I’m proud to host a fellow Harlequin So You Think You Can Write semi-finalist today. Rachel Muller’s lovely World War 2 romance Letters from Grace was her entry in 2012, and has deservedly been a category bestseller on Amazon almost since release.
And the cover is so beautiful! I admit to being the teensiest bit jealous of that. Especially the lilac! *smiles*
Here’s Rachel’s story of how the book came to be-
Letters to a Soldier, The Birth of a Novel
Thirteen years ago, I was an eighteen-year-old girl who was trying to find her place in the world. Fresh out of high school and with no immediate plans to attend college, I landed a job at an established and very sophisticated inn. It was there that my adult life began.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, one co-worker’s request would become the premise to my first book.
Serving breakfast was just one of my many jobs at the inn. I worked closely with two other women who quickly became my friends. They were older than me, and the age gap allowed us to mesh well. It was on a summer morning when my co-worker asked me to write her son who was serving in the US Army. 9/11 was nearly one year old, the call to arms was still fresh, and the uncertainty of service members’ lives was at stake.
I agreed to write to my co-worker’s son on the condition that I was not searching for a relationship. Once she relayed that information to her son, addresses and emails were exchanged. That experience served as a lesson to me—that a simple hand-written note meant the world to someone—a person I didn’t really know. I also learned that every day, I took for granted the life living around me, with the uncertainty of another tomorrow. Life takes on a whole new meaning.
Eventually, my soldier pen pal and I did meet face-to-face. I remember feeling anxious before arrival time. When we met, he was just as his writing depicted. Although no romance came from this experience, I had gained a friend—a friend I truly respected.
Fast forward ten years…
Recalling some of my life’s events, I asked myself, “What if I wrote stories inspired by my life experiences?” “What if a girl became pen pals with an Army soldier, during WWII, and a romance blossomed—based on a series of letters?”
The end result?
I twisted the scenario around in my mind. Once I thought I had a good idea of where I wanted the story to start and end, I began writing. I didn’t own a computer at the time, so I started writing on line paper early in the morning before the sun rose. Within one month, I had penned (literally by hand) 60,000 words to my novel that is now entitled, Letters from Grace. The premise, based on the idea of my own pen pal letters, took shape. After its completion, Letters from Grace went on to claim a Top 28 spot in Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write Contest in 2012 and became a semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, 2014.
For those who are reading, or who will be reading this novel, it is my hope you will find not just a tender love story through love letters but the hope that follows tribulation. Romans 5:1-4 states: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:”
To learn more about Rachel, visit www.racheldmuller.com, @Rachel_DMuller on Twitter, on Facebook, and Pinterest.
Or contact Rachel at: firstname.lastname@example.org