This is the most personal, most heart-felt note I’ve posted and I’ve struggled with writing it. Partly because I know I’ve been neglectful of you, my reader and I’ve felt bad about that. Also because I’m not entirely sure how to explain the meanderings of my thoughts… but I’m going to try.
You probably know that my best friend Tawdra Kandle and I wrote two books about our faith journeys, one a few years ago and the second just a few months ago. We also spent forty days taking turns penning a daily devotional during the Easter season. That was a profoundly clarifying experience for me.
You see, my Christian faith has been a significant aspect of who I am since the time I was just a little girl. One of my earliest memories was of taking a swig of my Grandma Theresa’s Holy Water and having her sit me down to tell me how special I am to God. In 2017 my Grandma left this world for her eternal home and I was left with a profoundly moving, yet unclear calling deep in my heart. Not long after that, we began the “A Pen and A Prayer” blog, now called Pens & Prayers.
Over the six years since Grandma died, I’ve been searching for something I couldn’t understand or define. In 2018 my Dad died too, and I was simultaneously lost and found in a sense. My heart was broken, but my Savior felt nearer to me than He’d ever been. Last year my granddaughter came to live with us for about eleven months and in that time we started attending a new church. And that’s when some of that inner calling began to congeal into something more tangible.
That’s when I started blogging more in exploration of my faith. I also began writing a nonfiction book surrounding life experiences through the lens of Romans 8:38-39. I hope to have that book finished by early next year.
In the midst of all of this self-discovery, I’ve also been writing mystery books in my C.H. Sessums pen name, and that meant my Olivia Hardin writing went on hiatus of sorts. But that hiatus actually became a transformation. Because I found I no longer wanted my beliefs to be just a footnote in my writing. I didn’t want to feel I had to hide it or suppress it.
Now maybe you’re asking yourself: What does any of this have to do with anything? More importantly, what does it mean for Olivia Hardin and her books?
I’m telling you all of this because I’m about to embark on some changes to my Olivia Hardin brand and because you’ve been one of my loyal followers I wanted you to be one of the first to know.
You may-or maybe not-have noticed my Rawley Family Romances are no longer available at online retailers or my website. That’s because I will begin rewriting that series, magnifying the already present but somewhat veiled spiritual themes. I consulted a very wise and trusted friend because I was conflicted about how to launch this project. Maybe I should scrap “Olivia Hardin” entirely and start from scratch. In fact, that’s exactly what my trusted friend suggested to me.
But then not long after that conversation, the hubby and I went to the community pool on a hot Sunday afternoon. And since he’s never met a stranger, he struck up a conversation with a young woman there. She was just as talkative as he was and began asking him about his career and what he’d taught when he was a professor. He told her about his books, then he pointed at me and said, “My wife’s a writer too.”
“Ooo, what do you write?” she asked.
“Well, I write some mystery and some romance.”
“Do you write smut?” she asked enthusiastically.
And I admitted that the romance I’d been writing was in fact a bit steamy. She was enthralled by the idea she’d met a romance writer. She peppered me with questions about my books, about my stories, about how I became a writer…
Then something else happened… she started talking to me about her life. About a recent break-up with her boyfriend. About how her nephew had autism. About how she was moving into an RV for a while. About how life was hard and how she was struggling.
At the end of the conversation, I told her about the Pens and Prayers blog and about my exploration of faith. And then I told her I wanted to write her name in my prayer journal.
“Carrie. My name’s Carrie, like the movie. And I would be absolutely honored if you would pray for me. I’d appreciate that so much.”
And that’s when I decided that “Olivia Hardin” should remain and become a part of my shifting ventures.
I gave a few reasons I’ve been hesitant to write this note. But there’s been another big one too. The truth is I’ve been afraid. Afraid of how you, my dear reader might react. Will you find this declaration of my Christian faith and new direction as a writer a game-changer?
I know some of you will see the admissions I’m making here is an absolute turn-off. Maybe you’re not Christian, maybe you just don’t like the possibility that you’ll be preached to (Lord, I hope I never really get preachy.) You might have any number of reasons for needing to step away from “Olivia Hardin.” And I understand. We are all different, we are all in unique places in our lives and the truth is the new direction of “Olivia Hardin” is not the one you originally signed up for. I get it. No hard feelings and from the bottom of my heart I wish you all the best.
But I hope and pray that some of you might find my admissions and revelations here something that piques your interest. Maybe it will stir something in your soul. Maybe some of you might humble me by letting my testimony bless you. Maybe some of you might find hope and love and direction when you read my stories, both fiction and personal. Maybe some of you might even allow me to write your names in my prayer book.
So dear friends, no matter how this very personal letter is received, I want you to know how much I appreciate you from the bottom of my heart. I’ve been a published writer for over ten years! It has been a fantastic journey and I’ve loved every moment of it. Some of you have been here with me since my very first books were published. I treasure each moment we’ve had on this journey (so far) and I’m looking forward with bright hope for the things that my words will do in the future. Thank you for coming along on this wild ride with me!