God’s Divine Design
Have you been writing or do you want to, but nothing is happening? Submitting or releasing book after book then being rejected or sales are so slow. Certainly, we’ve all experienced those awesome miraculous times when God shows up and shows out!
I’m here to tell you, keep at it, and don’t worry! If He has called you, He has a plan and will see it through. Maybe it’s for one reader to get what you wrote into their hands then into their hearts. It may be to pad your bank account one day. Who knows?
Do you have a vision? In Habakkuk’s second chapter, second and third verses, it says, “And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. (my bold)
I experienced a time when Abba hit me over the head with His velvet hammer. It happened back in the last weekend of April in 2012 the time I met our NY agent, Mary Sue Seymour. She had her own agency and had agreed to be the keynote speaker at our small writers’ conference in Mount Pleasant, Texas. I volunteered to be her gopher throughout the conference then take her back to the DFW Airport at the end.
So, I went to pick her up at the hotel to drive her to the conference. She stepped off the elevator and surprised me so. Running to me, she hugged my neck—not what anyone would rationally expect from all the stories of New Yorkers, right? (to my New York readers: I’m certain the rumors are untrue!)
With her arms around my neck, she told me, “You’re the first McAdoo I have ever met who wasn’t family!” She grew up Mary Sue McAdoo!!! What a divine appointment! ❤ I knew that minute God was in it but had no idea as to His plan.
At our pre-scheduled agent’s meeting time, she said she couldn’t find one error and had not one thing to suggest to make it any better. Yay I thought but she popped my bubble! She’d have trouble placing the male-hero story CHIEF OF SINNERS so did not request the manuscript.
Hmm, what was God doing? I had thought . . .
On the way to the airport, we were talking, and Mary Sue lavinshed compliments on our writing, declaring, “If you and Ron will write me a ‘historical Christian romance’ set in the 1800s, I’ll sell it.” My husband helped with her luggage, and we hugged goodbye with a promise to write her a story.
We went to a Taco Bueno close to the airport—one of my favorite places—and brainstormed our story. The next day, the first of May, we started writing VOW UNBROKEN, our first historical Christian romance ever.
We sent Mary Sue the manuscript nine weeks later. She signed us to a contract, and just as she’d promised, sold our story to Simon & Schuster within two months!
That means that from our meeting to her selling VOW UNBROKEN, less than six months had passed! In this wonderful publishing world I’m so blessed to be a part of, anyone would say that was practically impossible, but God . . . I love that phrase. But God . . .
Y’all, He does have a plan. Maybe He’s just testing your obedience, taking your temperature in trusting Him, in waiting . . . Our God is all together trustworthy. I will sing and shout and give testimony to His faithfulness at every opportunity!
It took almost two years (March 4, 2014) before the book hit the shelves. We wrote book two and book three for that family saga series during those years—and at least three or four more stories. My editor never even wanted to see them until VOW launched. (All pertinent because I couldn’t sell a book for that two-year period because contractually, they held the option on our next book.)
They had until VOW had been out for six months to tell us yay or nay. (September fourth) They declined to exercise their option on book two. ‘Why’ is another story, but that book was HEARTS STOLEN, and it’s done very well.
On hearing the news, writer friends offered sympathy. My response to their kind words? “Don’t be sorry for me! I know God has another plan.”
On September fifth, I self-published HEARTS STOLEN, the day after I’d fulfilled my contract. God orchestrated all of that . . . and oh, He threw in lots and lots of wonderful blessings along my-independant-publishing way—Sandy Barela at Celebrate Lit is one, the brainstormer who founded and produces #BecauseFiction!
Since then (seven years this coming September) I’ve ‘Indie’ published fifty-one titles! So that’s a bit more than seven new books a year average, and I love it! No way would I ever think of signing a contract for another of my stories!
I’m right where God wants me doing what He designed me to do. If He wants me to do something else, when His time is perfect, I’m confident His divine design for my life will be accomplished.
Yours, too! Just show Father how much you love Him by your obedience to Him. Any good mentor will tell a writer “show, don’t tell.” God wants that, too. Show Him, don’t just tell Him.
Wow, that isn’t what I expected for this article, but that’s how it is. I pray He spoke to you somewhere amongst the paragraphs!
I have arranged for DUPLICITY to be free from July 28th through the 1st of August! It’s my first Cross Timber Mystery. It’s set in 1866 Dallas, Texas and has a bit of romance as well. How can I leave out the love?
Linda Shenton Matchett
Research: How Much is Too Much?
I’m a research geek. Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll confirm the claim. My favorite part of owning a smart phone is being able to look up information on the fly. But for a writer, research can be a gift and a curse, especially for authors of historical fiction.
Readers of historical fiction are highly versed on the eras they like to read. I met one woman who can tell which time period a dress is from by the size of its bustle. Another can spout ration amounts for the American WWII home front. Still another can tell you the best way to pack your “prairie schooner” for a trip on the Oregon Trail.
For the first four years of my publishing journey, I wrote stories set during WWII. Copious research allowed me to become somewhat of an expert. Then, last year I had an opportunity to be involved in several multi-author projects set during the 1800s. Having lived in the Northern Virginia area where much of the Civil War took place, I was familiar with the time period, but not enough to write a book.
Excitedly, I delved into research, pouring over memoirs, autobiographies, and diaries. Reading fiction and non-fiction about and from the era. Watching documentaries and movies. What surprised and intrigued me was the number of “modern” items that had been invented by the mid- to late-1800s: electric battery, stethoscope, matches, typewriter, sewing machine, bicycle, mechanical reaper, and telegraph just to name a few.
Too much of this and similar information would be overwhelming and boring, so authors must choose the bits and pieces to sprinkle throughout the story – enough to evoke the era, but not so much to bog down the pace or plot – often a fine line. Hopefully, we writers also create a curiosity in our readers to learn more about the particular topic, place, or event upon which our story is based.
What is your favorite aspect of historical fiction?
A Day in the Life of an Author
Every author is different. We don’t all keep banker’s schedules, that’s for sure. There are plenty of them who work day jobs, come home and take care of their families, and then write well into the night. That is not me.
It has been a struggle to balance my family life, house chores, and writing life. And as my life has changed, so have my writing habits. When I first started out, I’d write for a while in the morning, play around on Facebook a little bit, and be done by lunch. It worked great because I was able to spend time with my kids once they were home from school.
Now we only have one left at home, our daughter with special needs who will always be with us. Thanks to the pandemic, my husband is now a hybrid worker – two days at the office, two days at home, and Fridays off.
I’ve found that I’m most productive in the early mornings. By early mornings, I mean 5:30. I like it when the house is dark, quiet, and cold. That’s when I’m most able to concentrate and not be distracted. No, I don’t need coffee or tea or anything other than my computer. I don’t even go to my office but sit on the living room couch, my laptop balance on two pillows on top of my legs.
Depending on how the day goes, I can get a good bit of my 2000-word quota done before my daughter gets up at 8:00. For example, today I had 1577 words written by the time I got her from bed. What a great feeling to know that I only had a little left to go after breakfast.
Once I have my chapter written and my daughter and I are dressed and ready for the day, I like to have my devotion time. Then I start on other things that need to be done. That might include putting together a newsletter, editing a podcast, answering emails, or working on editing – my books or someone else’s. Lunch interrupts that, and with summer here, I also like to take a walk and work in the yard for a little bit then.
I reserve afternoons for recording podcasts, social media, client phone calls, and appointments. Since we’re coming out of isolation, we have lots of doctor and dentist appointments to catch up on, so that’s keeping me busy.
I try to shut down when my husband is finished with work. I’m really making an effort to make that be 5:00. It’s hard, though, if I haven’t gotten everything completed that I need to. Sometimes there are meetings in the evenings that I need to attend.
We eat around 6:30 or 7. That’s just when dinner gets done. We do chores either before or after dinner and put our daughter to bed. Last night, we allowed her to stay up a little later than normal and play Uno with us. By 9:00, I’m wiped out. It’s time for a shower and bed because that alarm is going to go off at 5:30.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about anything. Though I try to maintain some kind of discipline with my time so I don’t fall too far behind in things, I love the flexibility working for myself offers me. I can go on vacation whenever I want. Sometimes I work on holidays like Labor Day, but I can knock off early and enjoy the day with my family. I can do my job from anywhere in the world at any time I want. It’s fantastic. Because of my daughter, I can’t work from an office. I have to be available for her at a moment’s notice. She can’t stay home by herself. I’m so blessed to be able to work and still care for her.
So in case you were wondering, that’s a day in the life of this writer. Nothing flashy or exciting, but something I enjoy immensely.
Oh, and sometimes book releases will really mess up my schedule. That’s going to happen to me in October when my next WWII book, A Picture of Hope, comes out. It’s up for preorder now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and christianbook.com. I’m excited to share this story of an American photojournalist, a French maquisard (resistance worker), and the special child who binds them together even when the Nazis are trying to tear them apart.
Marguerite Martin Gray
Independence in the Making
Have you ever wondered what it would have been like for the colonists and British citizens to contemplate independence or separation from their mother country? From all I’ve researched, the decision or idea was not just a whim or an afterthought or an impulse. Solutions and compromises extended from the brilliant minds of the day. Anything other than war. The people of the day were not by nature barbaric. They loved their families, jobs, and land. If only they had a way to let their voice be heard across the Atlantic Ocean. Rights. Liberty. Pursuit of Happiness.
I tried to put myself into the stories I created, asking the questions an average citizen might have posed. Like so many, my answer is never war and killing. But as we all know the domestic affair became a huge political agenda on both sides. The colonies had grown too great to bend anymore. After years of Acts and more hardships from the British, the last olive branches presented no more compromise from the British. The colonists in general did not want war but the iron grip meant to subdue them broke their desire to be part of Britain. Britain lost her most powerful and valuable asset, forgetting that her former citizens could be just as stubborn.
Before the official Declaration of Independence was penned and signed, the Americans and the British fought battles in the colonies. 1775 was a pivotal year, one both sides could not take back or pretend it didn’t happen. No longer a battle of words or wit but one of weapons and death.
Bring Me Near set in 1775 Charles Town, SC explores the decisions and drastic measures each individual, no matter what side of the conflict, had to make and commit to for a lifetime. At some point, the lines were drawn with no turning back.
In the novel Louis Lestarjette makes a commitment to the Patriots. A commitment without a clear set of answers. “We’ve received news from Boston today about scrimmages between British and rebel militia. Shots were fired, and many were killed or wounded. The British see it as rebellion. We don’t know yet what will happen here.”
Join Elizabeth and Louis in the Revolutionary Faith Series as they face new dilemmas in each of the five installments. What would you have done?
Interesting Tidbits I found in the Bible Today
I was reading in First Kings today. Solomon had just dedicated the Temple to the Lord, and the Lord gave Solomon the contingent blessing. “If you and your sons follow Me, then you will forever have a son on the throne.”
I love these types of charges; it calls out the warrior in me—standing firm in the ways of the Lord. And then I came across this:
Now it happened at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the Lord and the king’s house (Hiram the king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress and gold, as much as he desired), that King Solomon then gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. Then Hiram went from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him, but they did not please him. So he said, “What kind of cities are these which you have given me, my brother?” And he called them the land of Cabul [Good for Nothing], as they are to this day. Then Hiram sent the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold. (1 Kings 9:10-14) **Emphasis mine
Solomon gave Hiram good-for-nothing cities? Hiram has given all the trees and gold Solomon needed for a twenty-year business relationship and Solomon gives him good-for-nothing cities? Had Solomon seen the cities? Did he know they weren’t desirable and tried to pass them off as a good thing? One city for each year in their partnership.
Was Hiram insulted? If it was me, I’d kinda be thinking, “Is this what Solomon thinks of our friendship after all these years? And then after seeing the cities, Hiram turns around and gives Solomon more gold. Like a crazy amount of gold.
Was this like a white-elephant gift exchange and Solomon was that guy who always brings a gag gift?
What’s the story here? What is really going on?
Or what about this one just a couple of lines down
And this is the reason for the labor force which King Solomon raised: to build the house of the Lord, his own house, the Millo, [The Landfill] the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. (Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up and taken Gezer and burned it with fire, had killed the Canaanites who dwelt in the city, and had given it as a dowry to his daughter, Solomon’s wife.) (1 Kings 9:15-16) **Emphasis mine
Okay. I get that Solomon is building up his supply cities and his cavalry stations. But why did Pharaoh burn down Gezer and kill the inhabitants as a dowry to his daughter? Was it to defend the Princess’ honor in some way? Did she despise the people of Gezer?
“You know what would make a great wedding present, daddy?”
“I have avenged you, my daughter. Here, you take this burned down city into your marriage with the wisest man alive. Who doesn’t want a ghost town?”
Of course, as I am writing this, the voices I hear are “Daddy we discussed this. No icing on my wedding day.”
Apparently in my mind the Pharaoh is a mob-boss vole who is carried around by polar bears. 😉
But anyway, back to 1 Kings 9. This is why I love Biblical Fiction. Finding tidbits like this in the Word stirs up my imagination. I love researching to find Jewish tradition, what is happening around the time politically and historically. Do other parts of the Bible support this passage with a slightly varied angle? Who are the players in this scene? Are the documented characters speaking truth to each other or is someone being misled? Intentionally or unintentionally?
I love it! These glimpses into the past make history come alive for me.
What comes to mind when you read this passage?
I’d love to hear your take on it.
- Have I mentioned, yet that I love Biblical Fiction?