Earlier this month Jennifer Dornbush shared the surrender story behind her screenplay and novel, God Bless the Broken Road. Her story was so interesting I decided to take a little more time to get to know her and the behind the scenes history with God Bless the Broken Road (GBBR.)
Jennifer was gracious enough to share more below.
What inspired you to write this series, or this novel in particular?
God Bless the Broken Road (GBBR) actually began as a feature film script three years ago. My friend and director, Harold Cronk, who is best known for the God’s Not Dead movies, called me one fine summer evening. He pitched me the seed of the idea and asked what I thought? I said I thought it sounded like a solid story. And then he asked if I wanted to write it with him. Of course, I said yes.
We finished the first draft of the script on Christmas Eve, 2014. Over the course of the next year we refined it while the producers rallied the funds. In the spring of 2016 Harold shot God Bless the Broken Road.
A few months earlier, as we finished the script version, I talked with the producers about penning a novel version. They thought it would be a great idea. So my agent, Julie Gwinn, put a pitch together and while we were filming I quickly wrote the first three chapters. Within two weeks Julie had procured a couple contracts. We happily chose Simon & Schuster. I spent last summer scribing the novel and here it is a year later. The film version is also “in the can” as we say and will be releasing in 2018.
GBBR Novel Synopsis:
God Bless the Broken Road is a heartwarming story about a grieving army widow who finds her way back to her daughter, her faith, and a new love. Amber Hill never imagined she would find herself a war widow and single mom. She feels robbed and is angry at God, and she doesn’t know how to help her nine-year-old daughter Bree through her grief. Where, Amber wonders, are the Sunday dinners, the picnics, the bike rides, the time together they should be enjoying as a family? Instead, Amber is left with a folded flag and an empty heart.
Cody Jackson has a death wish. Or at least that is what his manager thinks, as Cody pushes his race car and his luck in every race. Is he hiding something, or just daring God and other racers to end the path of destruction he finds himself on as he rounds the last turn? When Cody encourages Bree to join in a Derby car race for local youth, she finds a way to channel her grief into something good—and she likes that her mom and Cody are starting to become friends—or maybe something more.
Cody invites Amber and Bree to see him race, but as they watch Cody narrowly escape a devastating crash, she realizes she can’t lose another person in her life. It’s better to be alone than feel that type of grief again. But when Amber hits rock-bottom, she cries out to God and asks for help. With her faith, her life, her family, and her heart hanging in the balance, Amber is forced to decide between the broken road she knows so well and trusting that God will provide a new path. Based on the Rascal Flatts song, God Bless the Broken Road is a moving, heart-stirring story about the power of faith to change a life. The movie version is coming 2018.
PURCHASE GOD BLESS THE BROKEN ROAD HERE
- A copy of the DVD, Sabrina (featured in the book)
- Costa Rican Tarrazu Dark Roast Coffee (a character’s favorite French Roast)
- ·An eBook of Season of Hope
don’t always get to read about in the book. Here’s a short excerpt from
Amanda’s journal the night before she left for her summer in New York.
pasture for our “anti-prom” and watched the meteor shower. I tried not to think
how the life we have shared here on Nathan’s Mountain for the past ten years is
over. Tomorrow I leave for Knoxville with Mom and Dad so I can catch a flight
to New York.
wanted so much to be alone with Tyler on our last night here. It made for a
bittersweet evening. Shouldn’t I be excited? I mean, isn’t everyone excited
when high school is finally over? I am looking forward to New
York. Phoebe intrigues me, and I want to see what life might be like if I
eventually get accepted at Barnard. This will give me a chance to see what it
would be like living in the city.
sitting on the porch at night knowing that he isn’t at the bottom of the
mountain, somewhere behind the soft glow of his porch light. No longer will he
leave here from one of our long talks and signal me with the two flashes of
that light to let me know he’s home and wish me, “sweet dreams.” There will be
no reason to rush inside to send two flashes back to him. Our sweet little
tradition is over forever. How did I not see this coming? Why have I been so
absorbed with the busyness of life that I failed to notice I was about to
experience some of the most routine things for the last time.
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From invincibility to hiding—for years, my life seemed to follow the opposite path God desires His children to take. He created us to live bold, brave, and intentional lives. He’s given us everything we need, in Christ, do this. I know this now, but for over a decade, fears and wounds from my past kept me in bondage.
You never would’ve known it to look at me. I went to church. Smiled. Served. Had friends for dinner and went to their place, all the while engaging in polite, acceptable … filtered conversation.
I felt like a fraud, convinced if they were to find out who I truly was, who I’d been, they’d want nothing to do with me.
Then came the call.
That sounds exciting, right? Except for when you’re spending your days hiding out, trying to play the part you believe is expected—by people. I’d kicked my people-pleasing up to such intensity, God’s still small voice faded into the background.
I felt certain the two were in opposition of one another. If I were to do this thing, to follow God with everything within me and surrender to Him, I might irritate a few folks. Maybe even turn others away.
It was the latter that scared me most, because God wasn’t just calling me to serve. I’d been doing that. He was calling me to serve Him transparently. To be completely real, with my sins, my struggles, my ugly side.
An ugly side that can be easy to hide when I all is going well, but when I feel squeezed or overtired? Those are the times when my ick, the part of me that God is working to chip away at, is most likely to rise up.
And yet, God was calling me to live authentically. To be real.
Not just real, but to put this transparency into writing, for all the world to see. Knowing some reading would judge me. Would see the worst in me. Would misunderstand. Maybe even choose to use my words against me.
So I hid. I continued to reveal only slivers of myself, and thus, only slivers of what God was doing within me—those things that made me look good, like I’d grown and conquered. And day-by-day, God’s still, gentle voice grew softer and more distant.
Until the chill between us became more than I cared to bear. I realized I craved intimacy with Christ more than anything else, even my pride. So I said yes, and have had to make that choice many times since, for pride never seems to stay dead for long.
What I found—the more I let God in, the more I say yes to Him, the more I begin to live.
Consider this quote by Gordon T. Smith, author of Courage and Calling: “Living our lives to the full is precisely what it means to be good stewards of our lives. … We live fully by living in a way that is deeply congruent with who we are.” (p. 18).
Congruent with who we are. Living authentically. No more hiding. No more pretending to be someone we’re not. No more trying to please others or avoid their rejection or judgment. Simply leaning deeper into Christ and allowing Him to use as—our past and our present, our strengths and our weakness, our quirks and qualities—for His glory.
I believe that’s when we truly begin to experience the full freedom available to us in Christ and the peace that “surpasses all understand.” A peace no amount of ridicule, “failure,” or rejection can take away.
What about you? Are you living authentically, or are you in some state of hiding? Can you sense God saying to you, “Come out, my beloved, chosen by God. Let my Spirit flow, unhindered, through you as I use you to bring about my good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
Say yes, friend. I promise, you won’t regret it.
Bio and Blurb:
Author, speaker, and ministry leader Jennifer Slattery writes for Crosswalk.com and is the managing and acquiring editor for Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, an imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She believes fiction has the power to transform lives and change the culture. Healing Love is her sixth novel, and it was birthed during a trip she and her family took to El Salvador that opened her eyes to the reality of generational poverty and sparked a love for orphans and all who’ve experienced loss.
Her deepest passion is to help women experience God’s love and discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she travels with her team to various churches to speak to women and help them experience the love and freedom only Christ can offer. When not writing, editing, or speaking, you’ll likely find her chatting with her friends or husband in a quiet, cozy coffeehouse. Visit her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her and her Wholly Loved team at WhollyLoved.com
Genre: Women’s fiction with a strong romantic thread
Dual setting—Southern California, and El Salvador
Blurb: A news anchor intern has it all planned out, and love isn’t on the agenda.
Brooke Endress is on the cusp of her lifelong dream when her younger sister persuades her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador. Packing enough hand sanitizer and bug spray to single-handedly wipe out malaria, she embarks on what she hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
But Brooke is blindsided by the desperation for hope and love she sees in the orphans’ eyes. And no less by the connection she feels with her handsome translator. As newfound passion blooms, Brooke wrestles with its implications for her career dreams.
Ubaldo Chavez, teacher and translator, knows the struggle that comes with generational poverty. But he found the way out – education – and is determined to help his students rise above.
When he agrees to translate for a mission team from the United States he expects to encounter a bunch of “missional tourists” full of empty promises. Yet an American news anchor defies his expectations, and he finds himself falling in love. But what does he have to offer someone with everything?
Learn more about Healing Love by visiting Goodreads.
Pre-Order Healing Love HERE
God Is Waiting To Bless Your Broken Road: Just Surrender!
My new novel (soon to be a major motion picture) God Bless the Broken Road, is a textbook on surrender. After two years, the protagonist, Amber Hill, has still not been able to completely surrender the loss of her military husband to God and it’s starting to create great havoc in her life. No spoilers, but in her efforts to try to control her life, emotions, and circumstances, she almost loses the most important thing her husband ever gave her.
When writing the script (which I actually wrote before writing the novel), I always kept in mind this concept of surrendering our will to God’s will. The question of surrender drives Amber’s every decision in every scene and chapter.
It’s easy to relate to Amber. I know I do! When we’re in those “bad places” of life, we don’t always see God with us. We don’t feel like He is and it can be really hard to seek Him. But He is always there and He is always providing us with amazing blessings, even if we don’t acknowledge them. One of the keys to surrender on our broken roads is to turn our gaze to Him so that we can start healing. As we begin to recognize Him along the path, we can become filled with His hope and renewed purpose. When we turn to Him and humble ourselves, He can start to guide us and shape our brokenness into blessing. Grab a copy of GBTBR to see how this pans out for Amber.
But wait! Surrendering to God is only the start. God’s healing work is complete when we surrender in the context of our community. This is great news! It means we don’t have to travel our broken roads alone. God has given us friends and family to lean for support and encouragement. This can make a huge difference when we are going through trying times.
Now, I get it. It can be difficult to let down your guard and let people into your pain (the people who love you don’t always “get it”). This takes a great deal of vulnerability and courage. Mother Theresa said the greatest poverty we have today is the feeling of loneliness because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. We see this in GBTBR with Amber, who consistently refuses the well-meaning help of her family and friends. She has forgotten that she belongs to God and God’s people here on hearth. Instead, she chooses time after time to exclude those around her in her pain. And she becomes really, really lonely.
Of course, Amber’s despair eventually leads her to hit rock bottom and she is finally ready to surrender… with the help of an unlikely character. In that moment of letting go, Amber’s life turns and she finds a renewed purpose, joy, love, and a community very eager to have her back in the fold.
Maybe you are the one being called to can help someone on their broken road? It’s so simple to be there for someone. You don’t have to be a professional counselor or therapist to help someone heal from a wounding. Most time the very best thing is to just to take a moment from your day to pause, listen, and lend a hug or word of encouragement. How exciting to think that God may be using you to bless someone’s broken road! How will show someone today that they are deeply, deeply loved?
Author Website: www.jenniferdornbush.com
Facebook: Jennifer Graeser Dornbush
Instagram: Jennifer Dornbush
GBBR Book link:
GBBR Audiobook link:
GBBR Movie Trailer link:
Jennifer Dornbush Bio
Jennifer is a writer, speaker and forensic specialist creating diverse range of stories that shed light on the dark places of the human experience.
Her story creation is bred from a very unsheltered childhood as the daughter of a medical examiner whose office was in her home. She investigated her first fatality, an airplane crash, when she was 8 years-old and from there gathered a decade of on-sight experience in death investigation and 360 hours of forensic training through the Forensic Science Academy.
The stories she creates stem from the unique range of human experiences. Because of her background, she does not shy away from telling stories about tough circumstances and how characters choose to deal with them. Jennifer’s characters encounter light in their darkness… redemption where none seems possible… and bits of levity to sweeten the journey.
Her feature film, God Bless the Broken Road is slated for release in 2017 in conjunction with the novel released on June 6th by the same title published by Simon & Schuster.
Jennifer has several crime drama series being developed for television and a bi-lingual kid’s show, Team Abuelita, in production with Baby First TV.
Wanting to share her love of forensics with other storytellers, she scribed non-fiction work, Forensic Speak: How To Write Realistic Crime Dramas, published by Michael Wiese Productions, hailed as a north star to creating authentic crime dramas.
As a forensic specialist she has consulted with TV writers on network and cable TV shows. She regularly leads seminars and webinars on forensics and crime fiction and has taught screenwriting on the high school and university level and mentored new writers.
Sign up for her newsletter and YouTube channel at: www.jenniferdornbush.com
Tags: author, fiction, God is Waiting to Bless Your Broken Road by Jennifer Dornbush, grief, guest blogger, Julie Arduini, military widow, motion picture, novel, redemption, screenplay, surrender, transformation
When ENTRUSTED was re released last year, I asked a group of authors what the best method of marketing was. Their answer?
Write more books.
That took me awhile to comprehend, as easy as it was. Yet, I see the brilliance of the answer.
I have a ways to go, but in one year:
- ENTRUSTED was re released
- ENTANGLED released
- ENGAGED is now available
- FINDING FREEDOM THROUGH SURRENDER-A 30 Day Devotional complements the series by featuring short readings from the characters regarding letting go of fear, loss, change, and the future. I also share my own personal experiences to encourage readers. It’s also available on Amazon.
My heart is to get to know readers and connect with them. Since I started writing for publication, I’ve seen social media change. Facebook has had several transformations. Snapchat didn’t even exist. Email? That doesn’t change.
As I keep writing, I want to make sure we don’t lose touch.
If you visit my website, you have the opportunity to receive ENTRUSTED as a FREE eRead. If you do, I have a second FREE eRead ready for you. I don’t take readers for granted. So be ready to enjoy ENTRUSTED and MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN!
Back to writing!
Tags: author, change, engaged, Entangled, Entrusted, fear, fiction, Finding Freedom Through Surrender-A 30 Day Devotional, future, How to Receive Two Free eReads from Julie Arduini, Julie Arduini, loss, non fiction, regret, surrender
It’s been busy yet again, but I have great news!
ENGAGED is available! Right now it’s ready for electronic devices, and the print version will be early July. If you don’t have a Kindle, no worries. Download the free Amazon Kindle app and start reading on your device!
I’ll talk more about ENGAGED this week, but right now I wanted to let you know I share some very transparent and vulnerable thoughts with the Wholly Loved team today. It started with a bird feeder I wanted on Amazon and how I thought about our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
I love how Jennifer challenged me to dig deeper with this post, because I had to confront feelings that aren’t quite resolved. From that is coming a beautiful dialogue with readers on the Wholly Loved Facebook page. I hope you will join me there!
Wife. Mom. Author. Reader. Blogger. Amateur nature photographer. Chocolate eater. Encouraging you to surrender the good, the bad, and—maybe one day—the chocolate.
Find me across social media @JulieArduini, and follow me on my Amazon Author Page.
Where Else You Can Find Me
Surrendering Time Series & Recent Releases
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