In 1995, Barb Lilland, an editor at Bethany House, called to tell me about the Portraits line, a new line of inspirational romance novels. “Far from the formula romance,” Barb said, “we will be looking for manuscripts that weave together an intriguing plot with compelling character development and spiritual growth.”
Hmm. I had never written straight romance, though my historicals had a romantic thread in them, so I told Barb I’d be interested as long as I could make sure it was romance plus something else. (Technically, a romance is a story in which the hero/heroine plotline is central to the story, and I’d never written one of those–my books had central plots of wars, survival, and Crusades, along with extremely high body counts.) But I was intrigued by the possibilty of exploring the characters of a hero and heroine, so I proposed a story about an oncology nurse who falls in love with the aloof doctor who is trying to save her life.
My tentative title was FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, which got changed to GENTLE TOUCH. When the book came out, some friends said the gal on the cover looked like me . . . well, maybe they were exaggerating.
GENTLE TOUCH was released in 1996 and gradually went out of print. Recently, though, I thought it might benefit from a reissue, and the editors at Steeple Hill agreed. So a “refreshed” and updated edition, A TIME TO MEND, released in 2006.
Why write what I call a “breast cancer romance?” First, my husband’s mother died from breast cancer the year before we married. I only knew her a few months before she went home to heaven. Second, I’m at the age where many of my friends are being diagnosed with breast cancer. Some of them beat the disease, some of them do not. Current statistics indicate that one out of every seven women will have breast cancer at some point, so I wanted to write about the hope with which Christians can face whatever the future holds.
I don’t think I would ever have written the book without that phone call from Barb . . . but I’m so glad the Lord led me in that direction. It has given me a great peace about living and dying . . . a peace that carries over into the work I’m doing in this funeral home series.