In celebration of her debut novel, I’ve invited my friend Amanda Wen to the blog today! Amanda has been such an encouragement to me, it’s a real privilege to host her here and cheer on her debut novel!

by Amanda Wen

It was the year I was going to Get Super-Organized and Take Charge of My Time.

I’ve always been a fairly organized person, especially in the area of time management. With three kids and a job, time management is a must. But when I signed that long-sought contract for my debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone, I suddenly realized there’d be way more responsibilities added to my plate. More deadlines. Longer to-do list. And my old planning system—scribbling my daily lists and appointments into a blank notebook—likely wouldn’t suffice. I needed a Big Fat Planner.

After a lot of research and trying out a couple different ones, I finally found the Big Fat Planner of my dreams. This 8.5”x11” spiral-bound system would be the golden ticket. I’d be able to schedule writing time. Keep track of rehearsals, performances, and lessons for my other life as a professional musician. Stay on top of the kids’ activities. Finally, I’d take control of every minute, plan to perfection, keep every plate spinning, and crush my goals.

My Big Fat Planner worked….for the first ten weeks or so of 2020.

And then the world fell apart.

I suspect my contemporary hero, Garrett Anderson, has more in common with me than either of us would like to admit. A financial planner by trade, Garrett’s definitely a Type-A Uber-Planner/Control Freak Enthusiast like me. And that comes in handy when his grandfather suddenly passes away, leaving his recently-widowed grandmother, Rosie, in need of a plan for her care. Afflicted with Alzheimer’s, Rosie loses ground by the day, and it’s uncertain how long she’ll be able to safely remain in the large, century-old farmhouse where she’s lived for most of her life. What’s more, her financial situation is perilous. She needs cash, fast.

So Garrett’s come up with the perfect plan: sell his grandmother’s house and use the proceeds to fund a move to a memory care facility. It’s a wrenching plan to be sure, but he’s got to keep his heart out of it and do the right thing. However, his perfect plan runs up against several obstacles. His stubborn sister Lauren, who’s determined to keep Rosie in her home as long as possible. Sloane, the museum curator whose curiosity about an old diary he found in his grandmother’s attic has led to her growing quite attached to the house. And it doesn’t help Garrett one bit when he finds himself falling for Sloane. 

Perhaps, like Garrett and me, your perfect plans have run up against the cheese grater of reality. Chances are the events of the last year have required you to alter some—or many, or all—of your plans. If you’re a Control Enthusiast like us, having to change so many plans, not being able to know for sure what life will look like one day to the next, can be very unsettling.

But God has a plan that’s better than any of ours. Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us that our own intelligence, no matter how keen, is no match for His. We only see a small part of His story, and we see it from a single, highly limited perspective. But God sees the whole thing, beginning to end, and He knows how He’ll weave our individual lives and stories together into His perfect tapestry. When we stop striving, get out of the way, and let God take over, the results are not always immediately obvious.

They may not even be what we’d consider good.

But in His time they will be far more beautiful than anything we could ask or imagine.

I still bought a Big Fat Planner for 2021. Pandemic or no, I still have deadlines to meet. Kids to keep track of. Rehearsals and performances I hope to see happen. But this year, I bought my planner with the knowledge that God is the ultimate Planner, and that whatever fills the blank spaces of these days, weeks, and months He gifts me will be part of His perfect plan.

Also, where planners and calendars are concerned, I’ve learned the hard way to always write in pencil.

My Big Fat Planner worked….for the first ten weeks or so of 2020. And then the world fell apart. – @AuthorAmandaWen with #hope for when our plans are derailed. #Christianfiction @emilyrconrad

If you’re a Control Enthusiast, having to change so many plans can be very unsettling. But God. @AuthorAmandaWen shares #hope for uncertain times. #Christianfiction @emilyrconrad

When we let God take over, the results are not always immediately obvious. They may not even be what we’d consider good. But in His time they will be far more beautiful than anything we could ask or imagine. via @AuthorAmandaWen #hope @emilyrconrad

Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest, among others. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist.

Amanda is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and regularly contributes author interviews for their Fiction Finder feature. She also frequently interviews authors for her blog, and is a regular contributor to the God Is Love blog. Her debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone, releases from Kregel Publications on February 2, 2021.

In addition to her writing, Amanda is an accomplished professional cellist and pianist who frequently performs with orchestras, chamber groups, and her church’s worship team, as well as serving as a choral accompanist. She’s also been spotted onstage with the worship band at ACFW conferences. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Amanda currently lives in Kansas with her patient, loving, and hilarious husband, their three adorable Wenlets, and a snuggly Siamese cat.

To find her blog and short stories, visit Readers can also follower her on Facebook (@AuthorAmandaWen), Twitter (@AuthorAmandaWen), and Instagram (@authoramandawen). 


Roots of Wood and Stone Sedgwick County Chronicles

This historic home holds the keys to their destiny . . .and their hearts

Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn’t expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary.Now she’s on the hunt to find out more.

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother’s historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer’s, he can’t afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who’s fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love–and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.


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Photo credits

Yearly planner photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

Woman writing on paper photo by Paico Oficial on Unsplash

Planner with flowers photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash 


Emily here with one last little note. 

Do you know about Bookbub? It’s a service that lets you opt in to receive emails about sales in your favorite genres. When you follow authors there, Bookbub will send you an email if their ebooks go on sale and when they have a new release! 

Through February 10th, you can enter to win this Sweeps by following me and other great authors on Bookbub! Check it out here.