Category Archives: publishing my books

When Am I Too Old To Write?

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When Am I Too Old To Write?

In 1977 when my husband and I were home from South Africa for the summer, I took a fiction-writing class to complete my MA. My professor encouraged us to start outlining a novel from a newspaper article or an experience we’d had.  I found myself imagining a forbidden romance between a black girl and a white boy in South Africa under Apartheid.

When I handed in my outline I told the professor I had posted over my ‘typewriter’, LORD YOU WRITE- I’LL TYPE. He chided me to listen to God’s guidance, but that I had to do the writing.  I shouldn’t blame poor writing on God.

I had been picking up graduate classes here and there, even a few hours in Kenya , and at 51 years of age I walked down the aisle with  one of my undergraduate sons and two future grand-daughters-in-law.

The Writing Years

Fast forward almost thirty years during which I had published ten books– about missions, the role of women in the Bible and the church, biographies. And yes, that classroom assignment became my first novel, The Soweto Legacy. ( Amazon Kindle.)

Then a  friend challenged me, “Lorry you should write the story of Katharine Bushnell. Her life needs to be told.”

I wasn’t interested, but to please Mimi I began researching Bushnell, a medical doctor in the late nineteenth century. Bushnell was active in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and accepted Frances Willard’s invitation to work on the streets of Chicago with “fallen women.” My research at the Metropolitan University in London unearthed hand-written and carbon copies of reports of girls bought or coerced into the military brothels of the British Army–but no personal letters, journals, or stories of Katharine Bushnell’s life.  It would have been a dull biography at best.  A helpful literary agent suggested  I write her story as historical fiction..

As I was about to start writing, my husband, Al, was diagnosed with cancer during a frightening winter night in the ER. God please don’t take him.  We started the many trips for chemo. Thank you that he’s staying strong and feeling well. We sold our home and moved into a retirement home. Praise God. But in 2008 he peacefully left to be with Jesus. Can I come too?

Is this God’s will?

When I finally started to write again, I became discouraged. I’d never tackled as big a project as this. I needed a publisher, but none was interested. One suggested I hire an editor to bring the manuscript up to their requirements.  After a summer of rewriting, they turned me down. I was ready to give up.

One Sunday morning in December, 2013, I stayed in bed to do business with God.  I needed an answer.  Other responsibilities were challenging me in my community, yet I hesitated to take them on. God, do you want me to finish these books?  Are they really as important as ministering to people here in the retirement community? I need clear guidance if I’m to go on.

That morning Andy Stanley spoke about Nehemiah who had rebuilt Jerusalem’s wall. Sanballat and his cronies called him down for a chat, but Nehemiah knew they were planning to harm him.

He responded, “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come down.”

God’s Word spoke to me.  The “great work” was writing the story about His servant, Katharine Bushnell.  I “can’t come down” to stop my work until it is completed.  Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas accepted the manuscript.  They published Daughters of Deliverance   three years later And eight months after that–just five months before my 90th birthday—the sequel, The Queen’s Daughters saw the light.

Rooting for another author in the family

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Big day for my family.  My grandson-in-law launched his book, Jesus Journey.  I know the grueling hours this father of three put in.  I couldn’t resist writing him this letter:

Dear Trent,

I know what this day feels like.  The “baby” has been birthed—a relief and yet a bit of emptiness. Didn’t you grow with the people you wrote about, the insights you discovered, the creative challenge every time you sat down at the computer?

 

And you feel so proud of this “baby” but you don’t want to act proud.  Yet in order to get the baby to grow, you have to talk about it – you have to SELL. You almost feel as though you are selling yourself.

 

It looks like you’ve had some encouragement from your publisher. I’ve received  some new ideas about promoting my book, Daughters of Deliverance, myself today.  I’ve wanted to do a Facebook author page, but don’t know how.  I’ve struggled to write faithfully on my blog—and not very meaningfully either.  But we try and God moves the book along because He wants people to read and learn and be blessed.

 

I was encouraged to receive this review just a few days ago from a woman who serves on the board of a well-known and impactful NGO:

 

Just finished reading Daughters of Deliverance and wanted to thank you for sharing the book with me.  It was an incredible story that I had not heard before and of course it was so beautifully written.   The theme of wrestling and listening for what God wants us to do next in life was powerful.

Lorry

 

 

Two books is like having twins in the birth canal

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Two weeks ago I received a contract for the second book in the series about Katharine Bushnell.  Kate, M.D. is a strong, resilient , courageous woman who encountered sex slavery in the nineteenth century and grappled with it as fiercely as a dog with a bone.

In my coming blogs I’ll talk more about Kate and the not-too-distant-in- the-future  publishing date.  But now I want to talk a little about the publishing process.Anyone who has offered a book to a publisher knows you wait — and wait– and wait.  You keep contacting your editor to see that he’s done everything that he can do.  He has.

But you can understand why I was anxious.  I’m 88 year old — even if you turn 88 around it’s still 88.  But like my brother who is 84, he could mistakenly type 48.  This is a great time of life for me. I’m healthy, no metal parts, and still love to write.  Besides that I don’t have to plan meals, cook them, clean the kitchen and flop on the couch too tired to do anything else. Like last night, I ate a light dinner (had a virtual feast in the Bistro at noon) and worked until ten-thirty.

But getting back to waiting.  Boundless (we’ll call book number one that) had been with another publisher for over a year.  In that process they asked would I please rewrite the book.  I did, and still waited– and then they said “no.”

But in the meantime my editor had found another publisher who was interested. So we managed to keep the two in hand– and when the first said no, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas said “yes.”

So after ten years in the process (far too long to use the birth canal idiom) I actually had a contract and an editor who knew how to gently pull the best out of me.  I’ll probably write about that sometime.

My title says “two books,” and yes book two, The Queen’s Daughters, was accepted two weeks ago. And the process begins all over again.

I don’t know many writers, so most people around me aren’t interested in hearing about the publishing process. Writing back cover copy, a synopsis of your book which took ten years in 35 words, how an endnote line has appeared at the top of the last 75 pages of the manuscript and you don’t know how to get rid of it–  maybe you’re interested.

If so, hang in there, and when I get back to writing my blog — sooner than four months like my last one — I’ll tell you more  of what it takes to publish a book.