I’m so thankful to the wonderful team at Quoir for redesigning this book that was first released in 2005.
But I have to admit that I’m a little nervous about it.
I was in such a different space in life when I wrote it and I wonder how it will be received.
And because of this I feel it necessary, or at least beneficial, to explain a little bit about the story behind the writing of this story.
It was during the height of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club craze.
Starting in 1996 the talk show diva introduced to the world (women mostly) numerous fantastic novels that were powerful, highly impactful, true to life stories. I remember reading in magazines or catching snippets of her television show where she’d enter into discussions with various readers about the monthly book pick. Women would be sobbing, claiming with passion how the books had “changed their lives.”
It amazed and bemused me, the power behind these stories. I loved them. I was a big reader and I had dreams of writing one day. But I never imagined that I’d write fiction. I assumed that was a job for much more creative and talented people than myself.
Also, during this time of my life I was deeply immersed in the evangelical Southern Baptist Conservative church movement. I was, in a sense, a professional Christian. I worked at the church, I spent the majority of my time at the church, my kids went to school at the church, all of my friends were members of the church. I was in a lovely Christian bubble, feeling safe and sassy in the protective environment we had created.
Because of this, I had a teensy amount of guilt about my indulgence in these secular books. But I absolutely hated so called “Christian Fiction.” It was primarily historical in nature and told sweet, sappy stories that did not ring true, even to this full-blooded Western Churchaholic.
I remember driving in my car, having just devoured another Oprah recommendation, and asking God, “Why aren’t there Christian novels out there that have such impact on people’s lives?” And he, in the subtle way he likes to do, whispered in my ear, “Why don’t you write one?” I laughed and promptly forgot about it, finding it much easier to complain about a situation than do something about it. But in that subtle way he likes to do, he kept pestering me, implanting in my mind the seeds of a story that became, Dear Me.
Through its pages I first started to express my struggle with how Christian’s dealt with the “hot button” topics that seemed to dominate media coverage and political rhetoric about Evangelicals, not to mention the sermons from pulpits of evangelical churches.
I was heartbroken by the reality that so many people were struggling with the consequences of their choices and believed deep down inside that they would never be truly forgiven for their past indiscretions.
I hated how Western Christianity seemed to be more concerned with morality than the love and grace and peace that Jesus preached.
I wanted to tell a real story about a real person that faced trials, tragedies, and the downward spiral that often accompanies our less than perfect choices. I wanted to show a person that has a “come to Jesus” experience without the magical expulsion of all things unsavory and uncomfortable in life. I wanted to tell a redemption story. My redemption story. Your redemption story. Real. Raw. Powerful.
I wanted, in my small way, to help those who read the book to let go of shame and guilt and accept the freeing Truth of a God who loves them more than words can express, no matter what they’d done or where they’d been.
I wanted to show the profoundly glorious power of Jesus to make treasure out of trash.
I think I succeeded. The book won “Inspirational Book of the Year” from the Florida Writer’s Association way back when. I spoke at Women’s retreats and heard from some that the book “changed their life.”
But I’ll be honest, the book didn’t do very well the first time around.
It fizzled out pretty quickly.
It suffered from the dreaded publishing problem of not finding a proper “home.”
It was too Christian for the secular market and too secular for the Christian market.
Within a couple years it was out of print.
I moved on. I wrote another story. I displayed a copy or two on my shelf.
But things have changed.
Publishing has changed.
And I believe that it is the right time for the old to become new again.
I’m super excited that it is available again. And I’m super excited about the beautiful new cover designed by Ralph Polendo. It’s perfect, crisp, new!
So pick up your copy. Immerse yourself in Vanessa’s story. And let me know what you think.