The Roses That Came During The Writing Of Olivia's Gift

The other day, I was talking to my talented illustrator and friend Sandra Casali LewAllen about the creation of Olivia's Gift. We had a good time reminiscing about what a busy, joy-filled year it has been, creating this new book for pre-teens and teens. We fondly remembered how much we felt St. Therese's presence as we plotted and planned what would turn out to be a book of which we became very proud.

"Remember how strong her presence was at the restaurant that day?" Sandy asked me.

How could I forget it? It was so strong it was electrifying.

But as we sat at the cafe and planned out the illustrations Sandy would create, we couldn't help but feel a roadblock for one of the plot points. I just wasn't quite happy with one of the elements of the story that I had created. I wanted it to be better, more meaningful. We sat there for a bit, deep in thought. All of a sudden, inspiration hit us both at the same time.

"What if you put it this way?" Sandy suggested.

I picked up my pen and reached for my ever-present notebook. "And how about if Olivia does this instead?"

I scribbled furiously as Sandy and I discussed the pro-life theme of the book and the metaphor I could use. That afternoon, we created what we feel is the most poignant scene in the book. The ideas were coming so quickly that I could barely write them down fast enough. I look at my notes from that day and they are a flurry of ink: excited letter formations, messy arrows, and large circles. At one point, after we had created the scene together, we looked at each other in amazement. We just knew it was supernatural. When we looked at our watches, we were startled to discover that we had spent about four hours at the restaurant that day.

"Do you feel like she's here?" I asked Sandy at one point.

Sandy nodded seriously. "She is, no question."

Sandy eventually had to leave. "I want you to write this scene today," she said firmly. "And then e-mail it to me. I know you can do it."

I was a little nervous to write such an important scene, but I promised her I would. I also told her I was going to stay at the cafe and organize my notes into something more readable before I began writing.

I decided to move to a booth and ordered a salad. I neatly began to copy my notes, pleased with what Sandy and I had come up with. I was feeling very peaceful and happy, and I felt St. Therese's presence so strongly. I couldn't wait to get home and write the scene.

The cafe workers were near my table, busy preparing soups, salads, and sandwiches, and calling out the names of the customers who had ordered them. As I munched my salad and rewrote my notes, I had a sense of excitement I couldn't deny. This book was really coming together. And I had St. Therese to thank for interceding for me.

It was then that I heard the first name being called out.


So deeply involved in my notes was I that the name barely registered.

The worker called it out again, louder this time.


My head jerked up. Had I heard that correctly? I smiled. I supposed I had. That was really cute, I thought as I sipped my drink. Really cute.

I went back to my work, but St. Therese is very persistent. We all know that.

"Rose?" I heard next.

ROSE?! I nearly dropped my drink as an older lady named Rose went to the counter to pick up her sandwich.

Then I buried my head in my hands and shook my head. I instantly picked up my cell phone and punched in Sandy's number.

"Sandy? You are never going to believe this. She's still here!"

I went home and wrote the scene in record time. It looks exactly like it did the day I wrote it.

What a sense of humor our Little Flower has!

Coming soon: More "hellos" from St. Therese, this time for Sandy!

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