Intersection Column | When a Love Story Shatters
by Carmen Schober
Despite the fact that I’m not a budding Joanna Gaines—my elaborate home décor ambitions are temporarily paused as I raise three wonderful, mess-prone babies—Pretty Little Pieces looks awfully close to certain parts of my own story. I imagine that might be true for some readers, too.
For those who are new to my books (which is probably most of you, since After She Falls came out in late 2021), I write contemporary Christian romance for the modern woman. I’ve always loved the fun and frustration of romance novels, but I craft mine with deeper Christian themes that stick with readers just as much as the breathless moments.
After She Falls was a modern twist on the classic Rocky movie with a fierce Cuban underdog named Adri, fleeing an abusive marriage and fighting her way back into the mixed martial arts world and rekindling an old flame at the same time. Pretty Little Pieces is about Georgina Havoc—a perfectionist designer dubbed “the next Joanna Gaines”—who finds her perfect plans for the future wrecked by a blindside breakup. As she tries to salvage her HGTV-style show, a handsome, hospitable cowboy named Cassidy poses even more problems.
These are two very different women in two very different words, but they have one thing in common: They have beautiful, exciting visions for their lives—and those visions completely fall apart. That’s what forces them to slow down and contemplate the character of God and respond. From there, their stories unfold in a messy, true-to-life way. True to my life, anyway.
Like Adri and Georgina, I’ve found myself in the middle of a broken dream before. I’ve been abused by someone I thought I loved. I’ve lost friendships and opportunities for being faithful to Christ. I’ve stood in the wreckage of a tornado that ripped my childhood home away. My own short-sighted sins still pile up and weigh me down. Even now, I’m working through the gentle disappointment that a life spent mostly writing books and raising children—the two things I wanted to do more than anything else—still doesn’t have that finished “happy ending” feeling I’m always chasing.
These broken parts of my life hurt, but in an ironic plot twist, they heal me, too. Because they make me slow down and look up. Adri and Georgina look up, too, and over the course of a couple hundred pages, they get to know the God who puts shattered dreams back together again. Georgina, in particular, has the benefit of learning from Cassidy, who became a Christian after experiencing his own series of devastating events.
I was a Christian when I met my now-husband, Jeff, but I was terribly confused about what that really meant due to conflicting messaging in the church and culture. Jeff was a more knowledgeable Christian than I was—largely thanks to the writings of C.S. Lewis, who pops up more than once in Pretty Little Pieces—but our differing maturity levels led to a few moments of . . . friction. (That’s the nice way to put it.) Over time, though, Jeff slowly opened my eyes to the pieces I’d been missing. He opened my heart, too, and it was fun to capture that same dynamic in Pretty Little Pieces.
Another unexpected personal connection to the story was my discovery that writing a novel is a lot like producing a design show. Georgina and her crew are tasked with pulling together special moments and scenes to create a compelling storyline with zany characters and a big transformation at the end, and that’s essentially what a romance novelist does, too. We take readers on a journey—from the hopeless “before” to the better, beloved “after”—in a way that hopefully leaves you wanting to binge-read more books!
Even the editing process is similar. More often than not, an artist’s vision gets broken and then pulled back together, almost like a mosaic. It stings a little when a story shatters, but somehow that process makes the final draft more interesting and beautiful than the original ever could’ve been.
About the Author
Carmen Schober, author of After She Falls, is a wife and mother, a proud Cuban-American, and a woman of eclectic interests, ranging from gritty combative sports to feminine design shows. She writes vibrant inspirational romance for the modern woman. Carmen holds a master’s degree in English literature and creative writing from Kansas State, and she currently lives in Manhattan, Kansas. You can follow her at www.CarmenSchober.com.
About the Book
Ambitious influencer Georgina Havoc and her designer boyfriend have been dubbed “the next Chip and Joanna Gaines”—a power couple that flip homes all over Nashville. But when her boyfriend puts things on “pause,” Georgina moves forward with her plan to rebuild her life and save her career by renovating a forgotten cottage in the tiny, tight-knit town of Tarragon, Tennessee.
Did You Know?
Dogs not only are man’s best friend but have also gone into battle for thousands of years.
Dogs have been used by the U.S. military since the Revolutionary War. Many have achieved exceptional notoriety. Rin Tin Tin was first a WWI Military Working Dog before he was a television star. Chips, a mixed breed canine, earned a Purple Heart, the Distinguished Service Cross and a Silver Star for saving soldiers’ lives during World War II. And Cairo, a Belgian Malinois, made headlines a few years ago as a member of Seal Team Six.
About 1,600 military working dogs of a variety of breeds currently help keep our country safe. The Department of Defense recruits potential Military Working Dogs from elite breeders around the world. A select group of about thirteen percent are born and bred into the U.S. military through the Military Working Dog Breeding Program. These puppies come from the 341st Training Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio.
At about one year old, all puppies, whether they came from an elite breeder or the Military Working Dog Breeding Puppy Program, are evaluated for entry into the Military Working Dog Training Program.
You can learn more about U.S. Military Working Dogs at www.defense.gov/Multimedia/Experience/Four-Legged-Fighters/, or by reading my new romantic suspense novel, Deadly Conclusion.
-Kathy Harris, Deadly Conclusion
Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore
“I love shopping at bookstores because I know I’ll find resources perfectly suited to my grandkids’ unique interests.”
-Grace Fox, Keeping Hope Alive