Author Carol Denekas speaks to a group about her book, Rescuing Love, at the Spring Grove Public Library. PHOTO: KELLEY STANAGE/SPRING GROVE HERALD
Author Carol Denekas speaks to a group about her book, Rescuing Love, at the Spring Grove Public Library. PHOTO: KELLEY STANAGE/SPRING GROVE HERALD

After knowing all her life that being a novelist was what she wanted to do, Carol Denekas' first novel, Rescuing Love has been published.

Denekas wrote her first novel at age 11. She said, "It was a historical romance. I'm not sure what I had to contribute to the world of romance at the age of 11. But I do remember reading it out loud to my dad . . . Now that I'm a parent, I applaud his ability to keep a straight face."

Denekas maintains, "Writing has always been like breathing to me."

Authors are frequently asked for whom they write. Denekas said she writes for herself, "At certain times my writing has been my best friend, my source of comfort, my security, my way to dream and my way to explore ideas and the world around me. At different times in my adult life, my writing has been what grounded me, but kept me strong through many dark times. And, my writing provided a way for me to retain my individuality as separate from being a mother or a wife."

Her main focus in writing the novel was to "bring awareness to the importance of relationships, and how we care for one another." She said, "Relationships define our lives. They show what we value and how we are as people."

Denekas received her Bachelor's degree in English from Luther College, minoring in Secondary Education and Communications. She started writing about the characters in the book, Daniel and Emily, when she was in her twenties.

It took her about four months to write the original version of the book. She submitted the manuscript to a British publisher in the early nineties. During that era, before the Internet was widely in use, the publisher would notify authors of the status of their manuscript via postcards saying, "It went through round one, it went through round two." Denekas' novel had survived six rounds of review, having received six postcards.

Then, she said, "I just couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep." So she called the publisher and asked, "Can you tell me today if you are going to publish my book?" There was silence on the other end of the line, then the response, "Do you know what you're doing?" Denekas responded, "Yes, I really think I do."

The publisher returned the manuscript, and she "tucked it back safely in the locked suitcase with all the other writings." She said she just wasn't ready for it to be published. She felt it was not something she would have been proud for her children and grandchildren to read.

After eight years of marriage to a wonderful man, she feels a "gentle quality has crept into her work," that her husband has managed to help her "whittle away some of the sharp edges." She laughingly said she's not the easiest person to live with.

Her catalyst for getting Rescuing Love published was her "writing buddy", Pat. Pat had wandered into the library looking for someone to help her edit her own book, in Denekas' words, "a big thick whodunit book - a very interesting book." Once they finished Pat's book, Pat was insistent that they work on Denekas' book.

Pat signed her contract with her publisher in March, and just last week was diagnosed with MS. "Life is just not fair sometimes," said Denekas, "What I have been reminded of this last week with Pat is that life is just too short and uncertain to not go after your dreams."

Denekas brought a painting of a Victorian front porch with her to the library. She said the painting has always been a symbol for her. The symbol is also important to the novel.

She has always hung this painting in a prominent place in every house in which she's lived. She said she "had a very unhappy, unhealthy, and even dangerous first marriage."

She feels the front porch embodies living in the Midwest, and the values it represents such as hard work, honesty, caring for one another, and personal integrity. She said the porch scene was a constant reminder for her that there "was a better way for me and my daughters. It was a symbol of hope that the suggested peace and hope that you see in this picture could be a reality for me and my children."

She said, "The things that sustain us through our hard times can be very simple. They don't have to be grand and expensive - only meaningful to us."

Denekas lives with her husband, three daughters and miniature schnauzer, Sam in a 1918 American Four Square home that they've been renovating for five years. For more information, visit her website at