Deborah Bedford began writing when she was ten years old after she finished reading Louisa May Alcott's novel, LITTLE WOMEN. She promptly took pen in hand, found shade beneath the old mimosa tree in the front yard and, because the story would not let her alone, began turning LITTLE WOMEN into a play. That began the long and frustrating process of getting into trouble in school for scribbling stories in spiral notebooks instead of listening in class. Now Deborah's novels have been published in twenty different countries and in over a dozen different languages. Her books have garnered numerous awards and have appeared on the USA Today bestseller list, the CBA bestseller list, and chosen as a Doubleday Book of the Month Alternate Selection.
Deborah is president and co-founder, along with Tim Sandlin, of the prestigious Jackson Hole Writers Conference, which brings writers the likes of Sue Grafton, Susan Isaacs, Wally Lamb, Billie Letts, John Nichols, Anne Lamott, Tab Murphy, Olivia Goldsmith, William Broyles and Tony Hillerman to teach in Wyoming as well as to barbecue on the deck at Snow King resort and to climb mountains.
Until now, Deborah has built her career writing mass-market fiction. A ROSE BY THE DOOR marks her first novel-length venture into inspirational fiction, something that feels to her like gloriously falling forward and wondrously coming home, all at the same time. She already felt impelled to write this story. But then she met Jamie Raab, publisher at Warner, and the rest, as everyone says, felt like stars moving into place.
Deborah and her husband, Jack, have two children, Jeff, 16, and Avery, 12. When she isn't writing, she spends her time fly-fishing, cheering at Babe Ruth baseball games, singing praise songs while she walks along the banks of Flat Creek, and taking her dachshund Annie for low-slung hikes in the Tetons where they live.
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Deborah Bedford is the author of such bestselling titles as TOUCH THE SKY and THE STORY JAR. In this touching essay, Bedford recounts her path as a writer, and shares profound and heartwarming family anecdotes. She also ruminates on love, determination and second chances, and discusses how she further explores these elements in her latest novel, REMEMBER ME.
An Essay by Deborah Bedford
My mother read the manuscript for REMEMBER ME months ago. She and I made a mother/daughter trip to the beach not long ago, twelve days of drinking coffee first thing in the morning on the sand, waking to the cry of the gulls and the rolling of the water. Mother wrote, after she read the book, that I had her from the time Sam Tibbits said he wanted to be a 'boy of the sea.'
With the hurricanes that have struck the Gulf Coast and the Yucatan Peninsula these past months (my sister weathered 36 hours of Wilma at her home in Playa del Carmen last week), it is a question. Can it be worth the storms, living at the edge of the water?
My Grandmother Bunting started me reading good books. She worked as a school librarian when I was small and, whenever I visited her, she'd let me tag along after her and arrange book displays. As we'd walk along the aisles, she'd pull stacks of books off the shelves and lay them in my hands. 'You need to read this and this and this.' Those nights, hidden away underneath the wrought-iron bed in the pink bedroom, I would devour the stories she recommended until I couldn't stay awake to hold the books up any longer. To this day, I love the smell of a library book when you open it, that smell of dust and mildew and expectation. You know the faint crackle of a library book when it's opened? I love that sound almost as much as I love music.
REMEMBER ME is the story of a pastor who questions the choices he's made as well as the choices life made for him. He doesn't know if he is doing right by leading those who look up to him. He wonders if another man could do the job better, could pray better, could access the power of God better for his parishioners. He wonders every day whether he is lined up with his destiny. When the storm rolls in, he runs to the last place he can remember feeling peace, the small town of Piddock Beach in Oregon where is parents took him as a young boy. While there, he chances to run into the girl who had been his first love.
I don't know many people who haven't daydreamed about what this might be like --- a chance to relive our pasts. A chance to see what might have happened if we had taken a different turn. I can't tell what happens to Sam and Aubrey or else I'd ruin the end of the book for you! But a clue is this: Most who live on the edge of the ocean rebuild. Some move away and say they never want to live through another storm. But most admit that their love for the seaside increases their determination to survive. When my sister finally got cell phone signal from Playa, I could hear hammers already pounding behind her. And the homes that are built the second time are up on stilts. They have hurricane shutters and double panes and drains. Second structures withstand winds. They survive storm surges.
The blessing of my family is this: Forty years later, Grandmother is still recommending books to me and I'm recommending others to her. We've had so much fun since I left the secular writing world and followed the call to write for the Father. Over my lifetime, she has placed such books in my hands as THE WHITE, I HEARD THE OWL CALL MY NAME, THE SECRET GARDEN, THE LITTLE PRINCESS, and of course, everything by Willa Cather, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Louisa May Alcott. She is 95 now, and the only other person besides my mother and my editor who is allowed to read my novels in manuscript form. With every book, she reminds me that she may be gone on to glory before she can buy it in stores, so I'd better make sure she gets a chance to see it now!
This essay would not be complete without mention of the journey that the Father has brought into my life as a writer. For the first dozen novels, I sought success on the world's terms. I wanted to be the next Danielle Steel. It took years for me to realize what the Father, in his extravagant love, kept trying to get through my head. He had a purpose for my writing, something adventurous, and I only needed to stop running in one direction when he wanted me to line up my plans with the destiny he'd intended for me. How can I not share the path that I've found that has brought the unexpected and the passion back into my life? I feel like I'm sitting in a dark theater with the music swelling and the cinematography just coming into focus on the screen. There is that trust of sitting in a theater, knowing you're in for a satisfying ride, an adventure that's going to play your emotions, challenge you, and take you through to the end of something where you couldn't dream of where you were going. There's that sense of sitting in a dark theater, trusting the art form in front of you, knowing you're going to get your money's worth.
My prayer for you is this: That you'll be able to let go of the old views of who you are, the negative words that have been spoken over you, so you can become everything the Father intends you to be. I promise you, if you search your heart, let Him show you what he wants of you, (Search me and know me, David said in the Bible) like Sam in REMEMBER ME, you will find your own best storyline and adventure.
© Copyright 2017 by Deborah Bedford.
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