Last week I shared the story behind my novel, Where Can I Flee. If you missed it, you can catch the full story here. For the sake of a quick recap, I’ll tell you simply that I hadn’t planned to write the story at all. And when I did decide to write it, WCIF was meant to be a short story.
But God clearly had other plans for me. I don’t want to go into the details behind the story line, but I do want to show you more of what went on internally as I struggled to determine and follow God’s plan. Before you can understand the struggle, you have to understand “The Plan.”
When I first developed the novel, Ancient Words, I was so on fire about the project that I seriously thought I could finish writing the entire novel in 2 months. It seems laughable now as I look back now.
There’s something amazing that happens in the mind of an author. I could see the ending as clearly as I could see the beginning. I could hear the characters’ voices as they played out the last chapters just as well as I could hear them in their opening lines and several scenes in between. At that point, the ending seemed so close.
Boy, was I in for a surprise! When I started writing the novel word by word, line by line, chapter by chapter, I learned that the ending was anything but close. The more I wrote, the more I realized I didn’t know what I was writing about, so I researched more. Pulling double duty for months, I wrote and researched side by side. Along the way, I picked up three short stories and was working all four story lines at the same time. Then the most unexpected thing happened.
When I was nine months into the story, my novel was about 2/3 completed, the short story Where Can I Flee was a complete draft, the short story Katherine’s Good News was a complete draft, and the short story In the Shadow of Thy Wings was only a couple scenes away from completion. The ending was finally in sight…that is, until God intervened.
I’ll never forget the moment I was sitting at the kitchen table of one of my closest friends discussing my book. I was growing concerned because In the Shadow of Thy Wings was quickly outgrowing itself and it may not fit so nicely after a full sized novel. She suggested separating them, but that hadn’t been my plan. I wasn’t too fond of changing things now when I was so close to having a finished draft. After all, I was already seven months behind my own expectations. As I mulled over these ideas, she worked on loading the dishwasher. Then she paused to asked, “I wonder if there isn’t enough story there to make a novel out of it instead of a short story?”
I’ll be honest, I didn’t jump out of my seat, clapping my hands. I didn’t reach for paper and frantically start plotting out my new idea. And I, CERTAINLY, didn’t hug her neck and tell her she was a genius. Lol Although, I would do it now. But I couldn’t that day. I couldn’t even breath that day. I stared at her with wide eyes and if I moved at all, it was only to shake my head. Didn’t she understand what my plans were? Ancient Words was a stand-alone novel….aside from the growing short stories that now trailed it. I had other books that I longed to write. I couldn’t do what she was suggesting. It wasn’t part of the plan. I liked my plan. I could possibly publish by the end of the year with my plan. I didn’t want a new plan. I suddenly didn’t feel very good.
Once the idea was planted, I couldn’t toss it aside. Oh, I wanted to. But I couldn’t. When God stands behind a plan, you can’t set it aside so easily. The unrest that followed was extreme as I wrestled with the idea of starting over. There’s something amazing about giving into God’s plans for you. Even with the large amounts of uncertainties, insecurities, and anxieties there’s a strange peace that begins to take over. It’s hard to explain. At that moment, I literally signed on to face my fears, my doubts, my discomfort, the crashing of my well laid plans, and countless months…better yet, YEARS, of work, and yet there was a peace that trumped it all. Even when my world was tilting, I knew I was safe. Even with the odds stacked against me, I knew I had chosen right.
In April of 2013, I committed to following God’s plan for my life and I set aside an almost complete draft to start over. I signed on to over two more years of work before I would pick up the original draft. But God had even more surprises in store for me.
While I was setting aside the original Ancient Words and focusing on Where Can I Flee as a novel, I decided to release Katherine’s Good News as a novella first. This short story was already written and would be the perfect way to begin gathering a fan base while I worked on the new novel. I had my heart set on publishing that year and with the novella, I would be able to. This sounded like a great plan to everyone I share it with, but God had something greater in mind.
Over the next eight or nine months, Katherine’s Good News would bounce back and forth from editor to editor, from reviewer to reviewer. I would receive their feedback, improve the story and send it back out. But every time it came back with the comment, “Give me more.” I kept pouring more and more into the story until finally someone kindly suggested, “If you wanted to make this story a novel instead, I think you have the groundwork for it, and I think you would be able to develop the story the way it really needs to be.”
Again? Doesn’t anyone understand the plan? I didn’t want another novel. After another internal struggle, I recognized God’s hand in this plan and gave in a little quicker. Katherine’s Good News is now in line as a novel. So now my Ancient Words Series has four novels, two during the civil war and two in a modern generation.
Now that In the Shadow of Thy Wings is bouncing back and forth between myself and a group of reviewers, I have a little time on my hands to begin working on book three. FINALLY, I can pick up the original story and finish it off. Or so I thought.
One of the first reviewers to respond to In the Shadow of Thy Wings left me this comment, “I think you should really pray about writing one more civil war novel before moving on. I just don’t think you’re done here.” Lol I can laugh now, but I promise I wasn’t laughing then. Hyperventilating was more like it. I can’t add another book to this already large series. I have plans! Good plans! I don’t want to change my plans!
I left my seat as if it was on fire and put the tea kettle on the stove. While I stood over the stove waiting for that infamous whistle, I recognized something. I was beginning to understand what it felt like when God stood behind the idea. This time, I didn’t hesitate, but snatched a piece of paper and started frantically plotting the next novel. The same dear friend that God used to throw the wrench in my plans was ready to talk it over with me on the phone. In a matter of hours, a new novel was added to the Ancient Words Series. And what I once thought was the destruction of my plans turned out to be the greatest plan of all.
To this day, Where Can I Flee endears itself to those that read it. This story is my heart in so many ways, I couldn’t imagine debuting with any other novel. So it is with great excitement that I bring to my readers a third book, one that will wrap things up for our friends in Maple Grove in a really special way.
Where Can I Flee covers the first two years of the Civil War with its sister novel, In the Shadow of Thy Wings, covering the last two years of war. This summer I begin writing the novel that will immediately follow the war and will show our friends picking up the pieces after a four-year-long war. I’ve titled it, OUT OF THE ASHES.
I had already begun sharing details about His Love Endures Forever before God changed my course. I plan, Lord willing, to release the original novel in a couple years as book four of the series. Since I was already working on the photo shoot for the novel, I intend to take pictures for both the 2016 and 2017 release this summer.
Stay tuned for more details on 2016’s release, Out of the Ashes.