My name is J Boykin Baker, and I’d like to tell you how this novel came into being. If you knew me and my busy nature, you’d probably wonder how a woman who can’t stand to sit still long enough to get my nails done managed to sit still long enough to write a book. Well, to be honest, that was pretty much a miracle.
Beginning many years ago and culminating just recently, I learned the difficult lesson that timing truly is everything. This revelation all began with a nudge. Not an earthshaking nudge, but more of a small tap. At first I ignored it, but it continued to hang out around every corner. It was just sort of a nagging—an aggravation. You know, kind of like knowing that you need to move the clothes from the washing machine to the dryer, or that you need to return a call, or clean out a closet. In hindsight, those would have been easy tasks compared to what I was experiencing. I was being gently nudged to, of all things, write a book. And the weirdest part of this whole experience was that I already knew the name of this book. It was to be titled By Design. Probably having a little too much confidence for my own good, I took out paper and pen, then sat down to write the next Gone With the Wind. I pressed the pen onto the paper, now ready to begin my masterpiece. Not one single sentence came to mind. Nothing encouraged that pen to move one little bit. I stood, crammed my pink notebook into an already bulging drawer, and continued with my busy life as a wife and young mother.
As time passed, there proved to be no escape from this pushy feeling. In fact, for years I felt as if the shadow of that book was following me everywhere. By now, I had founded and was serving as president of an interior design firm in Atlanta. One rainy afternoon as I was leaving my office, I slipped into my car and the nudge hit again. It felt stronger this time, although still not earthshaking. But the tap was now plural and more urgent. Again, I took out that rather dogeared pink notebook and sat down on my bed with my legs crossed and declared, “By George, I’m ready.” I wrote two sentences, neither of which were even coherent. I stuffed that stupid notebook back into that overloaded drawer and asked myself, “Write a book! What am I thinking?”
Years continued to pass. Upon my retirement from the design firm, I attended a ministry conference. There, I heard a report on the desperate plight of women and their families who were dying daily because of no access to clean water. The accompanying photos broke my heart and I soon found myself volunteering as president of a non-profit ministry that took clean water to the nations. But that pesky nudge continued with its ebbs and flows. It was now becoming an earthshaking disturbance with a pulsing urgency. I once again removed the battered pink notebook; this time the fog began to clear.
When I sat down at my desk, it was if a light bulb came on. During years with my family, the interior design industry, and a water ministry, I was privileged to know, employ and volunteer with countless women of all ages. I had noticed a distinct contrast between those, who for the most part, made uncompromising decisions, versus those who settled for the moment regardless of any consequences. I couldn’t help but wonder what made the difference.
I struggled with this question to the point that I began to feel my supernatural nudge shout, “Quit wondering and start writing.” It was now time to write my book, By Design, and I understood the subject matter which I was to address. I was to write a book that would cheer women on as they came to understand their innate value. I was to do this by exploring life’s ups and downs through the intensity of a new love. Again, I put pen to paper . . . a story flowed. I finally had to resort to dictating the words in order to keep up. As word after word appeared on paper, I felt as if I was being directed by two distinct thoughts. The first, I was not to be ‘preachy’ and the second, I was to allow this story to be honest; to be real about the pressures and passions that are part of falling in love. Yet, I also knew that I was to lovingly, but seriously offer the strength of a moral compass that so many times our culture seems to have forgotten. As the words continued, almost immediately, a 3-step plan developed in the novel’s introduction. This plan was a gift to Anne, our heroin, from her mother, Gretchen. It was to serve as a template to encourage and subtly teach her daughter that there is a logical way to direct one’s destiny. Her mother knew, all too soon, Anne would be ‘out there’ by herself and would need guidance as she maneuvered each aspect of the certain pitfalls. But could Anne embrace this plan, and if so, how? That question and all that ensued, drove this story in mysterious and intriguing ways that I could have never imagined. You see, I was following step by step as a journey unfolded between Anne and this new man in her life.
As you read, my hope is that this contemporary romance between a young, professional couple will reveal a story in a more meaningful way as the two navigate their complicated past and uncertain future through laughter, frustrations, tears, and a unique twist.
By Design, is the first book of a trilogy: may this novel, and the two to come, prove worthy of your curling up hours. Just for fun, I added a few recipes from the book’s southern food favorites and discussion questions to encourage your thoughts as you experience or remember the intensity of a new love.
Wishing you warm memories,
J Boykin Baker
P.S. Would love to hear from you! See: Comments and Reviews, Amazon links, and book trailer at https://www.jboykinbaker.com