One of the perks of being an author is that I get to attend book club discussions with readers. There’s one question that I can count on being asked at every meeting. And that’s “Are any parts of the story true?” The reader is usually wide-eyed and excited, nearly sitting at the edge of their seat in anticipation of my answer. Surely, they want it to be yes and I almost want to say it is so they can be satisfied with my answer, but that would be a lie, not fiction. I shrug and give the disappointing answer, “No, I make this stuff up.”
When I write, my goal is to “touch the heart of women” through my stories. My characters are on a journey. By the end, they find God’s truth for their life. Finding God’s truth…there’s nothing fictional about that. There’s nothing fictional about the hurt or the hope or the love or the prayer or the sacrifice or any of the other actions characters experience. I don’t make that stuff up. I’ll use my recently released book, Live A Little, as an example. Live A Little is the story of Raine Still and Gage Jordan. Raine and Gage have something in common. They’re both struggling with a major life change. Raine is grieving the death of both her parents. Having lived a sheltered life with them, she now has to exist in a world that was filtered through their experiences and she’s completely unprepared for life without them. Having no other relatives, she finds herself alone in the world. Gage’s family situation is the opposite of Raine’s. He has a large family of siblings, both his parents, and a host of extended family members that love him. But he’s returned home after fourteen years of military service, most of them spent in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Injured, he’s been discharged and forced to return to a world he’s only been connected to through emails, letters, and short visits. Gage left a piece of his soul overseas and he’s not sure how to get it back. These two people meet on cold winter night and their spirits connect in places that are much deeper than physical, for they are two halves that need something to happen in their lives to make them feel whole. They both need a reason to live. They need hope.
Have you known anyone with a similar situation? Maybe they aren’t grieving or a recently returned from war, but someone struggling with depression or even in the grips of a deep depression? Have you ever known someone who wanted to end their life, and you couldn’t love them enough to convince them to live? Maybe I’m describing you and you’re thinking, “Rhonda, there’s nothing fictional about any of this. Depression is real.” Trust me, I know that it is. I have people in my circle that struggle with depression and even thoughts of suicide every day. I wrote this story for them and because of them. Their struggles are a very real part of my life. So, you see I made up Gage and Raine, but I didn’t make up the heart of their story. I didn’t make up their struggles with pain and sorrow or their fear of not knowing what tomorrow will bring or even the voice of the enemy that whispers, “Give up. Life is not worth living.” I make this stuff up, but I also live a little in the pages. I hope you’ll read Raine and Gage’s story and live a little with them.