Today I thought I’d give some trivia about this book…
1. This was the last book I submitted to a publisher when I was thinking of going the traditional publishing route. (Eye of the Beholder was the first book I submitted.) The publisher didn’t like the fact that Neil and Sarah got along so early in the story. They wanted me rewrite the story to give them more angst and then resubmit it. I didn’t like that idea. I wanted the story to stay the way it was. I never rewrote it.
2. I did a lot of praying about the direction I should go with publishing during the 2008-2009 time frame. Did I self-publish or go with a traditional publisher? Everyone in my writing circle told me I should go the traditional route because self-publishing wasn’t for “real” authors. It was difficult to go against the crowd mindset. Deep down, I wanted to self-publish because I didn’t want a publisher coming in and changing my vision for my stories. So really, I was looking for a reason to self-publish, but it had to be a compelling one. I ended up going to God about it. I prayed to God that if He wanted me to go the traditional route, the publisher would accept the story as it was, but if He wanted me to self-publish, the publisher would reject the book or want me to change it. When the publisher wrote back and told me to change the story, I knew God was okay with me self-publishing. As long as God is fine with me doing something, I don’t pay attention to what others have to say.
3. Sarah Donner’s first husband is based off of one of my ex-boyfriends. He was very legalistic in his religious beliefs. There was no room for things like mercy and grace. Looking back, I can see that he had an unforgiving mindset, and he was actually cold to be around. There was a superficial level of affection, but there was nothing real behind it. I didn’t realize how things really were with him until I was with my husband.
4. The church Sarah was going to in the beginning of the story is based off a church I went to. This was years after the ex-boyfriend thing. The church was very legalistic, and the husband had 100% of the decision-making responsibilities. Wives had to do whatever the husband wanted. For example, I once asked the pastor, “What if my husband is making decisions that will end up running the family into bankruptcy? Are you saying that I should just let him do that?” The pastor said, “Yes. He is the head of the house.” Needless to say, I didn’t return to the church, but there are some denominations in the Christian faith that actually teach this kind of nonsense. Wives aren’t to blindly accept stupid decisions their husbands are making, and I get frustrated with pastors warping what the Bible says regarding this issue.
5. Preacher Amos represents legalism in the church. Preacher Peters represents mercy and grace.
6. I named Preacher Peters after the Apostle Peter in the New Testament of the Bible. Peter was the one who denied Jesus Christ three times before Jesus was crucified, and after Jesus’ resurrection, he received Jesus’ forgiveness. Peter went on to be a steadfast apostle, and historical records say he was crucified for his faith. I always thought of Peter as evidence that God extends second chances. To me, Peter is the best example of mercy and forgiveness in the Christian faith. This was what Neil Craftsman needed most, and it was Preacher Peters who offered him a second chance.
7. This was the first book I ever plotted in advance of writing it. This was based off of the advice of the leader in the writing group I was in at the time who loved to plot. I don’t have a copy of the outline since I lost a lot of files when my computer crashed, but I remember that the outline was based on the standard formula for romance books. The formula for romances that traditional publishers look for is simply this: there needs to be some kind of angst and frustration between the hero and heroine through most of the book. So in the outline, Neil and Sarah were supposed to be at odds with each other for 90% of the book. Well, Neil and Sarah started getting along at Chapter Six, and I spent some time trying to get them to NOT get along but kept ending up stalling out in the story. I finally ditched the outline and just went with the flow of the story, and I love the way it turned out. This book is a lot better. This book showed me that I’m just not a standard formula romance writer. In fact, some argue that my books really aren’t romances, and if you’re comparing my books to the average romance book out there, you would be right. But I still label them as romance because I feel the love between the two main characters are still front and center stage of all the other things that are going on around them.
8. Sarah wore a lot of dull colors in the beginning because an author friend of mind swore up and down that women did not wear any bright colors back in the 1800s.
9. Emily’s mother was not meant to show up in this book when I outlined it. Emily was supposed to continue to think her mother loved her until Isaac’s Decision. My original idea for Isaac’s Decision was for Emily to run off to see her mother and then realize her mother never loved her.
10. I came up with the idea for writing Loving Eliza when I was writing the scene where Neil at the saloon talking with Dan. Eliza had been planted in order to hurt Neil’s legal case in the custody battle he had with Emily’s mother. When Eliza told him, “Neil, I’m sorry. They threatened to tell my son the truth about his birth. I gave him up for adoption twelve years ago, and I don’t want him to know about me.” I knew then and there that I’d write her story.
11. I intentionally kept Sarah’s thoughts closed off to the reader while writing the scene where Sarah “left” Neil after the scene at the saloon. This was when she went with Beatrice Donner. I also hid her thoughts when Neil was pounding on the door of Beatrice’s home in hopes of talking to her. I did this because I didn’t want people to know what she was planning. I wanted people to think she was really leaving him. I can’t remember ever closing off a character’s thoughts in any other book.
12. I felt so sorry for Neil during the scene early on in the book when Sarah gave birth to Luke and he was watching how happy she was to be a mother. He thought back to how Emily never received her mother’s love and wished things had been different. It was the loneliest moment he’d ever experienced in his entire life. He wanted so much to have a family like the one Dave and Mary had, but that never played out with Cassie. When it came time to end the story, I gave the birth of Elizabeth from Neil’s point of view. He was no longer an outsider to the good things happening around him. He was now a part of it. This completed his story that really started at the end of Eye of the Beholder.