This week is Holy Week throughout the Christian world. It’s the week where we are reminded just how much God loves us. It’s the week that the past several weeks of Lent have been leading up to–the crescendo in the opus of God’s masterpiece about love. How remarkable that it was late in Lent when I was given the beautiful gift of realizing why what I do is so special, why my writing is so meaningful to me and to many others, and why it’s all about love.
My regular followers know that I recently attended a writer’s conference in Milwaukee with my dear friend, Alexandra Hamlet. One evening, as Alexandra and I were hanging out in our hotel room talking girl talk, swapping family stories, and comparing writing notes, Alexandra said something to me that was so profound, it completely changed the way I look at my writing. I was telling her that I was a having a hard time with some in the “romance” community because my books don’t always fit the bill, so to speak. As I’ve said before, I don’t like rules, and I often don’t follow them! This does not go over too well with the romance writing folks. I have been searching for a while now to find where and how my writing fits into today’s literary world, and Alexandra laid it out perfectly.
So what was it that she said to me that profoundly expanded my way of thinking?
My dear and wise friend said, “Amy, you do not write romance novels. You write love stories.”
That was it. The life-changing realization.
Alexandra and I talked about this at length that evening and continued to come back to it all weekend. She is absolutely correct. All of my novels have a romance or two, but it’s rarely the main thrust of the story. More often, there’s an abundance of love going around that doesn’t even involve the love between two people. My books are often about love between man and woman, but they are actually more about the love of family, love of community, love of Country, love of God, and more. There are scenes in Summer’s Squall that clearly demonstrate love for nature. The Devil’s Fortune contains themes of love of family, love of history, and even the love of a house. It was this book that allowed me to bring my grandmother back to life and show my deep love for her. My Chincoteague Island books portray love of community at their core as well as familial love and the love that comes with true friendship. My children’s books are also about love–Crabbing With Granddad is about love for my grandfather and love for a disappearing way of life while The Greatest Gift is about the kind of love that comes wholly and perfectly from the heart. All of my books share the common theme of discovering love of oneself.
I wish there was a genre that was simply for readers looking for books about love, not romance, just LOVE!
With love, there is often loss. There is hardship and pain and compromise and perseverance. Love is deeper than romance. It’s more enigmatic than any mystery novel. It can generate faster heart-pounding than a suspense read. It’s more mystical than a supernatural or paranormal tale. Love contains history, religion, and sometimes even elements of horror. Love is all-encompassing, and true love endures longer than the butterfly phase of even the greatest romance. Love is the one thing that can always make everything, good and bad, even better.
I had another profound realization while at the conference. When meeting with one particular agent, everything I ever knew about my personal genre was confirmed. The agent looked at me and said, “You write inspirational women’s fiction.” It was not a question. She had read an excerpt from the upcoming Island of Hope and knew immediately what my writing was all about. We talked about the strong element of faith in my books, and she said, “I bet your writing also contains a lot of scenes with family and with female-friend relationships.” And she was correct. I write to inspire, and what’s more inspirational than stories of true love for family, friends, and God?
So, as we close out Lent and begin the journey from death into life, I urge you to look around you and identify all the loves in your life–those people and things you love as well as those who love you back. In a recent blog post, one of my favorite bloggers said, “I think the meaning of life is to love. To love people where they’re at…not to judge, or condemn…but just to love. Like Jesus did. And be a light to the world.”
To be totally honest with you, that’s all my writing has ever been about–using my God-given talent to be a light to the world. Is there really anything better to write about than love? I’ll let the great Catholic literary genius, Flannery O’Connor, answer that.
“To maintain any thread in the novel there must be a view of the world behind it & the most important single item under this view of the world is conception of love—divine, natural, & perverted. It is probably possible to say that when a view of love is present—a broad enough view—no more need be added to make the world view.” – Flannery O’Connor
What I was writing about a year ago this week: The Blank Page.
Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018).