My journey from concept to finished product: How I came to write Halfway to a Southern Heart

12/14/2017 10:46

It all began while traveling along I-55 on one of our many trips from our home outside St. Louis, Missouri to Memphis, Tennessee. Not long after crossing into Arkansas, I noticed the first set of road signs depicting towns named Lepanto and Marie. A few miles later, two more towns were named Victoria and Luxora. I casually remarked to my wife that they would make good names in a story. Nothing more was said of them until our return trip when we saw the signs again. I asked my wife to describe what she thought Victoria might look like and then Marie, and what setting would she place them in. Soon, she grabbed a notebook we use to record our travels and jotted down a few of our thoughts.

The next trip, those signs reinvigorated our conversation and a few more notes were added.

On our third trip, we exited the highway to visit the towns. Three were the size that if you blinked they were in your rearview mirror. However, the very rural town of Lepanto was more interesting. On the edge of town, we discovered the location of a property used in a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation based on the book, A Painted House by John Grisham (still stands today). Our imaginations now stoked, we bought the book. Not long after our reading, the first chapters of my novel began to take form.

Over the next several years, the cotton fields continued to be a draw to the area, especially during the fall harvest season. On the many visits to Memphis, we often pulled off to the side of the road and I ventured into a cotton field where I could touch and smell inspiration. Memphis and the mighty Mississippi River, rich in history, cemented their own place in the story.

My book would be more than five years in the making, in part due to the stresses of a career. I even threatened to delete the entire project at about chapter 19, but my wife pleaded with me to just set it aside. It sat for over a year before I touched it again.

After retiring in the summer of 2013, thankfully, a newfound energy swept over me to complete the book. It all came to life when published on Amazon.

Now you can enjoy some of our journey and meet Victoria and Marie. You’ll also learn that the Mississippi River separates more than states, it also separates hearts.