Fitzpatrick Family Series
Andrew Fitzpatrick and Darcy Clark came to life in response to a story contest. Editors at White Rose Press provided a “Mad Lib” synopsis and cover with the prize being publication of the winning series.
Contestants followed specific rules.
- Finished word length between 20,000 and 25,000
- A contemporary setting
- Submission must be an original, never-before published work, and you must own the rights to it.
- Entries must not stray from the provided synopsis
- Hero and heroine must look like the couple on the cover
A challenging contest for this writer who flies by the seat of her pants. My plots never come out exactly the way I planned when I started a manuscript. I’ve even been known to change hero/heroine characteristics multiple times throughout a story.
Not possible for this contest because the provided synopsis specified the hero had to be between 25 and 35 years old, a teacher with a stubble beard, and one of eight children – specifically four brothers and three sisters. The heroine had to be between 22 and 32, an only child, and a landscape architect.
Nonetheless, I took on the challenge and penned the first version of Andy and Darcy’s story. When I didn’t win, I stuffed the manuscript away.
That was 2009.
Church friends began to prod me about writing a story set around my ministry experiences. Finally conceding in 2014, I pulled out that old manuscript and began a rewrite.
You’ll notice from the cover I decided to keep Andy’s beard and, if you’ve read the series, you know Darcy is a landscape designer. Andy’s a special education teacher with four brothers and three sisters.
In the process of the rewrite, Andy’s seven brothers and sisters begin chattering in my head wanting their stories told and thus the Fitzpatrick Family series was born. Each of the country preacher’s kids find happily-ever-after in coming novellas.
Truthfully, I won’t have to dig too deep for story ideas involving preachers and their kids. I happen to be the wife of a preacher’s kid and the mother of a preacher. I’ve also served at various churches in paid and unpaid staff positions for years. I’ve seen lots of story-worthy stuff. And, some stuff too strange for readers to believe, even in fiction.
Patriarch Colin Fitzpatrick’s church is in a small (fictional) town in Texas. You’ll recognize him, his wife Ms. Pat, and the congregation if you’ve ever attended a small church.
When Love Blooms, released in 2014, is the first Fitzpatrick Family Series and Andy and Darcy’s story.
Andy’s twin sisters, Rebecca and Sarah Fitzpatrick, will find their soul mates in When Love Returns, which will be out in 2015.
Brothers Joshua Fitzpatrick (an Army sniper), Samuel Fitzpatrick (a missionary), and, baby sister Faith (a lawyer) will share their stories over the next three novellas.
I hope you’ll have as much fun reading the stories as I am creating them.
People often ask if my books are autobiographical. They aren’t, at least not exactly. My stories come from a combination of my experiences and my fantasies.
On this page, you’ll find the background behind my PROMISES series that includes
- Love in the Morning Calm
- The Pendant’s Promise
- Until He Returns
- Promises to Keep
The idea for this series came from my days as a Department of Army Civilian at Headquarters, Eighth Army. Though the books are completely fiction, you’ll find much from my days in South Korea sprinkled throughout.
When my First Lieutenant husband received orders for an unaccompanied tour in South Korea, I followed him. I couldn’t bear the idea of being apart for thirteen months. Six weeks after he left, I used my power of attorney to sell our car, secured airline tickets for our daughter and myself, and sent him a letter telling him when to pick us up at the Seoul International Airport.
Because my daughter and I were unauthorized dependents in the country, we could not live on the post compound. Instead, we rented an apartment in U.N. Village where Lily lives in Love in the Morning Calm. The apartments were located high above the Han River in a little village called Han Nam Dong.
And, yes, there was a Presidential Reception held at Walker Hill and a gold dress like Lily wore.
Part of my work at Eighth Army Headquarters involved secretarial duties for President Lyndon Johnson’s visit during his Southeast Asia tour, which became the writer’s tool I used to bring Lily and Major Ace Cabot together.
Other real experiences and places are in the stories too.
We picnicked there with friends, which is where I got the idea for the picnic scene in Love in the Morning Calm.
The Bando Hotel
Even the settings in Tennessee and Virginia come from personal experiences.
My husband did a tour at Fort Eustis, VA. Our only son was born at McDonald Army Hospital on the post.
When my husband went from active duty to reserve duty, we settled in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, home of the Atomic Energy Commission (now the Nuclear Regulatory Commission) which I used as Lily’s place of employment in The Pendant’s Promise.
The series begins with four principal characters, Lily Johnson, Alex Cabot, Shirley Carlson, and David Sands. Lily and Alex found their love passed the test of time. Somehow, I didn’t feel right leaving the series without David and Shirley finding their happily-ever-after.
I thought Until He Returns would the last book in the series. It wasn’t to be.
While David and Shirley to get together, there’s a plot twist that lead to book 4 Promises to Keep.
Parts of my life experiences are woven into both books. Writing allows me to relive treasured memories.
I hope you’ll find joy in reading the series.
Claiming Annie’s Heart
My paternal grandmother was an Irish Callahan from County Clare. My maternal grandmother’s family came to America through Ellis Island. With those deep Irish roots, writing a story set in Ireland might seem predictable. But I never set out to plot such a story. Too many other story ideas were floating in my head.
That is until I went to Ireland and those roots came to life.
On my first trip in the early 90s, the joy sparkling in the eyes of the Irish people I met danced with the elation bubbling through my veins. If you have even a drop of Irish blood and ever go to Ireland, you’ll understand what I mean.
Ireland is magical. The sights and sounds call to deep kinship and connections.
As I drove through the lush, green countryside and poked about in pubs and shops, everyone I encountered felt like family. I felt I’d come home.
Pubs are my favorite places to visit whenever I’m in Ireland, especially on seisiún night. I find I can’t help but hum along or tap my foot.
Seisiún is Gaelic for an informal gathering where traditional Irish music is played. In Claiming Annie’s Heart, Annie plays in seisiúns at Murphy’s Pub.
Until my travels on the island, I never realized the difference between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Talking with the old timers, I quickly learned about Irish history.
The cliff note version is the island started as a separate entity with its own parliament until it became part of the United Kingdom.
After bitter fighting and political maneuvering between those who wanted an independent state and England, the island was partitioned into Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State or Republic of Ireland in 1920. The Irish call their fight for independence The Troubles.
I’ve discovered strong feelings linger about a united Ireland. When you intertwine that desire with Orangemen’s yearly ‘marching season’, to commemorate protestant William of Orange’s defeat of Catholic James II, tensions run very high.
Heavy violence erupted again in the 60s and continued through the 90s. The ceasefire of 1994 and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, along with the rebranding of the Orangemen parades, mean only a few pockets of dissention occur today. Still, the history remains fresh and after a few Guinness, pub discussions can become heated.
My husband’s job took us to Northern Ireland often. Once while in Belfast, we toured the Peace Walls with all their haunting murals.
I realized with a deep sadness how much The Troubles dramatically continued to touch Irish lives. The idea for a future story conflict was planted.
On another trip in 2006, I visited an Irish girl’s boarding school in County Connemara (Republic of Ireland). Talking to the girls and walking the grounds, I had one of those writer moments where a character sprang fully formed into my head, commanding me to tell her story.
Annie Foster, the heroine of Claiming Annie’s Heart, practically leapt from the pages as I wrote.
I wanted to use the location for the book’s setting. Unfortunately, when I discussed my plan with the Mother Superior at the school, she denied my request. This meant I had to rethink the story.
Annie was not happy. Neither was I. For years, she and I wrestled with how to tell her story and abide by the Mother Superior’s decree.
Finally, in 2013, I came up with a new plot to blend the story Annie wanted told with a suspense element based on The Troubles.
Best of all, the heart of the new story remains about one young woman’s hard choice between the man she’ll always love and her promise to her fiancé’s young daughter.
Annie and I are pleased with the final product. I hope you enjoy reading Claiming Annie’s Heart as much as we did creating it.