The following story isn't easy to share, but I will anyway. In fact, I didn't post sooner because it took a few days to sort it all out in my mind and heart.
The girl had spent hours wrapping her gift. She made sure the white paper was smooth with no wrinkles. She'd worked her fingers raw to get the bow on just right, retying it at least ten times. One loop stretched over her thumb, and she cringed when she noticed it was still longer than the other. No time to fix it again because the double-doors opened to the master's throne room.
Taking a deep breath, the girl stepped inside. The majestic chamber spread out before her. Diamonds and sapphires sparkled on the walls, rays of sunshine lanced through the vaulted windows, and the scent of lavender made the tension in her body melt away like snow on her tongue.
At the far end of the room the master sat on his throne. He leaned forward and motioned for her to come.
Holding the gift out, she stepped toward him.
Eyes twinkling, the master smiled as she put the small box in his large hands.
"Thank you." He took the bow between his fingers and pulled.
"Careful." The girl reached out, but yanked her hand back.
The master stopped pulling on the ribbon.
"Sorry. It's just that . . . it was a lot of work tying that thing."
He chuckled and plucked at the bow.
"Here, let me help you." The girl pulled on the ribbon until the bow disappeared. She looked up at the master.
He smiled down on her, still holding the gift.
"The paper is very delicate. Maybe I should help you unwrap it?"
The master held out the box to her, and she unwrapped the gift.
She lifted out what she had so painstakingly made, and he smiled, admiring it. As he reached for the gift, she snatched it back and said, "Let me take care of this for you."
I'm sorry to say, I'm that little girl. You see, I wrote a story (the series I've been working on and put an excerpt of below). Well, I wrote it for God. Not because He needed entertainment, but to win people over to Him, to please Him. I've spent years perfecting the craft just so I could write this one, special story. Do I have other stories in me? Yes. But this one was my special gift for Him.
Right when I finished the first book of the series, I stumbled upon a publisher that wanted it, and I'd barely finished typing the last word! So, I cleaned it up as fast as I could and shipped it off to the publisher, only later finding a gazillion typos in the thing. Just like that crooked bow. Ugh. Well, about a month later, I heard that they wanted to publish it! I was thrilled!
After some email problems and simple misunderstandings, I felt I needed to help God out. To make a long story short, I got an agent and decided to go to the bigger houses with it. So, I took my manuscript and ran, seeing dollar signs and my book sitting on the shelves at Borders and B&N.
Well, I started networking, building up a new blog for writers, got active on all my loops, joined more programs, and dove into every little thing the big houses suggest writers do, which means "no time for writing." I became tired and overwhelmed, and at one point I'd lost the whole reason "why" I wrote this story. To serve God. To please Him and make Him smile.
During all of this, that small press came knocking on my door a few times, asking for an update, but I brushed them off, thinking God needed a little hand. After all, how could He sell my book unless I went through a big press?
As I knocked on all their doors, the big houses all liked my writing, calling me things like "an accomplished writer." One editor said, she didn't really like first century stories, but was surprised how well this one "sucked her in." Etc. But . . . either they weren't publishing this era of fiction, or they already had an author who wrote in that time period, or their lists were full.
Remember that one editor I really, really wanted? Well, she LIKED my story, but didn't have room for it. But . . . she liked it! That to me is a huge compliment coming from her. I also think they're wanting more suspense novels.
After that, I had yet to hear from Zondervan, and by this time . . . I was discouraged. Even without having heard from Zondervan, I wanted to go back to that small press. But I was hesitant because as a small press just stepping out in the publishing world, I wouldn't sell nearly as many books as I would through a larger house. God needs help! Or . . . maybe He doesn't? He is God after all. He's a lot bigger than those "big houses." Hmm. So, I told my agent that I was 85-90 percent sure I wanted to go with the small press and would she give Zondervan a call and get an answer. At this time, I found out that the editor's workload at Zondervan, just doubled. So, even before my agent made the call, we both knew what the answer would be. Yep, you guessed it. "No." But, allow me to add for my own pride's sake, even she said she liked my writing. Whew!
So, I'm going with the small press. Now the question is, do they still want my story. I won't know until after the first of the year.
What I've learned: I have other stories I've written for myself, but I wrote this one for God. Well, I'm going to let Him have it and quit trying to do what I think is best. It's His story. I'll finish the other two books with just as much passion and pleasure on the pages, and hand it over to Him as His gift. I'll let him open it Himself and let Him do what He wants with it.
My prayer now is that it will please Him.
P.S. I never would have come to this conclusion so quickly and smoothly without the council and guidance of my bestest friend, Wendy flower.