First, to those of you who’ve written and haven’t yet received a reply? My apologies…and a promise that I’ll write soon! (As some of you already know, I answer every letter, personally--and usually, via snail mail!)
So anyway, I’ve always loved hearing from my readers, whether the messages arrive via email or by way of the U.S. Postal Service (I use the term “service” loosely). The notes—some of them pages long!—always brighten my day. But I’m never more delighted than when they’re signed by a name I recognize.
Hearing from the same readers after each book is released reminds me of a letter that arrived a few years ago, written by a reader-turned-friend who asked me to pray for her son. It seemed that just one short year after professing undying love in front of God, family and friends, he and his young bride decided to separate, and the news broke his mother’s heart.
As I prayed, I couldn’t help wondering what had come between this young couple. Money issues? Meddlesome in-laws? His job or hers? Politics? Those questions inspired Suddenly Reunited, the Love Inspired novel about a couple, forced to make the most important decision of their lives: Set aside petty, stubborn grievances … or lose all hope of ever finding their way back to one another’s loving arms. The storyline mirrored the situation of my friend’s son and daughter-in-law who, after many miserable months apart, turned to Christ for help and healing. “Love one another as you love yourselves” is some of the best advice any married couple can hear … if it’s put into practice. And I’m happy to report that both the fictional and the real-life couple learned the lesson well.
All romance novels are, by their very nature, relationship stories. In Christian romance novels, it can be said that Christ Jesus is the editor of each gripping, down-to-earth tale, peopled by characters who—just like our readers—face tragedy, trauma, and temptation…and find their way to triumphant joy by the pure bright light of God’s grace. These elements are equally true in every other genre! It’s no accident that so many of our readers write to tell us how our stories impacted them, and most of us are quick to point that every page is the result of God at work … in our work.
But what of the letters that point out our slip-ups and inaccuracies? You know the kind … pesky typos and misspellings that get past us, our editors and copy editors. Mathematical errors, like the one in a historical of mine, where the years between the Prologue and Chapter One didn’t add up. Then there are technical things our readers “catch”, like the time one of mine gave me a mini-history lesson: Brides didn’t carry bouquets in wedding ceremonies prior to such-and-such a year, yet my character did!
Believe it or not, I love it when I get a letter from a reader who points out inconsistencies, boo-boos and blatant blunders. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I’m quick to respond with a heartfelt thanks and a promise to avoid that particular boo-boo in the future. And some of those readers have become my most loyal fans-turned-friends, and they’ve been writing to me since my first release in 1994!
If you’ve known me longer than a minute and a half, you’ve heard me admit I’m not cut out for missionary work in the world’s jungles and deserts. Writing faith-based fiction that “touches hearts and changes lives” (and thank you to the reviewers who helped turn that into my “brand”!)? This is my mission work. And the letters I receive every day of my oh-so-blessed life are black-and-white are proof that ours is not a God who will not be ignored! If need be, He’ll find “the lost” in the pages of a novel … and lead them the rest of the way home through the pages of His holy book!
Now I’m off to get busy answering this hefty stack of reader mail. Until your response arrives, I pray He will shower you and those you love with joys too numerous to count!
Blessings and hugs to you,