So, the news broke on social media late last night that my new inspirational novel, That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland has been published. I posted it around 10 and no more than fed some words into the Life Event category that the comment pings started: Friends with congratulations, kind words and those expressing surprise. There was no putting it out there and waiting until morning for a reaction. No, so many of my peeps are on Facebook late. Funny, I had taken them for more of an early-morning crowd. I thank them all, each and every one. What a great community of friends and family.
And today, a booking came, one that I wanted most, because I love my hometown of Liberty, Indiana, so much. One of the librarians instant-messaged and asked if I could do a Saturday signing in June. They would have cake. And punch.
We quickly settled on 10 a.m. Saturday, June 18. And my sister-in-law, Jeannie Jobe, said that sure, she and my brother, Tim, could be there. It means a lot.
If you are in or around that sweet little town (I know: I get ridiculously and absurdly sentimental and homesick when I think of Liberty, Indiana) maybe you’ll stop by the Union County Public Library that morning. I’ll have books to sell and sign ($15 which includes Indiana sales tax. I might add that the INTax people want me to spell it out as $14.09 for the book and 91 cents for state tax). You can buy the books if you want. Or you can just eat free cake. Totally your call.
I started working on the sequel two years ago. I was in the midst of promoting Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast, and people were asking if I would write a second. They wanted to know what happened next! I piddled around on the keyboard and before I knew it, had eight chapters written before I even told Brian I was at it again!
From summer 2014 to summer 2015 I plugged away at it, figuring out plot lines, moving around chapters, enriching dialogue, placing recipes in the story and making them exactly to the instructions to be sure that they worked, as well as figuring out what scriptures might address the circumstances my characters found themselves in.
Then last summer, the book went to three wonderful editors, each with a specialty. Friend Barb Clark got it first, in its roughest form, and made comments, as well as looked at it through the eyes of a woman who became a widow about the time that the fictional Samantha did. Friend and Christian writer Debbie McCray read it through a spiritual lens, and made a key suggestion about how she wasn’t seeing the turning point between two characters as clearly as perhaps I should make it. Beloved retired New Castle English teacher Steve Dicken did the in-depth copyedit and did an amazing job.
Today, there’s an odd feeling that’s hard to explain. I’ve spent so many months with the characters as we have privately hashed out this season of their lives. At times it’s felt as though I’m ready to share them with readers and other times, I’ve second-guessed myself and wondered if I should add or subtract drama, have a character react differently or if they are ready for prime time. And sometimes, they've worn me plum out and I've been ready to cut them loose and let them sink or swim!
But then, things move so fast. I proofed the design, made corrections, then hit the print button, and a "physical proof" arrived on my doorstep. Once I read it through, finally signed off yet again, I hit the publish button and before the day ended, it’s up on Amazon, waiting for someone to find it.
Brian said something profound earlier today. He said there is home, and there is the place where you live. Now let me say that Pendleton, Indiana is a fine place to live. But home this side of heaven shall always be that sweet place, Liberty, in that sweet land of Union County.
Maybe I'll see you there in June.