Today I’m exited to welcome author Valerie Comer as she shares her insights into the writing journey. Read all the way through to find the first page of her latest release.
Sometimes writers ask each other, “which comes first, the characters or the plot?” And that’s when I know I’m not normal, because my answer is, “the setting… or sometimes the theme.”
A group of six Christian contemporary romance authors got together about a year ago and began brainstorming ideas for a continuity series. We agreed on a concept — a series of books featuring various aspects of food: gardening, farm-to-table restaurants, a family farm, a community supported bakery, etc. Then we agreed on a setting, a fictional town we call Arcadia Valley in south-central Idaho.
Only after I had the ideas for the four stories (one novella in the Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley collection and three novels) did the characters begin wandering through my head, as though they were auditioning for parts. I picked out characters with a variety of personality traits (good old Myers-Briggs to the rescue!) and began fleshing out their back story and what brought them to the opening points of their stories.
We released the six-novella collection in January, and a novel has been — and will be — releasing once a month. Finally, it is my turn! Sprouts of Love is my first Arcadia Valley Romance novel. When contemplating it, I remembered a story I’d read about a nine-year-old girl named Katie in Memphis who grew a forty-pound cabbage and donated it to a soup kitchen. She was then hooked on helping provide food for the homeless. I patterned my heroine’s daughter, Maisie, after this real child and turned her loose to impact her community. (You can read about Katie at http://katieskrops.com)
There’s a kernel at the heart of every story, and Katie was the inspiration for this one. The other characters followed and, as for the plot, it showed up every day when I sat down to write. That’s right. No plotting in advance for this author!
Valerie Comer is a USA Today bestselling author and a two-time Word Award winner, writing contemporary romance with engaging characters, deep faith, and strong communities. She hopes her imaginary friends enjoy their happily-ever-afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
Sprouts of Love: An Arcadia Valley Romance 5
Single mom Evelyn Felton takes on a third part-time job managing a greenhouse and garden project for Grace Fellowship. Formerly homeless, she’s thrilled to offer truckloads of fresh produce to the Arcadia Valley food bank.
If only Ben Kujak weren’t running Corinna’s Cupboard singlehandedly, he’d be delighted to be on the receiving end. But Evelyn and her dynamo daughter, Maisie, won’t take no for an answer, even if it means restructuring Ben’s charity.
Soon Ben finds himself wishing they’d transform his personal life, too, but can true love sprout when their pasts collide with the present?
Click here for more information: http://valeriecomer.com/sprouts
Arcadia Valley site: http://arcadiavalleyromance.com
Inspy Romance: http://inspyromance.com
“You’re Evelyn Felton?”
Whatever that was all about. The man blocking the entrance to Corinna’s Cupboard couldn’t be a minute over twenty-five, but that didn’t stop him from acting like he owned the place. Eyebrows raised, he appraised her from steely blue eyes.
What had she ever done to him? Nothing. She’d never seen him before… had she? Evelyn stiffened her back and kept the smile in place. “Yes, I’m Evelyn, and I’m here to meet with Ben Kujak about donating garden-grown produce. Is he in?”
Silence reigned for several heartbeats.
Had she asked such a difficult question? The building this charity operated just north of Arcadia Valley’s Main Street wasn’t that big. If Mr. Kujak wasn’t stocking shelves or applying for grants, he likely wasn’t on the premises.
The upstart chewed his lip then nodded, stepping aside. “With a name like Evelyn, I was expecting someone older.”
He had to be kidding. Her name wasn’t Matilda or Ethel. Evelyn tightened her grip on her messenger bag and raised her eyebrows. “I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean. You haven’t answered my question. Is Mr. Kujak available? If not, when’s a good time to meet him?”
Muscles rippled the length of his arm as he stretched out his hand. “I’m Ben. Come on in.”
“I, um…” She blinked and shook his hand briskly. “Hi.” Nobody had told her the man who’d worked miracles starting a charity from nothing was little more than a kid. Scratch that. Definitely not a child, not with how attractive he looked in those cargo shorts and gray T-shirt. Not with his light brown hair matching the stubble that graced his cheeks and chin.
Evelyn shook her head and took a deep breath. “Like you, I thought I was meeting with someone older.”