Life is full of surprises. This statement came true for me a few weeks ago when my third novel, ‘A New Resolution’ won the Fiction Prize in this year’s Caleb Awards.
I was surprised and delighted in equal measure. With competition being primarily from my co-authors, I considered the verdict to be something I would rejoice in whether I was a part of the win or not, but it is a wonderful encouragement to have your work recognized. I am grateful.
The story in ‘A New Resolution’ came so easily to me. It was conceived in my mind long before I finished my second novel, ‘Beyond Resolution’. This is the tale of a young woman struggling to overcome childhood abuse, making a choice that leads to teenage pregnancy, and struggling against the odds of family heritage to find peace, love and worthiness. Anika is the face of a lot of young women who unconsciously follow a pattern of abuse. The difference is, Anika chooses to believe in the love of her foster family, and embraces the unconditional love of faith in the Lord. It changes her life. Not to say her life is void of challenge, but in her journey she realises there is no challenge she ever has to face alone.
Here is an excerpt from the novel:
‘Kiki.’ Kye’s high-pitched voice made her look up. ‘She’s here. She’s walking up the stairs. I told you she was coming.’
A soft knock sounded. Ani looked toward the door as Caroline peered through the reflective glass.
‘Don’t let her in, Kiki. She’s worse than a wicked witch.’
Anika turned back to him. ‘That’s enough, Kye. I do not want to hear you insult her again. Do you hear me?’
Her son pursed his lips and narrowed his eyes in a display of defiance.
Anika walked to the door and slid it open.
‘Afternoon.’ Caroline’s greeting was dismissive. she was wearing skin tight shorts that made her lily-white legs look like twigs, and a peasant top that would have been beautiful had her shoulders not resembled a coat hanger. High-heeled wedges completed the outfit, and provided her with inches of unnecessary height. ‘Mind if I come in?’
Anika looked back at her son. He shook his head violently.
‘Now is a bad time. I’m in the middle of preparing lunch.’ She offered the woman an insincere smile.
‘Well this won’t take long.’ Caroline pushed past and entered the room.
Anika had little choice other than to follow her.
Kye was mirroring her mood, except he lacked the ability to disguise his feelings. His eyes squinted and his jaw gutted out at the intruder.
‘Kye, you can go and watch a movie in your room until I call you. Put on your earphones.’ She had to get him out of the lounge. The best way to shelter Kye from anything this woman had to say was to run interference. The noise of the DVD player should muffle the adult conversation.
He turned and stomped into his room.
Ani looked back at Caroline. ‘Can you make it quick?’ As far as she was concerned, this woman forfeited any requirement for manners when she barged uninvited into her cabin. ‘We’re about to eat.’ As if to further her point she left Caroline standing in the lounge while she moved back to her task of making sandwiches in the kitchen.
Caroline stood her ground, placing her hands in the pockets of her shorts and scanning the room.
‘This is real cosy. Incredibly insignificant, but then I guess it’s to be expected in Hicksville.’
Ani looked up from the activity to stare at her. ‘ If you’ve come to insult me, or my living conditions, you’re wasting your time. I’m not interested in your assessment of either.’
A rapid snort sounded in response. ‘You should be thanking me. I came halfway around the world to warn you. Nate isn’t who you think he is.’
Ani paused her ferocious buttering of bread. ‘You have no idea who Nate is. You haven’t had anything to do with him for over a year. You have no right to come here and make trouble for him.’
Caroline extracted one hand from her pocket to run though the length of her hair.
‘I may not have seen him for a while but I knew him intimately, for over two years. And I can certainly tell you who he’s not.’ The other hand flew from her pocket to rest upon her hip. ‘He’s not a man to fall for a small town nobody with no class and no breeding. Have a look at yourself. Don’t you own a hair brush?’
Anika couldn’t believe the audacity of the woman. Shock stopped her from responding. Caroline took advantage of Ani’s numbed state. ‘You don’t have one iota of class. Nate is a pedigree Texan, with a reputation to uphold. Can’t you see that he’s playing with you? Trust me. I’m doing you a favour by filling you in. He’s only interested in the chase, nothing more. When he tires of you he’ll take off, just like he did to me.’ She took a few slow paces forward.
‘Besides, I’ve also been told that you have black blood. Getting serious with a black is virtually sacrilege in my opinion. Besides, do you seriously think his family is going to allow him to marry someone with that kind of tarnished heritage?’
Anika felt a new flood of emotions hit her. Caroline’s words were like weapons piercing her soul. It hurt. A lot. Dry heat coursed through her body and a sinking feeling sent her stomach plummeting to the floor.
She closed her eyes tight. …….
The old feelings of insecurity and worthlessness surfaced. Throughout her childhood she had been told she wasn’t good enough. All her life she had told herself the same thing. Perhaps Caroline was right…….She didn’t even know who her father was. Classless and fatherless.
In the past the thoughts would have prompted a surge of self-preservation. She would have reared up and responded in kind to Caroline. But the familiar destructive words that bounced around her mind rang out as a mass of lies. There was an overwhelming sense of untruth, not only to the words in her head, but to Caroline’s attack.
A new voice overcame the old. You are not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. I knew you before you were conceived, My thoughts towards you are as countless as the sand on the seashore. For I am your Father and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus.
To find out how Anika responds to Caroline’s attack, you’ll just have to read the book! This character certainly has a long and bumpy journey to share with you.
I want to say thank you to the many people who contributed to producing ‘A New Resolution’. They are all mentioned in the Acknowledgements page in the front of the novel, but in summary I want to say a special thanks to my main readers – my sister Leonie, and neighbor Mary; to my editors – Iola and Wendy; and to my publisher – Rochelle. I know that they all share in the encouragement of this win, because they committed their own time and expertise into making this story the best that it could be.
Thank you also Omega writers for the chance you give us Aussie Authors a nod.
Interested in getting a copy of ‘A New Resolution’? Here are some stockist links. Also available on ebook and kindle.