Several years ago, I took a summer road trip with three of my kids to visit my oldest daughter in Tennessee. On the way, we watched a show in Pigeon Forge, spotted bears while meandering through the Smoky Mountains, and took a rafting trip on the Ocoee River. What a blast!
After hours on the river, we drove to Chattanooga. It was June and hot as blazes. It was so hot, that while downtown the next day, the only thing my boys (ages 14 and 12) wanted to do was eat ice cream in air conditioning and stand in the fountains to cool off. I couldn’t blame them. We were all miserable with the heat.
During lunch, we discussed options—head up Lookout Mountain? Take paddleboats on the river? Walk the bridge? No options seemed viable without fainting from heat. But nobody wanted to spend the day indoors.
After lunch, I stepped outside the restaurant. Another blast of heat overwhelmed me.
The solution? We went back to the Ocoee River and did more whitewater rafting! This time, my oldest daughter joined us. The five of us had a blast—again! Two rafting days in a row.
Reading A Promise for Faith by Stacy T. Simmons brought this trip to mind. Though Stacy’s novel is set in North Carolina rather than Tennessee, the two settings share similar features.
A Promise for Faith is a fun combination of a sweet mountain town, a coffee shop, baked goods, river outfitters, and a lovable little boy named Jack.
Back Cover Blurb
Secrets have the power to ruin lives. Faith and love have the power to disarm those secrets.
Failure isn’t an option for Faith Fuller, She wants to prove to herself and her very successful parents she can stand on her own, even if it means accepting a job offer from someone she wanted to forget. To add to the problem, that job means facing her biggest fear.
Caleb Gaines is looking for a manager for his coffee shop. He’s in over his head running his successful river outfitters business, and being a single dad to a preschooler. But the perfect candidate wants nothing to do with him. Risk-taker Caleb is up for a challenge and wants to convince Faith to help him.
If neither one relies on faith and learns to trust, any chance at love will be washed downstream.
An out-of-work chef and successful river outfitter are both hiding secret tragedies. How much faith will it take to learn to trust in each other, overcome obstacles, and find love?
What grabbed me first was the immersive experience—the sense of place and descriptive details. Imagery that put me right alongside Faith Fuller on page one when her car dies en route to Briar Creek, North Carolina. And imagery that had me feeling her chagrin when the person she least wants to see stops to help.
The fun begins. Reeling from just losing her chef’s job in New York City, Faith hopes for respite in her hometown while visiting her best friend Taylor. But running into Caleb Gaines wasn’t the plan. Not since their painful breakup eight years ago.
Now Caleb is a single dad of a preschool boy, and grieving the recent loss of his wife. He owns the successful Hawk’s Creek Outfitters, which features kayaking and rafting. He also runs a coffee shop that needs some help. As busy as he is, he still has plenty of time for his son, which includes a comical bedtime ritual.
Despite her bruised ego and NYC failure, Faith is determined to get back on her feet and prove her independence, especially to her parents. So taking the coffee shop job Caleb offers poses at least one dilemma, if not more.
These likable main characters are well-developed with depth and backstory. Both are struggling with past tragedies and fears they must overcome. Truthfully, however, there were a few sticky situations I wanted to see developed to their full dramatic potential before resolving.
This novel is a clean contemporary Christian romance—not my usual genre, but the theme of love’s second chances appeals, making this an easy, light summer read.
Questions about A Promise for Faith
As someone living in Texas, what inspired you to write a story set in North Carolina? What’s your personal connection to the area?
Stacy: While I was growing up, my family rented a cabin in either Beech Mountain or Blowing Rock a few times. When our kids were little, we rented a cabin in Banner Elk for a week. I loved the gorgeous Smoky Mountains, the charm of the small towns, and the fact that ice cold streams were abundant along with God’s beautiful handiwork.
Where do your story ideas usually originate from—character, plot, setting, theme, or a combination? Share an example or two, particularly with A Promise for Faith.
Stacy: Briar Creek, North Carolina is a composite of the towns–Banner Elk, Blowing Rock, and Beech Mountain. My family and I have been whitewater rafting in Montana and loved it. I knew North Carolina, too, had its share of places for adventures like rafting. It made me wonder what would happen if a couple with opposite interests had an attraction to one another? Faith feared boats, and her love interest, Caleb, owned a river outfitting company.
How well did you know your hero and heroine, Caleb and Faith, at the outset? Or did you primarily get to know them as you wrote?
Stacy: This was the first novel I’d ever written, so the characters “came” to me in bits and pieces. I knew there had to be some romantic sparks, conflict, and faith. Other than that, they were both “blank slates.”
Faith is a chef and Caleb is a river outfitter. Such interesting occupations! Do you have experience with either of these? What did you need to know about these occupations—and about running a coffee shop—before writing about them through your characters’ experiences?
Stacy: That’s a great question. I’ve been rafting before on a guided trip, and it was wonderful. With my ardent love of coffee and coffee shops, researching the whole process and business aspect was interesting to me.
Did the plot stick to a pre-determined plan or did it evolve? What were some things you wanted in the story from the get-go?
Stacy: The plot evolved. I knew some basics, but the story dictated itself from the characters and the overall message portrayed within.
Questions about writing
Congratulations on having your first book published! Can you share a bit about your road to publication?
Stacy: Thank you so much, Laura. I’ve worked on A Promise for Faith for over five years. It has undergone numerous rewrites. My great critique groups and author friends have been such a support as I’ve ventured into this thing called writing and publishing. The story was previously “redirected” (rejected) by agents and a publishing house. I am fortunate to be working with Celebrate Lit who welcomed my story and me into their fold.
What books have been most influential for you as a writer? Was there a book that sparked or confirmed your desire to be a novelist?
Stacy: Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell and Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules by Steven James. Novelist Charles Martin is my absolute favorite author. He ignited a passion for storytelling within me.
Are you an outliner or a pantser? Share a little about your novel writing process, and the length of time it takes to complete a book.
Stacy: I create a chapter-by-chapter outline. My mentor recommended that I do this in order to streamline my process. She was exactly right. This isn’t to say that the story might not veer from the “roadmap” now and then. I’m a “Plantster” by nature. Though the first novel took five years (with three total rewrites), I wrote the second book in the Briar Creek Love series in three months, which is amazing for me.
Please share something about a current project or the direction you want to go.
Stacy: I’ve completed a Christmas novella set in London for an upcoming collection. Next year, the second novel in the Briar Creek Love series arrives, and the year after, the last novel in the series will be published.
In the second novel (arriving early 2023), Faith’s and Caleb’s sister and brother–Hope and Dylan–figure prominently in the story. Faith, Caleb, and young Jack are also included, along with quirky new characters who reside in Briar Creek. The final novel is little sister Grace’s story. She meets her match in a handsome businessman who lives in Briar Creek.
Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?
Stacy: Please give yourself grace to write. A story won’t bloom without adequate water (research, studying writing craft books, and patience). If you can attend a writer’s conference, it’s a wonderful way to make connections with other writers, agents, publishers, editors, and to learn more about writing overall. Plus, it’s amazing to see so many people who are excited about writing gathered in one location.
Make sure to find a solid critique group once your story is moving along. I belong to an in-person and online critique group. They guide me to a better story because of their experience and help.
Back to Laura . . . On a similar note
If you like southern fiction, particularly stories set in North Carolina or the Smokies, you might enjoy my recently re-launched novel All That Is Hidden. It’s set in southern Appalachia in a small rural town that finds itself victim to changing times. A father’s hidden past catches up to him. Learn more and watch the trailer here.
Also, I’m currently gathering a launch team for my historical fiction, Fifteen Minutes with Mr. Baum. Set in Holland, Michigan, this split-time novel alternates between 1980 and the early 1900s. It highlights The Wonderful Wizard of Oz author, L. Frank Baum. Read more and watch the book trailer here.
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Stacy T. Simmons Bio
Stacy T. Simmons writes uplifting fiction that delights the reader’s romantic sensibilities. Thirty-four years of marital bliss is a great contributor. She is a mom of two grown children, and she and her family have a menagerie of pets she likes to call “Noah’s Ark.” You can find her working on her next manuscript with a piece of dark chocolate and a cup of coffee nearby. She loves to connect with her readers via her website.
Join me next time for a visit with Erin Bartels.
Meanwhile, have you read A Promise for Faith? Do you have a favorite contemporary romance? Answer in the comments below.