Writing VOW UNBROKEN thrilled me as the story came so easily. Hard to believe it only took nine weeks! I wrote it for my agent Mary Sue Seymour who'd come to the North East Texas Writers' Organization's Writers' Round-up Conference in the spring of 2012. Since from the Dallas Metroplex and accustomed to the heavy traffic (as many of my new NE Texas neighbors weren't), I volunteered to take her back to the airport. On the way, she said, "Write me a historical Christian romance set in the 1800s and I'll sell it."
I took her at her word, dropped her off on Sunday and started writing on Monday, the last day of April then sent her the manuscript on July 7. She signed me to a contract in August and VOW UNBROKEN sold to Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, October 10! Less than five months from meeting Mary Sue to sell! Let ANYONE try to convince me God didn't divinely orchestrate the whole thing! And would you believe Mary Sue's maiden name was "McAdoo"? As though God hit us both on the head with a velvet hammer. "Pay attention, Daughters! I have a plan here."
My characters become my friends and I fell in love with Sue and Henry. She's got many of my personality traits, and I appreciate her strengths and obedience to God, but she's head stubborn to a fault and too quick jumping to conclusions. Henry? My best friend and husband of forty-five years was his model. Little Rebecca, Sue's nine-year-old, won my heart. I fashioned her after the little girl in the Shirley Temple movies I enjoyed so much as a child. I loved her humor and insight. And Levi is a composite of my teenage grandsons who live with me and O'Pa for the past eleven years.
I chose 1832 as my time period, the year before Clarksville, Texas (my new hometown) was founded, and the Red River Valley - where I live now - as the setting. During this period of Texas history, it was known as Tejas (means friendly in Spanish) and claimed by Mexico. The Arkansas Territory also claimed the eastern part of it including Red River County (Clarksville is its county seat) which has been known since those days as "The Gateway To Texas". It got its reputation because most all the infamous Texans of the time came into Texas here having traveled to the Republic on the Red River - Sam Houston, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, and Stephen Lamar to name a few.
My new home area proved so rich in history. The research fascinated me from start to finish! A retired teacher who digs up many historical accounts of the area came to the Red River Writers Workshop (my husband and I founded after moving here) and read about the cotton farmers and the wagon trains they formed to transport their harvests to market on the Jefferson Trace. So that inspired Sue's journey, and her crisis that led to her decision to go (where I like to open a novel, or a decision that leads to a crisis) became a charlatan making her miss the wagon train.
I think one of the funnest things I discovered in my research was that the president of Mexico at the time, Bustamante, was hollering, "No more white immigrants can come to Tejas!" His presidios were the ones trying to enforce the proclamation, but the white settlers rose up and fought the right to come and settle here and ran the Mexican lawmen off, back south of the Rio Grande I suppose : )
At the end of the manuscript, the spiritual truths and happenings awed me, and I knew God's Holy Spirit had a part. I fully expect this novel to speak both to His children, to some who may THINK they belong to Him like Henry but come to understand they only have a head knowledge, not a heart relationship, and to those who have never really met Christ but come to know Him through VOW UNBROKEN. I know already that the book causes readers to examine themselves on many levels and convict them of disobedience in their lives. I'm wholly honored that God chose me to write these words and have covered them with prayer from the beginning.
I'd LOVE to hear my readers comments and testimonies, and hope they all will share!
Book two HEART STOLEN takes place fourteen years later in 1844 after Texas is a Republic. Levi is twenty-six and a Texas Ranger and rescues my heroine Sassy Foglesong from a Comanche chief in time to get to Aunt Sue's and Uncle Henry's for Thanksgiving dinner! And book three of these Red River Chronicles HOPE REBORN (these are my working titles) opens in 1850. I love these people and this period of Texas history!
Y'all be blessed and do let me hear from you, please!