With Fear and Trembling

Pursuing your passion can be a scary thing.

The first writers conference I attended, I took my very first completed novel. It was historical in nature, though not a true romance in content. I had some good reaction—and some bad. Ultimately, the agent who requested it declined to represent me.

So I moved on. I wrote a women’s fiction with an element of suspense. It was a story I knew God put on my heart. It caused me to work through some of my own faith issues as I wrote. I went to another writers conference. Had good feedback, but ultimately, rejections.

Then my husband jumped in the picture. He asked me to write a legal drama. I did. By its merit, I became a Genesis finalist—but it didn’t go any further. I have a couple of requests for this, as well as the knowledge that it is a hot topic, therefore a greater possibility of interest. But while at the conference, I remembered my passion: historical fiction.

I have always loved history. I majored in it in college. I’ve always read that genre first—even sometimes before the classics, which I love. In middle school, I wanted to write historical Christian fiction. That was before Janette Oke. Before that market exploded.

So the question: do I pursue my passion or the market? Historicals abound. The competition for a few spots is fierce. If I found a different outlet, perhaps I could find success more quickly—but at what price?

So after a unbelievable turn of events where I actually have a request for my historical as a romance, I am rewriting, rekindling that passion that brought me to the place of pouring my life into words on a page.

I’m attempting to pursue my passion in spite of the fear that it will never amount to anything more than forgotten files on a languishing laptop.



If you write fiction and have never gone to an ACFW conference, you’ve missed a treat. It feels like spending the weekend with 400 of your closest friends. It feels like a fun family reunion.

I’ve been to Christian writing conferences before, but never to anything like this. The emphasis on your relationship with the Lord is paramount. Opportunities for worship and prayer abound. Editors and published writers alike were accessible and encouraging, their humility worn like a pair of old pajamas.

I came home mulling over many things. My writing schedule. My writing goals. My pursuit of craft. My pursuit of the Lord.

I also came home with new friends—real people attached to names I’ve seen on email loops or blogs as well as some that were new altogether.

I didn’t place in the Genesis contest. And you know what? It didn’t ruin my weekend. Although I was disappointed, I wasn’t devastated. It let me know I still have some work to do, still have a goal to shoot for.

I had good appointments and disappointing ones with editors and agents, but those didn’t color my weekend, either. God has really been doing something over the past year and half, because this weekend a rejection of my writing did not feel like a rejection of ME. Nor did an encouraging word send me soaring to unrealistic heights. And that is major improvement. I no longer need success to validate me.

My validation is in Jesus—and it never changes.


Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho

. . . it’s off to conference I go—ACFW conference. And, of course, things whip into a frenzy of craziness before time to leave.

I’ve been feeling better about going—maybe because it’s my third conference and I’m beginning to know what to expect, what to focus on. And because I am a Genesis finalist, for the first time I don’t feel like an imposter at a writers conference!

But even with the confidence of being a Genesis finalist, I’m nervous. I wasn’t—until this week. Now the Saturday night awards ceremony looms before me. Will I smile and clap as other people’s names are called and my heart sinks into my shoes? Or will my dreams come true, my name be called, and my stomach churn at the thought of saying even one word in front of 400+ people?

In the long run, I know it doesn’t really matter. If and when the Lord wants my books published, they will get published—somehow. If He just wants to teach me things through the process of writing or if He just wants me to be friends with and pray for other writers, I’m okay with that. I have to be. I can’t make anything happen.

So I’m going this weekend with that thought overriding all the rest. I want to enjoy each moment, each relationship that God brings my way. And if, in the end, it leads to publication, I’ll be thrilled. If not, I’ll still be satisfied.


A Chat With Author Mary DeMuth

I’m so excited to kick off the blog tour for Mary DeMuth’s Wishing on Dandelions, which is available, for the first time, TODAY! Wishing on Dandelions is the sequel to Mary’s critically acclaimed first novel, Watching the Tree Limbs.

Set against the backdrop of a small Texas town, Maranatha maneuvers her seventeenth year still haunted by the sexual abuse of her childhood. But you’ll have to read Wishing on Dandelions to discover Maranatha’s story. We’re here today to talk to the author (and my friend), Mary DeMuth.

Me: Mary, this book deals with difficult subject matter: childhood sexual abuse and its residual affects. How did this book emerge?

Mary: My passion is to write about redemption through the avenue of story. I started the first book, Watching the Tree Limbs, in a flurry. In my mind I saw the streets of Burl and a girl who didn’t know where she came from. Because my personal story involves different instances of sexual abuse, I wanted to write a story that showed the reader how God could intersect an abuse-victim’s life and make a difference.

Me: So why another Maranatha novel?

Mary: Well, she kept talking to me, that persistent girl! I sold two books to NavPress, one being Watching the Tree Limbs and another yet-to-be-determined. I asked if they'd be willing to do another Maranatha, and they agreed. It's been my heart in these books to show the progression of difficulty and yet God's healing for a victim of childhood sexual abuse. So it made sense that I set the book when Maranatha is seventeen, that awkward time romance and love enter into the equation.

Me: What made you choose East Texas as the setting for both novels?
Mary: The South fascinates me. I grew up in the Northwest. When my last child was born, my husband was transferred to East Texas to start a department in a hospital. Because I was a stay-at-home mom and home schooling, I didn’t have much else to do there except to observe small town southern culture. Because I didn’t grow up in that culture, my senses were heightened and I eventually began to really appreciate the differences.

Me: What is your favorite part about writing novels--initial draft, re-writing, marketing, etc.?

Mary: Definitely the initial draft. Writing it on the fly is intoxicating to me. I feel my head's about to explode with characters and plotting points, so as I sit at the computer, everything nearly vomits out onto the page-a true creative rush.

Me: 4. What is one thing people don't know about you that you wish they did?

Mary: That though I write edgy fiction, I'm not edgy or contentious.

Me: What do you want your reader to take away from Wishing on Dandelions?
Mary: That redemption of a broken life takes time. We’re all on a journey of healing. Sometimes it’s slow going, but if we can endure through the dark times, God will bring us to new places of growth. I want the images and characters to stay with a reader for a long time.

I love hearing the voice and ideas of the writer behind the stories. I hope you have enjoyed getting to know Mary DeMuth a little better. She is worth knowing. And her books are worth reading.


Field Trip

I went on my first “Writer’s Field Trip” today. My husband took me to the Federal Courthouse, where several scenes in my WIP are set. Being an attorney, he knows his way around there. He even called around to some judges’ offices, trying to find us a courtroom to see. Fortunately, we found a hearing in progress.

It was really fun to be in a place with an eye for a specific story. The building was different than I imagined, thus I’ll have to re-work a couple of scenes. But in many ways, the real thing lends itself to so many more possibilities than my visualization did.

I got to observe attorneys in a courtroom, too. That was interesting. And it made me understand my husband a little better. I recommend this exercise for anyone married to a lawyer!

However, the funniest part of the whole thing was the preparation. I asked my husband what I should wear. “Business attire,” he answered. Business attire? I work, most days, in shorts and a t-shirt or jeans and a t-shirt, depending on the season. But my most favorite working outfit is my pajamas. I get the most done on days I don’t take the time to put on clothes!

So anyway, between my job as a SAHM and a writer, I have no “business attire.” Thankfully, I did have one pair of slacks and a new pair of heels. I raided my mother’s closet (while she was out of town—thanks, Mom) and found a shirt and purse to go with them. It was close enough, although to have fit in with the attorney crowd, I apparently should have had a black or navy suit!

All in all, it was a great day. I’m looking forward to many more writing field trips—both for the experience of a new thing and for the creativity it inspires.


Writer Reunion

I love getting together with friends. And getting together with writer friends is an unusual treat. Three years ago, on my first trip to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, I met most of these wonderful ladies. A few more were added on the second trip. I didn’t get to go to Mount Hermon this year, but I’ll meet a few of these again at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference this month in Dallas.

But here’s how it happened. The flight from Dallas to San Jose contained several writers from as far away as three hours outside of Dallas. We met on the San Jose bound flight. We bonded on the three hour delay from San Jose to Dallas—twice. Yes, two years in a row we spent three hours yakking it up in the San Jose airport waiting for our flight to take off.

So this year, with one of our number home for a visit from France, we organized a reunion luncheon. It was great to re-connect. It was inspiring to hear about careers taking off, agents and contracts procured. We prayed for those having personal struggles. We laughed and ate—a lot.

Is there a group of people you’ve shared an experience with in the past? Call them all together again. Renew memories. Catch up on news. Enjoy the tapestry of relationships God has brought into your life.