Monday, March 22, 2010

Oliver and I chat about Lasting Love, an Easter story of forgiveness

With spring in the air and Easter in a few short days, Oliver and I are out in the English garden, chatting about my Easter story and the inspiration behind it. In a gorgeous backdrop of the rolling green hills and meadows where wild flowers grow free, Oliver and I are in the rose arbor, clipping and pampering the vintage roses. Among the most fragrant and lovely are the Lasting Love, Ballerina, Sentimental, Falling in Love, Simplicity and the Candy Lane climbing rose.

Sharon: Aren’t they gorgeous, Oliver? The best part of spring is getting the garden ready with all the striking blossoms and blooms. What’s your favorite?

Oliver: Ah, like women, each rosebud is beautiful and unique. And I think a rose was invented for each woman to make her feel special. So choosing one would be impossible. Casting Sharon a wicked wink, he pumps his biceps, leans over and plucks a handful of weeds from the Lasting Love rose. Cutting a few from each vine at just the right angle, he arranges them in a vase and sets them on the umbrella table. So why did you choose the Lasting Love rose as your flower of choice in your Easter story?

Sharon: (adjusts her sun hat and picks up her sprinkling can) It was a difficult choice. I wanted to pack so much in a short inspirational story for the Easter theme call out from The Wild Rose Press. Easter is about rebirth and resurrection, love and betrayal, but mostly, it’s a dawning of a new day. And in order to do this, we sometimes have to do something virtually impossible. Forgive those who have let us down or betrayed us.

Oliver, intrigued, shakes cedar chips around the rose bushes. So what did you do?

Sharon: The first thing I did was figure out a storyline with all the above. Choosing the rural mountains of Vermont as the setting, the character of Abbey Jordan came to life in my head. Unable to have children, she poured her maternal nurturing into her greenhouse of roses. She loved them and thought of them as her babies. But when her assistant quit on her a few days before Easter, leaving her in the wings on the busiest season of the year, she placed the dilemma in God’s hands. And ironically, a little girl rode right into her life, literally, on her bike, asking for a job. The young girl has her sights set on becoming a prima ballerina, and her father, Brady Jones, a man whose wife up and left them to pursue her own career, could no longer afford her dancing lessons after he lost his job. And by a twist of “Faith”, he just so happened to be a prize-winning rose grower. So the scene for romance was set...and Lasting Love bloomed in my head.

Oliver: Ah, yes. But you romance writers have to throw in a wrench to keep the couple from getting together. What’s the glitch?

Sharon: arches an eyebrow. Sprinkling water on the Ballerina, Candy Land, Falling in Love and Lasting Love roses, she smiles. I chose each of these for a specific reason in my plot. The young girl, Kayla, desperately wants to win back her mother’s love. Her mother abandoned her at birth to pursue a career as a prima ballerina. In Kayla’s young mind, if she stepped into her mother’s footsteps, she’d win her love. So in my story, I had Brady grow the Ballerina rose, especially for his daughter. The Falling in Love rose was one of Abbey’s best seller’s around spring and prom time. I threw in the Candy Land rose, a pretty pink flowers with ivory stripes and an apple scent, as the flower Abbey and Kayla bond over while arranging. And the Lasting Love rose, the focus of my story, is a hybrid rose that is easy to grow and hard to kill. Not only that, but it is an unusual, shimmering jewel-toned rose with a powerful scent reminiscent of the vintage rose. The color is a dark red with green glossy foliage. It’s classy and timeless appeal seemed perfect for the only rose to resurrect from the ashes after the nursery is burned to the ground the night before Easter.

Oliver sniffs. A fire destroys the beautiful rose greenhouse?

Sharon: Yes, and as it turns out, Brady is responsible for starting the fire. So the entire story is about testing boundaries. Life is all about choices and one mistake can blossom into a lifetime of sorrow. Abbey simply doesn’t have it in her heart to forgive Brady for destroying her dream. But through a miracle, she is shown a message that will change the course of her life. I totally enjoyed writing this short and sweet and heart-breaking story. I put a part of myself in the book. As you know, I’ve been a type 1 diabetic since the age of six. Doctors strongly advised me not to have children, something I wanted more than life itself. So like Abbey, I threw my maternal instincts into other projects that became my babies. Roses, art, cooking and writing, to name a few.

Oliver: Picks up his copy of Lasting Love. May I have your autograph, please, boss? After hearing all about it, I simply must read it. Now let’s sit down and have some tea and fresh fruit while we read a blurb and excerpt:

Blurb:
When Vermont florist Abbey Jordan’s nursery manager quits a few days before Easter, she is left up the proverbial creek without a paddle. But when she places it in God’s hands, she finds lasting love in a garden of roses.
Brady Jones has a daughter to raise, is out of work, and knows more about cultivating roses than anyone in rural Vermont. And when Abbey hires him as the horticultural manager of her floral shop, it seems like the answer to her prayers. But just on the brink of a budding romance, a fire destroys the nursery and buries all hope of love.

Excerpt
An amicable silence hovered between Abbey and Brady as they walked toward the restaurant hand in
hand. They knew they’d just crossed a major milestone. The quiet was broken by Abbey’s cell
phone. Annoyed at the interruption, she sighed and answered. It was one of her employees. “Come quick,
Abbey. It’s the nursery. There’s a fire. It’s spreading like wildfire. Things look bad. Get here soon.”
****
When Abbey and Brady reached the nursery, it was a burning inferno. The glass walls had collapsed and it was going up in a snarling hiss of smoke and flames. Firefighters struggled to get the blaze under
control. Police and paramedics had arrived and Eye Witness News was on the scene, snapping photos.

“Oh my!” Abbey was out of the car the minute it came to a screeching halt. Her face was as ashen as the thick clouds of smoke billowing up into the night sky. Tripping over the gravel and cinders as she rushed toward the fire chief, she screamed. “What happened? I’m Abigail Jordan and I own this nursery. What happened? When I left, everything was fine. Please tell me nobody was in there!”

“No one was in there,” the fire chief placed a hand on her shoulder. “Things could be a lot worse.
Dead plants can be replaced. People can’t.”

Riveted with shock as reality filtered through her, Abbey screamed, “My roses! All my precious
roses. All those hanging baskets of lavender. My exotic orchids and Easter lilies. Gone, all gone!”

“It’s all right,” Brady folded her into his arms. “Shh.”

“What started it?” Abbey stared at the fire chief. “How did it start?”

“It’s being investigated. At this time, the cause is unknown. Could be a gas leak. A neighbor reported hearing an explosion, and in a few minutes, your greenhouse went up like a house of cards.”

In less than an hour, the fire was under control, but all that remained of Abbey’s nursery was a bed of ash. The floral boutique across the covered bridge was unharmed but the rest of the damage caused by the fire was insurmountable.

“Do you have any idea how long it took me to choose and cultivate each of my prize roses?” Abbey finally let the tears roll. Leaning on Brady, she sobbed in between hysterics. “My Lasting Love rose, demolished. And to think I’ll never smell the spicy aroma of my Sentimental rose again. And at prom time, I never had enough of the Falling in Love rose. They all wanted a corsage made of the pink roses, timeless and romantic. And not to forget the Arctic Flame rose, popular for keeping the romance alive. All my hard work, up in smoke.”

“Ms. Jordan,” the fire chief interrupted. “We know the cause of the fire. It was caused by a recently installed heating table. Some of the cable wiring possibly touched each other due to improper installation.”

Abbey shoved Brady away and stared at him, her eyes glinting with anger. “It was you. You said you knew how to install the heating table and I listened to you. You ruined my dream. Get away from me.”

“Abbey,” he tried to reach her. “There’s gotta be some mistake. Let me—”

“There was a mistake all right,” Abbey hissed.

“Hiring you and trusting you with my roses. Get out of here and never come back. I never want to see you
again.”
****
On Easter morning, Abbey pulled up to her floral shop, her heart heavy with grief. Feeling as if she had the weight of the world on her shoulders, she crossed the bridge to where her garden nursery had been. Even before she got there, the thick scent of smoke lingered, a pungent reminder of what had happened the night before.

She wanted the world to stop spinning. How could Brady have been so careless? How could she have been stupid enough to trust him? Somewhere deep in her subconscious, she knew she should have had an electrician install the heating table. So why hadn’t she listened? Because she’d been attracted to him and had been well on her way to falling in love with him. She recalled how infatuated she’d been only yesterday when she watched him touch the roses with such tenderness. And the kiss they’d shared last night. Tears spilled down her face at the memory.

She kicked her foot in the rubble and screamed at the top of her lungs. Sobs ripped through her until she couldn’t breathe. On Easter morning of all mornings, a time of rebirth and resurrection. Hurling herself on the bed of ashes where her nursery had been, she kicked and screamed, not caring if the world came crashing down on top of her.

Hearing footsteps behind her, she looked up and gasped. An old man with flowing white hair stood over
her, his gnarled body stiff and bent. He poked at her with his walking stick. “Get up, girlie,” he commanded. “Quit feeling sorry for yourself.”

“Who are you?” Abbey stood up and backed away. Other than the birds, there was no one around. She reached for her cell phone, only to remember it was in her purse in the car. Her heart pounded with adrenaline. “Who are you and where did you come from?”

“I’m not here to hurt you. I’m here to help.”

Abbey started across the bridge. She wanted to get far away from this nut. Who was he?

“Stop.”

His words had a jarring effect. She turned around to see him rooting through the rubble with his cane. What was he doing, digging around in her dirt? Was he looking for money? Food? Was he homeless?

He looked at her without expression. “I’ve come to give you words of wisdom. When you find love,
hold on tight. Then find it in your heart to forgive. It’s all about forgiveness.”

Curious, Abbey joined him. The sun was peeking through the mountaintops and a shimmer of red caught her eye where the old man was probing with his cane. She got on her hands and knees and joined him, shoving the dirt and cinders aside with reverent fingers. There it was, the satiny red petals of a Lasting Love rose, buried beneath the rubble.

Tears of joy trickled down her face. Preserved beneath the ash and cinders was her favorite flower in the whole world, her Lasting Love rose. She kept digging, deeper and deeper, and before long, the entire bush and its brilliant red blossoms had resurrected. Not caring if the thorns cut her, she clutched the plant to her heart. Then she turned around to thank the old man, but he was gone. An icy chill went through Abbey as reality struck. A gaggle of bluebirds gathered on the railing, chirping sweetly to the sound of nature. Abbey looked up at the sky and… .

Lasting Love
An Easter story of love and forgiveness

Sharon Donovan
Available
White Rose Publishing
Buy here:

Sharon Donovan
Romantic Suspense with a Twist of Faith
see the book trailer

Sharon Donovan lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her family. Prior to the loss of her vision, she was a legal secretary for the Court of Common Pleas where she prepared cases for judges in Domestic Relations. Painting was her passion. When she could no longer paint, she began attending creative writing classes and memoir workshops. After a long and winding road, a new dream rose. Today, instead of painting her pictures on canvas, Sharon paints her pictures with words.
Sharon writes stories of inspiration and suspense. She has certificates in business and medical transcription. She is a published author with The Wild Rose Press, White Rose Publishing, Whimsical Publications and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Echo of a Raven is a CTRR recipient, and The Claddagh Ring is a CAPA nominee. To read excerpts and reviews of Sharon’s books and to sign up for her newsletter, visit her website:

CONTEST: TO WIN A PDF OF LASTING LOVE, ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTION AS A COMMENT: WHO IS THE OLD MAN?

15 comments:

Sharon Donovan said...

Wishing you all a joyous and blessed Easter season!

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Oliver sounds like a very romantic soul :-)

Hope your Easter is Blessed!
PamT

Hywela Lyn said...

Sharon this is a lovely post and I really enjoyed the conversation between you and Oliver.

What a beautiful rose 'Lasting Love' is and what a beautiful Easter story you've written, I loved it and its such a lovely book for Easter.

Easter Blessings and much happiness to you, my friend.

Donna B said...

What a wonderful post and a great way to spread the real joy of Easter. After all, isn't it all about His forgiveness?

Marianne Evans said...

Such a lovely respite with you and Oliver in the garden, Sharon, thanks so much for that! :-) A lovely post. Easter blessings!!

Linda Swift said...

Sharon, what could be better than a rose garden in springtime and Oliver to share it with you. I enjoyed the interview. And the book sounds like a story to warm the heart. Happy Easter.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Pam, sending warm Easter wishes ands blessings your way this Easter. May the budding of spring lessen your sorrow each day.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Lyn, thank you for your kind words about Lasting Love. It's a beautiful rose and I have one in my yard. After the frigid Pittsburgh winter, I'll find out just how hearty it is. It's a climber and when it blooms, produces huge deep red flowers the size of a fist. I can't wait. They smell like vintage roses of another place and time. Very lovely indeed.

Sharon Donovan said...

Donna, you're so right. Easter is all about His forgiveness and a time of rebirth and resurrection. Abbey must realize this before she can find love, but it isn't until she realizes the power of God's plan that she sees the light.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Marianne, thank you so much. Rose gardens are a wonderful place to relax and reflect. Happy Easter to you, too!

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Linda, thank you. Lasting Love is a short and sweet story to warm the heart through tragedy and forgiveness. I enjoyed writing is for so many reasons. Happy Easter to you!

Abi said...

Who do you think the old man in this story is?
an angel sent from God

Sharon Donovan said...

Thanks, Abi. Good answer. You're in!
Sharon

建霖 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sharon Donovan said...

Good morning and Happy Easter! Wishing you all a joyous and blessed holiday. The winner of Lasting Love is Abi. The old man was the risen spirit and an angel certainly covers it. Please contact me at
sharonad@comcast.net
I hope you enjoy the short and sweet inspirational. Love and Blessings,

Sharon