In the form I asked you all to fill out a bit ago, some of you asked to hear more about my writing process and how I come up with the stories I do and just have a little peek into what goes into my books. : )

So…

Years ago before Julia was in Kindergarten, I was friends with a woman, I’ll call her Clara. She grew up in South Dakota as the oldest of fourteen homeschooled children. She was fourteen and her mother was pregnant with her tenth child when Clara’s dad died of cancer. Her mom got married again (and had four more children) to an abusive man.

Their family pretty much fell apart. Clara ended up in PA, married an engineer and I met her through our church. 

Now, Clara was so amazingly talented – artistic, beautiful, could decorate anything and had the kind of common sense that can’t be taught. 

Her husband was a man AND an engineer and, not to insult either one of those species, but he pretty much didn’t know squat about feelings or how to treat his wife. I don’t think he meant to belittle her – he really was a nice guy – but he was just so through-the-roof intelligent that he kind of came off as condescending.

Clara was already sensitive about her intelligence because she’d been homeschooled, then her dad got sick, her mom pregnant and with her being the oldest, she got behind in her schoolwork, then her mom couldn’t keep up and sent them to school where she felt stupid.

Honestly, those two made a great team, because the man had ZERO common sense. Like, none. But Clara had enough for both of them. They were opposites in so many ways, but they each had strengths where the other had weaknesses and they could truly have been beautiful together.  

Unfortunately, Clara’s husband didn’t know how to be a team with her, or maybe he just couldn’t condescend to her “level.” I’m not sure. I just know he loved her, he truly did, but she couldn’t feel it.

Anyway, Clara had two small children Julia’s age who I watched a good bit, sometimes for several days at a time. Clara would just drop them off and not come back for them. 

People said she took advantage of me, but I didn’t see it that way. I loved her kids – adorable little girls with their dad’s intelligence and their mom’s artistic beauty – and they gave Julia someone to play with while I homeschooled my boys.

One day Clara’s sister, Jenny, who was sixteen and didn’t have her driver’s license, but was staying with Clara (because of the mess of their family) showed up at church Sunday morning in Clara’s Mustang with the two little girls, asking if someone would take them because Clara and her husband had left and the sister had school in the morning.

People knew that I had watched them a good bit, so someone told me about it and after I was done teaching Junior Church and the service let out, I looked Jenny up, holding the hand of the youngest girl.

She said she could get herself to school (they lived in State College which was thirty minutes from me) but she couldn’t go if she had the girls and she’d already missed more days than she was allowed.

I took the girls home. I forget how long I had them. Ten days? Two weeks? I’m not sure. But they just became part of our family. No one ever called to check on them. Anyway, eventually Clara called and said she was coming to pick them up. Just like that she came and they were gone.

I watched the girls off and on until they went to school. Julia stayed in touch with them over the years and they ended up being the kind of friends who want you when they don’t have anyone else, which, honestly, bothered me more than it bothered Julia. 

Shortly before we moved to Virginia, we went out to eat with the oldest girl. Clara had left her husband (and everyone talked about how broken he was over it) but she didn’t feel loved or cherished and he made her feel stupid. She found someone who she felt loved her.

Anyway, the oldest daughter talked about the good times she had at our house and how she appreciated us being there for them. Her sister had kind of gone off the deep end, and they had a little brother that Clara left when she walked out that the dad was trying to raise himself but this sister had plans to go to school and become a lawyer. She was a sweetheart and teared up a few times while we ate.

The last I heard she had followed her sister and her mom down a bad path and wasn’t in school anymore.

That story isn’t over, but it’s the one that has kind of inspired the first book in my new series, Cowboy Coming Home, which I should finish writing tomorrow, if my schedule holds. It doesn’t release until March, but I’m really excited about going back to Sweet Water, North Dakota!

Alright, don’t forget about my new release – Heartland Holidays! Thanks so much for spending time with me today!

Have a blessed and beautiful week!

~Jessie