Just One Thing, Writing

COVER REVEAL: Just One Thing

It’s finally here! The cover for Just One Thing! 

Can I admit something to you? This book almost didn’t exist. For starters, I didn’t originally plan on writing a sequel to All of This…but then, before AoT was even published, my dear friend Em and I took a trip to Seattle. I outlined Just One Thing on the flight home.

That was five years ago.

All of This released in July 2015. In August 2015, I moved away from home to go to graduate school in North Carolina. Turns out, a master’s degree kinda eats up your free time, so I paused the new book.

In May 2018, I graduated with my MA, began a full-time job, and dusted the cobwebs off of the story. I tweaked the plot, strengthened the characters, and poured stuff I’d learned during grad school into the manuscript.

I also made sure it could stand alone as its own story. So although it’s technically a sequel, you don’t have to know All of This in order to step into Sadie’s world through Just One Thing.

Today, in July 2019, we’re weeks away from the release of Just One Thing. In fact, as I write this, the manuscript is with my designer, getting the pretty chapter headings and everything all in place. It’s almost here.

But for now, I’d like to show you the cover, designed by the amazing Roseanna White. I’ll also share the synopsis.

Please feel free to share about the book – that will help out a lot!

Thank you for reading, friends!

P.S. The most popular question I’ve gotten from readers since All of This released is: “Does Sadie stay in Pecan Creek or go back to Seattle?”

This’ll answer that question ;)

And now, allow me to introduce you to Just One Thing…

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Sadie Franklin wants to move on, but first she must return to everything she wants to forget. 

Senior year in Seattle is the perfect chance for a former party girl to start over, right? All she has to do is build a relationship with her detached father, make decent grades, and avoid her ex-friends. Oh, and convince everyone she really has changed. Easy peasy.

The first chance she gets, she wants to hop on the next flight back to Pecan Creek, Georgia. Although the tea there is sweet enough to give her cavities, at least the people love her and believe she has a purpose bigger than her painful past. 

Sadie meets a new friend looking for her own fresh start, who shows Sadie the value of true friendship and reminds her there’s always more to a person’s story than what’s on display.

But figuring out the next step is messy, and it’s hard to change a reputation. An after-school job, constant arguments with her dad, and an undefined relationship with the wonderfully annoying Georgia guy who won her heart only add to the crazy.

When tragedy collides with Sadie’s carefully re-built life, she learns that trusting in a God she can’t see is more difficult than she ever imagined. 

Is starting over worth the cost?

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God Talks, Singleness

Bouquet Tosses & the God Who Sees Me

“Here we go,” I muttered to myself as I clutched the long skirt of my plum dress in my manicured hand. I walked toward one of my best friends in all the world. She was a stunning bride – her hair curled, her eyes shining, her joy contagious. It was truly an honor to stand by her side as a bridesmaid.

She held a pale purple bouquet over her head and posed for a mini photo shoot with the photographer, while those of us who had never had a wedding of our own – the maid of honor, the flower girl, a few other female guests, and me – gathered behind her.

Earlier, I’d offered her money if she would just turn around and hand me the bouquet. Figured it could go into the honeymoon fund. She’d just laughed.

Though I’ve jokingly offered bribes to brides over the years, I’ve never actually caught the bouquet. It doesn’t matter that I’m tall or that I can have laser-focus when needed. It’s just never happened for me. It’s part of wedding reception tradition: the girl who catches the bouquet is said to be the next one to get married.

Of course, that’s not how life works. God doesn’t glance up from disc-jockeying some tectonic plates or something and say, “Oh, she’s next. Alexa, remind me to start working on that.”

It’s all in good fun. But at the same time, in some small way, it matters to me.

[This is the part where we pull some folding chairs into the vulnerability circle and get real]

I have my share of date stories. I’ve been taken out for a nice dinner, given gifts, and treated with admiration, but none of those kind, generous guys have been The One. And that’s fine with me. I don’t regret any of it.

Yet weddings do a really good job of pointing out what I don’t have. That unfulfilled dream, that hope deferred, that birthday candle wish. That middle-of-the-night whispered prayer.

That little bouquet seems to mock me every time: “You’re all alone. No guy loves you. You’ll never know this kind of happiness.”

In those moments (usually with Beyoncé singing for all the single ladies to put their hands up) when I’m surrounded by little girls who believe in Prince Charming and happily-ever-after, and when I’m standing next to girls with boyfriends waiting back at the table, I’m most susceptible to those lies.

And my heart always hums this prayer: Do you see me down here, God?

Every time the bouquet sails in a direction that is not in the direction of where I stand with a smile plastered on my face like a piece of duct tape hiding my real feelings, I feel my heart sink toward my stomach.

Then the catcher of that clump of flowers – the lucky winner – poses with the bride. She most likely imagines the coming day when she’ll be the one tossing the flowers over her shoulder to all the single ladies who put their hands up.

In case this realness makes me sound like a cynic, please know I’m not. I’m a hopeless romantic at heart. I love weddings and all the special details surrounding them. I get teary-eyed watching the groom watch his bride walk toward him down the aisle.

I love sweetness and tenderness, the white dress and unity candle, the dream come true and the start of forever.

It’s just that pesky bouquet toss.

But back to my friend’s wedding…

There I stood with the other single girls, waiting on the bouquet. Not bribing the bride, but just letting things happen.

The photographer snapped that picture. The bouquet sailed through the air. I reached out, and…

Dear reader, I caught the bouquet.

It landed in my hands, the bride turned around, and we threw ourselves at each other in a hold-on-tight hug.

We laughed and grinned and the photographer snapped pictures of the hoopla. The bride glanced over at me and said one of those best friend things  that only the two of us would understand, and it made tears spring into my eyes. There was the picture with the guy who caught the garter and then I carried that bouquet back to the wedding party table where a taco was waiting for me.

I know catching that bouquet doesn’t mean I’ll get married next. But as I drove home that night with my makeup melting off my face and my hair rebelling against the bobby pins, I whispered, “Thank you, God, for seeing me.”

It was just a wedding tradition. Just a little detail. But I’m a big believer that God does everything with intention, and that He wants to show us how much He loves us in those little details He designs.

So when I caught the bouquet, I heard God speak. It was more of a deep-down knowing, but I heard Him as clearly as if He’d stood in front of me and said, “I love you, kid.”

I heard Him whisper to my heart, “You’re mine. I haven’t forgotten about you. I care about your dreams, and I see you.

That last part is actually one of God’s names in the Bible: The God Who Sees Me. Or, El Roi in Hebrew.

This name is spoken by a lonely woman named Hagar, who we read about in Genesis 16. God had promised a man named Abram and his wife Sarai a son, but as they got older, they got impatient. Sarai told Abram to sleep with Hagar, Sarai’s maid, and have a son that way. Hagar got pregnant, and bad blood brewed between the two women. Sarai treated Hagar so badly that she ran away and camped out in the wilderness by a spring.

She was pregnant and alone, with no way to support herself or her unborn child. She had nowhere to go.

But then the angel of the Lord showed up right in front of her, told her to go fix things with Sarai, and gave her some promises about the baby she carried.

Hagar called out to God and said: “You are the God who sees me. I have now seen the One who sees me.”

She called God El Roi. The God Who Sees Me.

In the middle of her loneliness, God let her know He hadn’t forgotten her. What a tender, sacred moment when God spoke through the details of her life.

My situation at the wedding was very different from Hagar’s, but like Hagar, I saw God  at work in the details of my situation. How unbelievably kind of Him to remind me He’s near and that He cares for me.

When I got home, I placed the bouquet in a cup on my desk. Not as a reminder to make a Pinterest wedding board since my prince is on his way, but as a reminder that God cares about even the smallest details of my life.

Because He is El Roi. He is the God Who Sees Me.

And He sees you, too.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

Hey, friends! It’s no secret how much I love books. You can usually find me in the middle of one of these activities:

  1. Reading a book
  2. Talking about a book I’m reading
  3. Talking about a book I want to read.

Plus, English majors tend to be really into stories, so I call it using my bachelor’s degree.

Anyway, today I want to share about a brand-new book I read a few weeks ago: Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill. I’ve shared about several of her books on the blog over the years (The Lost Girl of Astor StreetThe Revised Life of Ellie SweetThe Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet, and Throwing Stones), so it’s an honor to get to do it again!

First, I’ll share the book’s synopsis, then I’ll post my review and info about the author andhow you can get a copy! Happy reading!

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About the book:

When Evalina Cassano and Taichi Hamasaki are torn apart by the events following the attack on Pearl Harbor, they must fight if they want any hope of returning to one another before World War II steals their future together. Within These Lines is one unflinching, haunting, historical novel you don’t want to miss; perfect for fans of Monica Hesse, Ruta Sepetys, and Elizabeth Wein.

Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family living in San Francisco in 1941 is quiet and ordinary until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to a Japanese-American internment camp.

Degrading treatment makes life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world is treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out against injustice, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.

With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their ideals and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.

My Thoughts: 

IMG_8177.jpegIn December 1941, Japanese forces bombed Pearl Harbor, officially bringing the United States into World War II. As fear spread through the nation, the U.S. government forced Japanese Americans to leave their homes, jobs, friends, and lives behind and enter internment camps. 

Set against this historical backdrop of turmoil, fear, and racism, Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill tells a heart-rending, yet beautiful story of love that perseveres, even when all else is against it. 

Though Evalina Cassano and Taichi Hamasaki are fictional, their lives pulse with such compelling authenticity that you forget – even if for a moment – they’re characters in a novel and not living,breathing souls. 

Yet their story of hope in the face of utter darkness and their courage to fight for what is right is inspiring. Even though this story takes place many decades in the past, it rings with timeless truths about the dangers of letting fear dictate our decisions, and reminds us of the value and dignity of all human life. That’s a message as needed today as it was in 1942. 

This story gripped me from page one. By the time I read the final line, I’d not only learned more about our country’s history – and events that did affect real people – but I was also reminded of the importance of acknowledging the truth of where we’ve been so that we can  live justly and love our neighbors today. 

I believe that’s a testament to the power of stories like Within These Lines. 

About the Author: 

Stephanie Morrill Low ResStephanie Morrill lives in Overland Park, Kansas, with her husband and three kids. She is the author of The Lost Girl of Astor Street, The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series, Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft into a Published Book, and the Ellie Sweet series. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers on her blog, GoTeenWriters.comTo connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out StephanieMorrill.com

 

Within These Lines is available from all major book retailers.

Christmas, God Talks

Even Now

This past May, I sent out resumes by the handful as I raced toward seminary graduation. I networked, made calls, and sent emails, but didn’t get any responses. A month before graduation, I had to submit a move-out notice for my apartment, since I lived in campus housing. My on-campus job was going to end the last week of the semester, and at the same time, I would age off of my parents’ health insurance policy. Life was about to get really expensive really quickly, so I made the decision to move in with my parents back home while I continued to send out my resume.

I asked the women in my small group to pray for me – that I would handle this situation in the opposite way I usually do. Rather than stressing out and trying to fix everything on my own, I desperately wanted to trust that God was working behind the scenes.

Though I had zero proof that God was working, I somehow had a peace in my heart that He wouldn’t decide He’d had enough and abandon me.

The week before graduation – my birthday week – my brother-in-law told me about a job opportunity on campus. I mentioned it to a staff member on campus whom I greatly respect. I asked if she thought I’d be a good fit for the position, even though I knew next to nothing about it. The next day, she told me she’d submitted my resume.

I didn’t hear anything else.

Then my sister who works on campus happened to run into the woman in charge of interviews.

In the bathroom, of all places.

My sister called me as I was walking into a doctor’s appointment (I was stacking appointments like crazy before I rolled off that insurance plan), and asked if I’d heard back about the job. I told her no. She told me I should’ve received an email and I needed to reach out as soon as possible.

So I made a phone call right there in the doctor’s office parking lot.

I didn’t have days to pray about whether or not I was making the right decision. Everything had to happen super quickly. So I prayed in a way I don’t do too often. I told God if I was offered the job, I’d take it as a sign that I was supposed to accept it. And if I wasn’t offered the job, I would know I was supposed to move home.

I didn’t have time to think or process or weigh pros and cons. I was just trying to survive finals and graduation and saying goodbye to the place and people I’d come to love.

Mom texted me one day and asked how I was doing, and in reply, I sent a picture of my bedroom floor, completely covered by about a foot of laundry.

I was running on empty and emotionally maxed-out.

Through a crazy series of events where just the right people were in just the right places at just the right times, I applied for the job. A couple of days later, exactly one week before graduation, I interviewed for the position. Later that same afternoon, I interviewed again.

Then nothing. I didn’t hear anything at all. I was so overwhelmed with everything else going on in my life that I didn’t let myself worry. I poured my focus into studying, taking final exams, and steaming my graduation robe. I collected boxes to pack my stuff, my parents rented a U-Haul, and I invited my friends over to celebrate my birthday and to tell them goodbye.

On May 9, 2018, I walked across the chapel stage and received my Master of Arts in Ministry to Women. Still jobless. Still moving back to my parents’ house the next day.

I left the chapel and met up with my family for pictures. Then a member of faculty and his wife stepped over to congratulate me on my graduation. And to offer me the job.

Right there in the middle of graduation excitement, while I was still riding the did-I-really-just-get-my-Masters?! adrenaline high and clutching my degree in my clammy hands, I was offered the job.

I pulled my mom over and said, “Dr. L, this is my mom. Mom, Dr. L just offered me the job.”

I cried, my mom cried. It was a whole lot of emotion all at once.

When we left campus for lunch, I had about an hour before the housing office closed for the weekend. So I quickly called Housing and asked if I could retract my move out notice. I prayed they hadn’t already filled my spot.

Guess what? They hadn’t. I got to stay. Which, admittedly, was super convenient because I hadn’t even had time to start packing yet. I think my sisters were the most excited about not attending my packing party later that night.

All of that happened on Friday. On Monday, I started training. I’m now seven months into my full-time job.

photo credit: Alexa Mahan

One of the pieces of the Christmas story that strikes me every year is the waiting. Not just the generations of Israelites longing for the promised Rescuer to come. Not just the four hundred years of silence between the prophets of old and the second half of the Bible.

But the time between Gabriel appearing to Mary and the birth of Jesus.

Can you imagine? What was it like for Mary to have the angel’s announcement still ringing in her ears, yet no proof that she was pregnant? Those early weeks before any signs of a new life inside her began. She believed everything had changed, but she couldn’t tell yet. She just had to wait and trust that God was even now knitting Redemption together in her womb.

I get emotional whenever I think about the song of praise Mary sang to God as soon as the angel left. She praised God for all He was going to do, even though she hadn’t seen any of it happen yet. Morning sickness hadn’t set in, little feet hadn’t kicked, and her arms hadn’t cradled a baby. Yet she believed.

And nine months later, she wrapped the Promised One in swaddling clothes and looked into the face of God Himself.

All of those childhood years of hearing a Savior would come. All of those weeks of waiting without any sign. All of those months of carrying this child, now answered in the Word made Flesh resting in her arms.

Even when she couldn’t see God working, He was. His plan was unfolding behind the scenes and, at just the right time, the Light of the World entered the darkness.

Everyone’s story doesn’t happen like mine. Believe me, I don’t take the craziness of it all for granted. And our stories certainly don’t look like Mary’s. But all of us, in one way or another, are aching for something. Many of us are begging God to intervene in our situation. Many of us just want a sign – some hope to cling to.

What is your heart longing for this Christmas? A job? A mended relationship? A husband? A baby? A friend?

I don’t know what God has planned for your life or mine, but I know He is already carrying out those plans. Though we aren’t promised everything we want, we’re promised everything we need: His Presence. And the assurance that everything will ultimately work together for our good and His glory.

Trust Him this Christmas. Trust that He is working behind the scenes, even when you don’t feel Him, hear Him, or see Him.

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“The Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is His name.”
– from Mary’s Song, Luke 1:49

Uncategorized

God Breathes

Something shifts
on the sixth day.
God spun the universe
into being by His Word.

But now
He bends down,
breathes life into dust.
Love into smallest substance.

Breath into flesh
meant to fill the earth
with beating hearts,
breathing lungs,
songs of praise.

But in the breadth of a breath,
teeth sink into pride.
Tasting glory,
swallowing mortality.
Baring souls
bearing shame.

The One who
set earth on its path
calls prophets to proclaim
the God-breathed Word.

He’ll crush the head,
snuff the breath
of the serpent of death
by His own death.

Mighty God is on His way.
Mysteries of the ages
will unravel
in the swaddling cloths
of a child.

But first,
centuries
of aching,
waiting,
longing.

 

Silence.

 

A virgin
overshadowed
by sovereignty,
conceiving divinity.
Accepting a plan
to usher in
The Promise.

A girl carrying
the King of Kings,
breathless
as all of history contracts
in a single moment.

On the manger floor
a baby enters the world
to save the world
and the Hope of the World
inhales oxygen.

Breath of life
from the Bread of Life
declaring life
to all who were condemned
to death.

The Son of God takes
a first breath
in a barn.
An infant’s cry
splits the skies
and breaks the silence.

The Word made flesh
bends down,
into the dust
to serve those He made
from dust.

A splintered cross
displays the One born
King of the Jews.
A man nailed to
beams and struggling
to draw air.

God breathes
one final time.
The earth quakes,
darkness falls.

The Lord of all
gives it all.
The Lamb slaughtered
for the sins of the world.

Three days in a grave,
lifeless.
Until lungs inhale
oxygen.

 

God breathes.

 

Something shifts
on the third day.
God spun the universe
into being by His Word.

But now
He conquers death.
Once-for-all battle
in a grave.

Breath of life
from the Bread of Life
declaring life
to all who were condemned
to death.

A promise of
a future restored,
a King to reign
on a throne forever.

Recorded on pages
passed down
through generations
as an invitation
to believe in
a God who breathes.

 

 

 

Christmas

This Holy Ground

She bent down to pick up a stalk of grain the reapers had left behind, her fingers brushing the cool ground. She tucked the stalk into the front of her cloak she used to collect the pieces, then pressed her free hand to her tired back, stretching. Wanting the day to end, but needing to gather more grain to take home to her mother-in-law.

Her weary, sad eyes scanned the fields to see how much ground she still had to cover.

She never would’ve imagined ending up here: A widow, far from home, living with a grieving mother-in-law who had also lost her own husband.

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Though this was her mother-in-law Naomi’s hometown, it was unfamiliar to Ruth. She didn’t know the streets or the people…or the God so many of them worshipped.

Ruth was a Moabite, and from the whispers she’d heard, the God of the Israelites had declared none of His people were to live in Moab or intermarry with Moabites. They called her a pagan. Her family worshipped carved gods, rather than the invisible God her mother-in-law believed in.

But then a famine hit Ruth’s husband’s homeland, and they relocated. There he met Ruth and took her as his wife. He, his brother, and his father never made it out of Moab.

The tragedies were not far behind her, but Ruth knew she needed to begin a new life here in Bethlehem with Naomi. She’d promised to stay with her, learn her customs, get to know her family, and believe in her God.

Only, on days like today, when the sun beat hot and her back ached from the work, she wondered if this new God she chose to follow would really care for her.

As she bent again, she heard footsteps. Sandals appeared in front of her, and she slowly looked up, shielding the sun from her eyes with her hand.

“I’m sorry,” she said, quickly standing and shoving the grain into her cloak. “I was just about to leave.”

“No, don’t. Stay here. Stay close to the other women. Get some of our water when you need a drink. No one will bother you. And if you need anything, let me know. I’m Boaz.” The man smiled at her.

Ruth tentatively smiled back, then dipped her head. “Thank you, sir. You’re very kind.”

She didn’t know it in that moment, but she had just met Naomi’s relative, a man who would be the one who would redeem her tragedies by marrying her, providing a home, giving her children, and continuing Naomi’s family line. Her kinsman redeemer.

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The barley harvest and the kind landowner’s generation was long gone. The fields were no longer used for crops, but for sheep. In place of reapers, shepherds worked on the land. Poor and rugged and not easily accepted into society.

They’d worked long hours already that day and were settling into the night watch. Tired and aching from another day of work to earn just enough to survive, but fully aware of the dangers the darkness brought for their flocks.

The sun set, the air cooled, and everything went still and quiet.

Until light. Brilliant, blazing light. And sounds. Shouts. A declaration of “Do not be afraid!”

How could they not be afraid? Thousands and thousands of glowing figures filled the sky, exclaiming, “Gloria in excelsis Deo! Glory to God in the highest!”

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The shepherds shook in fear. Staffs fell to the ground, hands covered faces, knees quaked and buckled.

The figures in the sky told them a baby had been born just up the hill in the town of Bethlehem. He was wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a feeding trough.

The shepherds turned to each other. “Let’s go see what’s happening!”

As they ran up the hill and ducked their heads to enter the cave, they found the baby just like the angels had said. And as they reverently bowed in front of the swaddled newborn, they met their Kinsman Redeemer.

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A year ago, I sat in a cold, damp cave over six thousand miles away from home. Fellow travelers surrounded me, and I fought the claustrophobia threatening to interrupt the moment.

Around me, voices filled the cave. Rich bass and smooth tenor and soft soprano soaked into the stone walls, burst through the cave’s entrance, and filled the skies.

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem!
Come, and behold Him, born the King of angels!

O come, let us adore Him;
O come, let us adore Him;
O come, let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord!

As our voices mingled in praise to the one born King of angels, tears filled my eyes. I looked up to clear my vision, and noticed a light shone from a star carved out of the cave’s ceiling.  A reminder of that night long ago, when a star led the way to the manger nearby.

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Exactly one week before this awe-filled moment, I sat by the Christmas tree with my family, wearing pajamas and unwrapping gifts. And now, on a rainy day just outside of Bethlehem, I sat in a cave once used by shepherds for shelter while they kept watch over their flocks by night.

Sing, choirs of angels; sing in exultation;
sing, all ye citizens of heav’n above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest!

We left the cave, stepping over mosaic tiles spelling out Gloria in excelis Deo – Glory to
God in the highest. I looked out over this ancient land, the rocks and hills and shrubs and grass. Just over two thousand years ago, in that very same field where I now stood, a group of poor, rugged, weary sheep herders heard the news about the birth of the ultimate, once-and-for-all Redeemer. The One who came to bring humanity into the family of God. Who came to redeem us with the price of His own life.

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And now, on a rainy day on the outskirts of Bethlehem generations later, I stood. A small-town girl from America, standing on this holy ground. Grass and dirt and rocks like anywhere else set the stage for the announcement that changed the world.

Here, Boaz redeemed Ruth and Naomi’s family and continued the line that led to the birth of King David, then eventually to the birth of Jesus Christ. The landowner redeeming a mourning widow, changing her world for the better. A foreshadowing of Jesus Christ redeeming the world for all eternity.

And just up the hill from where I stood in my rain coat and jeans, a baby was born to a teenage girl. Jesus. God in the flesh. The One who gave His life for my redemption, His Spirit now living in me.

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be all glory giv’n!
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing!

O come, let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord!

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(The stories referenced here can be found in Scripture in the book of Ruth and Luke 2)

All of This, God Talks, Writing

What’s Your Cover Copy?

I’m writing theIMG_5369 back cover copy for my newest book. Basically, that’s the little description you find on a book when you flip it over. It’s like a mini synopsis of the story, but it doesn’t give away all of the details…it gives readers just enough information to make them want them to read the whole thing.

It’s tricky because you have a little bit of space to work with. You have to decide which plot points and characters need to be mentioned, and which ones need to stay hidden. You have to show the voice/personality of the story, while also keeping it polished.

Here’s the back cover copy of All of This

Sadie Franklin is all about independence, but when one of her popular parties gets too crazy, her usually uninvolved dad sends her across the country to spend the summer with relatives.

Living in small-town Pecan Creek, Georgia, is culture shock for a girl from Seattle, and it doesn’t help that Sadie’s aunt and uncle are total church people. Sunday school? No, thanks.

Add a houseful of little cousins, an accidental friendship with the preacher’s daughter of all people, and the attention of a guy who might actually understand her murky past, and it’s enough to cue an identity crisis.

When life-altering news rocks Sadie’s world and reveals messy family secrets, she’s forced to face the God she’s avoided since her mom’s death eight years ago. Sadie is surrounded by people who say God loves her and has great plans for her life, but if God is really good, why does He let Sadie’s life unravel? Could there really be a purpose in all of this?

See how Sadie is the only character who’s actually named? There are several other people in the book, but it’s her show. Also, see how some things are mentioned but not completely explained? Like, who is the “guy who might actually understand her murky past?” If you’ve read the book, you’ll know. But if you dive into it for the first time, that’s something you figure out as you go.

The back cover copy also shows the theme of the book. Look at that question at the end of the last paragraph: “Could there really be a purpose in all of this?”

And finally, the back cover copy lets you know the character’s journey isn’t going to be easy. There will be conflict in the pages – with uncontrollable circumstances, with other people, and within the main character herself.

So that’s what I’m working on with this next book. No, it’s not getting shopped around for publication yet, but making the back cover copy is part of the process. Sadie will be the focus again, but I have to decide what parts of the story to share with people. I have to ask myself: What other characters do I mention? Which plot points do I include? How do I incorporate the theme?

To sum it up, the back cover copy is a quick glance at a much deeper story.

Fun fact: This post isn’t actually about writing. As I was thinking through the back cover copy for my project, it made me wonder: how would I honestly sum up my own life? If I were to write a back cover copy for The Life of Anna Schaeffer (still working on a title for my pretend memoir), what would I include? Who would I include? Which details of my life story would I mention? What gets to the heart of who I really am?

Naturally, I’d put my faith on there. But if I were being honest about the conflict in my life, how would that look on the copy? Would it say I don’t always pray like I should? Would it say I love Jesus, but sometimes I struggle to step out of my comfort zone?

What about my relationships with others? Would it say I’m a loyal friend, a daughter who honors her parents, a good sister?

What would be the theme of my story? The thread woven throughout the pages of my journey?

It’s a lot to think through, I know. But I think it’s good for us to evaluate our life like that – to take an honest look at what others see when they interact with us.

I pray the back cover copy of my life story points to Jesus. I pray it reads that no, I don’t have it all together, but Jesus holds me together. My hope is that others see grace as that theme woven throughout my story. And I pray that snapshot of my life and His grace makes others want to learn more about the theme.

What about you? What would be in the back cover copy of your life?