LIKE MANY OF YOU, I have been working toward being a novelist my whole life. It’s taken years of hard work and God to get to this place and it’s only been in the last few years that God has moved the waiting pieces together.
When I was younger, I thought I wanted to write Christian Historical Fiction. For me, Jeanette Oke, Lori Wick, and Francine Rivers represented the sum of good fiction. Later (about a decade ago) I became an English major and was introduced to other kinds of writing and at that point in my writing journey, I learned that literary or mainstream writing never shared space on reading lists with Christian Fiction.
As I studied other types of writing, my own writing became better, but I had no idea what path I should take. Which brings me to the verse I chose for this reflection when I delivered a different version of it at the 2006 ACFW Conference. It’s from Proverbs 3:5 and 6. “5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
After graduation, I moved away and soon found myself in a situation where I had no writing community, let alone a path I knew I was supposed to follow. I wrote what I could and tried some different things, but because I also found myself divorced and living as a single mom, writing couldn’t be a top priority. During this time, I had a fight with God. God seemed to being say “no” to me at every turn.
That was a tough time, but I learned lots and through taking that journey with my daughter, I learned about life. I met others worse off than me and I was put into the shoes of those I’d judged before. I felt I'd become the judged in the eyes of many. Then God gave me my story. I sat down one day and wrote a few paragraphs, it might have been a few pages. I then closed the file and didn’t open it for a few years.
After I met my husband, Albert Forkner, my life changed. He is a real life hero rivaling any I'd read in a historical romance, I have to admit. With him in my life to support me, I opened that file and reread those words I’d written as a single mom; and they came alive. I knew that story. I’d been there. It wasn't historical romance, but it was the right story.
When I started the book, I didn’t think about publishing. I just wanted to see if I could finish it. I eventually got in contact with my agent through a relative. I sent my manuscript to this relative who knew me well, just to receive encouragement. This relative went a step further and chose to put my manuscript in front of an agent who represents a very prominent CBA author and works for an agency representing several music industry artists with big names like Amy Grant. When she told me what she’d done, I was terrified. I remember worrying that my writing would end up making her look bad in her job! I would surley embarrass her!
Well, I haven’t made her look bad yet (although there is still time - grin). The day my agent called to ask if he could represent me was an exciting day. I mean, it’s not like I had agents calling me every day, let alone someone as amazing as him. In fact, I wasn’t even looking for one. That was just another piece of the puzzle God moved into place at just the right time and the next piece was that Ruby Among Us was sold to Waterbrook of Random House.
When I was a divorced, single mother living miles from home struggling to make ends meet, I never dared to dream my writing would one day be so blessed. So, just remember this, no matter where you are at, God is sovereign and you can’t mess him up. If I can’t, then nobody can!
Tina Ann Forkner writes contemporary women’s fiction for Waterbrook Press, a divion of Random House. Her first novel is due out in 2007. Ruby Among Us is a story of intergenerational relationships and God's permissiveness and providence in the lives of its characters. Tina is an Executive Assistant for a technology company by day and has a special interest in women’s ministries that meet women where they are at. She has written poetry and juggled a modicum of freelance writing projects over the years. Visit her at www.tinaannforkner.blogspot.com