The moment I woke up on some random morning around my fourteenth birthday, I knew I had a huge story to figure out. I had just literally had a vivid dream that turned out inspiring an entire novel. I can’t tell you why I dreamed of someone being caught in a severe thunderstorm in dense woods, or why a bolt of lightning hit a tree sending a deadened branch to the ground and paralyzing the faceless victim that would turn out to be my main character. I had always been consistently freaked out by thunderstorms…
I can tell you this. That random dream turned into a novel on a typewriter shortly thereafter, before it was typed into a document on my first laptop months later, only to be finished twice, rewritten once—and then overhauled not quite two years later. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Seven years it took me to write my first novel. I have since grown in writing speed, thank you God.
When what I thought was my final overhaul was through in 2013, I began shopping around. After doing some light reading as to queries, proposals, agents and all that jazz (emphasis on “light” reading) I shopped it around to over twenty agents all together. I just knew that this book had to be traditionally published—that there was no other way. It was similar to Lynn Austin’s Hidden Places in era and genre, after all! This may have only been three years ago, but oye with the youthful arrogance already.
Nothing panned out. Not one rejection came with any thread of critique or feedback on it. Once I got over feeling like an utter failure, so fed up with the novel of my heart sitting idly in my computer, I was tempted to leave it there since at least it was done after six-plus years.
I am so glad God didn’t leave me and this dream there.
I honestly can’t remember exactly why I was so set against indie-publishing. Thinking it was well and good for other people but not me. Once I actually took the time to talk to God about His dream for this novel of my heart, the novel that in many ways taught me how to write, a seedling of a new dream for the book took root. Maybe because I finally shut up about my own wants for this book and actually listened. Now, of course, I fought against it for a while—I have a thick skull—but right around the holidays of late 2013/into 2014, I put a stake in the ground and said, “I’m doing it.” For a Mother’s Day gift for my biggest cheerleader(s) who inspired so much of my novel—my mom and grandma.
Fast forward two years later—almost to the day.
It was unpleasantly humbling to let go of my dream of traditional publishing for this book. And um, wow is hindsight (even to two years ago) 20/20 in how I let my book go out there like it did. All I can say is: it's because of God.
I won’t use the cliché, 'It’s a dream come true to have my book in my hands'. Because it's not. It is a dream hard-fought; not exactly won in the way I would’ve originally preferred it to have been won. But this is because God knew better and His plan may have had its tough moments where He had to half-drag, half-carry me down life’s road—but it was all worth it. SO worth it.
Every time I hold my book in my hands—both the first edition and the second—I marvel at how He alone reshaped and renewed my dream for this book and my heart. But, despite the immense relief and joy I have in the fact that it is done, it’s not for, or because, of me. Letting go, being still, and letting God have His way is hard no matter what He calls you to. Listening is often the harder first step of that process. But whatever you’re facing—it will be worth it. The pain and the struggle all serves a purpose, even when you feel close to breaking.
I did title my story, a paper bound testimony to what God did and what He is still doing, God’s Will for a reason. And being in God’s will is the sweetest place to be.
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Kathy Andrews is good at goodbyes. Her mother is sent to a sanatorium, her sister, left behind in Chicago, and her father, forced to roam looking for work. So she holds close to the only one she has left, her brother Danny. When the two go to live with the Marshalls in the sleepy town of Brighton, she doesn't let anyone past hello. Elliott Russell frowns at his aunt and uncle's generosity--even though he and his sister are on the receiving end. He frowns, too, at the uppity city girl with a chip on her shoulder whom he can't get out of his head. When a tragedy rips apart what tenuous existence they manage to forge, will they find the sweetest place to be is in God's will--or will they turn their backs on faith that fails to protect against pain?