Chasing a Dream

Chasing Lilacs, Carla Stewart

Chasing Lilacs, a novel by Carla Stewart

Guest post from FaithWords author Carla Stewart, whose novel Chasing Lilacs was published on June 17, 2010. Her second novel, Broken Wings will pub in June 2011.

As a young girl in Texas, I didn’t think of my life as being anything but ordinary. My dad worked in a petroleum plant. My mom sold Avon so she could save up for a piano and pay for lessons for my two younger sisters and me. And more often than not, she spent any extra money on new dresses for us girls while she wore last year’s style.

Right before junior high, my dad built an addition onto our pint-sized two bedroom “company” house. Until that time I’d shared a room with my sisters, and I was excited at the prospect of having my own room once the addition was completed. That summer I found myself doing an array of odd jobs – pulling nails from boards, clamoring around on the steep-pitched roof handing shingles to my dad, and the thing I remember the most clearly: mixing concrete in a wheel barrow with a garden hoe while my dad added the right combination of sand and cement and squirted water from the rubber water hose until the consistency was just right. I was the one behind the hoe doing the mixing.

I don’t remember feeling like I was being overworked or mistreated as I looked forward to having my own room, and indeed, as soon as the sheetrock was up, my parents let me move into the east upstairs bedroom. I didn’t even care that it wasn’t finished. I tacked up my movie star posters, plugged in my clock radio, and let the breezes blow in my window while I dreamed of one day writing novels like those I loved to read.

But that’s all they were – dreams. A someday thing. “Other” people wrote books. I read them and only dreamed about writing. After all, my life hadn’t been particularly remarkable, and there was no single defining moment that I could tap into and write about.

Or was there?

Carla Stewart as a young girl

Carla Stewart as a young girl, in Texas

My years as a nurse, a wife, and a mom were rich with experience. A few trials. Boundless joy. Loss. Fun family vacations. Friends. Family. And an above average curiosity. As our boys got older, I became restless, and the writing dream that hovered all those years, now tapped me on the shoulder. Do it. Believe in yourself.

The voice inside said, “Surely if a twelve-year-old didn’t flinch at getting her hands dirty in a wheelbarrow of wet cement, then a grown-up woman could write a book. She should at least try.”

God and I had a few talks about this, and the answer came in the pages of Matthew. “Let your yes be yes, and your no, no.” It sounded simple, but as any writer will tell you, it’s not. I studied, connected with other writers, and kept at it. After a few false starts, the idea of setting a book in the place where I grew up nagged at me. And there was that strange curiosity I had as a child when people whispered about “nerve” problems and “shock treatments” that the occasional neighbor had. Why not explore that?

I visited the place where I grew up, enveloped in the warm memories of childhood and knew at once that I would write this story. I plotted and wrote. Then rewrote. The words didn’t always come easy, and more often than not, they weren’t even very good. Sometimes I didn’t have the right mixture of sand and cement and had to go back and add water. Or a little more effort.

And like the gentle breezes that blew through that upstairs window when I was a child, I felt God’s hand on my life, stirring the desire, and whispering words of affirmation.

Holding the first copy of Chasing Lilacs in my hand was one of the sweetest days of my life, ranking only a notch or two below holding my newborn boys in my arms.

And like any project of substance, many hands built the house. I’ve been overwhelmed at the belief that others have had in me: my family, my agent, my editors at FaithWords, the cover artists (Isn’t this a simply stunning cover?), the fabulous people who know how to get books into the hands of reviewers and publicize behind the scenes, and then there are those folks in New York who wave a magic wand over the whole thing and out comes a book. With binding. And all those copyright notices that have my name and my publisher’s name. The book smells divine. Feels just the right weight in my hands.

I’m just an ordinary person. But realizing my dream has been an extraordinary experience. In all the best ways.
Author, Carla Stewart

Carla Stewart is the author of Chasing Lilacs. Her writing reflects her passion for times gone by, cherished relationships, and the mysteries of God in our skid-marked world. She and her husband have four adult sons and delight in the adventures of their six grandchildren. You can find her online at CarlaStewart.com.

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21 Responses to Chasing a Dream

  1. this was so encouraging. exactly what i needed today. thank you, carla. e.

  2. Sherrie Ashcraft says:

    Carla, I loved, loved, LOVED this!! What a great way to “mix” everything together! And the pic of you as a little kiddo was adorable. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. Love, Sherrie

  3. Vivian Zabel says:

    What an interesting post. I’m glad to learn more about you, Carla.

  4. Rose Karlebach says:

    Dear Carla:

    I haven not been able to get to the WIN Meetings for the past month or two, but I read this article and it certainly encouraged me! Thanks so much for sharing from your heart. Until I see you and the gang again, have a wonderful holiday season!

    Love,

    Rose Karlebach

  5. Gina Conroy says:

    What a wonderful and encouraging story!So happy for you and I so enjoyed Chasing Lilacs!!

  6. Courtney says:

    This is such an inspiring commentary on the importance of our dreams. I am so glad you listened to your inner voice as Chasing Lilacs is now one of my very favorite books. What a beautiful story and so rich with detail.

    Thanks so much for the push. “Go on. Do it.”

    Great advice! :)

  7. Julie Cannon says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post! It was inspiring and fun. Follow your dreams…. can’t wait to read the next book! Hugs, Julie L. Cannon

  8. Julie Garmon says:

    Beautifully written. Universal truths. And I loved, loved Chasing Lilacs!

  9. Myra Johnson says:

    What fun to get another peek into the life and dreams of one of my very best friends! I’m reminded all over again why you’re such a special part of my life. Love the childhood photo, too!!!

    Praying for many, many more successful novels in your future, girlfriend!

    Hugs,
    Myra

  10. Thank you all for your kind, sweet words. Having a great publisher behind you makes all the difference. I’m honored to be here today and for your friendship.

  11. Kate Lloyd says:

    Carla, so glad your Yes was YES! Can’t wait to read your next book.

  12. Nicole Unice says:

    What a great post…I can only imagine how wonderful the book is. Can’t wait to read it!

  13. Camille Eide says:

    “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” Truth to live by, I think I needed to hear that. Thank you, Carla, for the glimpse into your long-held dream, and for the inspiration that you are. I too can’t wait for the next book. And the one after that, and . . . :-)

    -Camille

  14. Carla, my mom sold Avon too! :-) Just wanted to say I’m enjoying “Chasing Lilacs” and love the nostalgic feel of it.

  15. Sarah Sundin says:

    What a beautiful article, Carla! I love how God used an incident from your past to prompt you to your future. I’m so thankful you listened. Chasing Lilacs was a marvelous book, and I can’t wait for Broken Wings.

  16. Wendy says:

    Carla,

    I started Chasing Lilacs last night and I love how you write. I cannot wait to get back to it. I love getting excited about a book. Thanks for that!

    Merry Christmas.
    ~ Wendy

  17. Carla,

    What a great post! Very motivational for me like lots of people have said. I still have Chasing Lilacs on my TBR pile and need to get to it soon!

    Happy holidays!

  18. Carla, I loved hearing your story of becoming a writer. :) Thanks for sharing it with us.

  19. Wow… beautiful story. The old advice of “write what you know” paid off, I guess. :) I really liked the setting of your novel – it felt homey and yet different enough to me to be interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Sandra says:

    Dream on, Carla. The world needs dreamers who aren’t afraid to dig in and get messy.

    Such a joy to work with you.

    Sandra

  21. Jodie says:

    Oh, Carla… I did not see this last week, but the fact that I found it today is a testament to God’s timing. So needed to read this! You’re an amazing writer and writing friend, and thanks for putting this out there! Love God and love your obedience. :-)

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