Gifts of Encouragement

As a preteen, I devoured novels. While living in Budapest, Hungary, my only access to movies was the American commissary rentals, or the shows and cartoons I had taped from cable while on leave in the States. So when I wasn’t riding my bike, I read up a storm. I enjoyed the classics, the ‘90s fledgling market of Christian Fiction, even local Hungarian fiction translated into English.

My love for stories spilled over into writing spontaneous clips of stories in a notebook I kept beside my bed. One day, my friend, Rebekah, found the notebook and read the story clips I’d written. Upon learning that I hadn’t finished them, she screamed, laughed, and playfully pummeled my arm, demanding that I finish them. Her response intrigued me. I wondered, would people actually like the stories I wrote? Could I write something like the novels I loved and consumed?

The first short story I completed, I wrote for English credit in high school—a comic retelling of the book of Esther. At 30K, it was a horrible mess—cheesy, melodramatic—but oh, so much fun to write. It impressed my English teacher, and I began to think about writing another. A year or so later while spending time in the States, I wrote about a Christian girl hiding Bibles in a communist country. I submitted it to a regional teen talent contest under the creative writing category and won first place. That about floored me. How could anything I wrote win anything? I told myself I only won because they hadn’t received many submissions. I’d probably been the only one.

In 1997, I put down the adventure romance novel I was enjoying, went into the den and sat down at the computer. I opened up a blank document and began my first novel, a time travel story I named “In Time.” Within a few months, I had 70K words on the story, never mind that it started with a dinosaur chase (I kid you not), skipped to an Indiana-Jones-type of palace with secret tunnels, made a stop in Rome to visit the persecuted church, and ended in Medieval England. When you’re writing your first book, or even a first draft, you have to let loose and have fun. Otherwise, it won’t get done.

My mom cheered me on, as proud as she could be. She went around telling everyone that her seventeen-year-old had written a 70K novel. During my graduation party, she talked me into reading a portion of my manuscript to our guests, and I’ll never forget the delight on the faces of youth group friends as I picked out my favorite parts. Two of my guy friends went on to be wonderful encouragers and supporters of my work.

Years later, while sorting out a difficult time in my life, I took inspiration from the Roman portion of that crazy draft and wrote For the Sake of One Lost. I couldn’t have done it without the tireless encouragement and feedback from one of my best friends, Ginny. She pulled me through the muck of self-doubt and loved on every chapter of my story. I could never tell these dear friends and family members how instrumental they were in helping me become the writer I am today, and how deeply I’m blessed by them.

 

Gwendolyn Gage is an aspiring author, one of ten contestants to semi-final in the Historical Romance category of the 2013 ACFW Genesis Contest. She writes faith-filled, romantic adventure with the ambition to offer adventure lovers clean, uplifting stories that encourage them to reach for God.

Not your average American, Gwendolyn spent the majority of her childhood outside the United States, and she’s forever picked on for her ignorance concerning “eighties” and “nineties” culture. She’s lived in Hungary, Indonesia, and the Philippines, and visited many countries in Europe and Southern Asia. In 2001, she returned to the United States and attended Christ For the Nations Institute, majoring in theology.

Writing, reading, and research–yep, Gwendolyn’s pretty much into all things nerdy. She loves cats, coffee, and rocking chairs, though not necessarily all together at once… She makes her home in Bluegrass Kentucky with her husband and two children.

 

Book blurb of For the Sake of One Lost:

Texan native Pearl Benton arrives in Australia expecting to vacation with her family, but instead, she’s carried by a wormhole to Roman-ruled Egypt. Kidnapped, made a slave–Pearl doesn’t understand why God abandoned her to such a horrible existence. Another time traveler works for her master, and the chance of finding the wormhole that robbed them both of normal, just might be worth putting up with his incessant teasing. Might.

An Aussie stockman turned fleet helmsman, Trey Bradley has spent years building a life for himself in Alexandria. When his boss decides to use Pearl as a bargaining tool in a summons with the Emperor Nero, he asks Trey to accompany them as her translator. Trey wants to help Pearl escape as he’s helped countless others, but God says “no.” How can he help deliver Pearl to Nero and live with himself? Can that truly be what God wants?

As they journey to Rome, Pearl and Trey struggle to set aside their ambitions and choose God’s will above their own, even at the cost of life and love.

Guest post by author Gwen Gage

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11 Replies to “Gifts of Encouragement”

  1. Chills. It’s beautiful to read how much power one simple comment from a friend or parent can be! I’m so glad your friend found your notebook!

  2. I became a huge fan after I read “For The Sake Of One Lost.” The novel grips you and you can’t put it down until it’s finished. Gwen’s a master at creating vivid settings and teleports you to another time and place.

  3. Wow, Gwen, I didn’t know you have had so many experiences in different countries! You have lots of information to draw from for your future books! Your post was fascinating to read. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Patti! Yes, and I had packed files of emails and accounts of those overseas experiences when I moved to Texas, and there were all lost in moves. 🙁 I hope my memory holds out… I’ve been wanting to try my hand at a YA Contemporary based on my life experiences.

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