Sunday, 27 November 2022

G Guest Editorials

Celebrate Lit: Milestone Moments or Elusive Experience

I’m often asked about my writing journey, and it seems so surreal. But I have a few milestone moments that I can undeniably point to the Lord’s hand. Afterall, it is for Him that I write, and I try to remember those milestones as often as people ask me about how I became a writer. And even more pointedly, how did I get published.

But when I get busy and discouraged in my tasks, those milestone moments become just elusive experiences, fading behind. Much like those vertical, rectangular, green, and white numerical signs along the highways? Those mile markers. If you’re a road warrior and love road trips, you probably know all about them. As a kid, I loved watching them whiz by, but honestly, they confused me. I could never figure out if I were coming or going!

Anyway, did you know they were initially called milestones and were indeed carved out of stone? Then if we go way back, we find it was the Romans who started all that road marking stuff, and I imagine they were a tool much more important back then than now. With mini-computers (cell phones) at our fingertips, we ignore the mile markers and ask Siri, “Are we there yet?”

Metaphorically though, a milestone is of great significance. We all have them in our lives, don’t we? I bet you imagine them right now. Most commonly, it’s the births, marriages, and deaths in our families. As believers, the most important is our conversion to faith in Christ --the most significant milestone in any Christian’s life.

The bible, of course, has many examples of milestones. I love the event in Joshua 4:9 when Joshua piles rocks from the Jordan riverbed to commemorate entering the Promised Land. Not a bad idea. I love painting rocks, so perhaps I’ll mark my milestones that way, so they don’t continue to be elusive experiences.

But I’ll start by painting you a picture of some of my writing milestones. It’s not quite the beginning of my journey but a significant marker.

A couple of years ago, my sister, a journalist and author, suggested joining a writing group. I’d heard of RWA, Romance Writers of America. But the closest one was forty minutes away. I was hoping for a Christian group but didn’t know of one, and I’m not that adventurous. So, there were three strikes against me going, but I went anyway, by myself.

Of course, I read the website information wrong and arrived too early for the main event. Instead of hiding in my car, the President suggested I attend the morning Author Panel discussion, and she provided an escort.

As I sat in that room listening to the talks, I knew that I was in the wrong place. This group wasn’t for me, I thought. As writers spoke of their genres, the word erotica came up a few times, leaving me uncomfortable. But then someone asked one of the authors on the panel how she got published. She said she entered a contest and won.

I asked, “What contest?” She smiled at me, and I’m sure I remember her eyes twinkling. “The Genesis Contest with ACFW, American Christian Fiction Writers.” I didn’t hear much more than that, but afterward, I made a beeline for her.

The author was, Cathleen Armstrong. She wrote the Last Chance series of books published by Revell, and she was as delightful as her books, which I later read. She was sweet, kind and professional, and a shining light.

She introduced me to her friend, another Chrisitan author, Nancy Brashear, and they invited me to sit with them for the rest of the RWA meeting.

It turned out that Cathleen and I live about five minutes apart, and our kids attended the same elementary school, and we had mutual friends. But more importantly, she was a beacon of hope in a seemingly dark place for me at that moment.

Then everything opened up. She invited me to an ACFW meeting, and there was a local chapter. And there, she introduced me to Susan K. Beatty, (a Celebrate Lit author) who I knew from afar as my super-mentor in homeschooling. Anyway, from there, I was invited to join their Serious Scribblers critique group. So, from my sister suggesting I look for a group, I was involved in three in a matter of months!

Then the big break came when Serious Scribblers were invited to a Writer’s Retreat hosted by Celebrate Lit Publishing with Sandy, Denise, Kelsey Barela, and Chautona Having. But I said no. Feeling inadequate in this writing world, I declined. As God would have it, Serious Scribblers coaxed me to go, and that led to another huge milestone, but I’ll save that for another story. But with the last stroke, I will reveal that Celebrate Lit signed me for a multi-book series. Not an elusive experience, but God’s milestone moment.

It’s important to remember these times, especially when the enemy messes with your head and you doubt why you’re doing what you do. So, contemplate what God has done before and consider His faithful goodness.  I hope you’ll recall, remember, and record those authentic, prominent experiences that the Lord has used to direct you in His path for your life. And I hope you’ll set them in stone.

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