I write Christian fiction. For years I wrote for the general market with varying degrees of success. I remember when I first started noticing Christian fiction books in stores. They were mostly in Christian bookstores. The majority of the books were nonfiction, but then a shelf or two or maybe a rack would have novels. I wondered if that was something I could do. But I didn’t want to be preachy. I mean, who was I to preach to anyone? That wasn’t something I could do. All I wanted to do was tell a story. Characters came to life in my imagination and went off on life adventures. I didn’t want to preach to them or have them preach to me.
Sometimes we are too stubborn to see the doors of opportunity the Lord opens up for us. He knew the desires of my heart. I wanted to write and had been writing most of my life. Telling stories. One after another. I’d even been blessed to have several of those stories published by national publishing companies. Some of my books for young adults were translated into foreign languages, German, French, Spanish. People overseas read my stories. How amazing was that for a Kentucky farm girl!
But then the stories stopped finding publishers. I spent several years in rejection valley. Sometimes it takes a valley to get a person’s feet back on the intended path for her life. The most important thing I did while I was walking through that valley was that I didn’t quit writing. I kept coming up with characters. I kept hoping. I kept telling stories.
And then one day I decided to write one more story. To throw aside worries about sales and markets. I would write about something I knew – small towns and country churches. I had no plans to preach to anyone, but I made one of the characters a preacher. I let my young protagonist be that preacher’s daughter. I gave Jocie a thorn in her side with her great aunt Love who was continually finding fault with Jocie’s behavior and quoting Scripture to try to make her a better preacher’s kid. And then I gave Jocie Wes with his crazy Jupiter wisdom. And his secrets. Aunt Love had her secrets too. Even Jocie’s father had his secrets. Then I plopped them all down into a little town modeled after the little town I grew up in. Last of all, while I wrote the story, I turned the result over to the Lord. I prayed for that story. I hoped for that story. I loved my Hollyhill people and wanted them to come to life not only in my imagination, but in the imagination of readers.
The Lord answered my prayer. The story ended up on an editor’s desk who happened to love lilacs. My book was, at that time, titled, The Smell of Lilacs. Later I changed that to Scent of Lilacs when it dawned on me that scent conveys the idea of a pleasant odor better than the word smell. The editor liked the story and I found a place to tell more stories.
The Lord knew all along that I would love writing for the Christian market. He knew I wouldn’t have to write “preachy” stories but that I could write stories filled with faith and family. He gave me my words for that story and He continues to give me words. I am so blessed to be able to write stories for readers like you. You seem to like getting to know characters who struggle with life problems the same as you and me and who search for answers from the One who has all our answers.
Scent of Lilacs now has over 700 reviews on Amazon. That’s partly due to the fact that it was a free download for many months and so found some readers who might not have read the book otherwise. I’ve been blessed that the majority of those reviews have been favorable. And while a writer can’t get too high with good reviews or too low with bad reviews, I am encouraged when a reader is touched by my stories like this Amazon reviewer. “This book was uplifting and powerful. Prayers can work miracles…”
You know what? Prayers can work miracles and sometimes help a writer find the best place to tell her stories.