For my short novel, Love So Amazing, the first book in my new Wondrous Love Series which released in early March, the “germ” of the idea was planted when I attended my first American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Indianapolis in September 2010. My roommates and I were staying at the Hilton, a few blocks from the Hyatt Regency, the location of the conference. Both the Hyatt and the Hilton are mentioned in the book. However, it was the experience of taking a pedicab ride from the Hyatt back to the Hilton after the banquet (heels, evening gown, late at night) that gave me the idea of one day writing about a hero who owned and operated a pedicab business. That’s certainly an occupation I’d never seen before in a Christian romance! The pedicab operator that night (who happened to also be the owner was fascinating, relayed some interesting facts, and gave me his card). Little could he know he’d inspired a book four-and-a-half years later!
What better setting for this story than the very city where the inspiration struck? What’s interesting is that this story idea remained firmly in the back of my mind since that time. At one point, I was working on an anthology proposal with two other authors and wanted to use this idea, but it didn’t work out (Lord’s plan, I believe). It wasn’t until my husband and I traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico, this past January that I began to write Love So Amazing. I was determined not to write and didn’t take my laptop. All I had was a small composition book, but in that book, I began to scribble down all my ideas—while sitting at the beach and around the pool. I suppose it’s true that authors never stop writing, eh? By the time I left Puerto Rico, the story was taking shape nicely. And even though I was on a deadline for another book, when I returned home, this story and its characters would not let go! They “demanded” that I write their story first! And so, the book was written, edited, and released on Amazon on March 5, 2015, and it’s proven to be one of my all-time top-selling books, I’m blessed to say.
Here’s the back cover copy blurb for Love So Amazing, and then I’ll share an excerpt:
Dance instructor Ava Carlisle lost her fiancé in a tragic car accident.
Pedicab owner/operator Sawyer Mancini understands her pain all too well.
Ava and Sawyer aren’t looking for love when they meet outside an Indianapolis hotel. Drawn to one another, these two lonely souls discover they share much in common during a six-block trip when Sawyer pedals Ava home to her downtown apartment building. When they unexpectedly meet a second time, both interpret it as freedom from the chains of past heartache and the Lord’s blessing to pursue a relationship. Although they intend to go slow, Ava and Sawyer tumble headfirst into the kind of love that only happens once in a lifetime.
A few months later, Sawyer uncovers a shocking revelation. He and Ava share an unfathomable bond they never could have imagined, and one that threatens their love. Is it a cruel twist of fate or could it somehow be God’s perfect plan for their lives?
Next, the following is an excerpt from when Sawyer addresses a group of young teenage boys (his best friend is a youth pastor and the hero in the next book in the series, Love So Divine):
“In Galatians 5:13, it says, ‘For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.’ I guess that’s what I’d like most to tell you all tonight. You can win the ballgame, you can score the prettiest girl in school, you can pump yourself up with awards and compliments telling you how great you are, you can drink or smoke something that you think will make you feel good.
“I’ve been there, and I’ll admit that for a while, it felt good to stand on the mountaintop. But that high only lasts a short time. I can stand here and tell you how it’s a mistake, I can try to beat it into your heads that it’s not the way to find success or happiness or love. But will you listen? No, you’re going to live your own lives and make your own mistakes.
“If nothing else, please remember this: God’s love is amazing. That word is bandied about so much these days to the point where it’s been cheapened. A friend once told me that the word she heard the most on one of those sleazy reality TV shows was that very word—amazing. For the most part, it was used to describe the physical beauty of a woman. I’m sure you know the show I’m talking about here. A handsome young guy meets a parade of beautiful women, one woman more gorgeous than the next. They gallivant around on a beautiful island, in a gorgeous mansion by the ocean, and the alcohol flows freely. The guy sleeps with most of the women and then makes the choice for his so-called ‘perfect’ mate.
“I’m here to tell you it doesn’t work that way in the real world. That life is a fantasy, and nothing more than a lie. Sure, you can do those things, but in the end, you’ll feel empty inside if you don’t trust the Lord to guide you. No one else—not your parents, not your pastor, with all due respect to my best friend over here”—he winked and nodded at Chase—“your girlfriend, or anyone else, is going to love you more than God does. But God’s given these people to you as a gift. Treasure them not for what they can give you, but what you can give to them. It’s my prayer for each one of you”—Sawyer paused to make eye contact with some of the kids—“that you’ll see how amazing God really is by allowing Him to work in your life.”
Love So Amazing is available on Amazon and is still available at the low introductory price of only 99 cents, and it is also free for Kindle Unlimited readers!
In addition to Love So Amazing, JoAnn Durgin is the author of the beloved contemporary Christian romance series, The Lewis Legacy Series: Awakening, Second Time Around, Twin Hearts, Daydreams, and Moonbeams, as well as Prelude, Prequel to The Lewis Legacy Series. JoAnn is also the author of the bestselling Catching Serenity as well as novellas and short novels including Echoes of Edinburgh and the popular Starlight Christmas Series: Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, Starlight, Star Bright and Sleigh Ride Together with You.