Andrew Fitzpatrick and Darcy Clark came to life in response to a story contest. Editors at White Rose Press provided a "Mad Lib" synopsis and cover with the prize being publication of the winning novella.
Contestants followed specific rules.
A challenging contest for this writer who flies by the seat of her pants. My plots never come out exactly the way I planned when I started a manuscript. I've even been known to change hero/heroine characteristics multiple times throughout a story.
Not possible for this contest because the provided synopsis specified the hero had to be between 25 and 35 years old, a teacher with a stubble beard, and one of eight children - specifically four brothers and three sisters. The heroine had to be between 22 and 32, an only child, and a landscape architect.
Nonetheless, I took on the challenge and penned the first version of Andy and Darcy's story. When I didn't win, I stuffed the manuscript away.
That was 2009.
Church friends began to prod me about writing a story set around my ministry experiences. Finally conceding in 2014, I pulled out that old manuscript and began a rewrite.
You'll notice from the cover I decided to keep Andy's beard and, if you've read the novella, you know Darcy is a landscape designer. Andy's a special education teacher with four brothers and three sisters.
In the process of the rewrite, Andy's seven brothers and sisters begin chattering in my head wanting their stories told and thus the Fitzpatrick Family series was born. Each of the country preacher's kids find happily-ever-after in coming novellas.
Truthfully, I won't have to dig too deep for story ideas involving preachers and their kids. I happen to be the wife of a preacher's kid and the mother of a preacher. I've also served at various churches in paid and unpaid staff positions for years. I've seen lots of story-worthy stuff. And, some stuff too strange for readers to believe, even in fiction.
Patriarch Colin Fitzpatrick's church is in a small (fictional) town in Texas. You'll recognize him, his wife Ms. Pat, and the congregation if you've ever attended a small church.
When Love Blooms, released in 2014, is the first Fitzpatrick Family novella and Andy and Darcy's story.
Andy's twin sisters, Rebecca and Sarah Fitzpatrick, will find their soul mates in When Love Returns, which will be out in 2015.
Brothers Joshua Fitzpatrick (an Army sniper), Samuel Fitzpatrick (a missionary), and, baby sister Faith (a lawyer) will share their stories over the next three novellas.
I hope you'll have as much fun reading the stories as I am creating them.