Last week's book winner is Anna. Congratulations! I've sent your name and email address to Melody. I'm sure you'll hear from her soon.
Today's guest is JoAnn Durgin. Welcome, JoAnn.
JoAnn Durgin is the author of five novels in the popular Lewis Legacy Series as well as the Amazon bestselling Catching Serenity. Her novellas include Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, Starlight, Star Bright, Sleigh Ride Together with You (coming for the 2014 Christmas season), and Echoes of Edinburgh.
A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Louisville Christian Writers, JoAnn lives with her husband and three children in southern Indiana.
She’s recently *retired* from her paralegal position to write full-time. She loves to hear from her readers at http://www.joanndurgin.com or http://www.facebook.com/authorjoanndurgin.
JoAnn knows all about taking a leap of faith.
Losing a job is tough—even when you see it coming around the bend and recognize its inevitability. Funny how the date becomes ingrained in your memory. for me, that day came on Monday, November 9, 2009. When two of the law firm's partners walked into my office and closed the door.
I knew. My heart fell to my feet. “Sorry, but there’s just not enough work...”
Afterward, still in a daze, I worked all day and finished my projects as best I could. I might have been "let go," but I wanted to walk away with my head held high, with my dignity intact.
Technically, I was “laid off,” but no matter what it’s called, I still felt as though I’d failed. I worried that I'd let down my bosses, clients, and co-workers. Mind you, I'm normally a positive-thinking person, confident and secure in my abilities. Still, I couldn't help wondering, Will they think I've done something wrong? Will my friends abandon me now?
After those initial doubts,and only a few tears, I gave it over to the Lord and trusted that He had a plan for my life.
Let me backtrack a minute and give you a bit of my background. For years and in several states where we'd lived—with a six-year break in the Philadelphia area to raise our three small children—I’d worked as a legal secretary and enjoyed my work very much. On my website, I state that I've “been around in the nicest sense of the word.”
In the Boston area, I worked part-time for a small law firm in scenic, historic Concord (and, fittingly, drove by Louisa May Alcott’s childhood home every day), as I eased back into the working world again. Then I accepted a position five minutes from home (a good thing in snowy Massachusetts!) and worked for a one-man law firm.
When our family moved back to my native “southern” Indiana in late 2005, I was excited to be offered a job working in a prestigious downtown Louisville law firm. After 18 months as a legal secretary, I was promoted to a paralegal position. Along with that advancement came the expectation of meeting a threshold of monthly billable hours—the bane of existence of attorneys and paralegals everywhere. But when the work isn’t there, the paralegals are often the first to go.
Sometimes when we take a leap of faith, we risk losing it all. I will never regret moving from a “safe” position as a legal secretary to a paralegal position. If I hadn’t taken the position, I might always wonder what if ...
One of the biggest blessings is that I was given a generous severance package. What a blessing during the busy holiday season!
Never one to sit idle, I needed a plan. After years of being a pastor’s wife with all the responsibilities that entailed, and with our kids now older and more self-sufficient, I was back “home” in Indiana with unexpected time on my hands. I started to read Christian fiction again, something I’d sorely missed. I’d always loved reading and writing, and had earned a journalism and English degree before leaving Indiana the first time. I’d also been writing full-length novels since our time in Philadelphia.
Before the layoff, an idea had formed in my mind. I pulled out my old manuscripts (about six) from beneath our bed and literally blew dust bunnies off the notebooks. I read through the last manuscript I’d written, about a decade before, through fresh eyes, and it was almost as though someone else had written it.
Called Awakening, I recognized it could be the beginning of a series based on the love stories of various members of a Christian mission organization called Team Work—but I only had half of the story. Contemporary Christian romance was increasing in popularity at the time, as well as book series. I figured why not try to get one of them published?
After much prayer, I knew Awakening was the one.
You can read the entire story of my path to publication on my website at http://www.joanndurgin.com.
Long story short: I searched high and low, but couldn’t find the missing half. All I had were antiquated small diskettes in a box. I continued to write more books and periodically tried to access the files on those old diskettes. Nothing. Over and over again, I’d get this message: “Can’t be read.” I told my husband, “We need to go to our knees.”
One day, I inserted the diskette as I’d done so many times before. A message popped up on the screen: “Do you want to read it as text only?” After hearing the churning noise and seeing the hourglass symbol, my book popped onto the screen! In English, not hieroglyphics. To this day, I still get chills. Not only was it my book, but when I printed it out and lined it up with what was in my notebook at home, it was only half of the book—the missing half! When I put them together, it was seamless.
I know the Lord gave my book back to me. Then he confirmed it; “And the Man said Peaches!” is on my website.
On May 1, 2010, I received a publishing contract and Awakening became my debut novel and released in November 2010. Four years later, I’ve now released four more books in what has become The Lewis Legacy Series (the prequel coming next month!), a standalone novel, and four novellas.
In late March 2010, I began another paralegal job in Louisville. This past August, I took another leap of faith to full-time author! The Lord also paved the way for that to happen in a way only He can.
Sometimes you need to take a leap of faith in order to better understand God’s abundant grace and mercy. Even if you fail, rest assured that God always has a divine plan. What we consider to be a human failure can often turn out to be one of God’s biggest blessings!
Trust Him to guide you. He’ll never let you down. His answer isn’t what we, in our impatience and limited understanding, expect. It’s so much better! Like the lyrics of a beloved hymn of assurance tells us, “God Will Take Care of You.”
Yet those who wait for the Lord, Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:31
Thank you, JoAnn. Isaiah 40:31 is one of my favorite verses.
JoAnn would like to offer a free e-book to one of you. But, she is going to do something special, by allowing you to choose from one of the three gorgeous books below.
All you have to do is leave a comment and you will
be entered in the drawing.
Grace and peace to you from God,