One day in the early 1990s I walked into a Christian bookstore in Springfield, MO, and felt overwhelmed. So many books! How could I possibly write something new that had never been written before?
It was as though the Lord said that every one of those books had been written for at least one particular person. The book might not be a success by publishing standards, but it was a success in God’s eyes. Words on the written page change people’s lives.
In 1993 an idea formed in my mind, and it wouldn’t let me rest. Finally, I lay on my face and cried out to God to let me write a book that would fulfill His purpose. The rest is a remarkable story of how the Lord truly moves in ways we can’t even imagine.
Someone at church knew a Christian agent. I sent a proposal to him, and that weekend he took it to Palm Springs, CA, where he and his wife drove for a quick vacation. Unexpectedly, he ran into the fiction acquisitions editor for Thomas Nelson, who also was in Palm Springs for a short vacation.
The agent mentioned my proposal, and the Nelson editor told him it was just the kind of spiritual warfare manuscript they were looking for as a “competitor” to Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness.
In the meantime I had asked a friend, Carrie Younce, to write the book with me since she seemed invested in the story. The Nelson editor presented the proposal to Pub Board, and I was asked to write a detailed chapter-by-chapter synopsis since the book wasn’t finished yet. After they were satisfied with its viability, they offered us a contract. It happened incredibly fast.
After Carrie and I joined together as an author team, the book was finished in two weeks. It was as though the Holy Spirit sat in the room with us, day after day, and on some days, we wrote as many as forty-plus pages together. It was an amazing experience and one I’m not sure could be repeated.
Here’s a brief description of the novel Sedona Storm that became a bestseller in 1994:
“When a reporter exposes a bizarre series of cult murders,At the core of the story is the issue of abortion and its consequences. Abortion is never mentioned on the cover or in any advertising copy. It was a topic not many would have touched.
she soon finds herself running for her own life.”
But soon after the book was released, the sister of a woman at church was kicked out of a troubled relationship by her boyfriend because she was pregnant. She ran to her sister’s home and scheduled an abortion. She saw Sedona Storm on the coffee table (our friend had not even read the book) and asked if she could take it to her room. She was bored.
At the end of the day she walked downstairs and told her sister, “If this is the Jesus you know, then this is the Jesus I want.” She gave her life to Christ and canceled the abortion.
The second book in the series, Secrets of the Gathering Darkness, which was not as successful as Sedona Storm, was dedicated to Zachary, the little boy who was born six months later to the woman who had planned to abort him.
As a Christian and a writer, your calling is not to become a bestselling author, although publishing houses might disagree with me. Your calling is to write the truth . . . to write the story that burns in your heart like fire shut up in your bones. Learn your craft and write the story that pleases your God.
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