A huge THANK YOU to Seekerville for letting me hang out here today! Y’all rock and I love telling aspiring writers that Seekerville is the equivalent of a gold mine when it comes to growing as a novelist.
I’m heading into my fourth year as a published author and is it ever a roller coaster ride! The kind of ride that can be super-scary and super-amazing all in the same day. From squealing over my first published-author contest final, to staring blankly at a less-than-glowing review of one of my novellas, it’s emotionally intense, to say the least.
One thing never gets old though, and that’s coming across a copy of one of my books. This happened recently when I attended a conference at a large church near Detroit, and spotted copies of The Convenient Bride Collection while strolling through their tiny bookstore.
As I sat in a session later, I glanced down at the bag of books I’d purchased (all three copies of The Convenient Bride Collection!) and a single thought swamped me with slam-dunk intensity.
The words I type, alone at my computer, are printed and reprinted thousands of times.
What an inspiring…and almost scary thought. Those of us who are published authors (and pre-published too!) bear a huge responsibility. We’ve been given an awesome privilege, and that is the gift of being read by many. We don’t know all of the people who are touched by our stories. We don’t know the places those books are taken. Hospital waiting rooms. The line to pick kids up from school. Prison libraries. Everyday places and extraordinary ones.
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What we create in solitude possesses magnificent power.
And sometimes, in the craziness of deadlines, marketing, and life, we tend to forget that. I know I have. It’s an easy thing to do. Writing is fun, but also work. So I asked myself, sitting in that church auditorium, how am I using my words? Am I seeking the Lord through each and every page I write? Because sometimes the story I want to tell isn’t the one that needs to be told. God knows every person who will hold a copy of our book in their hands. He knows their pain and, believe me, the pain of those who sojourn on this earth is great. Are we writing with sensitivity to our readers, choosing our topics based on their needs?
Or are we plugging away at our contracted novels, just because we’re on deadline, or just because we have a fan-base that expects us to produce such and such? The greater the quantity we create, it becomes easy to buy into the idea that our category romance really isn’t all that important. But sometimes those category romances and novellas have a far greater reach than a traditionally published novel. Walk down the book aisle of your local Walmart and you’ll come face-to-face with the evidence.
I’m sure if I asked each of you to share how fiction, particularly Christian fiction, has changed your life, you’d each have different, but equally beautiful answers. Though I was raised in a Christian home, it wasn’t until my early teen years when I was introduced to novels like Julie Lessman’s A Passion Most Pure and MaryLu Tyndall’s Legacy of the King’s Pirates Series, that I began to seek Jesus personally, instead of simply going through the motions. To this day, the novels I read continue to play a huge part in challenging me in my walk with Christ. Cathy Gohlke’s Secrets She Kept is a recent example.
And it goes beyond our stories. A reader may be blessed by a book, but if they reach out to the author, how are we responding? Do we take the time to engage with them, listen to them? Or are we just concerned with connecting with them to the point that we know they’ll continue to stay a fan, buy our next book, but nothing more? This is such an easy trap to fall into, especially in the current industry where we’re required to do more marketing than ever.
Of course, a new fan is wonderful. Gaining one is pretty easy to achieve, with a quick reply to their social media comment, a smiley face perhaps.
But a moment of holy is even better. And in the end, that divine appointment counts for far more in eternal value, than those easily-made fans or a trophy announcing our latest novel won some accolade.
I leave you with a challenge. I already know many of you do this so well. But next time you’re sitting down at the keyboard to fulfill your daily word count, take a moment, pause, and pray. For your own creativity, yes, but also for the person who will be reading your stories in search of truth spoken into their heart. Pray to be used to speak that truth. Pray for grace and wisdom to convey it well.
Our world is steadily growing darker by the day.
May our words be used to bring light.
I’d love to hear your story of how fiction impacted your life, or how one of your stories touched a reader!
GIVEAWAY-Comment today for a chance to win a copy of My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls New York, and since this is Seekerville, a chocolate treat!
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ECPA bestselling author Amanda Barratt fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story – a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes inspirational historical romance, penning stories that transport readers to a variety of locales – from the sweeping coastline of Newport, Rhode Island, to the rugged landscape of Central Texas. Her novella, The Truest Heart, finaled in the 2017 FHL Reader’s Choice Awards.
A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she lives in the woods of Michigan with her fabulous family, who kindly put up with the invisible people she calls characters.
These days, Amanda can be found reading way too many books, watching an eclectic mix of BBC dramas and romantic chick flicks, and trying to figure out a way to get on the first possible flight to England.
She avoids danger at all costs. He makes his living by rushing headlong into it.
Outwardly, Adele Linley’s trip to visit her American cousins is nothing more than a summer vacation. In reality, she’s the daughter of an English aristocrat with barely a penny to her name seeking a rich American husband.
Having grown up in an overcrowded orphanage, Drew Dawson is determined to make a name for himself. He’ll take any honest job to provide for his sister—even crossing Niagara Falls by tightrope.
On a sightseeing trip to the Falls, Adele meets several eligible suitors. Incredibly wealthy and pompous, Franklin Conway takes an immediate fancy to her. But Adele would truly like to marry for love. When she encounters the mysterious Drew in the garden, Adele is confused by her feelings for someone who is everything she is NOT looking for. Will they both stay the course they have chosen for themselves?