Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Fortifying Friday to our readers! (Annette here) Dawn and I are pleased to host Nikki Arana today with her encouraging post. Happy writing and reading!

My Writing Journey
by Nikki Arana

People are always surprised to learn that I have sold everything I ever sent out. From that first magazine article to my first novel. Yes, God was blessing my socks off and assuring me that He had called me to write. At least that's what I thought . . . until 2007 when I began to write my fifth novel, The Shadow of Death.

The economy had begun a downward spiral, CBA was looking to broaden their appeal by moving toward fiction written from a Christian worldview rather than the message fiction I was known for, and the subject of my book was evangelizing Muslims. There's a dicey topic to promote on a national stage! Though my previous books had won many awards, suddenly sales were not so stellar, and my once rising star seemed to dim. My agent couldn't sell my manuscript. In some cases, publishers offered a contract if I would write something else. But I knew the Lord had called me to write about the need for safe houses for Muslims in America who convert to Christianity. Many of you reading this know what I mean. God has given you a story and a passion to write it. But nothing is coming together. At every turn a door closes. You wonder if you are called to write.

It has been three years since I began writing The Shadow of Death. Offers have not come together, I've rewritten the book three times, I've fought writers block, and yes, even despair. Always coming back to the one thing that could sustain me if only I was sure-was I truly called to write. Finally, through prayer and a willingness to be broken, the Lord led me to the truth.

I am not called to write. I am called to intimacy with Him. It is about letting your dreams die and being willing to live out His dreams for you. It is about spiritual growth that has nothing to do with the writing itself. It has to do with the journey. It has to do with sanctification, being set apart for His purposes, realizing that you are not meant to serve God, you are meant for God to serve man through you. I no longer wonder if He has called me to write. I know He hasn't. He has called me to intimacy with Him. Everything else is just the fruit of that relationship. It was the dawning of this life-giving truth that finally allowed me to surrender to God, His purpose, and His timing.

The Shadow of Death sold last month. . . . in a two-book deal.

Surrender and seek Him. He will do the very thing that you think tests the limits of His power.

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The Shadow of Death is a chilling tale pitting Austia Donatelli, the leader of an underground Christian ministry that brings the gospel to Muslims, against a powerful terrorist. Austia lives and works in an Islamic neighborhood and God’s call on her life seems to be a death sentence. But her ministry isn’t somewhere in the Middle East . . . it’s in Southern California. The plot takes unexpected twists and turns as the clock ticks and Austia courageously seeks safety for the Muslim women who have become her sisters in Christ. Her faith is tested to the breaking point as death stalks her and God seems distant. It is then, with terrifying certainty, she realizes she is in a spiritual battle with Satan himself.

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Nikki Arana is an award-winning author of women's fiction, essays, poetry, and magazine articles whose work has been published in the United States and Canada. She has won several national awards, including the American Christian Fiction Book of the Year for Women's Fiction for two consecutive years, the Beacon Award, the Excellence in Media Silver Angel Award, the Write Touch Readers Award, and others. Her book, The Winds of Sonoma was named One of the Top 20 Books of the Year by Christianbook.com. Her 5th, and first non-fiction book, Through the Eyes of Christ: How to Lead Muslims into the Kindom of God, has just been released. Her 6th book, The Shadow of Death, has just been sold by her agent, Natasha Kern. You can learn more about her at www.nikkiarana.com.

Nikki is also a professional editor (http://www.nikkiarana.com/writing-to-publish/) who teaches story structure.

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