It was the 4th Anniversary of my daughter’s death and I would have preferred to stay in bed. Keep the curtains closed. Pretend I wasn’t alive.
Instead, God spoke to my heart in a tender, inaudible voice that was both persistent and undeniable: I was to write a book.
Although I’d been a freelance writer off and on for years, writing a book had not been on my itinerary. In fact, since Bethany died from a brain tumor, I had pretty much retired my “pen,” submersing myself in my fulltime job as an RN working with special needs children. Tending their needs was a balm to my soul as I was able to bring comfort and joy to their handicapped lives. I wanted to make them live as fulfilling a life as possible—something I hadn’t been able to accomplish with my own child. She was gone and nothing could bring her back.
There was irony in me writing a book. It had always been my daughter’s dream to be a writer. Why should I be the one left behind to create words? It didn’t seem fair. But life is definitely not about fairness.
And though I was too busy to write, I began my research. The idea implanted in my heart on that dreaded anniversary was to write a historical novel based on my great, great, great, great-grandparents. I had always been fascinated with my family history dating back to the American Revolution: A British prisoner of war, falling out of the line of prisoners, wandering to the hometown of a young colonial farm woman. They met, married, the Redcoat became an American citizen, the woman birthed eight children—it was the stuff of fairytales—but it was my family’s heritage.
The amazing thing is my editor/husband never questioned my “assignment.” He went with me to the used bookstore to find books about the Revolution. He picked up library books for me. He helped me edit my first draft (it was horrible!). He coached me in ways to improve my story. He watched me act like a woman on a mission, and he never said, “You can’t do this.” I am blessed.
When my book was submission ready, reality struck. It was 2009 and the publishing industry was sinking fast. One friend in the industry told me that this was the worst time for new writers to try to submit. Unless you were a proven moneymaker, you were wasting your time.
Instead of discouraging me, I became more determined than ever. I had not spent countless hours researching, writing and editing to see my project flushed down the drain of defeat. Although it was still considered unprofessional in the literary world, I opted for self-publishing.
That decision took courage and I took some flack from those with their traditional-publishing-noses in the air. Fortunately, I was ignorant enough of the elite culture at the time to crawl into the closet of embarrassment. I plodded on. I entered contests and my book won a few awards, including Finalist in Romance at the Los Angeles Book Festival. Accolades encouraged my heart. I wrote a sequel and then another—all award winners. My third book was contracted with Sword of the Spirit Publishing and the first two will be added to that same publishing house in 2013.
My journey has not been easy. But as I anticipate my 4th book releasing with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in Fall, 2013, I shake my head in amazement. I’m not in awe of my capabilities for I know that anything I write is through the blessing of God’s gifts. But I am in awe of the One Who placed a call on my grieving heart and transported me on an unexpected path—a journey to fulfill my daughter’s dream. I hope to honor her memory with my work.
(Photo of hearth courtesy of Thomas Deitner)