Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What is Your Book Really About?

As an author, I often ponder the deeper theme of whatever story I'm writing – sometimes before I write it but just as often after I'm deeply into the book. Most of my books have been sweet love stories or women's fiction with a community of characters that I think readers will relate to, but there's generally something else going on that provides the conflict keeping the hero and heroine apart or the main character from getting what she wants. In my longer books, I sometimes have a secondary romance or subplot that highlights something readers need to know about my main characters.

Here are some examples:

For the Love of Pete is set in the fictional town of Bloomfield, where the garden club's main goal is to reach a population of 10,000, and they will stop at nothing to get there. Currently populated by quirky characters and a talkative bird, some of the activities will have readers raising their eyebrows. The heroine of this story becomes the subject of do-gooders who want to help her get over her grief and at the same time grow the community. But first, they have to convince her that her "collections" are merely things she's using to fill the void in her heart.

Love Finds You in Treasure Island appears to be a simple romance set in Treasure Island, Florida. If you look past the surface, my heroine's family is so messed up she doesn't have any idea how a normal relationship should be. Her mother is a free spirit who doesn't know who the fathers of either of her daughters are, and she left her older daughter (the heroine) in charge of raising her younger daughter. The hero's mother has Parkinson's, and his dad is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. The youngest of three siblings, the hero is the only one who feels an intense responsibility for his parents, so he smothers them. They want him to back off and enjoy life more, so when they see the opportunity to match-make, they do. This book is filled with a hodge-podge of messy relationships that we all experience in life.

Pretty Is as Pretty Does (book #1), Bless Her Heart (book #2), and Tickled Pink (book #3) in the Class Reunion series are all stories set in the fictional town of Piney Point, Mississippi. At first glance, it appears that these are stories about a bunch of southern people getting ready for their 10, 15, and 20 year reunions. If you look a little deeper, you're likely to find yourself peering into the depths of the lives of your former classmates, teachers…and maybe even yourself in these characters. Priscilla is the overachiever who thinks she knows what she wants in life, but once she gets it, something changes. Laura is that girl who has always volunteered for everything, insists on doing everything without help, and then complains because no one else can do anything as well as she can. Her alcoholic husband and unmanageable young'uns further complicate her life, but she doesn't do anything to change things. Trudy is the town beauty queen and "Miss Everything" who seems to have it all, while in reality, she is just as insecure as everyone else…or in some cases, more so. Tim makes no bones about the fact that he's in love with Priscilla, but after she pushes him away one too many times, he considers the fact that he's wasted years pursuing something that will never happen. And then there's Celeste the wallflower who has a makeover and doesn't know what to do with her newfound beauty. Things aren't always as they seem.

In Love Finds You on Christmas Morning, my novella "Deck the Halls" is a historical story about a rich man and poor woman whose attraction to each other seems impossible. He loves the fact that she's willing to work hard for her family and that her faith isn't compromised by the fact that she doesn't have the luxuries he's able to enjoy. She thinks he's nice, but her pride gets in the way of following her heart, until she has a heart-to-heart chat with his mother. That's when she sees God's hand in her life. It doesn't really matter how many or how few material possessions you have as long as you have faith in the Lord.

Dixie Belle, the first book in my Uptown Belles series that has just been released, is a story about a young, fresh-faced woman from the South moving to New York City. Yes, she meets a man she's attracted to, but unfortunately, he's also her uncle's main competitor. She can't betray her mother's brother who provided a safety net when she needed one, so it appears impossible to follow her heart with the only decent guy she's ever met. But is he really that wonderful? If her uncle's judgment is correct, he's worse than the guy who threatened her back home. At some point, she has to figure out who to trust and how to trust him. The problem is, her judgment hasn't always been that great.

Writers, what is the theme of your latest book?
Readers, do you know the theme of the last book you read?

I want to wish all moms a very happy Mother's Day. If you're blessed to still have your mom with you, treat her to something nice - dinner out, a home-cooked meal, a tea party, a massage, or whatever makes her smile. 

1 comment:

Cherie Burbach said...

Love this post. Well, my fictional books are as yet unpublished, but they share the themes of forgiveness and trusting God.

Happy Mother's Day to you, too, Debby!