“This is why I could never write this.” My husband, Todd, read a line from my romance novel he was editing. He thought it was a bit over the top, too sentimental, cheesy.

I laughed out loud. “I got that from you.”

He shook his head. “No way.”

I chuckled as I retrieved “The Dating Report” from my office. For my Christmas gift after we got engaged, Todd compiled a bound record of our courtship with printouts of the emails we had exchanged.

I love romance. I enjoy remembering the start of our relationship, those first days when things were so exciting. We got married and had two children, and our future was ahead of us. It’s fun to travel down memory lane to easier days—before the diagnosis.

In June 2010, when Sara was four and Isaac was nine months old, Todd was diagnosed with ALS, a terminal disease with a three-to-five-year life expectancy.

Our world turned upside down.

Todd has outlived the prognosis, but he’s almost completely paralyzed and I’m his full-time caregiver.

This is not where either of us thought we’d be at this time in our lives. It’s hard on so many levels, but we try to live the best we can.

Since Todd’s care doesn’t allow me to venture far from home, I found a creative outlet in writing. Todd serves as my editor-in-chief and helps me brainstorm ideas for plot points. We have fun with it.

My first novel, Snow Country, will be published soon.

Jilted three weeks before her wedding, Beth Dawson escapes sunny California for the snowy Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where a young State Trooper challenges her to let go of her rules for Christian courtship. Her domineering mother chides her to stay single, and wants her to talk her ailing grandmother into moving to California. Shame desperately depends on secrecy for its survival.

In writing this multi-generational story of love and loss, I was able to channel my angst into the emotions of my characters who face different problems. If you’ve read our memoir Heavy or our blog nevastory.com, you’ll notice some familiar themes.

Although Heavy is a touching memoir and has blessed many suffering people, we were constrained by the fact that our life just isn’t that interesting.

I’m excited to write fiction because I can condense months of courtship into weeks. I can grab traits from multiple people and pour them into one character. I can intensify conflict. I can magnify idiosyncrasies. I can ask the big questions in life, and even have my character take a position contrary to my own beliefs.

It’s been said, there’s more truth in fiction.

Snow Country, along with two other books in the Copper Island Romance series, explore themes of formulaic Christianity, suffering, forgiveness, and intimacy.

It’s in the second book, Copper Country, where I incorporate the line Todd said was over-the-top. I triumphantly showed him the page in The Dating Report where he had first written the line I gave to my character, Russ.

“It’s a desire, not lust, but so much stronger.”

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