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Shortly after that someone told me about the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference. I went, not knowing a soul, knowing very little about writing and publishing, and terrified that I would get lost. That was in 1995. I’m so glad I set my fears aside and went! Mount Hermon is where I met the editor of a magazine that I still write for, made the connection for my first book, met my agent, and grew up as a writer.
Just as all good novels include a plot twist, the Author and Creator of our lives often writes in a twist that ultimately blesses us more than our original plan. Have you ever experienced such a “Divine Detour”?
I have experienced many of these! As a beginning writer I wanted to write young adult novels. I got to write two for Focus on the Family’s Brio Girls series, and a devotional for their Want More? Brio Devotional series. Then the YA market fizzled, Focus on the Family discontinued Brio Magazine, all three of my books went out of print at once, and my family experienced one crisis after another. We needed my income desperately, so I set aside book ideas for editing, coaching and writing promotional materials, and wrote assigned articles and devotions.
Flash forward several years and my husband left after over twenty-two years of marriage. My entire life became about survival. I wrote and edited on auto pilot and wondered if it might be wise to give it up for a full-time job. Divorce caused us to lose our home, file bankruptcy, and my youngest son and I eventually moved in with my parents. Moving meant leaving the church we loved, a huge support system, and my adult son who chose to stay where his job was. The things I learned during that heartbreaking plot twist inspired a book that I never expected to write — a devotional for single moms.
Let’s talk about Suddenly Single Mom: 52 Messages of Hope, Grace, and Promise (Worthy Inspired, March 2016). Please tell us about it.
Suddenly Single Mom shares my journey of divorce and adjusting to single parenting, through 52 devotional readings. I wrote it from my unique perspective as a mom who is visually impaired and unable to drive, and was left dependent on the kindness of my church. When I looked at how God sustained me, provided for me and my two sons, and drew me closer to Him, I wanted to pass His lessons on to other women. I considered it my way of giving back after receiving so much, and telling overwhelmed, hurting moms, “You can do this. It’ll be hard, and it stinks, but if I can survive so can you.” I’m also hoping that the book will help someone who knows a single mom, isn’t sure what to do or say, and would like to understand what she is going through. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
How difficult was it to dig deep into your personal experience and spill it out on paper?
Very hard at times! I had been warned that it would bring everything back, but I was still surprised by what it stirred up. I expected to take my laptop to Starbucks and write there once a week; instead I had to shut myself in my room and relive the past in private. I found myself questioning a huge portion of my life, getting mad at people all over again, and wondering if I’d made a big mistake by not pursuing counseling as soon as the ink tried on the contract. But I also got to relive God’s faithfulness, treasured friendships, and precious moments with my sons. Thankfully, I had a prayer team, a writing prayer partner, and friends who enjoyed processing the journey with me (they were at least nice enough to pretend they enjoyed it). In the end, pouring all of those experiences out on paper healed my heart in a deeper way and released me from painful memories. After hitting Send, I felt a weight lift. In many ways, it was better than therapy!
One thing that helped was I’d just joined the choir and worship team at church. Rehearsals provided a wonderful respite. The whole choir, the worship team, and our worship director prayed for me as I wrote, cheered when I finished, and celebrated when I brought a copy of my book to show them. Even the guys are eager to read Suddenly Single Mom!
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A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
It depends on if I need to get out or stay put and work. Two of my favorite comfort snacks are black licorice (my dad is my supplier) and Zen Party Mix from Target. I also love Blue Diamond Wasabi and Soy Sauce almonds. I usually have a stash of at least one of the above in my desk drawer.
If I desperately need to get out of the house my favorite comfort food is coffee with a friend.
If you knew you couldn’t fail, what dream would you pursue?
Oh, wow, I feel so behind on doing exciting things that my dream list is pretty long. It’s kind of a tie between singing with Andrea Bocelli and starring in at least one theater production. It doesn’t have to be Broadway, just the local equivalent.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
People will say I’m a strong female lead because I’ve survived a lot, but I usually feel more like the little girl trying to walk on high heels. However, I get to walk on them while looking mysterious behind dark glasses. (My vision problem causes extreme light sensitivitiy.)
You co-authored Running with Roselle, a children’s book inspired by the compelling 9/11 story of Michael Hingson and his dog Roselle. Do you have pets of your own?
I don’t have any now, but before moving my sons and I had two cats, including one that always sat in my office window, and a sweet, untrainable pit/lab mix. My favorite pet of all time was Lucia, a beautiful tortious shell calico who used to sleep behind my keyboard. These days I get my pet fix through my sisters’ animals.
Thank you, Jeanette! It’s nice to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.
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For more information about Jeanette, visit her website or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
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