A midnight prayer vigil on Good Friday started a novel about caring for others.

A midnight prayer vigil on Good Friday started a novel about caring for others.

At midnight I sat on the old wooden pew and prayed. The dim light in the country church’s sanctuary added a sense of reverence. I poured out my heart to God.

This real setting began a decade-long journey to publish a novel. Though I’d dreamed of writing a book since a youngster, I’d never really thought about what to write or how to tackle the complex task. No one in my family wrote, and I didn’t know any authors personally.

So having a story begin in the middle of the night at a silent Good Friday vigil caught me by surprise. God spoke inspiration as I thumbed through prayer cards written by people who hurt and needed comfort.

But as I prayed, a scratching sound across the aisle distracted me. I looked over to see a lady with her head bowed, with her perky Yorkie seated on the pew beside her staring back at me.

Who in the world brings a dog to church?

That question began an adventure with many twists and turns. I never spoke with the lady with the Yorkie at the vigil, but many times I have wondered about her circumstances. This spring 2012 moment came on the heels of several life events. Both my parents had heart attacks. Their hospitalizations and frailty reminded me not to take loved ones for granted. Grief became a part of the story.

Another strand of the tale occurred with training and volunteer involvement as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence. I saw the terror, and seemingly unending obstacles, faced by those who loved and felt trapped in violent cycles.

Characters came alive in a fictional small hometown similar to where I was living at the time in Virginia. By July 2012, an acquisition editor for a large Christian publisher wanted to contract for the manuscript. I was on top of the world as a newbie with no agent. The elation collapsed a few weeks later when the editor said there would be no deal as she was laid off due to industry downsizing because of ebooks.

Several months later, a literary agent represented the work. He emailed after six months that he couldn’t do more and ended the contract.

Frustrated, I literally threw the manuscript into the closet where it sat for nine years collecting dust. I was angry with God. Why would He give a dream and leads, only to let everything fall apart? Over time, I accepted the disappointment and reaffirmed that God Himself was most important. Whatever gifts He might give were secondary to my relationship with Him.

I didn’t write for nine years. Gave up.

Fast forward to January 2021 when I felt a call to start writing again. From 3 to 6 a.m. I’d write before going to teach English at a public high school. At night after grading papers and writing lesson plans, I’d work on the new idea from 7 to 11 p.m. By summer, I had enough material to schedule attendance at a fall Christian writer’s conference.

Contacts made there resulted in not only a contract for the new Bible study, but also for the revised novel. God waited a long time for me to mature emotionally and learn new skills. When I was ready to handle more responsibility, that’s when He opened doors for publication.

Editing and designing the novel took another 18 months. Today, I am delighted to share Who Brought the Dog to Church? and hope you feel God’s loving presence as you see characters wrestle with real life.

If you’d like to meet them, please feel free to view seven one-minute reels on YouTube to introduce each at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLf6ZzeQjavMcocMuZDOZUvLxZG48BiWm5


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