Friday, July 27, 2018

The Ship to Tarshish

I intended to make today’s post a review of the 2018 RWA Conference in Denver that I attended last week. I have plenty to talk about–my first ever shot at giving away swag to promote a book, the great workshops I attended, my second experience as a Golden Heart finalist (though not, I’m sorry to say, as a winner this time).
But then I got to thinking about Jonah and the Whale, so we’re going to talk about that instead.
For those of you who weren’t frog-marched to Baptist Sunday school as impressionable children, God called on Jonah, a well-known prophet, to go to Nineveh and tell the Ninevites that they were screwing up, and to knock it off or he’d smite them.
Jonah didn’t think the Ninevites would be open to hearing this corrective feedback, so he hopped on a ship to Tarshish and high-tailed it in the opposite direction.
Even if you’re a godless heathen who never went to Baptist Sunday School, you know what happened next: big storm, big fish, three days in the belly of a whale for Jonah to consider the error of his ways.
I must admit I’ve never seen any practical application of this story for my own life until recently when, in a casual conversation, my preacher said, “Whenever God calls us to Nineveh, a ship to Tarshish shows up.”
Which got me to thinking about the things in life that pull us off course and cause us to lose a lot of time heading in the wrong direction.
For some time now, my publication plan has been to self-publish a series of dark comedies about Biblical demons who come to Earth on missions to screw up people’s lives. (I’m not sure why this particular story entertains me so much, but I hope it proves entertaining to some readers, too. We’ll find out come September.)
I had another plan, at the back of my mind, to write a series of contemporary small-town romances set in the mythical town of Russet Springs, Ohio. My thought was to consider going traditional for these, mostly because I didn’t want to keep dipping into my family’s bank account to pay the up-front costs for self-publishing yet another set of books when I’ve yet to see the first penny in revenue. At this point, writing is more like an expensive hobby  than a money-making venture.
And then a ship sailed into port….
When I was at the conference last week, I received requests from three different agents to submit Girl’s Best Friend, the first book in that Russet Springs series that I’ve been futzing with for the last couple of years. For the past couple of days, instead of focusing on getting The Demon Always Wins onto Amazon, or getting The Demon’s in the Details cleaned up and back to my editor, or turning my creative energies toward writing The Demon Wore Stilettos, my thoughts turned to Girl’s Best Friend and what it would take to get it ready for an agent to look at.
But now I’m back in my writing cave, far from the whirl and bustle of Denver and the ambient feeling that scoring an agent is the best thing that can ever happen to an unpublished writer.
The ending of Girl’s Best Friend still isn’t right, and if that changes a lot of stuff is going to have to change in the first 90% of the book to set it up correctly. I’m guessing I could easily blow away a month piddling with it.
I’m starting to wonder if this opportunity to gain an agent is actually a big old boat headed for Tarshish.
What do you think?


  1. I like your demons and I'm not a fantasy lover. General romances are ho hum. Fighting demons is exciting.

  2. Thanks--hoping readers will see it the same way come September!

  3. Replies
    1. I am doing that, although I have to admit I'm a little skeptical of the "follow your heart and the money will follow." Fortunately, I'm willing to settle for the satisfaction of a job well done.


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