As I went over the first two chapters of Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing, it was amazing to see how much I've learned about writing since I finished this story in 2004. One of the first things I noticed was my tendency to rely on backstory. TRT is the sequel to Lyrics, my first manuscript. At the time, I felt as if I had to recap the first story in order for the reader to get to know the characters. Now, some seven years later, I know how to sprinkle backstory throughout the book rather than dumping it all up front. LOL!
The best part of this story is the awesome love Michael and Dee Reese have for each other. To give a brief overview, The Real Thing is a story about a good man who makes a bad decision, how it affects his marriage and how he goes about rectifying it and making amends to his wife.
This is my second faith-based novel. Unlike the theme of I Can't Get Next to You, which is acceptance and obedience, the theme of TRT is the power of forgiveness and the question, "Are some things unforgiveable in a marriage?"
My first three published novels were mainstream romance and women's fiction. Most people don't know that the first four books I wrote were faith-based stories. At the time, everything I learned about writing said to write what you know, so that's what I did. The manuscripts weren't those "dirt in the church" stories. Personally, I don't like those. These were stories about people facing change or crisis in their lives who just happen to be believers. This is what I know. It's my life and the lives of my friends, family and church family. Real people facing real issues.
I want my faith-based books to always have a message, but I never want to come across as being heavy-handed or preachy. Some readers, whom I've already heard from, take issue with this kind of writing. They feel the issues are too raw and the writing is too edgy, but I don't apologize for that. I am not a Pollyanna writer who only presents life as all roses, puppies and happy-happy joy-joy.
That's not reality. What I desire to get across is how my characters rely on their faith to overcome the harsh obstacles they face.
These two books will not appeal to everyone, but what book does? I hope readers won't be afraid to buy the books because they see "Christian" or "born-again" in the descriptions. The drama readers will experience in both books is something everyone can relate to.
Writers, have you ever reworked an old manuscript? What did you discover about yourself and your writing?