The Wedding Shop Story.
It’s been forever since I posted a blog. I’ve been on one deadline or another, and when it comes to choosing words, I decided to stick them in a story rather than a blog. ;p
Since June of last year, I’ve written three books. I’ve learned to write fast, but three books in a year is an Olympic pace for me. Ha!
When my editor asked if I could write two books last fall, I said, “Diamonds come from pressure. Let’s go for it.”
The first of those “diamond” books is The Wedding Shop, which releases August 16th! The second is A Royal Christmas Wedding coming to you in October. And The Writing Desk coming next summer.
I love The Wedding Shop. It’s become one of my favorites, even though it had a bit of a rocky start.
A friend gave me the idea of writing about a shop. While I’d used a shop as a backdrop for The Wedding Dress, the 100-year-old gown was the story focus, not the shop.
I hoped I could be creative enough to pull off a “shop” story.
But what exactly was this story going to be about? My publishing team is thrilled with my slip-time novels — stories told in dual timelines — so I knew I had to have bothhistorical and contemporary protagonists.
I’m fascinated with the 1930s, so I decided to use that era for my historical heroine. But how was she connected, if at all, to my contemporary heroine?
I’d decided the contemporary heroine needed to be tough — the last kind of person to re-open a dilapidated wedding shop. So, I created a retired Air Force captain who was on the run from a romance gone bad.
When I start a book, I go through a series of exercises: first figuring out names and who is telling the story, followed by the Story Equation (SEQ), then a bunch of digging and reading, researching and dreaming.
I give myself two to four weeks for planning, depending on the deadline, then “tell myself the story.” It’s during this phase the characters start to come alive — at least a little bit …
I also have to create a history for the “device,” like the shop or the chapel or the dress. What is its history and how does it weave into the story?
As I began writing the history of the shop and detailing the story of the woman who founded it — in my cozy but fictional town of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee — an amazing story of unrequited love emerged.
I was so fascinated by it I considered changing my story all together. Then I realized this love story didn’t belong to the old aunt who wasn’t even in the story other than backdrop. It belonged to Cora Scott, the 1930s heroine.
The story came to life.
What was the goal of the shop? Why use it for a setting? How did this shop impact my characters and the women of Heart’s Bend?
As I asked myself these questions, I had this sense of community. Family. A history of the wedding shop and how the Scott woman dressed young brides for a most important day.
Since part of the story would be set at the beginning of the Depression, I began to see a shop as a place of hope to women facing difficult times. Former brides might come back to reminisce of happier times, of their time at the shop.
The contemporary heroine, Haley Morgan, took some thinking and tweaking. Why would a former Air Force captain return to her hometown to reopen an old wedding shop? A place that was more legend than reality. Cora closed the shop years before Haley was born.
But to a woman who’d seen hard times in the desert of Afghanistan, and who’d harbored a childhood promise, opening the old shop made sense. Plus, she was a bit bruised from her own disastrous love affair.
Both Cora and Haley saw themselves as the “bridesmaid.” Never the bride.
Out of my musings came two pretty stellar heroes: Birch Good and Cole Danner. Each with their own story to tell, they became the silver lining to each woman’s story.
Birch and Cora really popped off the page for me and the more I wrote about them, the more I wanted to be their friend.
Haley is a unifier and healer. Opening the shop unearths a family secret and brings healing to an awkward relationship in her life. She also pulls two of my other stories into hers: The Wedding Chapel and The Wedding Dress.
The Wedding Shop wrestles with timeless themes such as unwavering love, family secrets, misconceptions and misunderstandings, and the golden thread of love that makes life worth living.
Since all of my stories have a supernatural element — What is God up to in this story? — I had to step back and ask the Lord, “What’s on Your heart?” I love to use physical realities to show God’s unfailing help and constant presence. To show how He connects us in ways we can’t imagine.
As Haley endeavors to open the shop, she is unprepared, broke, and in over her head. But while man looks on the outward, God looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) He so graciously and so generously made up for her lack and provided of her.
Writing how the Lord met Haley and Cora encouraged my heart! I hope it will encourage yours.
Let me know what you think of Cora and Birch’s and Haley and Cole’s story. I’ll carry their journey with me for a long time to come. To see more pictures that inspired me along the writing journey, check out my Pinterest page.