The following article appeared on the Heartsong Presents authors blog the week of Sept 20.
Heartsong is one of the few publishers that requires this verse. Not only does it enrich the reader’s experience, it also keeps the author on track with their spiritual theme as they write the book.
As I tested my wings with my debut novel, Merely Players, it would have been so easy to go into several directions. The spiritual theme wasn’t obvious to me at first since I did no pre-plotting. But eventually it was clear that the characters struggled with their identity in Christ.
Imagine my pleasure when part of my favorite passage became the theme. “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.” Psalm 139:1 NIV
Brick and Bethany didn’t know who they were, but once they both yielded to God, He illumined the identities they had both been born into. Brick especially struggled. He’d become a different person entirely from the one Bethany knew as a teenager, even going so far as changing his hair color and his name. But God used Bethany to bring him into his true self, because God knew who he was deep down inside.
After that book, I plotted each novel, making it clearer to know each of my characters before the first word was written. In the first of the Oregon series, God Gave the Song, Skye is challenged by God to forgive the mother who hurt him so deeply. He finds that he can’t move on until he does one crucial thing. “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25. Ruthanne had to learn the same lesson due to her ex-husband’s neglect and abandonment.
The second of the Oregon series is Crossroads Bay. This verse became more than a scriptural lesson for Meranda. It became the key to finding her inner and outer treasures. “This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’” Jeremiah 6:16
After searching for the coins that had been in her family for generations, she found herself at a crossroads. Should she continue the journey that took her father’s life and almost ended hers, or trust that if God wanted her to find the coins, He would lead her there.
For Fine, Feathered Friend, the Lord allowed me to have some unusual fun with the verse. In the story, Cyrano is a tattle-tale African Gray Parrot. He tells the heroine, Glenys, everything the hero, Tim, says about her. Glenys has no idea who is talking to Cyrano since he is exposed to so many people at the Raptor Rescue center. Cyrano’s reports are a tad skewed since he rarely relates things in the right order.
In a radical move on my part, rather than finding a verse that reflected the spiritual theme, I decided to tackle Cyrano’s problem. I went to www.BibleGateway.com and searched for gossip. Most of the verses were so negative, that I couldn’t burden poor Cyrano with them. After all, he was only trying to play matchmaker. So, I entered “bird” just to see what would come up. The following verse, to my delight, became the verse on the back cover of Fine, Feathered Friend. “. . .A bird of the air may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say.” Ecclesiastes 10:20
Yes, readers, God has a delicious sense of humor.
Within the text, I used another verse that dealt with fear, since Glenys is an actress afraid of birds and Tim is a bird handler afraid of actresses. “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25. This helped me stay on track, but always, I’d have the fun verse in front of me as a reminder to play and have a blast.