I had planned to continue this conversation earlier in the week, but life and my day job took precedence. Now that I have a moment, I’d like to continue the story that I began for you in my earlier Taking Back the Past – AFW post. In that post, I told you what was going on around the time my first Silhouette title, A Family Wedding, was first published in 1997. In this post, I want to tell you about the time around the publication of my second Silhouette title, Second Chance Dad.
I have to tell you that I was flying pretty high at this point. Remember that I had given myself three years to make a living wage from my writting. At this point, I had finished the first book of my third two-book contract with Arabesque and, with Second Chance Dad, I was writing what my editor and I planned would be the first in my three-book series on the Bell brothers. Second Chance Dad was a Christmas book, meaning that it was released around December 1997. By the way, I had four books published that year — two for Silhouette and two for Arabesque. I’m telling you I was on a roll.
Okay, back to the Bell brothers. So, Second Chance Dad was a Christmas book that introduced the three Bell brothers. Get it–Bell brothers, Christmas bells? When the book was first published there was a family tree in the front done up as Christmas bells. This is the indication that there were going to be more books about the Bell brothers. At least, there was supposed to be more, but a funny thing happened when I sat down to write the next book: I couldn’t write it. Literally, nothing came. No outline, no anything.
Well, I figured I just needed to clear my head so I decided to work on my next book for Arabesque. Again, nothing came. Hmm, I began to wonder if I was experiencing my first case of writer’s block. To get over it, I decided to take a short break from writing and come back to it after a few weeks. Well, when I came back the same thing happened. Now what I was I going to do? Well, then I thought I was being constrained by the romance format so I tried to write my first mainstream novel. I even managed to pull a story idea together and talk to an agent about it but the agent, Denise Stinson, didn’t like the idea. We ending up going back and forth on a few ideas but nothing clicked, so here I was back at square zero. What was I going to do?
Well, I ended up calling an old high school friend, Nora, and that call changed the course of my life. Literally. There’s something wonderful about talking to someone who’s known you a very long time and who knows you extremely well. Anyway, Nora quickly cut to the chase and asked me a pivotal question, “Why don’t you write something that glorifies God?” Actually, that’s not exactly what she said, but I’ll save the actual words for when I tell that story in person. Just know that the call to Nora and her question gave me a lot to think about and started me on a journey that led me to where I am today.
Nora’s question made me think about my writing. Was she saying that what I was writing wasn’t glorifying God? Now, like many of you, the first thought that came to my mind was how I handled sexaul intimacy in my romances, but that was not the point that got me. The point that got me was that my stories had no mention of God, none at all. I told positive stories but I left Him out, and I did it deliberately. I left Him out because I knew He would complicate my stories. My characters would have to deal with Him instead of just their consciences and the people around them. That makes a big difference in a story.
So I began a journey to tell a love story where He was a major character. Well, things were a bit more complicated than that because I was under contract to write another book for Arabesque and my editor at Silhouette was expecting my Bell brothers series proposal. Since I didn’t see how I was going to meet either of those commitments given my new direction, I had to let my editors know. Fortunately for me, they were very gracious and we parted amicably.
So now I was free to pursue my love story with God as a major character and I should have been happy, right? Well, I was, in a way, but there was some sadness, too, because I saw my dream of becoming a full-time writer in the three years period I had given myself fading fast. And that begins the next part of my saga. Stay tuned.