Appointments with our Audience

I just love God appointments. You know, those serendipitous
moments when you happen to be at the right place at the right time to meet
someone who needs what only you can offer? We’re writers. We tune in to language, to emotion, to character–and sometimes our ability to listen puts us smack in the middle of a blessing we might have missed if we hadn’t paused. 
A month or so ago, I was waiting for the Morehead City Library to
open. The day was lovely,
warm for early spring, and I basked in the sun, unfocused, enjoying the minutes until the doors swung open. A young woman dropped her books in the return bin
and noticed the novel tucked under my arm. “You can just put it there.” She motioned behind her.
I loosed a smile. “I’m not returning this. I’m here to show them my latest book.” And I flashed the cover of Two from Isaac’s House in her direction.
“You’re an author?”

My grin widened as we chatted books and place. With a few
key words from her or me, our discussion morphed to deeper questions about God
and faith and churches, because she had trouble reconciling some folks’ stance
on faith issues with what she thought God ought to be. I don’t know about you,
but I love to talk about God’s heart. Don’t get me started, because before you know it, the preacher in me will take over.
She had questions. Lots of questions. New to the area, she wanted to find a place to worship, but she had real worries. She’d heard that churches in our neck of the woods have split
over various definitions of big-sin/no-sin/who-cares-it’s-not-sin.
So we talked about sin—hers, mine, and others’—and what God
has to say about it all. Because that’s what it should boil down to, isn’t it?
What God says and not what man says, including what God says about loving all who fall short. When we finished, long after the library
had opened its doors, she gave me a hug, her eyes glistening with renewed hope. She’d needed the words along with the assurances about God’s love. And she marched inside to check out my books.
Then, a couple of days ago, I stopped at a local crafts
store to check pricing on replacement batting for our interior boat cushions. The
gal who helped me bubbled with friendly cheer. “I like to buy locally,” I told
her, “just as I hope folk will support their local authors.” (Yep, a shameless
plug…you never know.)
Her eyes rounded. “Are you an author?”
I dug out a business card and handed it over.
And then the most amazing thing happened. I hadn’t mentioned
my subject matter or the titles of my books. But she looked straight at me.
“I’m a serial victim of abuse.”

I wasn’t quite sure what she meant by “serial,” but my heart
broke. My mother-arms wanted to wrap her up. She told me her life was good now,
but she still felt as if there were a chasm she had to cross, a place of perfection she needed
to achieve for God to love her truly. That’s one of my favorite topics, so I quoted Psalm 139, reminding her that God had called her forth. That God’s desire for her was to be. Just be. That He loves her—as she is. And that He has a plan for her.

“What sort of plan? I don’t feel as if I’m doing any good
for Him at all.”
I laughed. “Look at you. Your smile, your kindness, your
servant’s heart show His love to everyone who comes in here.”
Tears spilled.

A couple of days later, I took books in to her, let her pick
which one she’d like me to sign for her. She’d already bought Becalmed. Now she chose Heavy Weather, even though it deals with abuse. “I can
handle it,” she said as she hugged the book to her, the tears back.


I’d like her to read Sailing
out of Darkness
, because it’s about guilt and love and forgiveness. Maybe
next time.
We each have appointments to keep. Sometimes it’s as simple
as handing over a business card. Sometimes it involves looking another person
in the eye and listening—and then sharing the love of God.
As writers, as authors, we tell stories, but sometimes our
potential readers are folk wanting to tell us one. And to have us love them
anyway.

What about you? Have you been listening
recently? I’d love to hear your story.

Tweatable:

Unscheduled #appointments with #readers. #Hearts and stories in unexpected places.  @NovelRocket @WritingOnBoard http://bit.ly/1WVOhjJ

Normandie studied sculpture in Italy before receiving her BA, summa cum laude with special honors in English. Known for her women’s fiction—Becalmed (2013), Sailing out of Darkness (2013), and Heavy Weather 2015)—she ventured into the realm of romantic suspense with the release of Two from Isaac’s House. In early 2016, a novella, From Fire into Fire, will continue the Isaac House saga. Normandie and her husband spent a number of years on board their 50-foot ketch, Sea Venture, sailing in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. They now live in coastal North Carolina, where she takes care of her aging mother.
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