by Jennifer Slattery
Jennifer Slattery is the marketing representative for Clash of the Titles. Find out more about her and her writing at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.
This time of year, there’s nothing I love more than cuddling up next to a blazing fire, a good book in one hand, a hot cup of cocoa in the other. Give me a story applicable to the season, and I’m in Winter Wonderland bliss!
Our next COTT conqueror, Shawna K Williams, competed in our Most Touching Christmas/Winter Scene with her heartwarming novel, Orphaned Hearts. Set during the Great Depression, Orphaned Hearts touches the deepest part of us and reminds us of the healing powers of love.
Pastor David Langley understands six-year old Caleb Holsheyer -- what it feels like to be damaged and alone. His family killed in a fire, and his body severely burned, David grew up in an orphanage, ridiculed and shunned. He couldn’t let that be Caleb’s fate. When adoption plans fall through, David is desperate to find Caleb a new home. But in the midst of the Great Depression, most families are barely getting by. No one seems willing to take on the responsibility of an extra mouth, especially one belonging to a crippled child. Except for Sadie Miller, the town spinster. In Sadie, David sees the answer to Caleb's needs. But Child Welfare doesn't agree, and demands other arrangements be found, or the boy be returned to the orphanage. David and Sadie team up, determined to find a home for an orphaned child, but while searching, might they find a family instead.
Orphaned Hearts brought two of Shawna’s greatest loves together—Christmas and family.
“Christmas brings a wealth of memories from my childhood that sort of jumble into this wonderful cozy feeling centered around time spent with family at my grandparents' house.”
By tapping into some of her most cherished memories, Shawna created an emotionally rich scene that captivates readers’ hearts. Notice how Shawna captured that sense of nostalgia in the following paragraph:
Caleb tugged at his sleeve. "Look, there’s one more." He pointed to a large present, similar in size to the train, but wrapped green and gold. It had been pushed near to the back of the tree and almost all the way underneath, like someone was trying to hide it. Caleb scooted it out with his foot and knelt to read the tag. "It's from Santa, too!"
"But that one’s for Brother Langley!" Sadie blurted as she entered the room. Her cheeks flushed red as she looked at David. "Santa brings grownups gifts, too." She took a seat in the wingback chair. "Turkey's fine. Go ahead and open it."
I can visualize young Caleb, bustling with enthusiasm.
The best writing engages our senses. When crafting vivid, sensory-rich scenes, Shawna relived the cherished sights, sounds and smells of past Christmases, then wove them into the story with such skill, the reader is quickly swept away. Each detail, every aroma, was carefully selected.
“The scent of pine, the smell of wood burning, creaking wood floors, crunchy leaves underfoot, the woods, trains, blackberry jam, crystal chandeliers, funny shaped Christmas trees, a fat red and white Basset Hound or a dingy white German Sheppard, snow and the sound of gravel beneath rolling tires. None of these would mean anything if they hadn't been accompanied with tons of laughter and love. This was Nonnie and Papa's house at Christmas time, and it was the most magical place in the world.”
Ah, to live in a writer’s head—to spend a moment in their world of make-believe where what was becomes what could be.
Shawna K. Williams - Grace-Inspired Fiction
No Other, May, 2010. Desert Breeze Publishing
In All Things, Nov., 2010. Desert Breeze Publishing
Orphaned Hearts, Dec., 2010. Desert Breeze Publishing