(From my guest post on Rhonda Ritenour's blog, "Ritty's Writing Adventures" November 27, 2013)

November ~ a time of rejoicing over the harvest and all the blessings of life. But sometimes heartache blurs the blessings while God does a work we cannot understand.

When readers reach for a book, they are looking for a connection — a way to understand their own circumstances, to find hope in the midst of heartache, or perhaps a pathway of escape. I’ve found that writing very realistic, contemporary fiction from the heart profoundly connects me to my readers.

In His faithfulness, God has given me a story for each deep heartache I’ve experienced. Although my books are fiction, He’s shown me how to weave those very personal and painful circumstances into stories that resonate with others. As my readers become immersed in main character Michelle Baron’s life, they connect to her fears, hurts, and disappointments because they, too, have known similar pain. They rejoice with her triumphs and are reminded by her story that God is ever present and working all things together for good.

One such journey I’ve been able to share in this series is that of infertility. It is a painful time when hopes are dashed, plans seem unattainable, and dreams die. As family members and friends announce their pregnancies and the births of their babies, joy for them is overshadowed by a yearning that most will never fully understand. It clouds days, months, and sometimes even years. You try to trust God, you search for answers in modern medicine, but empty arms and uncertainty haunt you.

As is the case in all three novels in my Sandy Cove Series, the second book, Through the Tears, is written from a place of understanding that can only come from experiencing those very same hopes and heartaches. Although Michelle’s journey is different from mine, I know her heart. I’ve lived her pain. Her story resonates with women because her life is real and believable, and sometimes very hard.

Through my own struggle with infertility and the tears along that journey, God crafted a tale of hope in the midst of longing and disappointment. This simple, very real story has touched lives and found its way to bestseller status in the Kindle store for contemporary Christian fiction.

            Some authors of fiction are called to provide a way of escape from the realities of life. They bless their readers with formula romance novels and fantasies that provide a momentary and often predictable break from hardship and challenges. Others, like me, are called to use the venue of fiction to communicate very real struggles, fears, and heartaches as we draw our readers into deep personal connections with our characters, wherein they find new levels of understanding and hope.

Such is the journey to Sandy Covewhere readers meet a vulnerable young woman who captures their hearts and encourages their spirit. They walk with her through very real difficulties as they witness God faithfully bringing her Through the Tears and into His perfect plan.

If you want to impact your readers in the personal crises they face, don’t be afraid to share your own story, whether it is in the form of a nonfiction memoir or through the life of a fictional character. Readers connect when you write what you know at a deeply personal level.