The year of 1999 was an eventful one. It saw my first two books published in the CBA market (The Forgiving Hour in February and Whispers From Yesterday in September), and it saw my final three books published in the ABA market. Those final three were also my only contemporary category romances I ever published. They were released from Silhouette Special Edition in February, July, and December. (BTW, all three of these books are scheduled to be rewritten and re-released by Steeple Hill, the first of them in 2006.)
In February, I received a phone call from an Oscar-winning screenwriter who was interested in seeing The Forgiving Hour made into a movie with her doing the screenplay. Was I interested? To be honest, I had to wrestle with that a bit. Sure, I would love to see that book made into a movie. But I also wondered what would happen to it in Hollywood.
I prayed about it. I also asked myself what would be the worst thing I thought filmmakers could do with this story. Some readers might assume that the worst thing would have been if they put the affair on screen, showing the characters in bed together. While I wouldn’t have been happy with that, it really isn’t what I feared the most. To me, the worst thing would have been to remove God as the reason behind the forgiveness.
Ultimately, I decided I could only trust God with this matter. I asked Him, if it was His will for this story to become a movie, that He would direct what reached the screen. And if it was not His will, I asked Him to prevent it being made.
In early March I received an option offer from a producer. It wasn’t for a large sum of money nor for a lengthy period of time. Trusting the Lord, to answer my prayer, I optioned the book.
March was also the month when I learned that I was a double RITA finalist, eight years after my first time as a finalist. Patterns of Love was a finalist in the Inspirational category, and In His Arms was a finalist in the Short Historical category. To say I was stunned is an understatement.
In May, my publisher flew me to Fort Worth to appear on a one-hour television program called COPE. That was my first experience being interviewed on a live show for a full hour with call-ins. I’d done TV and radio interviews in the past, but this was new to me. Thankfully, the woman who hosted COPE was a real pro, and the experience was a great one.
July brought plenty of excitement. First, Tyndale House made me a wonderful for a three book contract which I accepted. One week later, I was in Chicago for the RWA conference where Patterns of Love won the RITA for Best Inspirational. Again, stunned would be an understatement. This book was special to me, and to have it recognized by my writing peers was a such an honor.
In October, I received a contract offer to revise my Coming to America series (of which Patterns of Love was book #2) for Zondervan, a sister company of the original publisher, Harper. Oh, I cannot express how delighted I was for this opportunity. In the two years since I’d written these books, my worldview and my writing had changed a great deal. I wanted the opportunity for these changes to be reflected in these books.
During the fall of 1999, I wrote The Shepherd’s Voice, my third book for the CBA market and my final book (to that date) for WaterBrook Press. I finished it in mid-December, just in time to enjoy the Christmas season with my family. (This was one of too-few years when I wasn’t on a killer deadline over Christmas, so it was a special gift in and of itself.) I must also add that I suffered burn-out while writing The Shepherd’s Voice. Every single word felt like it was ripped out of me. I was so, so glad to be able to type The End.
And thus, 1999 rolled to a close.