Just in time for the holiday season, I’m bringing out one of the most heart-tugging Christmas miracle stories I’ve ever written. It was originally published in December 2005, titled, FEELS LIKE HOME, and was part of the Oklahoma All-Girl Brands (a spinoff of the Texas Brand series of the mid-to-late-90’s.) A few weeks after this book’s release, my mom passed away. I’d been nursing her through pancreatic cancer during the writing of this novel. As I re-read it in preparation for its re-release, I realized I was not at my creative best at that time. The suspense plot had some holes and took up too much of the book’s focus, while the mother and father and child relationships and the meaning of the holiday season, took up too little. The sex and the violence were far too graphic, I thought. They didn’t fit the deep emotion and sacred nature of the story.
So instead of just checking for typos and uploading as I’ve done with some of the my other backlist titles, I gave this one a total re-write. It’s deeper now. Softer. Truer to the kind of story I think it was meant to be, the kind you watch on the Hallmark Channel during holiday movie marathons. Heartwarming and so deeply moving that you’ll shed tears of joy as you read it.
Re-working this novel made me re-examine where it was coming from inside me. As my mother was dying, I was writing about a little boy who didn’t have a mother. (That he knew of. In fact, he did have a mother, a drug addicted one who’d never wanted him.) But to Tyler’s knowledge, he had no mother, and that’s the only thing he wanted for Christmas. His dad, Jimmy Corona, was determined to find him one. A good girl, who’d love his little boy the way he deserved to be loved. He’d treat her like gold, he vowed. But he would never give his own heart again. Jimmy’s own mom died of cancer. He nursed her through her illness at the age of 11.
In hindsight, I think my journey in this novel was about really examining the good mother young Tyler wanted, the bad mother he had, the mother his own dad had loved and lost, just every angle of mothers and their children. Of losing them, and of finding them, and of life and death. It’s also about the truly wondrous magic of Christmas, which my mom always believed in (and so do I) and the ultimate healing power of love.
I think I had to write my way through mom’s illness, but at the time, even though I was trying, I was skating across the surface. This time, I dove down into the depths, seeing things much more clearly through the goggles of 8 years’ time.
This is the kind of story I love best at holiday time. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.