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Kimberly McMillan

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    I’m a stay-at-home mom, living in Waco, Texas with my loving husband of 21 years, two amazing teenage daughters, and a spoiled black standard poodle. I love the Lord and adore the people He has put in my life. I studied Broadcast Journalism at The University of Texas at Austin where I mastered the art of storytelling. My earlier careers included creating and managing marketing campaigns for multiple businesses. As a stay-at-home mom, I never stopped searching out other people’s stories because I believe everyone has a story worth sharing. If we spent an hour together, you’d learn that I love Mexican food, cooking, traveling, adventure, music, reading, hiking, and being active outdoors. I am an avid tea-drinker, accomplished photographer, dog-lover, and a whole-hearted believer that connecting with people face-to-face is worth its weight in gold.

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    Marni struggles against stereotypes, rejection, and loss as life forces her into an unexpected home.



    Grumpa has always been a constant roadblock in Marni’s life, long before they ever met. As a lawyer, he is skilled in choosing a side, arguing his stance, and never giving up. He is always right, especially when it comes to his family’s reputation. His controlling hand interfered with Marni’s family once before and now he stands in her way again. His stubborn, old man prejudices are the perfect catalyst to Marni’s story, creating a hostile environment where his picture-perfect family is threatened by her existence. He openly refuses to accept Marni and tries to keep his wife from meeting Marni as well. He doesn’t hold back when they are together, reminding her that she doesn’t and will never fit in to the mold of the perfect southern family he’s created. His tenacious mind slowly recognizes a spark of familiarity that eventually reveals aspects of his own character within her. He watches from the outside as she struggles, knowing he’s played a part in her pain, but still wanting nothing more than to send her back home. He needs life to go back to the way it was before because Grumpa has never dealt with change positively.



    1)     Never Enough Time (current title)

    2)     Not-So Picture-Perfect 

    3)    Her Best Kept Secret



    1) Lauren K. Denton’s “Glory Road”—women’s fiction. Like my novel, Denton’s story is told through 3 generations of southern women, each with her own perspective and issues. Denton’s main character struggles with self-worth and self-acceptance which is similar to one of my characters’ personal struggles. When Lauren, the stepmother, meets Marni, the shock of who Marni is immediately reopens old wounds from her father’s infidelity. When Marni learns of her father and finally meets him on her doorstep, she is terrified that she’s in the wrong place. After discovering that these white strangers are in fact family, she struggles with her identity and the rejection her Mama faced years ago. Denton’s writing is easy to read, digest, heartwarming, and sensitive. She dives deep into the waters of women struggling to define their self-worth while recognizing that they deserve to be loved for who they are. I feel we have similar views on life, love, and family which are seen in the themes and details we’ve woven into our novels. I see a clear parallel between her established audience and the readers my book will draw.

    2) Ashley Clark’s “The Dress Shop on King Street”—women’s fiction. Like my novel, Clark’s story is told through three people. She weaves an inspirational story of love and mercy despite the hardships and obstacles that life threw at each character. Her tale, much like my novel, highlights how easily a mother’s secret can cause her children to doubt their identity and place in this world. We see the extent a mother will go to, the lies, the secrets, the sacrificial choices she’ll make to ensure her child is safe and well-loved. With the death of Marni’s Mama, her 15-year-old secret is finally revealed so that her daughter can be loved and fully known by her father. Clark’s novel also parallel’s my novel in illustrating just how much people struggle to find their place in the world. In both of our novels, the issue discussed is a bi-racial heritage. The audience that loves Clark’s writing style and storytelling techniques will similarly love my novel content, relatable characters, and underlying theme that highlights the universal language of a mother’s love.



    After the death of her mother, Marni is forced to move out of state to live with the father she never knew existed, raising alarming identity questions while she struggles to overcome rejection.

    Torn between her mother’s final wishes and an unrecognizable family, Marni comes face-to-face with a world that rejected her and her Mama.  



    Marni’s inner conflict: Loss

    Loss—lost her mother, lost her home, lost the security of her aunt, loses faith in her personal identity.

    a.      Trigger—the realization at the lawyer’s office, the reading of her Mama’s will, that she has a father and will be moving to Texas to live with him and his family.

    b.     Reaction—confused and furious. She begs her aunt to step in and take her because they are all each other has left. All she’s ever known is her Mama and Aunt Jo, so now she’s losing what little sense of home and family she has left. Living without her Mama is hard enough but sending her to live with perfect strangers in Texas, seems cruel and unimaginable.


    Secondary conflict: Rejection

    Rejected and unwanted—this involves her new family, specifically the grandfather, the head of the family. He is a stubborn, old, traditional man who sees the world as black and white. When Marni shows up, he will not entertain the idea of her, let alone be welcoming and hospitable. He refuses to accept her and lets her know that she’s not one of them, not like them, not family.

    a.      Trigger—Marni finds out that her new grandfather refuses to acknowledge her presence and will not accept her as part of the family. However, the grandmother, Mrs. Ann, takes Marni out on a girl’s date and ambushes Grumpa on the golf course. She forces Marni to ride a few holes with Grumpa where she quickly understands that he doesn’t see her as a legitimate grandchild because she’s not a product of the marriage and love he approves.

    b.     Reaction—Angry, hurt, and irritated. Marni challenges his stubborn view of love and acceptance by bringing up his dog, his half-breed that he adores. She feels rejected and unwanted not just because she’s different, but finds out he considers her a mistaken product of a relationship that he thought he had handled years ago.   

    Third inner conflict: Identity


    Setting: Book starts at a graveside. We feel the dirt beneath Marni’s feet as she approaches the graveside service, we see the flowers, the people, the faces. The scene allows for us to witness Marni as an adult and shortly afterwards, a flashback to when she buried her mother as a teenager. The setting allows us to feel her pain, setting the tone for the rest of the story.

    This book has two main settings that are complete opposites of each other. Marni’s first setting is at her childhood apartment in downtown Chicago. Her small home has distinct smell, feel and sound. The greasy pizza joint and local food holes nearby produce competing smells that mask the dingy feel of the exhaust filled air that envelops her crowded block. Inside her apartment, the city sounds of traffic and trucks loading and unloading permeate their thin walls. Space is limited, but the space she and her Mama do have is full of love, laughter, and happiness.

    Marni’s second setting is the complete opposite. She is sent to live in a small, conservative Texas town with perfect strangers, who don’t know the first thing about her. This new home is a massive mansion that sits among similar sized and beautiful houses. The openness highlights each house’s distinctive space with a sprawling front yard, huge trees, and colorful flower beds. The air is transparent and clean, no trace of exhaust fumes and the silence is almost startling. The streets are vacant, and she wonders about the people who live inside these homes. She’s used to people everywhere, practically on top of each, but that’s not the case in this small Texas town. The sounds inside her house are chaotic with the chatter and energy of two younger girls…siblings are a novelty. Inside, the house smells like a bakery, not a greasy pit stop. Her new home feels like a resort. She has her own bathroom attached to her bathroom and is marveled that she doesn’t have to share a bathroom with anyone. The giant backyard showcases a beautiful in-ground pool, a fancy play set, and a painted wooden swing dangling from the massive oak tree. This new Texas home is bigger than she ever dreamed possible, yet she feels so alone and empty.  

    We are also introduced to multiple settings throughout this quaint Texas town. We experience the city through Marni’s eyes as she shops at specialty stores, as she takes in her surroundings, as she eats at new restaurants and hole-in-the-wall joints. We are taken to the uppity country club for meals and rounds of golf. Marni is taken to a unique spot along the Bosque River, Tonkawa Falls, where she admires the river against a backdrop of jagged limestone cliffs. The readers get to experience living in a small town, the people, the sights, and the food.

    The book ends where it began, back at a graveside service. This setting reiterates loss, but also the acceptance to a family she never knew she had and never knew she wanted.

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