Thursday, April 5, 2018

A Mother's Gift VBT

For Leah Otto, marrying Jude Shetler is a long-held dream come true. As a young girl, she was captivated by his good looks and talent as an auctioneer. When Jude, now a widower with three children, begins to court her, Leah doesn’t hesitate. Other men may not appreciate her tomboy ways, but Jude values Leah’s practical nature and her skill with the animals she tends, and both enter the marriage with joy and optimism.

Three months later, Leah feels as if her world is coming down around her. Her twin teenage step-daughters, Alice and Adeline, are pushing boundaries and taking far too many risks, while five-year-old Stevie deeply misses his mother. Leah, more at ease in a barn tending her goats and chickens than in a kitchen, struggles with her housekeeping duties.

Then a baby is abandoned on their doorstep, and Leah must search her soul. Caring for little Betsy fills her with renewed purpose and the strength to begin pulling her family together. With Jude’s steadfast support, Leah finds that what she once thought of as a happy ending may be something even better—the beginning of a life rich in love, faith, and unexpected blessings.

As Lenore Otto sat on the bed with Leah, wistfully watching the dusk of late November fill her daughter’s room, her heart was torn. The two of them had shared this evening ritual of talking and praying since Lenore’s husband, Raymond, had died last year. It had always brought her a comforting sense of peace, along with the certainty that she and her daughter would move forward with the plans God had for them. After all the cleaning they’d done and the preparations they’d made to host Leah’s wedding festivities the next day, she was ready to relax—but she needed to speak the words that weighed so heavily on her heart.

Tomorrow, when Leah got married, their lives would follow separate paths. Lenore knew she would be fine remaining on the small farm alone, making and selling her specialty quilts. She supposed some of her qualms about her daughter’s marriage plagued every mother . . .

Lord, I wish I could believe my Leah’s reaching toward happiness rather than heartache.

Before God’s still, small voice could respond to Lenore, Leah let out an ecstatic sigh.  “Oh, Mama, it’s a dream come true,” she murmured. “Starting tomorrow, when I marry Jude, my life will finally be the way I’ve always wanted it. My waiting is over!”

Not for the first time, Lenore sighed inwardly at her daughter’s fantasy. As she returned Leah’s hug, savoring these precious moments in the room where her little girl had matured into a woman of twenty-eight, she didn’t have it in her to shatter Leah’s dreams. No mother wanted her daughter to forever remain a maidel, yet during these final hours before the wedding, Lenore thought she should try once again to point out the realities of marrying Jude Shetler. Jude was a fine, upstanding man any parent would be pleased to welcome as a son-in-law, but as a widower he carried a certain amount of . . . baggage.

How I Balance Writing and My Real Life
Writing is harder than it looks. Although I love it when readers tell me they devoured my latest book in a single day, I devoted about four calendar months to writing that book—and some of those work days were more than eight hours, and some of that writing/revising happened on weekends! I spend more time on my writing than you might assume, too: just writing these blog posts and the answers to interview questions for this book tour has taken me about three days!

My schedule is very flexible from one day to the next, however, and some days—or weeks—I don’t work at all. How do I strike a balance? How do I write solid, compelling stories while allowing myself time to play?

First, I have scaled back from writing three books a year to writing two. I haven’t broadcast this fact very loudly, because some of my readers wish I would write five or six or seven books each year. But sitting at a computer day in and day out takes a toll on your mind and your body—I know, because I’ve been a published writer for more than 25 years. When my husband retired a couple of years ago, I was due for a new contract with my publisher. I told them I wanted to scale back so we had time to travel, while we’re able. My editor would’ve been happy for me to keep writing three books a year, but she understood my reasons—and she knows that without some time off, I would eventually burn out and not be able to write any books at all.

Second, I plan my work and I work my plan. When I start writing a new book, I make a chart of the weeks I have before my deadline, and I mark out the weeks I know I’ll be on vacation, or going to sign books in Missouri, etc. Then, at a rate of 20 pages per week (when I wrote 3 books a year, I was writing 30 pages per week) I write the page numbers I plan to cover beside the date I hope to be writing them—just as a guideline.

This allows me time for, say, a study group at church, and errands and grocery shopping (because I refuse to shop on Saturday and Sunday), as well as choir rehearsals and other meetings I attend. I also build in a couple of weeks at the end of my chart to allow for revising the book so it flows smoothly before I send it to my editor. I also spend time correcting my manuscripts after my editor works on them, and it takes a couple days for the final read-through when she sends me a printed version that’s typeset like the published book will be.

Third, I take wonderful vacations—for two or three weeks at a time! As soon as we’ve booked a cruise or planned a road trip, I build it into my schedule. I also take the occasional day off when I have an opportunity to do something fun with friends.

By maintaining this balance of weeks I work and weeks I play, I hope I’m able to keep writing for a long time yet—for as long as I have stories to tell, and I’m having a good time telling them.

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Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour.

Author Bio and Links:
Charlotte Hubbard is the acclaimed author of Amish romance and fiction that evokes simpler times and draws upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi. Faith and family, farming, and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle—and the foundation of all her novels. A deacon, dedicated church musician and choir member, she loves to travel, read, try new recipes, and crochet. A longtime Missourian, Charlotte now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her husband and their border collie, Vera. Please visit Charlotte online.

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  1. I enjoyed getting to know your book; congrats on the tour, I hope it is a fun one for you, and thanks for the chance to win :)

  2. Thank you for sharing and for your honesty.

    1. Thanks, Kristina! We appreciate the time you've spent with us today!

  3. I liked the excerpt, thank you.

  4. I enjoyed the post. The excerpt sounds good. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Writing two books a year is still quite an achievement!