Ramblings on the Writing Life

Once upon a time, I dreamed of writing a book. I’d read thousands of them, surely I could write one. My first attempt was rather feeble. The most that can be said for it was that I finished, and an editor said I had an engaging voice. It wasn’t published, but the bug had bitten and writing became an all-consuming passion which paid off a mere nine years later when I held Chasing Lilacs in my hands.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about those early years of writing and what was driving me, what my goals were. I know I wasn’t like some people I knew who said they wrote only for themselves; I wanted to write books that others would read. And treasure. In those elementary years, I attended a conference where we were asked to write down our writing goals – even if they seemed as far away as Jupiter. Here’s what I wrote:

1. Win the Genesis (ACFW’s contest for unpublished novelists)

2. Get an agent

3. Have a book published

4. Make a best-seller list

5. Make a difference

Putting those things in writing sealed it for me. From that day forward, I put my heart and soul into the pursuit. Amazingly, I won the Genesis in my category twice. By the second win, I’d signed with an agent who’s become my advocate and my friend. Seven months later, I signed my first two-book contract. I’ve never made a best-seller list, but I’ve finaled in a number of contests for published authors and won a couple of those. Recognition is humbling, for I know that there are scores of other novels who are just as deserving and that other writers have poured their hearts and souls into their books the way I have mine. It’s a measure of how the world defines success, I know that. And I’m thrilled when I do learn that one of my books has made the cut in a contest.

The first four goals on my list are measurable. They are items that can be checked off. Done, now let’s move on.

But the last item on the list is the one that is elusive. And for the most part, it can’t be measured. I do get emails and letters from people who’ve been touched by some aspect of my novels. Some have been deeply personal and stolen my breath as I’ve read them. I’ve cried over others. This is the part of the writing life that I treasure. Not because it makes me look good, but because for a few hours my life has intersected with that of a reader through story. And THAT is truly the best honor.

I learned recently that Stardust is a finalist for the 2013 Oklahoma Book Award in fiction. And I have to admit that I felt a little gush of pride when I received the notice. My thanks to the judges who took the time to read my work and found something worthy on which to recommend it. And should I win, I know the applause will be sweet. But in my heart, I know that with or without a win, I’m doing what I was born to do – tell stories. Connect with other human beings. If you’ve read one of my books, I’m more appreciative than you’ll ever know.

The Oklahoma Book Award ceremony will be on April 13. I’m honored to be in the circle of finalists. There are some fine writers and books nominated so I’m in good company.

A couple of other notes of interest.

CONGRATS to Carmee Ross who was the winner of the ARC of SWEET DREAMS! Thanks to all who stopped by and shared their favorite Patsy Cline songs. There’ll be other giveaways over the next few months, so stay tuned.

Spring is upon us and is often the season that folks think about moving. MTL (More to Life) Magazine recently asked me to write about that and talk about SWEET DREAMS. You can read “The Art of Nesting vs. The Call to Adventure” here.

And last – the Spring Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt is just around the corner. Coming up Friday, in fact, with lots of new authors and fun prizes. See you then!