Today is the final day of the year 2017 and it’s been a year I won’t forget. I’ve grown in my walk with the Lord in leaps and bounds while at the same time seen some of the most dismal sales months I have ever seen. In my publishing life this year I’ve discovered what works and what doesn’t in big, big ways. For instance “traditionally published” looks cute on a list of accomplishments but means little in overall sales (at least in my experience). Another discovery I made this year in my publishing life is my readers primarily enjoy Christian Romance, not suspense or mystery (though some do like those other ones).
The biggest change I’ve seen this year has nothing to do with writing. It’s not something you will see on the evening news or read about in a newspaper tomorrow. You won’t find it on my list of books I’ve published this year either. No, but it’s the greatest change I’ve seen in my own life in years.
I hate to admit this, but it’s the truth. This year was the first time I seriously read my Bible from cover-to-cover. I’ve always read a daily devotional here, a sermon there, a few Scriptures just because, but a serious and heavy Bible reading schedule hasn’t been something I’ve been able to do. I had always longed for it in the past, often picking up the Bible for a week or two in a row, but only to forget or let it fall away because I “didn’t have enough time” or “I know what’s in there.” It wasn’t until August of this year I started to take reading my Bible serious. August and onward through the rest of the year was very trying in my personal life and I can’t help but think of Psalm 119:67, it says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.”
You see, at this time my sales were tumbling, I couldn’t afford the remaining year lease on my house (10 months left), my Dad had just finished fighting another blood clot, and my mother was battling skin cancer. I was so unsure of what to do. But you know what? Finding God’s strength, finding His shelter often happens when we become afflicted. Only happens when we need Him more than ever. It makes me sad to think about all the wasted years of my life I have spent not in daily reading of His Word and real in-depth prayer the way I am now, but it’s not good to dwell too much on the past.
So I realized reading the Bible isn’t that difficult. It only took roughly 90 days to finish reading the Bible starting a few books into the old testament (I forget where I started, I had done some reading earlier in the year and started from there). Here’s a nifty chart to break it down on how long it takes to read each book in the Bible.
So here’s what happened and shortly into my adventure of reading God’s word daily in heavy devotions. First, my prayer life blossomed. I naturally felt the need to do my side of communicating more (Praying is me talking to God, reading the Bible is God talking to me). Also, my marriage and children benefited. The more I read the Bible and aligned my mind and heart with His, the more God took over in my life, the more I saw changes for the better. I’ve been a Christian for a long time (since I was 12 years old, I’m 31 now), but I had been missing something significant in my life. POWER. Not my power, but God’s power in my life! Suddenly I wasn’t just trying to do the right thing in this circumstance or that situation, but I was doing it naturally because I was truly walking in the Spirit and in truth.
Another big improvement I’ve noticed through a closer and more intimate relationship with God is the love aspect. Honestly, my hunk of flesh doesn’t care for crowds, conversations or really people in general that much. But guess what? God does! I know it’s strange for the introverted book writer to be anti-social, right? Haha. The point of this is simple. God is working on that part of me and I’m seeing His changes for the good. Am I perfect? No. I’ll never be perfect, but I can still watch and see how God is moving in my life and the people around and that’s a reason to get pretty excited.
I know this isn’t the typical “year in review” type of post I have been doing the last couple years, but I think it’s by far the most important.
Listen. I know our lives can be busy and full of scheduled activities, but we have to ask ourselves a very important question. Where is God? Does He fit in where it’s comfortable? Or does He invade every aspect of our lives? His power should be evident in the believer’s life and a reflection of His glory and goodness.
This song below is one that has brought me to tears during service while singing. It’s so true. God gently brings us to our knees. He will reveal Himself to us in our lives, but we MUST put Him at the center, not just on the schedule.
Now that I’ve gotten all that off my chest, let’s look at goals from 2017 and what God did. Then make some new goals.
Books Published in 2017
One Wednesday Dinner (Diamond Lake Series)
Walking in the Spirit
Because Of You
The Lies We Believe
In His Love
Love’s Return (Protected By Love Series)
Love’s Promise (Protected By Love Series)
Book not listed: Mark of Destiny (co-author project that ended up unpublished)
Looking back over 2017 Goals…
- Publish one book through a different avenue outside of self-publishing (Kindle Scout or Publishing House).
Done. Published “If Only” with Kindle Scout/Kindle Press (Traditional Publishing House)
- Write 2 standalone novels
- Start and finish a series by the end of the year
Done sort of… Wrote “Protected By Love” series, last one releases 1/2/2018.
- Start on a new series that will bleed into 2018
Nope. I decided I won’t release longer series, but instead 3 or 4 book series only. Nothing currently released has a planned series.
- Attend one writing conference
Yet to make it to one.
- Publish two series.
- Release only Christian Romance (main genre for each release).
- Get in physical shape (seriously cliche, but c’mon… gotta try!)
Thinking over 2017 as I look forward to 2018 I can’t help but smile. God’s done so much in this little year of 2017, I can’t imagine what is next. No matter what happens, either in my personal life or in my writing life, I hope it all glorifies God.
What I learned in 2017…
Being traditionally published doesn’t matter.
God is in control.
Friends come and go.
God’s approval is the only approval I truly desire.
Love never fails.