It all started when, in second grade, I wrote my own Bible story commentary of sorts for “kids.” Joseph of the Old Testament was my favorite in those days. While it would be over a decade later before I surrendered my life to Christ, God was already placing a passion in my heart to write for Him and use it as a ministry.
The creation of characters is an adventure, and I never know exactly what direction it will take, but it is one of the most exciting parts of writing a book. Faith is an integral part of a person’s character, and I endeavor to include that alongside physical description, personality quirks, hopes and dreams, and strengths and weaknesses. No matter the book, I pen faith-filled, realistic and never-preachy, tender romances full of humor.
Some characters will grow in their faith. Others will surrender their lives to Jesus for the first time. Still others will have seeds planted in their lives with the hope they someday turn to their Savior.
My goal is to weave stories where my characters will learn of love, loyalty, and God’s abundant grace and forgiveness. That said, each book is different. The faith approach and the overtness vary. But one thing is certain: my personal criteria is that every book glorifies Him and can be read by my daughters, my mom, and my grandma.
My most recent novel, Forgotten Memories, is a tender love story with a theme of new life in Christ. The key verse is 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Caleb Eliason, my lead male character, discovers this life-altering truth in the book. I will admit that as I wrote one of the scenes, and again as I read it before submitting it, I had tears in my eyes. Ask any writer and they will tell you their characters become real to them.
About Forgotten Memories:
Some memories are best forgotten…
The Wyoming Territory is rife with lawlessness and disorder, something Annie Ledbetter and her parents discover when their wagon train is robbed. Seven years later, Annie settles into her lifelong dream as a teacher in the small town of Willow Falls. When she meets handsome rancher Caleb Eliason through a humorous misunderstanding, she is quickly drawn to his kind heart and charming smile.
Former outlaw Caleb Eliason embraces his chance at a fresh start. Gone are the days of robbing stagecoaches and wagon trains. When he falls in love with the new Willow Falls teacher, he doesn’t realize they’ve met before—under much different circumstances. When his past comes to light, will it put the growing love between them at risk?
Can forgiveness and redemption heal two broken hearts or will the past keep them from sharing a future?
I’m currently working on a book that will show how God rescues us and how He works through others to fulfill His plan. That even when He at times seems absent and unaware of the predicament in which we find ourselves, He is always there. Whether the book ever sees publication rests fully in His hands.
For my Montana Skies Series, I received word that the books in the series, McKenzie in particular, had found their way into the hands of many unbelievers. It is in those times that I am given the privilege to pray for my readers that a seed might be planted, and they will desire to know more about Jesus.
I was asked recently if I would be willing to write “heartwarming or sweet romance” books with little to no faith. I was told that genre is a popular commodity. While I appreciate this alternative to the content that is so prevalent in today’s romance novels, I knew without hesitation that for me personally, this wasn’t the route I wanted to take, even if it meant sales. While some of my books are not as overt, God is still a major part of the story. To write something without Him would personally be impossible for me.
Sharing the Good News can be done in many ways. My prayer is that God would use me to share it through my books. Because in the end, there are only a few things that matter: that we made Jesus our Savior and that we spread the Gospel to the far ends of the earth, whether by the spoken or the written word.
When Penny is not dreaming up new characters, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters, camping, hiking, canoeing, reading, running, cycling, gardening, and playing volleyball.
She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and loves to hear from her readers at her website www.pennyzeller.com and her blog, random thoughts from a day in the life of a wife, mom, and author, at www.pennyzeller.wordpress.com.