The Story Behind the Story

Writers are always asked, “What sparked your
story?” or “What’s made you write this story?”
Chapel Springs Survival was based
on our eldest son, who got himself m 21st Century “mail-order bride”
from Columbia. The novel varied drastically from his actual story. Our
daughter-in-law is the best that ever happened to him.
When I had turned in that book to my publisher, I
asked God, “What now?”
Write your
But mine wasn’t fraught with conflict. Well, there
was some, but not the kind that carries a work of fiction. Still, the idea
would leave me alone. My story happened like this:
On a hot July morning while sipping a
cup of coffee, I opened my email. Nothing breath-taking about that, except on
that particular day, I was asked a question that irrevocably changed my life: “Are you the Ane Mulligan looking for
your birthmother, Elsie Vauna Mullvain?”
It yanked the breath right out me. I’d
always known I was adopted. From the day mom and dad brought me home at three
months old, they told me I was a chosen baby. 
My childhood was idyllic…well, maybe
not for my parents, given the fact I was a barely-contained firecracker. But
for me, it was great. Born in January 1947 in Southern California, I truly was
a child of the fifties, when Cokes were a nickel and roller skates had
I can’t say I was never curious about
my birth parents; I was. For one thing, I didn’t look like anyone. I became a
people watcher, always wondering.
In 1998, I received a letter from my
dad. It was the kind of stock paper used for official court documents.
Premonition made my heart pound. I took a deep breath, and with trembling
hands, I slowly slid it from the envelope. A sticky-note was adhered to the
outside of the folder. “I don’t know if you want this or not. Love,
That was all. I peeled off the yellow
sticky and caught my breath as I read:
The adoption of
Roberta Ann Mullvain
Though I’d never seen nor heard that
name before, I knew it was mine. And suddenly I wasn’t me any more. 
who was I?
I opened the blue folder and quickly
scanned its pages, until I saw it – my mother’s name; Elsie V. Mullvain. Countless emotions whirled. Scenarios
played out and were cast aside. I truly didn’t know how I felt or should feel.
For a word merchant, I was an empty page. I refolded the papers, and slid them
in the envelope.
Another year passed, and I’d reached an
age where changes were taking place that I wasn’t so happy about. After all,
who wants wrinkles and triceps that continued to goodbye for a full two minutes
after you’d left? I needed a place to lay the blame for the havoc gravity was
playing on my body. When I brushed my hair, I found myself staring into the
mirror, my hand pausing it in its work, wondering how did my mother age? Did I
look like her? I had a million questions and no one to ask. I decided it was
time to search for Elsie. 
In March of 1999, I received a phone
call as a result of my search. The woman said she had an Aunt Elsie Vauna
Mullvain, and she would forward my letter to her. However, this cousin
cautioned, when she’d told Elsie about my letter, her aunt said when she was
young, she’d let a friend use her name. 
That sent me to the state of Confusion
Was that true? Or was she lying to
protect herself? In truth, it made no sense. Back in the 1940s, a person’s good
name meant everything to them. I was left to wonder if my search had ended in
success, or was this only step two? I waited. A month later, I received a
letter from Elsie and with it, more of her story. 

While she told me about her situation
back then, which remarkably matched my earlier fantasies, she did not want a
relationship with me. I understood and honored that. My only other
communication was to send her flowers on her birthday that year. The card
merely said, “Thank you.” 
I didn’t contact her again. Although I
was saddened a bit, I never knew her, so the loss wasn’t as hard as it could
have been. After all, I had no mental picture of her; she was still faceless to
me. I never got a sense of her personality from her letter. Maybe it was
strength of will, but I closed that door.
However, through the cousin who had
called me I learned I had sisters. While I had a loving relationship with my
adopted brother, I’d always wanted a sister and now I had several. I prayed and
hoped one day I could find them. However, with no names, I had no way to search
for them. I relinquished the dream into God’s hands. It was never out of my
mind, though.  
On July 18th, 2009, I got an
email from a woman named Linda, asking that breath-taking question. Linda
connected me with my birth sisters. The moment I met four of them in Seattle,
they welcomed me with open arms and open hearts. One sister told me I’d spent
a lifetime lost and finally I’d come home.

Debby Jo’s words “come home” resonated in my heart
long after I returned to Atlanta, and I knew I would one day write this story. Home to Chapel Springs is that book.
A homeless author, a
theatre ghost, and a heartbroken daughter ~ there’s trouble in Chapel Springs
There’s always someone new in Chapel Springs, either coming
home or stirring up trouble. Bestselling author Carin Jardine’s latest book is
a flop. Homeless and broke, she and her little boy have no choice but to
retreat to the house she inherited from her nana in Chapel Springs—the house
that’s been gutted. Then, a stranger knocks on her door. One that will change
the course of her life. With one of her daughters in love with the wrong boy, a
theatre rumored to be haunted, and Howie Newlander and Mayor Riley go
head-to-head in a hot election, Claire gets caught in the middle.
Do you have a story that needs to be a book?