Tamela

Coming Full Circle

Today’s guest blog is from Kim Vogel Sawyer, a best-selling author whose books have topped the sales charts and won awards since 2005, when she left her elementary-school teaching job to write full-time. Her books have won the Carol Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Her stories are designed to offer hope and encouragement to readers. Kim sees a correlation between the writing of a good story and God’s good plan for every life, and she hopes her stories encourage readers to seek God’s will in their own lives. Best-selling author Tracie Peterson says: “Kim Vogel Sawyer is an exceptional storyteller who is sure to please fans of historical fiction. Her attention to detail and love of God shines through.”

In addition to writing, Kim Vogel Sawyer is a popular speaker, freely sharing her testimony of God’s grace and healing–both physical and emotional–in her life. She and her husband, Don, reside in Hutchinson, Kansas, and have three daughters and ten grandchildren. She is active in her church and loves singing, quilting, cats, and chocolate. In September 2020, she celebrated the release of her fifty-fifth novel. Please visit her website. (She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray.)

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In 2002, as my health was crumbling to the point that full-time teaching was no longer a possibility and I didn’t know what I was going to do, my dad–feeling as though I needed a major lift–took it upon himself to make my publishing dream come true. He sent a story I’d written, titled A Seeking Heart, to Steve Laube, who, at the time, owned a self-publishing company called ACW Press. And Steve agreed to help me get it into print.

Thus began a journey beyond the scope of my wildest imaginings.

You see, all of my growing-up years I had held tight to aspirations of being a writer someday. But a series of rejections from publishing companies in the early 1990s convinced me I had no future in writing; so I’d poured my heart into teaching. Loved it, too, and felt secure and successful in the classroom. But God, the planter of dreams, had a different course for me. I truly believe He allowed my health to deteriorate so I would be forced to step out of my comfort zone and take a second look at writing. And He prompted Daddy to reactivate my long-held dream at the perfect time.

A Seeking Heart found an audience, and the feedback from readers gave me the courage to once again submit to traditional publishers. In January of 2005, one of my stories found its way to Bethany House, where Carol Johnson enjoyed it enough to ask Janette Oke to take a peek at it, leading to an endorsement from the “Queen of Christian Fiction” for my first traditionally published novel, Waiting for Summer’s Return. (I still hyperventilate when I think about it!) I contracted with Bethany House in March of 2005 and have been celebrating a full-time writing ministry ever since.

But y’know what? God still had a few surprises up His sleeve. :o)

Between 2002 and 2005, I had arranged with a print-on-demand company to print two follow-up books to A Seeking Heart, creating a three-book series.

Between 2006 and 2010, my agent, Tamela Hancock Murray, sent out queries to traditional publishers about the Mountain Lake Series; but none were interested. As much as I wanted these stories–these very special,  straight-from-my-heart stories–to be given new life, it seemed as though it was a dream that would be forced to fizzle. Until now.

Then two things happened: (1) Tamela joined The Steve Laube Agency in 2011 (the same Steve Laube who had a role in placing my very first book into the hands of readers); and (2) Hendrickson Publishers purchased rights to republish the three books in the Mountain Lake Series. My editor for this reprint project was (are you ready for this?) Carol Johnson.

I realize there are some people who would call this coincidence. I don’t. To me, it’s a very clear picture that God is right in the center of my writing ministry. Which is, of course, where I want Him to be. He truly has brought me full circle, drawing me fully into His plans for my writing. Is there any better place to be than the center of God’s will? I don’t think so.

Years ago, I adopted the verse “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4, NKJV). I wanted to delight myself so thoroughly in Him that seeking and following HIS will would become the deepest desire of my heart. Then, whatever He gave me would be exactly what I wanted. When I adopted that verse, I didn’t know where He would take me, but now I can look back and see how my heart’s desires have been met abundantly and exceedingly beyond my expectation.

The rewritten and updated Mountain Lake Trilogy came out in 2012–ten years after the release of my very first self-published novel. I celebrate and praise God for all He accomplished within that decade. He simply amazes me!

May God bless you muchly as you journey with Him!

~ Kim

[An earlier version of this post ran in August 2011.]

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He Said. She Said.

A blog reader recently left an excellent comment on an earlier post:

Tamela, fiction workshop presenters taught me that the best word for “said” is “said”–that others only tend to slow down the reader’s eye. I’d appreciate a discussion on this.

While I don’t know the workshop presenters in question, what I can guess they meant is to avoid substituting creative verbs for “said” as a tag. For example:

“Cyrus, tell that joke about the tortoise and the hare,” the cowboy chuckled.

“This caviar is not up to my standards,” the dowager sniffed.

These tags aren’t without merit, because they do help convey the emotions and actions of the characters. In fact, they could even be expanded into effective action tags. At the least, simple punctuation would keep these characters from performing the improbable task of sniffing and chuckling words:

“Cyrus, tell that joke about the tortoise and the hare.” The cowboy chuckled.

“This caviar is not up to my standards.” The dowager sniffed.

So why would fiction workshop presenters tell writers to use the word “said” as a tag? I would say that there is a time and place to use a simple tag. In a fast-paced scene, a simple tag will keep the action flowing. For example:

“Get the gun,” Bruce said.

“What?”

“I said, get the gun.”

“Why?”

“Don’t ask questions,” Bruce said. “Just do as I say. Now.”

In a case such as this, complicated action tags could slow down the rhythm and urgency of the scene, distracting the reader rather than adding to the story. The “said” tag is used infrequently to help the reader keep track of the conversation.

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