By Angela Ruth Strong
Finding Love in Park City, Utah might have been the easiest novel I’ve ever written. And the hardest.
It was easy to write because the story is so similar to my own experience. I wrote 30,000 words in three days. If you’re not an author, what that means is if I continued at such a pace, I could have practically written the entire book in one week. Granted, I had a deadline, which always helps motivate, but the words just poured out of me.
It was hard to write because the story is so similar to my own experience. In my head, this means if people don’t like my book, then they don’t like me. Also, I worried that I was too close to the story to do it justice. I mean, if I give my heroine the same flaws/blind spots I have, how do I really know if she’s overcome them? My whole message could have been misguided. I actually expected to have to do a major rewrite.
I sent it to my editor Miralee anyway. And I cringed when opening her email in response. But this is what I found:
“I just finished this…it’s my favorite of the three. I didn’t think you would top Finding Love in Big Sky, but you did. The emotions and gut-wrenching honesty in this one make it deep, heart-rending, touching, and the romance is wonderful. WELL DONE!!!”
Pouring out my heart out on the page turned out to be the best thing I could have done. For me. And hopefully for you.
The whole theme of the story is about overcoming mountains. The characters are literally in the mountains, and they relate their experiences to different Bible stories of how God touched lives in the mountains. Which makes the following quote perfect for how I feel about this book.
“You have been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved.” –Unknown
If you don’t already know, my mountain was adultery and divorce. It started when I was at a writer’s conference. I met with a big publisher who was interested in my manuscript, and I went back to my room to lie on my bunk and smile at the ceiling. (I’m not sure what other writers do when they are presented with exciting opportunities, but that’s what I do.) So I pushed my Bible to the side of my bed to lie down, but I hadn’t read my Bible that day. I figured I had better read my Bible before I got so lost in staring at the ceiling that I ran out of time.
I read Psalms. David said, “God you are my all.” So I wrote in my prayer journal, “God you are my all.” Then I thought, But is that really true? I remembered how David said, “Test me.” So I cried. And I wrote, “Test me.” Later on that night, a woman told me about how she was writing a book to help people overcome grief from losing a child (her mountain), and it sounded so horrible that I tried to renegotiate with God. “Hey, Lord. Remember when I said, ‘Test me’? Well, don’t touch my family. Leave my family out of this. Let it be some other test.”
It wasn’t. At the airport, I told my husband (at the time) how I’d prayed for God to test me. He told me later that he’d known what my test was going to be. Because while I was gone, he’d started seeing someone else.
Painfully long story short, we divorced later that year. The thing is, I don’t believe God was saying, “You want a test, Angela? I’ll give you a test.” He was saying, “You know I’m your all. You KNOW it.” And He was.
That’s the message I hope comes through Finding Love in Park City—the secret to moving mountains. Make God your all. He’s given you everything you need to overcome. And He’s giving you a story of overcoming so you can share it with others.
It can be scary to open up. But it’s what makes your story “deep, heart-rending, touching.” From my experience, getting real will be the easiest, the hardest, and the best thing you ever do.
Angela Ruth Strong was first published by a national magazine while still in high school and went on to study journalism at the University of Oregon. She has won both Idaho Top Author and the Cascade Award for her novels, and she started IDAhope Writers to help others pursue their dreams. She is also a member of Team Love on the Run.
Besides writing, she teaches group fitness classes, travels with her kids on youth group mission trips, and often gets herself into silly situations like hamster ball races or riding on the shoulders of a unicyclist.
You can find all three of Angela’s Resort to Love books on Amazon on Kindle, or any book store or online retailer in paperback. Click HERE for book three, Finding Love in Park City, Utah.
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