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.
11 thoughts on “Taking Back the Past – SCD”
No you DIDN’T leave me hanging like that!!!!!!!! Angela, be glad I don’t have your number!! 🙂 I am REALLY enjoying taking this journey with you. I’ve always wondered what the life of an author was like-how they got started, their search for a publisher, what happens when you experience writer’s block, etc. I’m glad for you that the two secular publishers were understanding and gracious. That could have been ugly. Even though it was a challenging transition (b/c now you didn’t think you would be able to accomplish your three-year plan), doesn’t it feel good knowing that you are right where God wants you to be, in the center of His will for your life. There’s no greater feeling. And look at all the lives you’re touching NOW. 🙂
Another cliffhanger. I am loving your testimony. Thank you for sharing your story.
I loved your book the Amen Sisters, and found “A Family Wedding” I love the Lord, and your books let us realize that just because we are saved we do make mistakes and are human. Keep writing and I will find your books.
What Val says is really part of my life-story, too. We all make mistakes as Christians. I was born into a born-again family. They lived as much as possible by God’s standards even during World War II in Germany. My grandfather, who was probably the least godly of them, always called Hitler “that criminal” to the point that the rest of the family was really glad when he joined the navy again in his mid-40s and was therefore no longer in the Berlin danger zone. It had such an impact on my mother that when she had Alzheimer’s, she kept asking “Where’s Papa?” For a long time I thought she meant my father but one day I asked her whom she really meant: Her father. I then put two and two together and realized that she was again in the time when she constantly worried about her father’s arrest.
Now thia is off-topic. But anyway, even as a child I learned a lot about the Bible. Somewhere I still have my view of the Christmas story from before my 7th birthday. My mother had written it down. I accepted Jesus as my Savior at a summer Bible camp when I was 9. Soon I became plagued with a lot of guilt which I confessed in my prayers but was afraid to reveal to anyone else. I felt you should not sin anymore, and I knew I did.
Anyway, I eventually learned that we *do* still sin and accepted the fact but the feelings of guilt have never left completely. However, it taught me to be tolerant of the failings of other Christians. We truly are human and God loves us despite that. The person I had the most trouble forgiving that fact was actually my mother because she had told me about her marvelous experiences with God’s guiding hand and she was still doing things which made me angry. *She* was my Christian model for a long time before I made another realization: Christ himself is our *only* model.
There is that ambivalence between people who think that as a Christian you can sin at will because you will be forgiven and those that think you must be perfect to be a Christian.
What we must really accept, despite all our sins and guilt, is that we are God’s works in progress. We will never be perfect in this life. And that is so that no-one can claim perfection except Christ himself. Therefore, forgiving ourselves is a key point that I find harder even than forgiving others for their failings.
Angela, just know and don’t ever forget that none of us follows God’s will for our lives completely and exactly. God, however, will bring us around to doing it whenever we are ready to do so. I’m sure you have discovered that yourself or you wouldn’t be the person you are today.
Big hugs and thanks for sharing your journey with us.
I just phoned for an update on my sister-in-law’s father. At first the x-rays apparently did not show conclusively that his hip was broken. Jock fell on Tuesday about 9 or 10 p.m. I talked with his doctor son-in-law just now and they are just finishing surgery at this moment. Several emergencies like heart surgery and transplants took place before regular surgeries. Our University Hospital was the best in brain-aneurysm surgery which was pioneered by a Dr. Drake. Dr. Cal Stiller also did a lot of transplants and was instrumental in finding an anti-rejection drug. His brother and family go to our church and the youngest brother was head of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada for many years. It did lobbying in Parliament on a lot of issues that touched Christians.
Anyway, poor Jock is very down about this latest turn of events. Who can blame him? Please pray that this might lead him back to accepting the Lord. His wife, Ausma, now has completed 3 chemo sessions and is doing fairly well on that front. I told David, who is not a believer either, that I had asked others to pray for them. Maybe he, too, will realize that prayer can change things; that knowing the Lord is of vital importance. We don’t know what the purpose in life’s happenings is. Only God does and all we can do, is be ready when someone asks for the help we can give in leading them to God. Only the Holy Spirit can prepare their hearts for that.
Geigh, Ronda, Val and Sigrun, I’m so happy that you all are on this journey with me. Thanks so much for sharing your words of encouragement with me.
Sigrun, my heart and prayers are with you and your family. I thank God for you and for the heart that you have for Him and the love that you have for the family in which He has placed you.
I was especially touched by this statement:
“*She* was my Christian model for a long time before I made another realization: Christ himself is our *only* model.”
What a powerful lesson! I remember my roommate in College saying that I was an example to her of what it meant to be a Chrisian, not because I always did everything right but because I didn’t! Now that sorta stung at first, but I do think it helps others to see us acknowledge where we fall short, repent, and move on with life in the Lord. Anyway, thanks for sharing that.
I’ll say a prayer for Jock and Ausma.
I so enjoyed reading the newsletter. I decided to take the time and read it on this leisurely rainy Sunday. You know I have been a fan from the beginning and have read everything you wrote including your writing book. Yes, I am one of those that has one of those coveted books. It was great reading about your writing journey. When I saw your name on the list to attend Slam Jam, I was feeling bad I didn’t make it this year. Sorry you couldn’t make it after all. I was there last year in Dallas. I wrote an article for Affaire de Coeur (the magazine I still review for) in the May/June 2005 issue. In it, I give a history of the Romance Slam Jam. I’m anxious to hear from those that went this weekend.
Dera, thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. I’m really sorry I missed Slam Jam, but I’m having a hard time finding time for writing events because of the demands of my job. Is your AdC article online? I remember reading it, but I’d like to link to it somewhere on my site.
Awakening Mercy was the first book of yours that I read, being an avid Christian fiction reader at the time, but I loved that book and went on to read Abiding Hope and the writing book. It’s great to hear how it all happened.
Glad you’re enjoying the story, Marilynn. I’m enjoying the telling of it.