Shannon here: Donna Schlachter shares the inspiration for her latest Contemporary Romance, From Here to There. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a print (US only) or ebook copy of From Here to There. Deadline: March 12th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Donna:
From Idea to Story: From Here to There by Donna Schlachter
What happens when an author gets an idea for a story, but it’s not enough to carry the plot of an entire novel?
Well, in this case, I decided to make it into a long short story.
From Here to There follows the journey of a widower with two daughters. He is caught up in getting by from day to day, with a little help from his friends. Although desperately lonely and recognizing his daughters’ need for a stable mother figure, he is afraid that if he lets another woman into their lives that he will show disrespect to his deceased wife.
And then one day, a beautiful and charming woman practically falls into his lap. She is strong but tender, capable but wounded, passionate but prickly. And she wants him. No matter what. And the fact he’s married—as she mistakenly believes—only makes the attraction stronger.
What could possibly get these two together, given his reluctance to allow anybody to get close to him? What could keep them apart, given her determination to have him—no matter what?
And when things go wrong—as they invariably do—who will they rely on to help?
Follow this modern-day romance and see how God can move the unwilling from here to there to get them where He wants them.
Excerpt: From Here to There by Donna Schlachter:
Slamming the door behind her, Madison Morgan was positive of two things: she would never come back to Lincolntown, and she would never fall in love again.
Heart racing and palms sweating, she strode to her vintage Mazda Miata convertible and tossed a small suitcase into the back seat. She had everything she needed from this life. Time to move on to a new and better place.
She slid into the driver’s seat, relishing the feel of the tan leather that cuddled her close, enjoying the smell of the old car interior. She fastened her seatbelt, then started the engine and put the car in drive. Without checking for traffic, she pulled out of her parking spot. The response—a screech of tires and a blaring horn—proved the rashness of her actions, but she didn’t care.
After last evening, she didn’t care about very much at all.
Just twelve hours before, in the midst of putting the final touches to her makeup, the doorbell chimed the familiar first notes of “I did it my way”, a favorite of hers by old Blue Eyes. Paul was early, as usual. Breathlessly, she’d answered the door, ready to begin their weekend trip together. Forbidden but irresistible.
Instead of an embrace, Paul stood quietly, his eyes on his shoes, looking like he wanted to run. He’d thrust out his hand, a plastic sack dangling from his fingertips. “This is for you.” The quiet tone of his voice startled her, but not almost as much as his next words. “The weekend is off. I’m going back to my wife.”
Mute, she took the package as he walked back to his car. She closed the door, trying to keep the implications of his words outside, not touching her world. She leaned against the door and peered inside the bag. A re-released CD. Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover. She’d thrown it across the room with reckless abandon, relishing the thud when the plastic case hit the wall and fell to the floor behind the sofa.
Pulled back to the present, Madison roared across the Hudson River, dodging in and out of traffic as the briny sea air frizzed her hair. She knew before she hit the turnpike, the ends would curl up, and stray tendrils, damp with anticipation, would stick to the nape of her neck. Running her fingers through her hair, she ruffled her locks as if tossing off every care.
Men. Who needed them? Not her.
She glanced at the map lying next to her on the seat. Her goal: Rosetown. She’d chosen the location late last night—or was it early this morning? After she cried out every ounce of grief and desire for revenge, she’d decided. A new life in a new place. Tired of the Big Apple, weary of the commute from her small bedroom community every morning to an office just off Fifth Avenue where she worked as a buyer for Saks, sick of being dumped by men who crawled back to their wives, she’d taken out an atlas, turned to the pages for New Jersey, closed her eyes, and dabbed her finger on Rosetown, a small town south of Newark.
Not exactly New York City, but good enough.
A few things thrown into a suitcase, a brief call to her landlord explaining that her mother in California died and she needed to leave right now, could he please let her out of her lease? No problem, he said. He had several people looking for furnished lofts near the rail line. A similar call to her boss at the store with the same excuse—she’d learned to keep the stories simple so she didn’t have to keep them straight—and she was given a sabbatical to take care of family business. No point telling him she wasn’t coming back. That was another thing she’d learned—not to burn all her bridges. She might need a job or a good reference someday.
Madison looked straight ahead through the windshield, her mind on the journey ahead. In a couple of hours, she’d be in Rosetown with plenty of daylight left to find a place to stay for the night. Tomorrow she could look for an apartment and a job.
She nodded to herself before switching the radio to her favorite station. As Elvis rocked it out with “Blue Suede Shoes”, Madison tapped her fingers on the steering wheel in time with the beat, singing slightly off-key, laughing as the wind carried off the words.
She was on her way.
* * *
Jonah Curry straightened from shoveling dirt back into a hole. He kicked at a clod of dirt. Sometimes the work around this place seemed never-ending, like today. Yesterday he’d carefully painted this section of fence, and during the night, a kid from high school failed to make the turn and plowed into his newly painted wood palings, knocking it to the ground.
Unable to salvage the existing poles, Jonah replaced the four-by-fours earlier this morning. He’d bought the materials, brought them home, and started in on the job just after breakfast. Stopping to eat lunch with his daughters, it was now the middle of the afternoon, and the poles were in place, the holes filled with concrete, and he just needed to top it off with dirt. Tomorrow maybe he’d get the palings back up.
Wiping sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand, he surveyed his work. He derived a lot of satisfaction from doing manual labor. Yes, he could have hired someone to do the job, but that wasn’t the point. Hard work made him feel alive.
His daughters’ voices carried across the yard, and he smiled. Beverly was the spitting image of his wife, Cindy, and Trisha seemed like a carbon copy of his own mother. Both girls had Cindy’s blue eyes and freckles, and every time he looked at them, a pang of emptiness filled his chest.
Gone almost two years now, his wife, the love of his life. High school sweethearts, married young. And now him alone with the girls. Some days, he didn’t know how he could go on by himself. Why he would want to go on by himself. And then he remembered his promise to Cindy: love the girls, love another wife when the time was right.
He shook his head and resumed filling the hole. Yes, he’d promised her, but only because she seemed anxious when he tried to brush off her request. Still, he was a man of his word, and if that’s really what Cindy wanted, he would do his best to find his girls a new mommy.
The small town of Rosetown had little to offer in the way of mother types. Sure, there were several eligible women in the neighborhood, but none who appealed to him. None he could envision waking up next to every morning for the rest of his life.
That should have been Cindy. She was the only woman he’d ever dated, the only woman he could imagine in that intimate way of husband and wife. Thinking of any other woman felt unfaithful.
He soon completed the work, then gathered his tools and stacked the remaining supplies for the next day. Owning and managing the six-unit townhouse complex had been his and Cindy’s way of working for themselves. They’d enjoyed getting to know the tenants and performing the minor maintenance jobs around the place. And once the girls came along, it solved childcare dilemmas and provided a safe place to raise kids.
But with Cindy gone, he seriously considered selling the place. As the units got older, it was harder to keep them in good operating condition, and the girls were almost a full-time job for him. Still, if he sold out, he’d have to move, get a real job, and find someone to look after them before and after school. It would feel like he was quitting.
It was a tough decision, one he was glad he didn’t have to make right now. With school on summer break, he could defer making any drastic moves for another month or so.
He walked to the back of the unit he shared with his daughters. Slipping off his shoes, he dropped his gloves on a table near the door. His older daughter’s voice carried from the kitchen, and Jonah turned to respond.
“I’m starved, like an old bear coming out of its den.”
He held his hands like claws and hunched over as he lumbered into the kitchen.
Trisha, the younger of the two, dropped the knife she used to peel potatoes and ran around the table, away from him.
Beverly feigned fear, shrinking up against the counter, her hands folded in front of her. “Please, Mr. Bear, please don’t hurt me. I’m cooking as fast as I can. Dinner will be ready in twenty minutes.”
Jonah chased after Trisha, and Beverly turned back to her chore at the stove. Smelled like she was frying hamburger and onions. One of his favorite meals, along with mashed potatoes and gravy. Simple and easy to prepare.
He caught Trisha as she ran down the hall to the bedroom the girls shared, and he grabbed her and tickled her, sending her into spasms of laughter. Together, they rolled on the hardwood floor, giggling, and gasping for air. He kissed the end of her nose, signaling the end of their play, then pulled her to her feet.
With one arm looped casually over her shoulder, he gestured to the kitchen. “Let’s go help Beverly finish dinner.”
Trisha nodded and scampered back to her duties. Jonah followed, pausing in the doorway as he looked at the picture of peaceful domesticity before him. The only thing missing was Cindy.
Not the only thing.
The biggest thing.
The biggest and best part.
About Donna: Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, four housemates, and two cats who rule the roost. As a hybrid author, she writes squeaky clean historical suspense and contemporary suspense. She previously published contemporary books under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, but now authors books in her name only. She has been published 50 times in novellas, full-length novels, devotional books, and books on the writing craft.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Writers on the Rock, Sisters In Crime, Pikes Peak Writers, Christian Women Writers, Faith Hope and Love Christian Writers, and Christian Authors Network; facilitates a critique group; and teaches writing classes online and in person. Donna also ghostwrites, edits, and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both.
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About the book – From Here to There:
A jet-setting woman, with a colored past, casts her net for a man because she likes to be in control, and finds that married men are easier to discard when she’s bored.
A widower with too much to do and not enough time or energy finally realizes he has been hiding behind his children and responsibilities for too long.
Can they both submit to God’s plan for their lives and take the first step in the long journey from where they are to where they want to be?
A clean, sweet romance filled with family, faith, and forgiveness.
Can’t wait for the drawing? Worried you won’t win? Interested in Donna’s other titles?
Get your copy/copies now!
Question for Readers: Has there been a time in your life when you struggled with God’s plan for you? Or fought against it, tooth and nail? Care to share?
Come back March 4th for Toni Shiloh!