As I’ve mentioned here and in my main blog, I went through a desert time in my walk with the Lord in the late 80’s/early 90’s (not in church, not reading my Bible, not praying, and all that goes with that). But in 1993, a crisis happened in my personal life that sent me stumbling back to the foot of the cross because there just wasn’t anywhere else to go. Nobody could help me but God. I didn’t so much recommit my life to Christ as God restored me to Himself. And it was a slow process, my restoration. He led me with baby steps because I had a load of hurt, pain, and guilt to be rid of.
One thing He did in 1995/1996 was bring me into fellowship with other Christian novelists who were members of Romance Writers of America (Francine Rivers, Liz Curtis Higgs, Patricia Hickman, Angela Elwell Hunt, Gayle Roper, to name only a few). Some of these writers were unpublished. Some were published in the CBA. A few of us wrote for the ABA, including me. A couple of them were editors for CBA publishers. An email group was eventually formed, and what a precious thing that group was to me. How they challenged me to dig deeper in my faith. What wonderful examples they were to me, loving me where I was and encouraging me to grow and change.
Backing up a few years, it was in November 1991, when I read Francine Rivers’ novel, Redeeming Love, a retelling of the story of Hosea, that God planted the seed of desire in my heart to write for Him. Redeeming Love was Francine’s statement of faith, the first book she wrote after she became a Christian. I remember thinking that I wanted to write something with that much power, that much beauty. But remember, I was still walking my desert experience. How could God ever use me again? I’d destroyed my testimony by drifting and making wrong choices. In April 1992, Francine and I met at a conference in Anaheim. We spent hours talking about the first book in a series she was writing for Tyndale, and again, I felt that tug in my heart, that wish that I could do what she was doing. But I wasn’t good enough. And I certainly didn’t have enough talent.
But God kept watering that seed He’d planted in my heart. He watered it in church. He watered it when I read the Word. He watered it as I watched other Christian authors serving Him. The books that I wrote began to change subtly. I began to get more and more uncomfortable with some of my choices I made in those books.
It was in the spring of 1997 that the two editors who were part of LoveKnot asked me (separately) if I would like to submit something to their publishing houses. That was the catalyst for me to start asking God what it was He wanted to do with the talent He’d given me. Was I supposed to write in the ABA or the CBA? I put together an historical romance proposal for these editors and sent it off. And I continued to pray.
Right about that same time, I awoke one morning with the opening scene of a novel in my mind. It was unlike any story I’d ever written. It was a contemporary story — and it would have God as a key character. But I had historicals already under contract. I didn’t know anything about writing a contemporary novel or a Christian novel. So I sort of shoved that idea onto a back burner, not understanding that God had answered my prayer.