Thursday, March 31, 2005
How I Got Here, Part 25
Back for more? Sheesh, y’all are masochists.
Ron, I laughed at your comment. And Kelly, I see now that my last line could easily have been misunderstood. (Maybe I need an editor for this here blog.) I didn’t mean to be telling y’all that I’d be sliding downhill from then on. I meant to say I was expecting that selling books from that point would be all downhill. In other words, no more worries.
So I finally, after 9 ½ years, held a bonafide, real life contract in my hands. I was gonna be a published novelist!
This house had been around a long time and was an established publishing company. However, with the recent explosion of Christian fiction at the time, fiction was a rather new market for it. The house decided to get into fiction in a major way. So they started acquiring—fast. I was one of those acquirees. (If that’s not a word, it oughtta be.)
The above paragraph is a very good example of telling backstory. However, it’s also something you’ll eventually need to know.
Before I proceed with my tale, I want to shift gears to the present for a moment. I’m just beginning to hear back from people who’ve read Dead of Night. Now they are fast, indeed, because the books just hit stores. Some of these folks bought a copy from me at Mount Hermon. I am very pleased with the letters so far. The people who’ve written really love the story—call it fast-paced, intense, and all that. But they all have mentioned the spiritual emphasis of the story on prayer. Man, I hope letters like this continue. The majority of letters I’ve received in the past have talked about how much people love such and such a book. Far fewer letters have mentioned being spiritually moved in some way by the story, even though all my stories have a strong Christian emphasis. I think with Dead of Night, I’ll see a shift in this. It’s interesting. Dead of Night is by far my most intense novel—pushing the envelope. And yet—when do people need prayer and belief in God most? When they’re in big, bad danger, right? I find it amazing how this book, with its darkness, freed me all the more to weave in God’s truth. Those of you out there who choose to read this book—please let me know what you think. Honestly.
Okay, back to story. We’re over the first major hurdle that took half an eternity. I had a contract. Now. There’s a huge part of this story I haven’t even mentioned to this point. I’m a little leery of saying anything, frankly. But here goes—without a lot of details.
As soon as I had such a change of heart toward God in 1998, and as soon as He clearly called me to write Christian fiction, I got hit with ye ol’ spiritual warfare like you wouldn’t believe. If you haven’t experienced this and aren’t clear what it is, it may sound a little, um, weird to you. Let me just put it this way. Satan and his demonic forces are as alive and well today as they were in biblical times. And they fight Christians today in the same way.
The “hits” against me and my family would take just about every form. Thank God for Mark’s and my very strong marriage—that was a secure point. But all around us was chaos. God was in control. He was protecting me. This I know. I also know that sometimes, the more we follow God’s plan, the more He has in store for us, the harder the forces of evil will try to stop us. God’s bottom line is to bring each person closer to Himself, through whatever means it takes. Satan’s bottom line is to keep that from happening—whatever it takes.
We writers know all about this kind of stuff in our stories. It’s called conflict.
I wasn’t quick to call everything that went wrong “spiritual warfare.” In fact, I’ve been very clear that many of the “wrong” things were really God shutting doors until He opened the right one. And many more doors would close, even after I sold my first novel. But I can tell you that the minute I sat down to rewrite that first novel, Cast a Road Before Me, as a Christian story, the warfare began.
It would last four years.
Four times during that period, in times of highest oppression, God sent word to me through other Christians. Two had dreams that they just had to call the next day and tell me about. The dreams meant nothing to them, and they felt like idiots, but they just “knew” they were supposed to call me. They didn’t know what was going on in my life, but God sure did. Both dreams told me very specific things about the oppression happening around me, and what I should do. A third person had a “word from the Lord” that she was to pray against certain forces in my life. This person, too, had no idea what was happening with me, and hadn’t seen me in a long time. Her prayers shattered through a problem that was coming to a head—and then suddenly just poofed away. That’s the day she prayed. The fourth person was woken by God’s voice calling her name in the middle of the night. She then had a vision, and God told her to pray right then for me. She couldn’t have known that 3000 miles away, I, too, was awake at that same hour, facing some serious trouble.
You want to know why I write about God’s power today? This is why. I’ve seen His power in my own life. I continue to see it.
So at the time I signed that first contract—and Cast a Road Before Me was indeed on the way to being published—I was facing this spiritual warfare daily, as well as the ups and downs of the writing life that you have seen. I would prevail—not because I’m any great shakes. I’m nothing, and certainly weak as a kitten when facing the forces of evil. BUT—my God is EVERYTHING.
He’d carried me through 9 ½ years; He’d carry me the rest of the way. And that way wouldn’t be easy.
Read Part 26