Saturday, November 13, 2010
Hometown Girl featured in the Standard Examiner
LDS novel focuses on healing wounds
By JaNAE FRANCIS
Standard-Examiner staff firstname.lastname@example.org
SANDY — With its focus on Christ, Christmas is a time of healing for many.
A new novel now available for Christmas gift-giving is a romance story about healing from past experiences.
Michele Ashman Bell, 51, of Sandy, is the author of “Hometown Girl,” published by Covenant Communications ($16.99).
“Hometown Girl” is the second in a series but is a story that stands on its own. It’s the story of a woman who inherits her deceased grandmother’s home in the suburbs of Seattle. After she moves into the house, she relives a time in her life when she was dealing with a mistake she had made and that she kept from her friends at that time. “She finds strength to forgive herself and to find peace,” Bell said. “I love that she grew and got strong and was able to reclaim things in her life. It was a neat thing.”
She said the story shows readers that they do have control over things in their lives, but it takes a lot of belief and faith in God.
The series started out about six girls who go to high school together. On graduation day, one of them dies in an automobile accident under questionable circumstances.
Bell also has a third novel coming out in April — to wrap up the series — that finally solves a mystery in the first novel.
The story line in the series also is about lives that don’t necessarily turn out the way these young girls had planned. “A lot of girls find themselves in a situation where they are a little disillusioned,” Bell said. “They say, ‘This is nothing like what I thought my life would be.’ ”
But Bell said the message of her novel is that a person can still stay faithful and have hope that things will work out. Bell’s own story as a novelist is itself a story of overcoming hardship. “Before I got published, I tried to write for almost every market possible,” she said. But she received a long list of rejection letters. It took her 11 years to find her niche. And Bell said she discovered she wasn’t comfortable writing for the national market. “It really is required of you to include certain types of scenes,” she said.
“The good thing is that I never gave up,” she said. “There were times when it was hard. … I really do feel like those years I spent trying and failing were actually my years of learning and improving and growing.”
Since that time, she has published 22 women’s fiction novels, targeted mainly for young women who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She said her novels are classified as romances, but she always believes there is a bigger element in the stories.
“It’s a nice age group to target, because you still reach older and younger readers,” she said. “I have readers who are 12-year-olds up to 80-year-olds.”
Bell said she thinks there is a place for LDS novels alongside doctrinal books.
“Sometimes it’s through a fiction story that has true principles in it that you can understand how to apply it to your life,” she said. “It touches hearts in ways that others can’t. … That’s the payoff when people say ‘It helped me.’ ”
Bell’s novels are available wherever LDS products are sold and at Amazon.com .