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Rethinking The Call

God called me to write novels. I know that, as sure as I know that the prediction for rain in two days is going to come true.

When, a few months ago, I realized that the strong desire to write novels was an actual heavenly call, I started listening to all sorts of podcasts about writing and marketing books. At first, it was exciting.

But lately, it’s become anything but. And I began resenting the call.

Why? An independently published author is “supposed to” write at least four novels a year – more is better. She’s supposed to pay several hundred dollars per book cover, plus shell out another several hundred for professional editing and proofreading. For just one book.

On top of that, she has to experiment with Amazon and Facebook ads (or take a $500 course on the subject) and spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars per month on advertising. Theoretically, she’ll eventually figure it out and make a profit.

She’s supposed to have a Facebook page. Network with other authors. Write what “everybody” is reading.

Oh, and let’s not forget: the smart authors dictate their stories.

All these “supposed to’s” and “shoulds” have been building up in me to the point that I wanted to scream the other day. Instead, I lamented silently to the Lord about His call on my life to be a novelist.

Because I don’t want to do all of that. I just want to write when I have a story on my heart, and use book promotion sites to get them in front of people’s eyeballs.

Know what the Lord said to me? He whispered, “Since when have I ever asked you to follow everybody else?”

Oh.

So, when God calls you to engage in a certain task, it’s not necessarily in the way that the world would have you to do.

Whew. Thank You, Jesus.

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A little over a week ago, I finished the first draft of the fourth book in my “Pine Mountain Estates” series, Finding Dalia. What does a novelist do after finishing a novel? Dive right into editing? Take a well-earned vacation?

I can’t speak for other authors, but up to a certain point in my novel-writing year I have a previous novel to edit and proofread right after I get done writing the latest novel.

See, once an author finishes the first draft of a novel, they need to set it aside for a few weeks so that when they return to edit and proofread it, they can look at it with more objective eyes. Since I write in series, I almost always have some editing and proofreading to do of a previous novel in the series upon completing the first draft of the latest novel.

That takes me about a week. Then what? If I have not yet completed the novels I planned to write for that year, I start to outline the next story. If I have completed them all, I take a break for a week, then do some more editing and proofreading for a week, take a break, and so on, until I’ve gone through all the novels for the year three times. At some point in there, I start planning out my next series.

And, of course, all along the way, I’m marketing my previously written books and – with the help of my husband – creating covers for my latest novels.

That may sound like I’m working hard year-round, but I’ve scheduled it so that I’m writing novels from the beginning of October through the beginning of June. A traditional school year, I guess you could say, with plenty of vacation time for four months. The editing and proofreading I’ll do in a day only takes about an hour, so the weeks that I’m doing that task are still pretty laid-back.

There ya go. A peek into my life as an author.

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Like you, I’ve heard all my life that there’s a first time for everything. What is difficult to infer from that statement, but which seems to be the case more often than not, is that this “everything” is often something you haven’t thought about before.

For example, I never in my life thought I’d get an e-mail from a blind person. Especially, a blind person who is a fan of my books.

But, that’s exactly what happened to me yesterday. It’s not that I’d never thought about blind people purchasing digital books. I actually have contemplated that off and on, because I myself “read” Kindle books using the Text-To-Speech feature because my eyes get tired quickly from reading. I’d just never thought about a person without sight consuming one of my books – and e-mailing me on top of it!

I wanted to share a bit of what her e-mail was about because she gave me some interesting information. She recently signed up to my e-mail list, and when you do, some of the e-mails you receive from me are follow-ups. These e-mails are automated; I set them up once and they get sent out to subscribers after so many days in a certain order.

One of the e-mails explains the horrible, rampant Internet book piracy, of which I have become a victim. This is why I’m no longer going to sell print books, so that if I ever see someone trying to sell a print title of one of my digital-only books, I will be able to tell Amazon in no uncertain terms that the seller has pirated my work.

Anyway, my new fan – I’ll call her Anne in case she’d like to remain anonymous – replied to that e-mail to tell me about the BookShare website. This is a low-cost subscription site that legally provides books for blind people, as well as others who have trouble reading text such as dyslexics, people with cerebral palsy, etc.  That is, they get permission from publishers to provide certain books in a format that such people can access – audiobooks, Braille, etc.

Unfortunately, Anne told me, many Christian book publishers don’t allow their books to be put on the site. Anne has gone on to read His Second Chance, and thanked me for providing books on Kindle that aren’t full of “evil and filth.”

You’re welcome, Anne. And thank you for enlarging my world a little bit more by helping me to remember that people of all kinds consume books.

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A Beautiful Ending

Yesterday, I finished the first draft of the fourth book in my “Pine Mountain Estates” series. (Insert canned applause and cheering here.) The title is Finding Dalia, and as I typed out the last few paragraphs, I realized something.

I’ve learned to craft a beautiful ending.

I don’t meant to sound bragadocious. But for this recovering perfectionist, writing a satisfactory ending has been a struggle. Every novelist wants to end their book in a way that will help their readers remember the book, and this can often be more difficult than crafting clever dialogue or producing an unexpected plot twist. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that I’ve grown in my craft to the extent that I can write a beautiful ending without pulling my hair out.

I’m not saying that I’m totally unhappy with how any of my other novels end. I’m saying that this time, it was easier to write, and I was totally happy with it. Which, up until now, has been a rare occurrence.

Now, on to the first edit and proofreading of Pine Mountain Dreams, the third book in the series.

A writer’s work is never done, but it can be oh so much fun.

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Pretty Spring Things

Today was a beautiful spring day, mostly sunny (at least by afternoon) and in the mid-sixties. And on our five-acre property, many signs of spring have emerged, sparking the hope that this past cold, wet winter might be over at least.

So I thought I’d do something different on my blog. I thought I’d share some of the pretty spring things we’ve been seeing. The first two are more like tasty spring things. And the first photo reminds me that as soon as I finish this post, I need to run out and pick some asparagus for supper.

When I saw what you see in the next photo, I thought, “I shall know soon if I have mice in the garden.” How? Because that strawberry, at least half-ripe (and the first one of the season) will disappear or get nibbled on within the next couple of days if I do.

The next is some kind of small purple wildflower. The photo’s not as good as it could be because the wind was blowing.

Overnight, our rosebushes have bloomed. There’s another bush on the other side, and it’s heavenly to walk between them! They are heirlooms, so the roses give off a lovely fragrance.

Here is a single rose.

Some sort of small, white wildflower that the butterflies and hummingbird moths love.

Case in point.

Yellow wildflowers mixed in with a few of the purple ones like the one I shared above.

What kind of beauty are seeing right now, where you live?

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