Friday, June 29, 2012

Live the Miracle by Jennifer Rogers Spinola

Writers dream of their first contract. But having a book published doesn’t mean the journey ends there. New challenges soon follow. I’m so pleased to have Jennifer Rogers Spinola with us today. Jennifer has been nominated for a 2012 Christy Award in the first novel category with her book “Southern Fried Sushi.” She shares some of the joys and fears she’s experienced during her own publishing journey. Soak in her encouraging words. ~ Dawn

Live the Miracle
by Jennifer Rogers Spinola

Something happens once you’re lucky enough to land a publishing contract: you silently wring your hands, wondering if you can ever make it happen again.

It’s a funny thing, this transformation from wide-eyed awe at the very idea that someone would publish something YOU WROTE to the nervous fingernail biting of, “Now what? Will I ever publish again, or are my author days over?” And even funnier is the lightning speed in which it happens, like a noxious weed suddenly shading out the sun.

I feel it so clearly, even now, as I nestle in my summer-hot bedroom in South Dakota, glancing over at a corner of my dresser where my tiny, personal stash of my “Southern Fried Sushi” series novels line up. Reminding me of euphorious joy at the word “contract”, the copyediting, the exciting cover design process, the hastily proofed galleys. All culminating in a cardboard box of books that made its way to Brasilia, Brazil, on a sweltering tropical day.

I stood there on the cool portico under the apartment complex as the apartment porteiro, or glorified receptionist/caretaker/handyman, sliced through clear tape with a pocket knife and peeled back the brown cardboard wings. And there: a layer of glossy book covers, with my name in perfect script.

Fast forward to now, as I await the publication of my next two contracted books. I’ve turned in all my manuscripts; all but one galley proofed. I’ve seen the covers. I have no more contracts.

What now? I worry sometimes, looking over at those books on my dresser, that I’m done. I rack my brain for ideas, wondering if this plot or that setting might be just the thing to land a new contract and go through the delightful process again: the edits, the critiques, the flush of happiness as I get the scene just right.

Maybe it will.

And yet maybe it won’t.

I sense the same impatience rising up as I stare down at my swollen belly, still trying to understand how, after eight years of marriage and one beautiful adopted child later, I am somehow pregnant. A surprise! A miracle! After years of picturing our family with only three members, I suddenly imagine the car full of children. New babies and splayed baby name books. Four, five, or six!

We are Israel wandering in the desert, rushing along from the parting of the Red Sea and water from the rock to manna, always looking for something more, something better, something bigger. Leeks! Garlic! We cry in our cravings, forgetting that God has spared us from death at the hands of Pharaoh’s army. Give us more water! Give us meat!

Something more, something greater—barely allowing the iridescent dust of a miracle to settle, shimmering, before clamoring for another one.

And yet something precious is lost when we look beyond the golden glow of our own unexpected gift, our answered prayer, and immediately begin to want. To worry. To fret—as I do—“is this it? Or is there more?”

Writers, if you have published a book, rejoice in a gift that thousands have never enjoyed. If anxiously search Amazon for reviews, wondering if you’ve got what it takes to publish again, stop! Thank the Lord. Continue to write, of course, but don’t follow the market like a hound sniffing rabbit blood, desperately trying to keep up with the trends and publish again at all costs. Write. Just write. And let the Lord guide you. Let Him inspire you, open the way, put all the shining pieces of His plan in place.

If you’ve never published, rejoice in that, too—for writing is its own gift. A constant friend, an inner world that only you can hear and taste. “A writer doesn’t write to be published,” said my dear friend and professor Dr. Gayle Price, now with the Lord. “She writes because she can’t not write.”

The truth is, we cannot—and should not—try to “reproduce” the miracle. We cannot force open the bud, or tear open the seed to find the tender shoot. We wait, pray, write, study our craft—and trust God to bring what He wants from our labors.

I whisper to the little one nestled in my belly: “Maybe you will be my only birth child. Maybe you won’t. But you will be perfect, however you come.”    

Live the miracle, whether you write or carry children or never publish or go to your grave with a barren womb. HE is the miracle—Christ risen and died for our sins—and the only inspiration and hope we ever need. 

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Jennifer Rogers Spinola lives in Belle Fourche, South Dakota with her Brazilian husband, Athos, and three-year-old son, Ethan. She and her family just relocated to rural South Dakota after spending eight years in Brazil, and before that, Jennifer served two years in northern Japan as a Baptist missionary. She is the author of Barbour Books' "Southern Fried Sushi" series—including one Christy Award finalist novel—and an upcoming romance novella collection based on Yellowstone National Park (also with Barbour Books) to be released in 2013. Jennifer is an advocate for adoption and loves the outdoors, photography, writing, and camping. She has previously served as a middle- and high-school teacher, ESL teacher in Japan and Brazil, and National Park Service volunteer. Jenny has a B.A. in English/journalism from Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina. She is a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Belle Fourche, Association of Christian Fiction Writers, and International Christian Fiction Writers.

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