We’ve arrived at 1998. By this time, I’d been writing for 17 years. I’d had 25 historical romances released from three ABA publishers, with two more historicals scheduled for publication that year. But now I was embarking in an entirely new direction.
I began writing The Forgiving Hour in January, still not having much of an idea what I was doing. This story was so different from anything I’d done before. It wasn’t a romance. It was mainstream fiction, and it was overtly Christian. But although it was new territory, God kept His promise to guide me in the places I did not know.
One thing I had to do was become familiar with my new market. Although many things about the ABA and CBA are similar — and certainly writing fiction is writing fiction — there were differences too. So I subscribed to CBA Marketplace, more or less the equivalent of Publisher’s Weekly, and I read all the CBA fiction I could.
This was a scary time in some ways. I felt like a newbie, as if all those previous years and previous books didn’t count or hadn’t ever happened. I was always asking questions, trying to find out what people meant.
Oh, there was one really wonderful first during this time. I was on the phone with my wonderful editor. I have no idea what I was talking about with her, but her response was, “Let’s pray about it, shall we?” And then we prayed together over the phone. Believe me, that never happened to me with any of my ABA editors.
I finished writing The Forgiving Hour in May 1998. Then I waited with trepidation to learn if my editor would like it. To my great relief, she did. The book was scheduled for release in hardcover (another first) in February 1999.
In July, I attended the annual RWA conference in Anaheim. I felt different that year than I had the year before. I no longer wondered where God wanted me. I enjoyed fellowship with other Christian writers, feeling like I belonged, and it was wonderful. Something interesting happened to me during that conference. I was told by several people from the CBA market that my May release (one of my last historical romances) had a strong inspirational theme. One person even suggested that I should enter it in the inspirational category of the RITAs the next year. I realized how much my own spiritual journey had been working its way into my books, even without my knowing it.
Isn’t that true? As we grow closer and closer to God, He is reflected in what we do.