It’s been a particularly exciting—and memorable—season for Melody Carlson.

In addition to wrapping up her beloved Inn at Shining Waters Series with River’s End, she also just received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Romantic Times and had the privilege of spending time with a brave 18-year-old young woman named Bethany who, through Make-A-Wish, chose to spend a day with her all-time favorite author working on what else? A book.

Because Melody was already about to work on edits for her upcoming novel, Prom Queen, she says she felt as if it was a God thing to include her on the process. They also collaborated on Bethany’s upcoming memoir about her journey with cancer.

“It was an honor getting to know Bethany,” Melody says. “She is a sweet, optimistic girl with a beautiful smile and the patience of Job; and her story melded wonderfully into Prom Queen. She said it brought a tear to her eye when she read it.”

As for Melody’s latest work, River’s End, themes of forgiveness and healing runthrough in the story of Sarah, who has been neglected by her parents and has struggled with or through her mother’s addictions and issues. Sarah gets so fed up, in fact, that she runs away with her boyfriend and gets involved in some cult communes.

“Sarah is the prodigal granddaughter, running off in search of home and family without really appreciating the fact that these needs will be met back at the river. Communes were common on the west coast during the ’60s and ’70s, and most people who got pulled in were hungry for family and community and God,” Melody says. “For some reason, I’ve always been fascinated by this cultural phenomenon and have written several books on the subject.”

When reflecting on her recent accolade from Romantic Times, Melody says the only secret to success she can think of is that she loves—and connects with—being a storyteller.

“To me, stories are as limitless as people on the planet,” Melody says. For that, her readers are (no doubt) incredibly thankful.

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2012 issue of FamilyFiction digital magazine. Subscribe for free today!

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About The Author

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books for teens, women, and children. Before publishing, Melody traveled around the world, volunteered in teen ministry, taught preschool, raised two sons, and worked briefly in interior design and later in international adoption. "I think real-life experiences inspire the best fiction," she says. Her wide variety of books seems to prove this theory.