Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Monday, April 11, 2011

Guest Blog: A.J. Nuest

This week, we're lucky to have an inspirational blog by A.J. Nuest. Please welcome her!

Be Mindful of Your Promises

Thanks to Amy Corwin for hosting me on her blog today! It’s a real treat to be here!

Amy suggested I write a blog about researching my current work in progress, and since this topic is near and dear to my heart, I jumped at the chance.

Three years ago I sat down in front of my old, dilapidated laptop, determined to write a story. I braced the back of the screen with a cereal box, and soon lived and breathed this wonderful new hobby I’d discovered, happily clicking away at the keyboard. Three weeks later I sat back and realized I’d just completed my very first romance novel. How exciting! Unfortunately, I had no idea what to do with it.

So, I went to my local library and came up with a list of publishers, a sample query letter, and all the steps a new author should follow in their path to publication. I was on my way!

The story got rejected. And then it got rejected again. And then again. I was completely disheartened. So, I did something I hadn’t done in a very long time. I went into my bedroom, got down on my knees and prayed. Cliché, right? Well, just wait…it gets better. Like so many others who turn to prayer during moments of despair, I made a deal with God. Cliché, again, I know. But, I promised if God would see His way clear to granting my little story a publishing contract, I would write a story, the best story I possibly could, and dedicate it to His honor.

A few days after God and I reached this agreement, I received my first contract. Six months later, I received my second…the time had come to make good on my promise.

Now, I’m not one of those people who spends a lot of time perusing The Bible. I don’t even attend church on a regular basis. But I made a promise. And I meant to keep it. So, I started my first inspirational romance, entitled Flicker. It didn’t take long for me to realize I didn’t know enough. I mean, I’ve always been a spiritual person, was raised in a home where attending church was a Sunday ritual, but that had been years ago, and I needed to get a better grip on the whole religion issue. Since my heroine shares a deep relationship with The Almighty, I knew I would need to reference The Bible, use parables and verses so the characters would ring true. I considered this problem from a purely logical standpoint and enrolled in a Bible Study. After all, I had to actually know what I was talking about. And I wanted my story to be REAL.

In fact, making Flicker real was of significant importance. I didn’t want the story to come off as preachy, or like some syrupy-sweet romance that seemed too good to be true. I wanted the characters, the Christian characters in Flicker to be flawed individuals who sometimes made huge mistakes, faltered under daily pressures and occasionally fell terribly short of their ultimate goal. Because that’s what real life is like.

That Bible study was an eye-opening experience. Everywhere I turned, every new piece of information I learned, confirmed without a doubt I was on the right path. The similarities between Flicker (a story I started prior to the Bible study) and the things that happened to me while getting the words on paper can only be described as divine intervention. You see, I made God a promise, and was working hard to fulfill my end of the deal, but all along, I forgot what God had promised me. He not only heard my prayer, but then He gave me the means to succeed. I had in advertently stumbled onto a win-win situation.

Flicker has since won second place in a contest and been requested by an inspirational publisher in Minneapolis. I’ve had two stories published and a third is under consideration at The Wild Rose Press. But even more importantly, I learned a few things while writing Flicker. First, never underestimate the power of prayer. God is always listening. Second, read the Bible. Consider it a life guide for dummies. All the answers are there. And finally, be mindful of your promises, because chances are good God will use them to change your life.

Jezebel’s Wish Blurb:

Haunted by nightmares, tormented by guilt, Jezebel came to Redemption Ranch to escape the past—except now she's stuck in the middle of nowhere with no redemption in sight. When her mother pushes her into riding lessons with local veterinarian Matthias Saunders, Jezebel balks. Sure, the doctor is gorgeous, but he’s completely obnoxious and knows how to push every one of her buttons.

Only her deep connection with The Reverend, a gentle stallion who guards her darkest secrets, has her agreeing to spend any more time with Dr. Saunders. Caring for the stallion is the first bright spot in her life in months, and if being around the horse means she has to deal with Matthias Saunders, then so be it. Surely a city girl like her can handle one country vet—even one with disturbing blue eyes. Can't she?

Jezebel’s Wish Excerpt:

Jezzy stopped. “I thought I was having a riding lesson.”

“You are.” He nodded toward the empty paddock. “Go in.”

“Go in?” Jezzy propped a hand on her hip. “You sure you know what you’re doing? Because it was my understanding that an actual horse is needed for a riding lesson.”

“Don’t you think it would be wise at this juncture to leave the understanding up to the professionals?”

Jezzy rolled her eyes. “You’re making this way too easy. Professionals? Please. Don’t get me started.”

“Why not? Getting you started is exactly what I’m here for.”

Jezzy’s jaw dropped. She didn’t quite know how to interpret that remark.

He held out the rope. “Now go in. And take this lead line with you.” Steely blue determination glinted in his eyes. There was no way he was going to give in.

Jezzy snatched the lead line from his hand and stormed through the gate, then turned when he closed it behind her.

He put a foot on the bottom railing and rested against the gate, facing the horizon. “Take the chair to the center of the paddock and sit down.”

“And just exactly how is that supposed to teach me to ride?”

He cocked an eyebrow. “You want out of the deal?”

Jezzy’s fist clenched tight around the lead line. What she wanted was to march back to the fence and smack his face.

A Bit About AJ Nuest
AJ Nuest lives in northwest Indiana with her loving husband and two beautiful children. She is the author of two contemporary romance novels.

Visit her on the web at:
Facebook: Tattered Pages

Thank you for being on my blog!


Lynn Chantale said...

Wow! That is awesome! I can definitely believe in the power of prayer. I'm so glad you kept your promise. You have more good stuff on the way. WTG AJ!!!!

Jennifer Jakes said...

Very cool post! Can't wait for Jezebel's Wish :)

Arial Burnz said...

Yeah, be careful with those deals with God! He'll have you learning things about yourself and life you didn't know were possible, and the next thing you're a changed woman.

You made me cry! What I love best about this, AJ, is the tender side that He is an all-loving God and even on His end of the bargain, YOU still benefit from being a better person and growing spiritually. No sacrifices are made to "pay Him back"...He already did that.

Let me qualify this statement by saying I'm Agnostic. I've spent thousands (seriously) of hours in Bible study AND studying Pagan religions and I do love them both. The common truth about all religions...Our love affair with our Creator. There's nothin' like it and it's the greatest romance ever told.

That's my two pence...
Arial ;)

AJ Nuest said...

Love ya, Telly. Without fail, you're spiritual guidance keeps me grounded. Thanks for all the support, Babe!

AJ Nuest said...

Jen, you never fail to offer your support. Thanks for being such a great friend!

AJ Nuest said...

Arial, you make ME cry. What can I say? You're friendship and support just mean the world to me. Thank you so much for all the calls, help, advice, emails...oh, and for helping me with my Avatar! Hee, hee! Love ya, babe!!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, AJ. See you soon at my place!


Visit Sandra Crowley at my blog today! She has put together an excellent list of non-fiction titles to help writers understand more of their craft. Please stop by and check out her ideas and let her know what you think about the blurb from her new release CAUGHT BY A CLOWN.

While you're there, please click "Subscribe" at the top of the screen and leave your email for updates. I appreciate it immensely.

Liz Arnold
"Stories you will love."
Message to Love
The Wild Rose Press

AJ Nuest said...

Thanks, Liz! See you soon!

Maeve Greyson said...

Excellent post and I totally agree - NEVER go back on a promise.

Tess Young said...

Hello There,
I just wanted to see if you were currently interested in additional guest bloggers for your blog site.
I see that you've accepted some guest posters in the past - are there any specific guidelines you need me to follow while making submissions?
If you're open to submissions, whom would I need to send them to?
I'm eager to send some contributions to your blog and think that I can cover some interesting topics.
Thanks for your time,

Amy said...

I'm always happy to accept guest blogs. Generally, I prefer writing or reading-related topics. For authors, I'm open to most any genres except erotica and very explicit material. My preference, though, is for mystery, historical, and/or sweet romance-related genres.

Hope that helps. I'd be happy to talk to you if you wish to post some blogs.