2000. Wow! Remember how we were all wondering if Y2K would crash the banking systems around the world? Now that seems like such an innocent worry.
In the early part of 2000, I finished “redeeming” Dear Lady for Zondervan (“redeemed” is what I call the rewritten versions of my general market fiction), began writing Heart Rings, a novella in The Story Jar, for Multnomah, and worked on edits of The Shepherd’s Voice for WaterBrook.
In March, I learned that Whispers From Yesterday was a RITA finalist. It came as a real surprise, mostly because I’d believed if either of my eligible books finaled, it would be The Forgiving Hour. However, that book was definitely more women’s fiction than romance and Whispers From Yesterday was definitely a romance, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. I also learned that I was an RT Career Achievement Award nominee for Inspirational romance.
One major blessing in my life was the growing circle of published Christian novelists I was coming to know via a new email group that had been started the previous year. In 2000, this group of friends decided to have a retreat just before the CBA convention (now called ICRS) in New Orleans in July. Because I’d been traveling quite a bit and was planning to attend RWA in DC just two weeks after CBA, I had decided not to go. But then I learned that Whispers From Yesterday was a Christy Award finalist, and my publisher wanted me to be there. So I went.
I’ll never forget that two day retreat with like-minded authors. What a joy it was to be with them, to be counted one of them, to learn from them, and to worship with them. I’ll also never forget the Christy Award banquet either. I had no expectation of winning and truly was just honored to be a finalist. I felt so green when it came to my new career path. I still felt as if I were stumbling around in the dark half the time. So I was stunned when my book was announced as the winner. It felt like God reached down and said, “I told you I would lead you. You are where you belong.”
By the end of summer, I’d finished “redeeming” Patterns of Love for Zondervan and had begun writing Ribbon of Years for Tyndale. Ribbon of Years was destined to be a book that will always be close to my heart. It was inspired by the Columbine tragedy in 1999, although it has nothing to do with a school shooting. What that tragedy caused me to look at within my own heart was answering the question, What does it mean to walk by faith? And in seeking the answer, I was inspired a lot by my own mother.
In November, I attended the RT convention in Houston along with several folks from Tyndale. And once again, I was stunned when I won the Career Achievement Award for Inspirational Romance. In fact, I had to laugh a little. At this time, I’d only had four CBA books released, only two (possibly three) of which could have been considered when the award decision was made. I felt like I was just getting started in Inspirational fiction, and they were giving me a career award. Was my career over already? LOL!
By December, I’d finished writing Ribbon of Years and redeeming In His Arms. And so a very busy year of writing came to a close.