Ellen Edwards Kennedy (aka EEK) grew up in Miss Prentice’s region of far northern New York State and lived with her husband and children across the South and West.
Along with the Miss Prentice Mysteries, she is the author of a Christian romance novella, "The Applesauce War," in the anthology, THE FARMER'S BRIDE, from Barbour Books; and ANOTHER THINK COMING, a mystery set in Texas scheduled for future publication by Sheaf House. Book Two in the Miss Prentice series, DEATH DANGLES A PARTICIPLE, follows the further adventures of Amelia, Gil, Vern and Lily in the wintry North Country and book three that introduces us to Amelia and friends as teenagers, MURDER IN THE PAST TENSE, is currently in production. Ellen writes weekly articles at The Wordsmith Journal Magazine. Her column about writing and the Christian life is called "Behind the Mystery."
Ellen is a member of The Suspense Sisters, American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Author's Network, Light of Carolina Writers, Sisters in Crime and MurderMustAdvertise.
She and her husband live in North Carolina, are born-again Christians, and the happy, blessed grandparents of five little answers to prayer.
WHAT WRITERS PRAY FOR
One of the best things about the Suspense Sisters is that we’re all believers, even if some of the fictional characters we create, um, aren’t. I can’t speak for everybody, but I couldn’t get a story on paper without stirring a prayer into my pen’s ink. (Okay, I use a keyboard, but it was really hard to find a nice metaphor for that.)
Anyway, when I pray for something, these request prayers tend to fall under some specific categories, in no particular order:
1) A Place to Write. Some people have an office. I know of one writer who would check into a hotel with a pad, pen and a Bible and not come out until she’d written something. I can’t afford that, so I have a nice spot just around the corner from the laundry room, downwind from the kitchen, within earshot of telephone and doorbell. When I began my career as a writer, it was writing :30 and :60 second commercials for radio and TV, smack dab in the middle of the hubbub of WSFA (Montgomery, Alabama) with a TV blaring in each and every room of the building. As for these days, the Lord knew that I didn’t want to be out of contact with the world and therefore provided me with this answer to prayer at my home. Who knows? A great writing idea may ring the doorbell at any moment.
2) Something To Write About. Which takes us to the subject of inspiration. Many and many’s the time I’ve been stuck for a writing idea—especially blog ones—only to have it float into my head as I’m shampooing my hair. Something about soap and water combined with prayer seems to promote thought. My prayers have increased in the past few weeks as I struggle with the third book in the Miss Prentice series. I have what I believe is a fun story, but it needs more excitement, more menace, which is what I’m trying to add. The temptation is always to go for the shock of explicit violence, sex and language, but to paraphrase Olympic runner Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire: “When I don’t write like that, I kin feel His pleasurrrrre.”
3) The Confidence to Try. Every writer has experienced it, I think. One day you read your work and say to yourself, “What absolute baloney! I’ve half a mind to delete (or tear up or burn) the whole thing.” Don’t, because a few days later, you’ll read it again and say to yourself, “Did I write this? Brilliant!” It’s truly painful, but I can confess it now after many years: I actually flunked out of grad school because I was afraid to try. I’d encountered some challenges along the way and became literally fearful of trying and messing up again. Looking back, I realize that God had a good plan for my future that probably involved this screw-up. During this time, somebody shared the Plan of Salvation with me, and while I still flunked out, something deep inside me knew that I had been given the Way Out of my own mess. So I consult Him whenever that old familiar theme of “You’ll never get this done right, etc.” attacks. Many writers are sensitive creatures. That’s what makes them good writers. They need a loving Hand to give them the confidence to keep on.
4) Let It Bless People. When a writer is a Christian, she (or he) wants to be a blessing to the reader. Some offer a wonderful fictional love story (Francine Rivers), others a non-fiction book that challenges the heart (Beth Moore), still others write fiction with a mysterious puzzle in the middle (any of the Suspense Sisters). All of us, whether we write fiction or nonfiction, want to provide a good, satisfying, uplifting experience for our audience. If we write to entertain, we want to do it wholesomely. If we write to inspire, we want to do it winsomely. All of this requires prayer, vigorously stirred into the ink.
5) Let Me Have The Right Priorities. While writing is the vocation I’ve taken up since my children are all grown, it is by no means my chief priority. My family is. Obviously, there are conflicts at times. Family members understand—sort of, sometimes—that writing is a real job. I don’t think I’m the only one with this dilemma.
6) Let It Bless You. When we are blessed with a job to do, whether fixing a leaky pipe, changing a stinky diaper, pleading a case in court or writing the next blockbuster novel, we as Christians are to do it “as unto the Lord,” that is, as if He were really right there in the room. And He is. We are His representatives here, His face. In the words of a popular slogan, “You are the only Jesus some people will ever know.” It’s important to be the kindest, most forgiving, most honest, most understanding, most patient, happiest Jesus people around. When we let Him help us to do what we have to do, once in a precious while, we will “feel His pleasurrrre.”
What do you pray for in your work? Leave a comment sharing your favorite prayer requests and I’ll enter you in a drawing for a wonderful Death Dangles a Participle T-shirt, chic, smart and suitable for all occasions! (Except maybe the Opera and church.)