If you happen to follow along with my writing at all, you may know that my writing process can be, let's say... unpredictable at times. Most times. While part of the reason for that is because I can never seem to write characters who behave according to my outline (yes Mom, I know that makes me sound crazy), part of it is also because whatever is on my heart and mind inevitably seeps into my stories. Every book I've ever written has been a reflection of my life during the time period in which I wrote it. And as I have entered into the Beyond Beauty time period, I have reached a point in my life where the idea of rebelling against beauty standards and obsession is in the forefront of my mind.
I happen to have seven books planned (so far) for the series, so clearly this is a mindset that I don't see going away any time soon. And it makes sense. The idea of valuing things other than physical beauty has been a part of my worldview for pretty much my entire life. I was taught early on that the most important beauty is the beauty of the heart, that what is inside of you is far more important than anything seen on the outside of you. And yet, that point of view has always been at war with the larger worldly perspective of worrying about what you look like. I can't say I enjoy always filtering things through dueling points of view. It's tiring, especially when I don't even like one of those perspectives.
But that changes when I write the stories in the Beyond Beauty series. In these stories, some characters still do face the challenge of not always being happy with what they look like. It's still important to acknowledge that reality because we're not going to have a positive self-image all the time. But these characters are placed in a setting that unmistakably places more weight on the beauty of their heart and spirit. They are surrounded by characters who recognize the inner qualities of people and critique the idea that someone's appearance determines their value. In their romances, the characters are drawn to things like kindness, passion, bravery, and a love for Adonia.
In the Beyond Beauty series, I control the narrative. Realistically, I know that in real life I have very little control of the narrative surround beauty (although, clearly, I am still doing my best to influence it). But, as has always been the case, writing is my safe place. These stories are the way I want things to be. They are a message of hope, a vision of a reality in which the right things are valued. And my hope is that these stories will not just be for my peace of mind, but that they will also reach others who need to escape to a new place for a little while.
I was talking to my mom recently about how I've realized that my "corner" of the book world is "cozy" books. The stories I write aren't the hard-hitting, why-would-you-kill-off-that-character kind of stories. And they can't be. Because those aren't the kinds of stories that are laid on my heart. They're not the kind of stories that make me happy to write. The stories I write are the kind that always have happy endings, that always show that good prevails, that always highlight the things that bring light and joy and peace. I write these stories because I know that that is my hope, my ultimate end destination. That one day "every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phillippians 2:10-11, ESV). It seems only fitting that if I have this hope in my life, that hope should also permeate every story I write.
So, while Beyond Beauty is written for my own peace of mind, my hope is that it brings peace of mind to each reader as well. That these stories can be your comfort read, your escape into a world where kindness prevails over prettiness and beauty is an attitude of the heart.