Friday, July 30, 2010

HOPE—There and back again . . . by Jill Eileen Smith

Earlier this month, on a Writer’s Journey Wednesday, author Jill Eileen Smith shared tips for using Idea Boards as inspiration when writing novels. She returns this Fortifying Friday to talk about her journey to publication. Be encouraged by her story!

HOPE—There and back again . . .

Writers carry an indomitable sense of hope. We write alone, but we seek to share our genius (or lack thereof) with the world someday. One moment we are eternal optimists. The next desperate pessimists. We are a paradox. A dichotomy. Feelings I know too well.

After twenty years of writing to improve my craft, I was losing hope of ever seeing my work in print. I had written eight full length novels including Michal’s and Abigail’s stories. I had signed with agent extraordinaire, Wendy Lawton, who loved Michal, but try as she might, she could not sell my work.

In May 2007, Wendy told me we needed to put my biblical fiction on the shelf for a while. Michal had been around the Christian publishing block too many times and no one was interested. Though Wendy still planned to market my suspense novels, years of rejection had taken its toll. Hope was wearing thin.

By June, I had moved to despair, ready to give up. I wrote a prayer in my journal to the Lord seeking direction, giving Him (not as an ultimatum, but as a request) one more year to allow Wendy a chance to sell my work. Then I tucked the journal away and forgot about the prayer.

In July, life went on as it always did, but in the midst of persevering to keep writing and learning, I felt a sudden, urgent need to pray about The Wives of King David. The prayer came in the form of a question - "Lord, I have loved this series for so long! Are you ever going to do anything with it?" Then I fantasized about an editor coming up to Wendy at a writer’s conference or book convention and asking if she had any biblical fiction. I figured a girl can dream…

In August, while I was catering food to my kids and their crew during a music video shoot, (Mom’s are always good for food, right?) I came home to an email from Wendy asking for the full manuscript on Michal. An editor she met at a writer’s conference was looking for a work of biblical fiction…and I had a sense that God heard not only my prayer but my dream. Nail-biting hope revived.

By October, we had confirmation of a contract for a 3-book deal with Revell for The Wives of King David series.

In December 2007, I found my prayer journal, and in it the prayer that I'd written the previous June describing my heartfelt despair and how ready I was to give up and do something else with my life. God had given me hope again. The discovery was humbling. And He has continued to bless my work in ways I could not have imagined.

I am also constantly reminded that I am not special or deserving, and the journey is more important than the destination. Our writing is just a small part of our life, and we never know how long He will allow us to continue. Loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength is what shapes who we are and gives us the strength to go on—to hope.

Jill Eileen Smith is the best-selling author of Michal and Abigail, books one and two in The Wives of King David series. She has more than twenty years of writing experience, and her writing has gathered acclaim in several contests. Her research into the lives of David's wives has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.

When she isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family; in person, over the webcam, or hopping a plane to fly across the country. She can often be found reading Christian fiction, testing new recipes, grabbing lunch with friends, or snuggling one or both of her two adorable cats. She lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

To find out more about Jill and her books, please visit

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