Nancy Mehl is a best-selling, award winning author who lives in Missouri, with her husband, Norman, and her puggle, Watson. She’s authored almost thirty books and is currently writing a new series for Bethany House Publishing based on the U.S. Marshals. The first book, FATAL FROST, in her Defenders of Justice Series, released on November 1st, 2016. The second book, DARK DECEPTION, will hit store shelves in June of 2017. Book three, BLIND BETRAYAL, will be released in the spring of 2018. She is also working on a new cozy mystery series for Guideposts.
Readers can learn more about Nancy through her Web site: www.nancymehl.com. She is part of The Suspense Sisters: www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com, along with several other popular suspense authors. She is also very active on Facebook.
A while back I answered several questions from readers. Today I’m going to tackle a couple more of them.
Melissa Dripps Lemaire, Lela White, and Beverly Duell-Moore asked how I got started. Lela also asked how many years I’ve been writing.
I started writing when I was very young. I wrote my first poem when I was six or seven, but no one would believe I wrote it. This happened to me again when I was in high school. We had an assignment to write three poems. Our teacher read all of them to the class, not telling anyone who the poems belonged to. After reading mine, the teacher announced that she was certain she’d read them before. Yep, she accused me of plagiarism! I should have done something, but I didn’t. How wonderful it would have been if she’d encouraged me to write – told me I had talent. Maybe I would have started writing much sooner. And before you ask… Yes, I’ve wanted to contact her now that I’m a published author and let her know about it. But I haven’t been able to find her. LOL!
When I was forty-five I was working at a bank and was just learning about the computer. (No, I won’t tell you how many years ago that was!) I’d been watching Murder, She Wrote, and for the first time started wondering what it would be like to write mystery novels. I remembered what had happened when I was younger and finally realized that maybe people were accusing me of plagiarism because I had some talent. So I sat in front of my computer at lunch one day and started writing. By the third page I was convinced I was not called to be a writer! It was really hard! However, I decided to give it one more try. I started to type again and all of the sudden something happened. My fingers started flying across the keyboard, ideas began to bubble up…and that was it. Since that day, I’ve never wanted to stop writing – nor have I ever had writer’s block. Of course I’ve had to work at coming up with ideas from time to time, but it doesn’t take me that long.
After writing my first story (it wasn’t good!) I realized that writing a book was more than just tossing words on a page. It took training, just like everything else. I spent a lot of time learning the craft of writing. After a while, I sold my first book to a small publisher.
Mary Gessner - I know a little about when you started writing, but I'd like to know more about why. How did you know the Lord called you to write?
Mary, you’ve probably asked me one of the most interesting questions you could about my writing journey. I’d been writing for a while, small publishers, etc. One day the reality of what it would take to spend the rest of my life as an author hit me. And it frightened me. The time, the dedication, the training… Ask any author about the time we have to spend away from our family and friends, the things we have to give up for deadlines, etc. It’s not easy. So, I went to God about it. To this day, I can’t explain why I did things this way, but here’s what happened. I laid out a “fleece.” Something I’d never done before. You probably know the story from the Bible – how Gideon wanted confirmation that God was with the Israelites. He told God he’d lay a fleece out on the ground. If the fleece was wet and the ground was dry the next morning, it would be a sign that God was indeed with them. He even reversed that, asking that the following morning the fleece remain dry and the ground wet. God answered both requests. This is how Gideon knew God would give them victory.
God and I have this thing about snow. Not time to go into it here, but suffice it to say that when I was young, He used snow to let me know He loved me and that I wasn't alone. He's done the same kind of thing several times. So…I laid out my fleece. And I was serious. I fully intended to walk away from writing if He didn't respond. I had no desire to throw away years of my life on something I wasn’t called to do. My fleece was this: If I was supposed to write, it would snow during a certain week.
Yeah. I didn’t find out until later that it hadn’t snowed in April, in Wichita, Kansas, where we lived, for forty years. Later, when I stumbled across this information, I almost fainted!
The week started out. No snow. No snow predicted.
And then Friday came.
Nine inches of snow.
I’ve been writing ever since, and I’ve never questioned my calling. God has confirmed more than once that I’m doing what I’m called to do. That doesn’t mean things won’t change – that He won’t adjust the direction of my journey – but for now I know I’m walking out His will. Something, in my opinion, you really need if you decide to spend a significant amount of your life writing.
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