Please welcome this week’s guest Cathy Elliott for The Journey. She answers the question: How have you seen God work in your writing journey?
When I finally answered the writer call, it was with the words, “What shall I write?” The desire had long been nestled inside, popping up every so often, tapping me on the heart. But the nudge seemed playful, without purpose. Now, at-the-ready, I felt lost before my journey even began.
At my first writers group meeting, I cast my eyes at my neighbor’s notes, like an unprepared student copying another’s paper. What were these folks writing? The success in the room startled me. One author showed us her first book published by Tyndale House, a contemporary fiction novel that also revisited the ravages of WWII concentration camps. I couldn’t wait to read it. But I didn’t think I wanted to write a full-fledged novel. Not yet.
Another author held up her beautiful children’s picture book, coming out soon from Chariot Victor, known these days as David C. Cook Publishing. What if I tried to write a children’s book? I marked it down as a mental “maybe.”
And still another multi-published, non-fiction author passed out comp copies of his newest title, a humorous book on family life. Wouldn’t it be fun to write humor? And give out copies of my own book at a future meeting? A very-far-in-the-future meeting. Was that my path?
Not sure, I experimented by writing devotionals and had some success, having one published in The Upper Room. I tried my hand at non-fiction, with several humorous stories published in various anthologies. But eventually, after prayer and some wise writer counseling, I found out what I was supposed to write.
Cozy mysteries! Voila!
Really? Are you sure, God? I did love reading mysteries of all kinds. But was it okay to have a murder in a Christian book? I was assured that even Christians could be murdered, or witness one. Soon, all the ideas I needed in order to write a full-fledged novel of the mysterious, cozy kind flooded in. Characters came out of nowhere to say “howdy” and a mythical town took shape inside my mind, revealing a fictive world. I knew both the stories and the eventual open doors to publication were of His doing.
Though delighted with the task given to me, I still noticed my neighbors. What about the folks who wrote books that explored important social issues? I wasn’t doing that. My book dealt with issues of friendship and faith. Was teamwork really an important social issue? Not so much.
Some writers wrote books that explored the deeper things of God. Many were fiction, but more were non-fiction. I longed to impart rich words like Spurgeon, or Murray, or modern-day theologians like Philip Yancy and John Piper. Yet, I didn’t have the knowledge to do so. Nor the authority.
I struggled with feelings that my writing might be a purposeless endeavor. Okay, I was writing cozy mysteries, but I was no Agatha Christie. My mysteries would never be classics like Agatha’s.
Through it all, I knew comparing oneself to another only leads to loss. My loss of position in the comparison. I understood we were to “bloom where we are planted.” Hey, I’d even attended a Woman’s Retreat that sported the same theme. I’d heard it all before…blah, blah, blah.
Except it wasn’t blah, blah, blah. I truly believed God used all the parts of the body to glorify Himself, to carry out His work. Even if I was only a hangnail on the fingertip of the church’s outreach, shouldn’t I consider that He’d given this hangnail important work to do?
Still, I wrestled with the concept. Writing the story God had given, gave me great joy and I was thankful. But Lord, if only I’d been called to write something that mattered in the Kingdom….
Then, after my first cozy was published, and right in the middle of my doubts, I received a letter from a reader-friend. She had received my book as a gift when combating cancer. She saved it to read during a long chemo treatment. Her thanks and delight in the story spilled out onto the page. Just for a little while, she had been transported away from fear and pain into the little town of Larkindale with its nostalgic feel and folksy way. Spending time with Thea and her quirky cohorts gave the reader a needed respite from her circumstance. A little vacation for the heart.
Could that be God’s purpose for my style of writing? Maybe writing a cozy mystery was important work, after all. Perhaps providing a reprieve from all that ails was the reason.
And, I decided, it was reason enough.
Cathy Elliott Bio:
Author and speaker, Cathy Elliott, nourishes her night-owl habit by creating cozy mysteries and more on her trusty laptop in Anderson, California. In addition to various articles and anthology contributions, she has authored three novels: A Vase of Mistaken Identity, Medals in the Attic, and her latest mystery – A Stitch in Crime.
Like the protagonist in her new mystery, Cathy is an avid quilter. Besides collecting (too much) cool fabric, she also enjoys hunting for antique treasures and is several years into recovery from her eBay addiction. She plays a 12-string acoustic guitar and leads music at her church. Whenever possible, she pulls out her violin and plays fiddle with friends. Cathy also enjoys playing in a string quartet, vicariously and often, through one of her characters.
Thea James thought working as co-chair for Larkindale’s first quilt show extravaganza would be a natural extension of her antique business. But while organizing the busy week’s premiere events would make anyone frayed, she doesn’t expect a complete unraveling!
At the opening soirée, local matriarch Mary-Alice Wentworth is knocked unconscious and robbed of her diamond brooch. Soon a rare quilt—the main attraction and a rumored key to great riches—goes missing. Those who signed up to help Thea are strangely no help at all. What more could possibly happen?
Amid a cast of colorful characters and a tight schedule of garden galas, tea parties, and televised socials, everything is falling apart at the seams – and nothing is quite what it seems. Can Thea sew everything back together?
“…Fans of inspirational fiction will enjoy the funny, feel-good whodunit.”
Publishers Weekly Review – November 7, 2014
Author Website & Soc Media Links: