People often ask me how I come up with ideas for my stories. In the case of “Love Notes”, my soon-to-be-released novel (my first Christian inspirational), it was a poem on a plate.

“As I was wandering over the green

Not knowing where I went

By chance I saw a pleasant scene

The cottage of content”

The plate was on a shelf in an antique pine hutch at my Aunt Pat and Uncle Frank’s “cabin” in northern Minnesota. Each year, my husband and I spend a few days at Pat and Frank’s cabin, unwinding, relaxing, and trying to forget the stresses of our busy lives (me, the owner of a bed and breakfast and tea house, and he, a pastor).

Their “cabin” is really a cute three bedroom cottage, renovated and expanded by Frank and decorated with garage sale treasures and quilts by Pat. I was feeling pretty content when I first read the poem on the plate. We’d enjoyed a delicious dinner and a long walk in the woods. We’d poked around Ely and gone boating. The men were playing Scrabble. I was working on my needlepoint.

Life was good, nearly perfect at that moment. Still, I wished I could escape the craziness of my life and enjoy more laid-back, carefree days like the one we’d just had. When I saw the poem, my mind started whirling.

What if there was a man who had everything – fortune and fame – but nothing that really mattered? No family and definitely no love? What if he was lost and came upon the cottage of content? What if he had to give up what he thinks he wants to get what he really needs? And Tommy Lubinski of Tommy Love and the Love Notes was born.

The next step was to figure out who lived in the cottage of content. What if she had nothing – no money, no children, a husband who died tragically and left her to pay back a huge debt to the bank – but had a strong faith in God in spite of her dilemma? And thus, Hope Anderson was born.

The cottage of content turned out to be a cluster of rainbow-colored cottages – Daisy, Fern, Ivy, Bluebell, Violet, Rose, and Lily – at Rainbow Lake Lodge, the family resort Hope is trying to bring back to life. Snippets of information about living “up north” I picked up while chatting with Pat – frequent power outages due to a deteriorating electrical cable buried at the bottom of the lake, snowplows scraping “roads” on the lake so people can drive on the ice in the winter, getting stranded on a boat in the middle of the lake – became fodder for a plot. A story was born.

To me, life is all about second chances, whether dilapidated cabins become honeymoon cottages, a heartbroken widow finding love again, or a tortured soul discovering new life. I hope you’ll enjoy Tommy and Hope’s story in “Love Notes”.