Sometimes, the journey is as important as the destination. . .
In the fall of 2008, I had just delved into writing my first full-length novel. It was a heady and exciting time, as writing one’s first book usually is. But it was also lonely. I hadn’t even told anyone outside a few of my children that I was writing a book, let alone friends or other family.
At the same time, that previous summer, I had become part of a group called Twilight Moms, or TwiMoms. One day while skimming the boards, my eye caught an intriguing title:
Has Twilight inspired you to write your own book?
I clicked on it, read a few posts and my life changed forever. We got so chatty on that thread that we eventually moved over to form our own group, on its own site, called TwiWriters. As most groups do, we grew and evolved over the next months. Some people fell away, but our central core of writers stayed. We began a cross-critique process, where we shared our works in progress with each other on a monthly basis. It was scary–these women were the first people to read my work, and I almost had a nervous breakdown the first month!
I am still in contact with most of these ladies, through Facebook if nothing else. Two have stayed very close to my life, and I am so blessed to call them friends. Mandie Stevens is co-owner of both Promotional Book Tours and Hayson Publishing with me, and a kicking author in her own right.
And one month ago today, another of these wild women, Marcie Bridges, published her debut novel through Hayson. That is TOUGH LOVE.
The first time I read this story was in our initial cross critique month. Marcie had originally written it as a paper for a college class. It was her true-life story, and I cried as I read it. That’s how powerful it was, even then.
It took a few years for her to finish the book–after all, she is a full-time teacher, mom and wife!–and when it was finished, Hayson was delighted to pick it up. The decision to change it from a memoir, as originally written, to a New Adult fiction, was not one any of us took lightly. This story is so real and compelling, it needed to be told. Changing the names, a few other details and making some other additions only made the book more accessible.
Editing this book was a labor of love, culminating in the final day of work, when Marcie wrote the final encounter between Janessa and Brendan. It was a scene I knew should be included, but it took someone outside the story to push me to push Marcie to write it. When she sent me the scene, I cried; I don’t think I will ever read that part without tears. I wept not only for Janessa and Brendan, but for past-Marcie (as I always called her when critiquing) and her former love, and for the bright new writers Marcie, Mandie and I had been five years previous when we met. I cried for all the twists and turns this road and this book has taken–not tears of regret, but tears of gratitude and love.
From the first time I read Marcie’s story, in that initial paper, I knew she was one of the strongest, most courageous women I would ever have the honor of knowing. Living through those events was difficult enough, but writing them years later, sharing her own stumbles and struggles with both gritty realism and grace, makes her a true hero to me. I have seldom had the privilege of knowing a more selfless person.
If you have not read TOUGH LOVE yet, I encourage you to do so. Not for me, not for Marcie, but for yourself, because it is a story that will change how you think about love, forgiveness and grace.
I have been blessed by it for five years, and now I’m thrilled to see other lives impacted.
Thank you, Marcie.
Janessa knows she should run in the other direction when Brendan enters her life. Her squeaky-clean upbringing is in direct opposition to his piercings, a myriad of tattoos and the rumors that surround him. But she doesn’t run. Love, betrayal and lies become the foundation of their lives, but one heartbreaking confession makes Janessa question everything. After a devastating diagnosis, Janessa’s world crumbles around her. When she can no longer ignore the reality of who Brendan really is, she must choose between those who love her and the only one she has ever loved.
Marcie Bridges has always wanted to be a writer, from the time she started keeping a diary in seventh grade. Since then, she has earned a master’s degree in education from Cumberland University while teaching some wonderful children with special needs in Indiana, Tennessee and Kentucky.
While she will always bleed scarlet and gray (GO BUCKS!), she now lives south of Cincinnati with her husband and daughter. When Marcie isn’t writing, she can be found reading, watching her favorite TV shows, listening to music, or browsing her favorite websites.
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