Shannon here: Jennifer Slattery shares her inspiration behind her latest Contemporary Romance, Restoring Her Faith. Comment or answer the question at the end of any post dated, April 16 – 19. Deadline: April 27th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Jennifer:
Early in my writing career, when ideas were bouncing through my head faster than I could write them down, I often heard, “Write what you know.”
Every time someone made that statement, a part of me deflated. For one, my life wasn’t all that exciting. I was a housewife who knew how to fold laundry, scrub toilets, and, on occasion, cook a remotely edible meal.
Write what I knew? What fun was there in that?
I wanted to explore, visit places I might not otherwise and experience things I potentially hadn’t considered before.
Luckily we live in the Internet days where information and pictures and maps are but a mouse click away, both building into our current stories and sparking ideas for the oodles to follow.
I’m not precisely sure how I stumbled upon the Painted Churches of Texas, the inspiration behind Restoring Her Faith, but the moment I did, I was captivated. I’ve always loved old churches, with their stained glass windows, bell towers, and ornately carved doors. And I’ve visited quite a few beautiful structures, some made of stone, others of stucco, and still others of old, rough-hewn wood.
I don’t know what intrigues me more: the beauty of their architecture and design or the stories each chapel preserves. Stories of lives changed, of memories formed, of baptisms and weddings and funerals and countless other sorrows and joys in between. It was this sense of story, so clearly revealed in the detailed walls of every painted church I found, that first drew me to them.
Created by German and Czaech immigrants seeking religious freedom and economic prosperity, these structures quickly became symbolism of their newfound success and reminders of how far they’d come.
They’re a kaleidoscope of color, from their floor to ceiling murals depicting the Garden of Eden or slices of heaven, to their intricate stained glass windows that disperse the sun in rainbows of light. They’re truly impossible to describe, and perhaps even more challenging to capture in story, but I knew I had to try.
Though the church in Restoring Her Faith was never one of the Painted Churches of Texas, it held a similar history and displayed similar artistry. Unfortunately, a fire swept through the chapel, damaging the structure and creating a smoke-stained, ashen mess.
Well, unfortunately for the folks of Sage Creek. For Faith Nichols, however, the artist hired to restore the church’s windows, the opportunity provided by the structural tragedy could be precisely what she needs to launch a floundering career.
There was one problem, however, that could drastically hinder her success—her author knew little to nothing aboutstained glass restoration. At first, I tried to teach myself using Google and printed pages upon pages upon pages of illustrations and how-tos off the Internet.
I soon discovered there was at least some merit to that phrase that frustrated me early in my career, the one encouraging authors to write what they know. But I refused to allow my ignorance hinder a story I’d become deeply entrenched in.
So, I found another solution—classes! A stained glass company an hour from me that sells everything a legit artist might need also offers classes, for a very reasonable price. I knew not only that I needed to go, but that my daughter, who attends college nearby, would likely want to join me.
So, together, we spent seven Saturday mornings learning the craft, asking questions, and watching others as they worked on their own projects at the high-rise tables throughout the room. We even got to see some hundred-plus old windows the business owners were in the process of restoring!
I loved hearing about all the tricks of the trade, feeling the cool glass beneath my hand, and listening to the chatter of the other artists all around me. But what I loved most was the time spent with my daughter. It felt like a precious gift, to be able to combine what I love most—writing—with what she loves most—art—while spending time with one of the people I love most.
About Jennifer: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and international speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and other writers across the nation. She’s the author of six contemporary novels maintains a devotional blog found at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.
About the book – Restoring Her Faith:
She left belief behind…Yet this family could change her mind.
With two boys to raise, a fledgling contracting business to run and a family ranch to keep afloat, widower Drake Owens finds his hands aren’t just full, they’re overflowing. When Faith Nichols is hired to help him renovate the church, he’s drawn to the beautiful artist, but he can’t fall for a woman who isn’t a believer. Can love restore her faith and his heart?
Can’t wait for the drawing or worried you won’t win? Get your copy now:
Question for Readers: Have you ever taken any type of class to learn something new? If not, what kind of class would you like to take?
Come back April 19th for Jennifer’s Romantic Excerpt!