I hate conflict. I don’t like getting into disagreements with my husband. I don’t like having a spat with a friend. As a parent, I hated the constant conflict resolution that was needed when my two kids didn’t get along. As a teacher, I sure didn’t enjoy being the one who had to break up the many tiffs between pubescent girls. And as a Grandma? Well, let’s just say that I sometimes choose to become an ostrich.
So when I began writing fiction, I had a problem. I knew that conflict is a main ingredient to a good story, and if I was going to write good, compelling fiction, I had to have compelling conflict that would hold the reader’s attention. But how was I going to address the very thing I was tempted to run from? I had to settle that question, and quick!
Although conflict is often present in almost every day of most of our lives, we often overlook or ignore it. For me, when confronted with conflict, I tend to self-talk, fret, stew, worry, and struggle with sleepless nights. But those ways of dealing with conflict won’t make a good story.
Conflict is uncomfortable, and most conflict just plain hurts. But that’s what keeps readers reading. Like you and me, readers want to know how others deal with conflict, how characters try and fail and try again and finally succeed.
Because it’s hard for me to invent conflict when I want to avoid it, I had to be aware of this weakness. So when I was doing my rewrites and editing, I often had to add an element of conflict or deepen it. In Sara’s Surprise, there’s a lot of conflict going on—conflict I drew from personal experience.
Have you ever been harassed by an employer? I have, and it’s pretty traumatizing. In this “Me Too” movement, lots of women are speaking up about their trials and tribulations in the workplace, so I decided to explore the topic.
In Sara’s Surprise, her boss abuses her in lots of ways, as was all-too-common in 1873. Women had no recourse and often feared they’d be blamed and dismissed from their jobs, so they kept silent. Back then, women were often devalued and unappreciated, underpaid and treated poorly. And men took advantage of the cultural norms of the day.
As a single mom in the early 1990s, I was treated poorly too, and I regret that I was afraid to speak up and expose the nasty man who threatened, teased, and tormented me. As a leader in the organization, that should never have occurred, but it did. Thankfully, today’s climate is more open to reporting such abuse.
Sara’s Surprise explores this problem from several angles. But in the midst of Sara’s trials, she falls in love and learns a lot about the art of baking French pastries. And the lovely Christmas surprise will delight you this holiday season. I hope you’ll pick up a copy and enjoy the story.
Back Cover Copy of Sarah’s Surprise:
Sara O’Neill, works as an assistant pastry chef at the magnificent Thousand Islands Crossmon Hotel where she meets precocious, lovable, seven-year-old Madison and her charming father and hotel manager, Sean Graham. But Jacque LaFleur, the pastry chef Sara works under, makes her dream job a nightmare. Sean Graham has trouble keeping his mind off Sara and Madison out of mischief. Though he finds Sara captivating, he despises LaFleur and misreads Sara’s desire to learn from the pastry chef as affection. Can Sean learn to trust Sara and can she trust herself to be an instant mother?
Susan G Mathis is a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Katelyn’s Choice, the first in The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, is available now, and book two, Devyn’s Dilemma, releases in April, 2020. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are available now. Visit www.SusanGMathis.comfor more.
Susan is also a published author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale, two children’s picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her wonderful husband, Dale, and relishes each time she gets to see or Skype with her four granddaughters.