It’s All About Choices

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HEAs or Happily Ever Afters are the DNA of romance. Romance always has a satisfying ending to the story of a relationship. Most readers who pick up a romance or watch a romantic comedy understand that. It’s not so much about winning the girl or the cowboy, but about how the two individuals grow and change and become a better version of themselves…so that they deserve their happy ending.

It comes down to choices.

Throughout the story it is the choices they make to take control of their life and step out from fear into courage.  (I love seeing that metamorphosis!)

All writers go about writing their stories differently. What works for one writer won’t necessarily work for another. That is what makes storytelling an art form.

When I begin a new story, I usually don’t start out with the idea “My main character is going to learn ____________” or “This story is about ___________.” My story and what he or she learns evolves as I write and get to know the characters better and deeper. It’s about learning about the choices they have made in the past, the regrets, the “soul” wounds and scars that happened to them and made them who they are. It’s about who they start out as at the beginning of the story and who they must become if they are ever to grasp their full potential and partake of the joy and fullness of life.

Never Regret

It all comes down to choices.

The Gunslinger & the HeiressOne of my favorite stories is The Gunslinger and the Heiress because the choice Hannah makes takes her away from a future with Caleb.

In The Gunslinger and the Heiress, Caleb has been snubbed by his childhood friend, someone he has always cared about as a little sister. The fact that he has had a rough and tumble upbringing as an orphan and she has grown up in opulence and wealth didn’t matter back then, but when things start to change between them, suddenly she shuts him out. He’s not sure why, but attributes it to the differences in their backgrounds and class. Over the years, this gives him quite a large chip on his shoulder.

This is where the story opens.

The thing about Hannah’s choice is that she doesn’t regret it. And Caleb must come to terms with that—which is not an easy thing for a man. I didn’t actually understand that this would be the message until after the rough draft was written. I don’t look for “messages” in my writing, they seem to evolve with the story as I revise and edit and get to know my characters. To me, that is the struggle and also the interesting part of writing.

Whispers small

 

What I hope my readers take away from The Gunslinger and the Heiress is that choices, good or bad, make up the sum total of who a person is and create the direction of a life.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I will stop here, but I hope you will check out this book for yourself. And I’ll leave you with this blessing ~

Choices

A huge choice in my own life was deciding to marry and therefore remain in the Midwest.
It has impacted every aspect of my life ever since.

What is a choice you have made that completely changed the trajectory of your life?

Comment for a chance to win a copy of The Gunslinger and the Heiress!

Kathryn Albright
Kathryn Albright writes sweet western historical romance. Her award-winning stories celebrate courage and hope with a dash of adventure. She loves hiking and traveling and being caught up in a good story. She lives with her family in the rural Midwest.

25 Comments

  1. MArriage is a big choice, but an even bigger one for me was adopting a child from Poland.

    1. Hi Debra. What a big heart you have to adopt! And what an adventure! I wonder if you had to travel to Poland to meet your son/daughter?

      Adoption has to come with its own set of crazy emotions attached that I cannot fathom. I am in awe of the families that go the extra mile for adopted children. I have heard that in the ancient days (2000 years ago) to be adopted–a choice of the parents–was a huge honor compared to being born into a family.

    2. I have a whole set of Adopted neices and nephews. I have my own children but my life has been so blessed and enhanced with my adoptees! Our family would have missed out completely of the firing up and sailing away of our dear Susie’s handmade dollhouse by her dear brother and boy cousins (my sons), 8 and 10yo mischief!

      1. Oh my, Betty! That must have been something to see! It sounds like a very fun family!

  2. I made the choice to go home with a friend during a holiday. Turns out, I met my future husband and the rest is history……that was forty- one years ago!

    1. Wow Melanie! Great choice! Funny how the smallest (or what seems to be a very small choice) has such lasting ramifications. Like ripples on the water. Thanks for commenting!

  3. I love that last quote, Kathryn. “May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears.” So often fear drives our choices, when instead we should be driven by faith and hope. I love that!

    Looking back, I love to see how choices I made brought dividends I never expected. I chose to attend Abilene Christian University for college (a school located halfway across the country from my California home) because they were Christian, they had a marching band, and the boy I had dated in high school planned to attend. I broke up with that boy before my senior year of high school, quit the marching band after one semester of college (met my husband and switched to choir), but I became so enmeshed in the community at ACU, that I never left. After getting a BS and a Master’s degree, I started working for the university and have been here ever since (minus 5 years of staying home and having babies). Sometimes the why of a decision isn’t as important as what we make of it after the choice is made.

    1. Oh Karen…love, love, love your last line!

      “Sometimes the why of a decision isn’t as important as what we make of it after the choice is made.”

      That speaks to being steadfast, trustworthy, and committed even when the going is tough. (Of course that can be taken to the extreme and it speaks to being purely stubborn too…lol.) I can see a cowboy in that line 🙂

      And about how the choices you made brought dividends you never expected–Isn’t that the wonder of it all?

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  4. I left an abusive marriage and seven years later remarried for 26 years of happiness.

    1. Hi Estella. Those are huge choices! I’m so glad that you had the courage to leave an abusive past and found your happiness. What an amazing journey!

  5. The Gunslinger and the Heiress sounds like a book I must read. Thanks for telling us about it.

    When my only child was in school I decided to go to college as a day student. It was there that my English professor encouraged me to send some of my writings out for publication. I finally worked up the courage to do it and after having several articles published, I decided it was time to attempt a novel. It took a long time, but I didn’t give up and in 2004 my first novel was published.

    1. Hello Agnes. How nice to have you stop by. Your journey to publication sounds a bit like mine. I did a few smaller non-fiction articles and then one short story before getting up the gumption to try a novel. I just stopped over at your website and enjoyed reading a more in-depth account of your writing journey. Congratulations on all your success and you certainly have an ambitious plan ahead.

      Looks like your choice to go back to college and listen to your professor was a very smart choice!

  6. Twice in abusive marriages. So that’s why I’m single now. I don’t believe third time would be the charm. Thanks for the info.

  7. Hi Kim! The choice you made (both times) to get out of that type of a marriage was a very important choice. And the choice NOT to take another chance at tying the knot is understandable. You must be a very strong person through enduring all that. Blessings to you!

  8. What a lovely, inspiring post. Thank you so much, Kathryn.

    I guess I’ll tell you about an early in life choice I made. After getting my BA, I decided to take time off and go to Scotland to live for a year. My experiences in Scotland and various parts of England showed me how very different our cultures are even though we speak the same language–kind of! lol. Anyway, being in those different settings revealed much about myself that I hadn’t ever known or realized, which has had a lifelong effect, and has also given me the ability, I think, to look at things from much different perspectives than I would have had otherwise. In fact, I think it would help develop world peace if more people lived in cultures other than their own to widen their horizons and be more accepting of different peoples and situations. Being an “observant outsider” with your heart open to the different kinds of events and kindnesses people offer you is life-changing.

    These ideas are very much with me now as I watch how in the US election how different people are so set in different ideologies that don’t always consider the best for _everyone_, all people in various kinds of situations. I sadly see it in Britain’s Brexit now too.

  9. Hello Eliza! How very nice to have you stop by! You’ve mentioned your time in Scotland before and how it has had a lasting effect on you. How wonderful that you had that chance! My son just returned from the British Isles and Europe (his very first trip there) and mentioned Scotland was his favorite place of the entire trip. He is ready to go back!

    I agree with you so much about how much more accepting we might all be if we all could live in a different culture for awhile. It would surely bring about more tolerance and more open minds. Yours was a huge change from the U.S. My move to the Midwest from the southern Pacific coast was much less of a change, but I still recognize a small amount of what you are referring to. The change from a fast-paced city where everyone is a stranger, to living for awhile with my grandparents on their farm and learning about raising cattle and pigs and gardening–all much slower and quieter–was a delight. I couldn’t believe the friendliness of the Midwesterners.

    I am afraid the world is changing to being less tolerant. I truly hope that I can make my choices from my hopes and not my fears, as Nelson Mandela said. It is more important than ever to hang onto what is positive and good and hopeful now. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting!

    1. I apologize for the mistake of repeating myself and will try not to do so again.

      1. Oh Eliza–No need to apologize! No worries at all! I lived vicariously through my son’s trip and I do through yours too. I would love to hear of more of the details that made such an impression on you! did you learn to drive on the left side of the road, for instance and how did that go for you? What was your favorite food there? You always have thought-provoking, interesting comments! I enjoy your input very much.

  10. I had looked at a career in aid organizations either domestic or international. I served in the Peace Corps for 3 years and was considering how to proceed. My mother’s death brought me home and I was considering teaching to get my feet in the ground while working on another degree to fit with the aid/welfare career. Meantime, I met up with a friend from high school and we got married. He was in the military and it was the middle of the Vietnam war. When we started our family, I made the decision to be a stay at home mom and do volunteer work. With my husband having to leave on short notice for an unknown period, I figured the stability of one parent at home for them was most important. My volunteer work over the years has been in the social welfare area, so I have followed my career path, but not to the end I was planning. Back then combining career and home was a bit more difficult. There are times when I wonder how far I would have gone had I pursued the career, but marriage and children turned out to be my career instead and I am happy with that.

    1. Hi Patricia. It sounds like things worked out very well for you. You had a lot of times you could have chosen differently but you made the perfect choice for you and your family. I’m sure your children appreciated having you around! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  11. Little children see each other as equals, but then their eyes were opened, ohhh, what a heart breaking start to your story. I think I’ll live reading about their choices.

    The choice that really changed me… 12 years ago becoming missionaries to Central America. I do love what we do but miss really being a grandma, the way mine was to me. Home in Sept for a few months!

  12. Hi Melody,

    Good to have you here. What a huge HUGE choice you made. The very natures of making a choice means that there is something given up. It can be difficult…as you have found out. I would bet that you are a blessing to those around you in Central America. And when you are “home” I bet you do your very best to capture all the hugs you can from your family here.

  13. What a great post. It is crazy to see how choices change your life and you see how it guides you. I fell prey to everyone telling me I NEEDED to go to college in order to have a life. It never felt right through the whole process (signing up for classes, etc) – so two weeks before my first class I said NO. A month later I was handed a full time job that sent me down the path I never knew I could do. It was the best choice I ever made! That job changed my life and I always look fondly on it and the friendships and life lessons learned there. Who knew?! I do agree with Karen that what we make of it after is all that counts. 😀

    1. Hi Susan!
      That is a hard thing to do–to buck the well-meaning people all around you. So glad it worked out so well for you!

  14. Thank you all for stopping by and commenting on my post! For the drawing for a free copy of The Gunslinger and the Heiress, I drew Kim Hansen’s name.

    Congratulations Kim! Please contact me at kathryn (at) Kathrynalbright (dot)com with your snail mail address and I will get that in the mail to you!

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