Blast the glitter cannons, break out the M&Ms and turn on some dance music because I HAVE A PUBLISHING CONTRACT!!!
My debut novel will be published by Thomas Nelson, the Christian fiction imprint of HarperCollins, in July 2019.
This is the novel you all know as ‘Hating Jeremy Walters’, (though the publisher may change the name).
And the fun continues with a second book in 2020!
I am so psyched to be able to share this story with readers. So mark your calendars and prepare for some excited posts about titles and cover reveals, because this stuff is about to get real!
And don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter to make sure you get the juiciest news first. 🙂
Hey all! Check out our latest StoryNerds video and podcast, featuring special guest romance author Melissa Tagg as she discusses one of her favourite topics with us, classic movies! Plus we go on a Stranger Things tangent and get the inside scoop on the book she’s working on.
Keep an eye out for our next episode, Stories We Thought We’d Hate (But Loved), on Thursday!
And in other news, I’m a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis competition for unpublished authors! So excited to make the finals for the second time, it’s been a goal of mine for years.
Get ready to tune in and nerd out: the second episode of the StoryNerds podcast is here!
My fellow StoryNerd Hannah Davis and I are talking about ‘Home in Pop Culture’, in reference to our respective homes of Australia and Minnesota.
I managed to talk about Pitch Perfect, Thor, Crocodile Dundee and the Crocodile Hunter all in one conversation!
If anyone wrote a book about my life, it would probably have the above title.
I have struggled with guilt my whole life, and a lot of it comes from the following mental gymnastics:
I imagine if I was an angel, looking at humans from heaven, I’d be like, “They have so much opportunity! Why don’t those comfortable people help those suffering people more? I would be a much better human then them.” (A friend pointed out to me the other day that this is a very judgmental angel. 🙂 )
I feel like a big part of the world’s problem is that the fortunate don’t help the unfortunate, and I don’t want to be like that. But then I’m always afraid that I’m not doing enough.
I mirrored this problem in my novel, Hating Jeremy Walters, where my main character, Natalie, always feels like she’s not working hard enough. The only difference is that she feels she must work hard to please God; I feel I must do lots of good stuff to prove I’m not selfish. But we’re pretty similar.
But I keep having a problem with Natalie. I know her thought patterns are wrong, but when I write out both sides of the argument she can always argue her wrong side better than my ‘good’ character can argue his right side.
I know my guilty way of thinking isn’t right, but to me, it just seems so logical.
This week God gave me an insight that probably seems totally obvious to everyone else—but for me it had to come from an imaginary conversation between two book characters.
This is a rough scene from the first draft of my book, where Natalie’s boyfriend, Jeremy, is asking her to cut back on her insane workload for the sake of children in her care. (Please don’t judge me on my dialogue; this is the roughest of the rough drafts!)
“Can’t you see that there’s different ways of pleasing God? Working like a crazy person is not one of them.” Jeremy ran his fingers through his hair and pulled, like he literally wanted to tear his hair out.
“You’re just saying that because you want me home more. I can’t give it up. That would be giving up on pleasing God. I couldn’t live with the guilt.”
“Why do you talk about all this guilt? You’re forgiven. Have you forgotten what that word means?”
“It doesn’t mean that I just live a selfish life for myself after I’m saved.”
Every time I thought about a different version of this conversation, this is where it ended. The “But I can’t be selfish/lazy!” line was the trump card. Jeremy’s comebacks never seemed convincing enough.
One day I ran the conversation through my head again, and when it got to this point, Jeremy got so frustrated that he stood up and yelled,
“But you refuse to admit there is a middle ground!”
And I stopped and thought, What? Then I projected myself into Natalie again.
“You say that you can’t be lazy or selfish. But ‘not overworking’ doesn’t mean you’re lazy. It’s not one extreme or the other.”
“You also refuse to see that a striving spirit doesn’t bring God any glory. Actually, I think that de-prioritising relationships and justifying yourself through work is just as bad—or worse—than laziness.”
Natalie paused. Worse than laziness? Apart from the obvious things like murder, nothing was worse than laziness. But a comeback for Jem eluded her.
Yes! I finally shut her up!
Natalie still has some tough lessons to learn through the book, but at least I can finally figure out the ‘good’ side of the argument.
Yes, God doesn’t want us to be lazy. But neither does he want us to be striving, burned-out, duty-bound people who have no fun. That brings him zero glory, and we get really tempted to feel like our work justifies us instead of his grace.
I find it hard to walk the middle ground, and even when I strike the right balance I feel like it’s not enough. But I guess that’s why God gave us his Holy Spirit, to help point me the right way again.
It just makes me laugh when he uses imaginary characters to do it.
Can anyone else relate? What’s been an unusual light bulb moment for you? How do you deal with workaholism or guilt?
Join the conversation below!
Lots of exciting things have happened this week, the first one being my new book blurb!
Below is a sneak peek at my novel-in-progress, Hating Jeremy Walters.
I’m a good church girl. How did I end up in this weird pseudo-family with two kids and the guy who broke my heart?
Natalie Groves could never hate anybody. Anybody, that is, except the love of her life.
She was nineteen when Jeremy Walters declared that he wouldn’t—couldn’t—keep faking his faith in God. Not for his overbearing father, not even for her. Natalie ended their relationship and he drove off to Chicago and never looked back.
Now Natalie is 26, single, and broke from paying off her father’s medical bills. And she just lost her job.
When Jem lands back in town, desperate for a nanny for his teenage niece and infant son, some say it’s Providence. Natalie says God has lost His marbles.
But with no paycheck and no savings, she can either go bankrupt or accept his job.
She’s tempted to go bankrupt.
Jem Walters knows Natalie better than anyone else. She’s ridiculously ticklish. She does terrible dance moves when she thinks no one’s watching. She’s never felt good enough for God. And she’s still angry at him for leaving.
She never understood that he couldn’t fake his faith anymore, not even to save their relationship.
But now Jem’s talking to God again, and unusual circumstances mean he and Natalie are caring for his baby son and troubled niece together.
But raising a family is never easy, and doing it with a spitfire who wants to strangle him complicates things a bit.
Jem’s family doesn’t help, either. His niece is going off the rails, his son keeps drooling everywhere, and his father is an overzealous sheriff who’s more likely to give Jem a ticket than a hug.
And then there’s the secret that will rock their makeshift family to its core …
This week’s other two events are the arrival of my first writing business cards (!!!!) and Project X this weekend.
I’ll be running a creative writing workshop at the youth outreach event, as well as chatting with the girls who come through our tent and hopefully sharing God’s love.
Everybody’s prayers have been great, keep them coming! 🙂