I always tell my kids what matters is that they do their best. Funny, because that’s what my parents told me growing up. As an adult, I finally understand, especially after the struggles my son had in school last year. He’s probably smarter than I am (don’t tell him that!), but very unmotivated to work hard. It made me sad to know he COULD do better if he tried. If he exerted more effort. Colossians 3:23 was a verse I shared with him often in his first year of high school – Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
While he was working his way through his first year of high school, I was working my way through my second book, Angel Defined, in the Christian romance series I was writing. I had started the first book, Angel Discovered, twenty years before while in college. I always knew it would be a series, but after publishing Angel Discovered five years ago, I took a step back to try something new. Inspirational fiction (with a little love thrown in). Fiction that truly inspired. My goal in writing became that when a person picked up my books, they would not only identify with the characters but by the truth shared and the character overcoming his/her struggle, the reader would seek to change his/her own life and drawn nearer to God. It wasn’t easy to balance the truth of God’s Word and not preach (although when the characters go to church, you’re bound to hear a sermon or two), so I found myself in prayer as I wrote. Some scenes came naturally, others were beyond me. Yet when I finished Freedom in His Love and then Running in Such a Way, I was satisfied. I had worked on them with all my heart as to the Lord.
Angel Defined was shaping up in the same way. I really wanted to share the spiritual battle that takes place in the mind of someone struggling with depression. Although I had lived it for decades, I had to pray over and over “God, show me how to write it.” I knew what I felt and experienced but never attempted to “show” anyone. About this time, my daughter started asking when I would read my new book to her. I reminded her that she hadn’t read the first one in the series (she was too young when we first published), so she grabbed it off the shelf and my journey back through Angel Discovered began.
Studies show it takes between 6-10 years, 10,000 hours, to become “great” at something. As I read Angel Discovered with my girl, I realized the truth behind that study. I found myself editing my published book, thinking “I wish I would have…” all over the place. I wanted it to have the same spiritual depth as the others, but when I wrote it, I had a different purpose. I still wanted to glorify God, but I was sharing a story. Getting the voices that talked to me constantly out of my head (if you’re an author, you understand). But after all these years, it broke me to think about starting over. I tried shortcuts—downloading my manuscript from the publishing site and fixing a word here and there. I tried to convince myself that my readers would understand. I wrestled with God on this issue for weeks when He graciously reminded me of Colossians 3:23. I did my best then, but now my best is better. I needed to do it for the Lord.
So, I started at the beginning. I added more detail, more dialogue, more stories of who my characters were so the reader could see how far they have come. When you read the new Angel Discovered, you may dislike Tyler a little more, sympathize with Lauren’s struggles to a great degree, and feel like Adam is more than a brilliant piano player. When I was proofing the interior, I found myself stopping at all the new scenes, the new stories. I laughed and cried and thanked the Lord for the wisdom and perseverance to make the changes needed for His glory.
And though I liked my previous cover, apparently in the book world if you change your interior by one page, you need a new cover. So, here they are. Lauren and Tyler. He’s busy doing his movie star thing and being his dashing self. She’s looking at her future, wondering how a school teacher can fit into a world of fame and fortune. The truth is, she doesn’t fit. She’s the light needed in a world of darkness. Though out of her comfort zone, she’s willing to surrender herself to God and His plan. Oh, what a great plan it is. A plan so immense it will take four books to unfold.
Don’t shortcut your life, my friend. Take it from me and my fictional characters. God wants your best for Him. When your work is truly for Him, He will bless it beyond measure.