The Book the Blog Wrote

I’m going to be honest: blogging is a challenge for me. As I admitted in my first official blog, I most enjoy fictional writing, so it’s taken me a while to warm up to the personal narratives I now share. When I began blogging almost four years ago, I never expected it to inspire a novel…but it did. Better yet, I’m announcing today that the novel—Wrong Line, Right Connection—has been accepted for publication and will be released some time in 2022!

Before I get ahead of myself, let’s rewind three years (who doesn’t want to do that?). Leading up to the release of my second published novel, Forgetting My Way Back to You, I posted a series of character spotlights to acquaint readers with the plot. One of them featured Mabel Stentz, a secondary character who really stood out in the book. Mabel was based off a cherished family friend, so to craft the post, I pulled a few true experiences she had and threw in a heap of make-believe. I loved the results, as did my former-teacher-turned-writing-coach, Jennifer Wilson.

Mrs. Wilson adored Mabel from the first time she read about her in my first draft of what became Forgetting My Way Back to You in 2011. In fact, one of her notes when she returned the draft read something like, “Next book idea: A spinoff about Mabel’s life story!” She even put stars around it for emphasis.  

Now allow me to explain my mindset back then. I was twenty-one, and the real Mabel was a grandmother figure to me. Not liking to write non-fiction, I didn’t want to undertake a biography, and it seemed even weirder to write a love story—my preferred genre—about my grandma, even though I had a stack of her love letters. In my estimation, her part in that story fulfilled my childhood promise to her to put her in a book. Other plots were swirling around my mind, and I wanted to play around with those.

BUT Mrs. Wilson didn’t forget about it, and though she gave me praise for every book that followed, I think­—know!—she was disappointed every time I started a new novel that wasn’t about Mabel. Thus, when I put out my character spotlight, it reignited her fervor for it. I had no hopes of stamping it out after that.

For the next year or so, I kept circling back to it and eventually realized the core of the storyline was right there in the blog. My age also made me soften to the idea in a couple different ways. For one, my maturity and life experience gave me a clearer approach to it, and it no longer struck me as cringe-worthy to envision Grandma Mabel’s romantic side. On top of that, I came to the sobering discovery that she’d been gone for half of my lifetime, which blew my mind. She still seemed so alive, especially when I wrote about her, and I craved that companionship again.

Add in a global pandemic, and I committed to it at last. It gave me just the escape and fulfillment I needed to get through 2020. I wrote it faster than any of my other projects, and I’ve never gone from first draft to an acceptance letter as quickly, either. Mrs. Wilson had it pegged all along.

And why should it surprise me? After all, I studied my subject from a very young age!

Read the blog that started it all!

Character Spotlight: Mabel Stentz

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