (whom we'd been homeschooling from 4th through 8th grade) was about to start high school, a new dream had emerged for me: to write a novel that would never make me rich or famous, but that would be an antidote to the dangerous secular humanist values and messages with which most modern popular fiction was replete (and this situation seemed to be getting exponentially worse as the years had gone by).
When I set out to tackle that book, with absolutely zero writing experience to my name--unless you count the papers I did as a college English major decades earlier --I did hope that I would have the patience and drive to see the project through and tell the story I wanted to tell (even though over the course of the four and a half years I spent writing it, the original story I'd imagined went in directions that I hadn't planned at the outset; it's funny how that happens). Because you see, Finding Grace was more than anything a labor of love for my family, something that I thought I could leave behind, something that would be around long after I was gone. Even if all it turned out to be was a manuscript printed off at home, with hole-punched pages in a binder, I wanted to get this done to pass down to any book-loving grandchildren I might one day have. I wanted to create a novel that espoused the beautiful teachings and traditions of our Catholic Faith, one that was filled with endearing characters whose lives were enriched in countless ways by living according to that Faith. As the years were going by, I was becoming more and more worried that by the time my future grandchildren were reading, there would be nothing of Truth or beauty left in print--at least in popular mainstream fiction; so I wanted to take matters into my own hands.
What she said.
When I started out my later-in-life "career" as a writer, none of my boys were even married yet. By the time Finding Grace was published in 2012, our oldest son was married and he had given us identical twin granddaughters. (I had written identical twin girls into Finding Grace several years before they were born. I had also given my title character, Grace Kelly, a father who was a dentist--and that was our first daughter-in-law's dad's profession. Totally by accident, art had imitated life!)
Fast forward to 2020, and I've now got 16-going-on-17 grandchildren. And to prove that dreams do come true, one of those twins I mentioned earlier, who is now 9, recently read her Grammy's second YA novel, Erin's Ring (she's still a bit too young for the more mature-themed Finding Grace). Her mom sent me this text when she was reading it.
Umm...I believe that is the only endorsement I need. Better than a 5-star Amazon review, in my opinion. This is exactly the audience I hoped to affect with my writing: future generations of Pearls!
My middle son also recently texted me a few cute pictures of the oldest of his three girls, who's 4, holding a copy of Finding Grace. She and her older brother (5) think it's a story about her. ;)
In about 9 or 10 years, I hope she'll read it. And I hope I'm alive to hear what she thinks!
Life is SO BEAUTIFUL, even in the age of Covid-19. It is better than any story I could ever think up. Better than any fiction, for sure. I am enjoying all the undeserved blessings I've been given, because I know that life can change on a dime, when we least expect it.
Thank you, God, for helping me to see my dreams come true: not one, but TWO published novels; and better yet by far, so many beloved grandchildren to read them. I am humbled and grateful!