Sixteen years ago, I decided to pen my first novel, Keep the Knot Tight. I gave it to a minister friend to read. He admitted he found the story engaging but certain content was off-putting. Filled with profanity and hot sex scenes, I told him that I was keeping it real. The language and sex were authentic, I told myself. After numerous rejections, I self-published it under the pseudonym, Jasmine Stone.
Then I wrote Walk A Straight Line under Zoey Ann Rice in the space of six weeks. Right after that, I wrote Sing A New Song. I submitted both novels to hundreds of agents only to face rejection. Stumped, I could not understand why. So, I decided to put the writing ‘thing’ on hold and focus on my marriage and my young sons. I relocated in Florida eleven years ago because my family needed a change of pace and atmosphere.
On the job, I met Vivian Kehrer, and told her about my books. She encouraged me not to give up on my dream and I self-published Walk A Straight Line under the name, Zoey Ann Rice. I hid the book from my family and some of my friends. I knew they would never approve. Then, I met Jane Adams.
Jane was a teacher and gifted writer and I was drawn to her artistic nature. I opened up to her about my secret passion for writing. Jane volunteered to read Sing A New Song and share her thoughts with me. I can clearly remember the day she returned my manuscript.
We stood in the parking lot of an elementary school, and Jane’s face was deep red. Jane told me that while she was reading, she thought it was Christian fiction because the message in the novel moved her and then bam! She encountered the profanity and hot sex scenes. She said they caught her off guard. Jane went on to say how much she enjoyed the story, but I was frozen. Frozen because God used her to speak to me.
There was no secret pleasure. I couldn’t run from God and His purpose for me. God was ingrained in my life and He would appear into my work because He belonged there. Goose bumps rose on my arms. God had to be in every aspect of my life, especially my writing. That night, I revamped Sing A New Song. What I saw when I was done was a powerful work, which God could use to His purpose. I smiled. This felt right. Right for me, that is.
There was a place for me—the girl who liked writing stories with drama and messy characters but who also loved God. Imagine my joy when I discovered, I did not have to give up any part of me. Instead, I discovered a ministry fashioned with me in mind. God had brought me into the path of spirit-led women who have helped hone and shape my work so that He gets glory. His Holy Spirit constrains me and I am proud of the product I produce.