Welcome to Wednesday Writers! Today’s guest author is Sara Beth Williams who will be sharing an excerpt and the story behind the story from her Contemporary Christian Romance A Worthy Heart . Welcome, Sara!
Sometimes characters, like people, are stubborn. We all know those friends and those characters, right? I shouldn’t be surprised that Joel and Serena were the most stubborn out of all of my characters.
Out of the three books in my second chance novel series, A Worthy Heart was the most difficult to write. The first book, When Hearts Collide, flowed like water from my fingertips, and then organically began to develop into a series. I had developed six characters total, and quickly realized that after Lacey and Jay, the next four needed their own stories.
While my third book, Anchor My Heart’s theme and premise remained almost unchanged throughout the drafting process, A Worthy Heart changed drastically from its early drafts. When I first turned it into my editor, she sent it back to me and explained that it read too much like a woman’s fiction novel and not enough like a contemporary romance. I’m so grateful for her knowledge and her patience! As I had an entire series planned, I opted to implement her suggested changes.
Building Joel and Serena into likeable people who grew out of their immaturity, people who became stronger and better and wiser, was much harder than I anticipated. Having to stick to the backstories already implemented throughout When Hearts Collide both helped and hindered that process.
All and all, bringing their stories to life challenged me as a writer to rely on knowledge, not just instinct, and to study and absorb and learn everything I could about writing, plotting, character development and revision. I could not be more proud of the end product and I’m so thrilled that it finaled in the 2020 Selah Awards. The beauty of this story takes my breath away whenever I sit down and read my paperback copy.
I leave you with an excerpt from A Worthy Heart and this bit of wisdom: diligent perseverance through difficult situations will pay off.
A Worthy Heart
By Sara Beth Williams
Joel Bennett has always known Serena Hayes as his sister’s gregarious best friend. In the three years since Lacey began college, Serena became a regular houseguest, but lately, she’s absent more than not. When Joel discovers she’s in an abusive relationship, protectiveness from within roars to life.
With only a part-time job to support her and nowhere to go, Serena fears leaving her current relationship would jeopardize her chances of graduating college. After a brutal attack leaves her no choice, she courageously moves out. On her journey toward regaining confidence, self-worth, and independence, Joel falls in beside her, encouraging her. The way he emulates Godly love and compassion draws her close–not just to him, but to the God who can satisfy her longing for love better than any man,
Attraction sizzles between them, but events from their pasts cast shadows of doubt. When the unthinkable happens, can Serena open her heart to a second chance at love, or is she destined to be alone?
Joel: YOU BUSY?
Heart blipping, Serena typed a response. WATCHING A MOVIE. WHAT’S UP?
Joel: CAN YOU COME DOWNSTAIRS?
She covered her mouth, tempted to run to the window at the far end of the room to
check the parking lot down below for Joel’s car. WHY…ARE YOU DOWN THERE OR SOMETHING? She added a winking smiley.
Joel replied instantly. MAYBE.
She assessed the fact that she’d not done one thing to ready herself for any kind of
company. ARE YOU SERIOUSLY? IT’S TOO COLD TO WALK ALL THE WAY DOWNSTAIRS IF YOU’RE PLAYING A PRANK.
As she typed, she slipped from the couch and wove between three other girls, then
darted toward her room. A vibration indicated another response. IT’S NOT COLD OUT. And then another. I’M AT THE BENCH WHERE WE ATE DINNER TOGETHER.
Heart fluttering, she threw off her pajamas and snagged a long-sleeve blouse from
her closet. He’s here. He came here for me!
After some searching, she found her favorite pair of dark blue jeans, then slipped on a pair of flats. Her phone buzzed again from her dresser.
Joel: SO HOW GOOD IS THAT MOVIE YOU’RE WATCHING?
She exhaled to calm her heart rate before sending a reply. BE DOWN IN 5.
Much quicker than she normally would, she ran a brush through her hair, spritzed on a bit of body spray, and snagged a jean jacket from the closet. She grabbed her purse and darted from the room, then locked her door behind her. She hurried toward the elevator, rounded the corner, and half screamed as she collided with Joel’s tall and solid
His deep laugh mingled with her stunned, sputtered laughter as he stepped back and
steadied her, cupping her shoulders. “You all right?”
She nodded. “I thought you were downstairs?”
His arms fell to his sides. “Well…I was.” She laughed as he grinned. “Now I’m up
here.” His crooked half grin, half laugh stole her breath. Dressed in slacks and a collared shirt, he looked as if he’d come from work. But he doesn’t work on Saturdays. Right?
He stepped back again ever so slightly, one hand concealed in his pocket. “I came to see if you were busy today.”
“Not particularly.” She cradled her jacket, waiting.
“Will you go to a movie with me?”
Her heart screamed Yes! But the practical part of her screamed this was much too
soon. “Would this be considered a date?”
Serious brown eyes locked with hers. “Only if you want it to be.”
She released a shaky breath. Did she want it to be? It’d been about two months since
she’d left Chris. Was she ready to jump into another serious relationship? Because she
knew Joel; he wasn’t the casual-dating type. She had to go all in or not at all.
“How about…I let you know at the end of the evening?”
“Sounds like a plan.” His eyes glowed as he produced his phone from his back
pocket. “Here, want to pick a movie?” He held out his phone, a movie app already open.
“Me?” She accepted and held the phone carefully, gazing at him instead of the screen.
He nodded and waited. She scrolled down the list of movies, noting the times, ratings,
theater locations, and descriptions. Trying to recall everything she’d learned about him
in the last three-ish years, she finally chose an action comedy, then handed the phone
Without hesitation he purchased tickets, then pocketed his phone with a grin. “The
movie doesn’t start until five.” That meant they had roughly three hours to spare. “What would you like to do in the meantime?”
She laughed as she tunneled her arms into her jacket. “I don’t know. This was your
idea.” She hit the button for the elevator.
“But I want you to choose.”
They walked onto the open elevator. “Are you hungry?” she asked.
He nodded and leaned a shoulder against the wall. “Are you?”
“Then let’s find somewhere to eat.”
Want to read more? You can find A Worthy Heart at Amazon
About the Author:
Sara Beth Williams is a wife, mother of two daughters, and temporary caretaker of a lovable old lady pit and a spunky Pomeranian-Shih Tzu mix. She lives in Northern California. When she’s not held hostage by the keyboard, she enjoys music, teaching, reading and spending time with her family. She is all about connecting with readers! Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram,
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