Christine Lindsay writes historical inspirational romance. She’s a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. Her agent currently has two of her manuscripts out on submission.
Christine Lindsay was four years old when her family immigrated to Canada, and devastated to say goodbye to all her loved ones in Ireland. She takes great pride in her roots; her great grandfather and grandfather worked as riveters in the Belfast shipyard. As her grandfather began his trade as a fourteen-year-old apprentice, the ship he helped build in the dry dock was the Titanic. Her mother’s relatives were a combination of British soldiers and farmers.
I met Christine when she left a comment for another of my guests. I checked out her blog and was encouraged by what she shares there and impressed with her faithfulness and dedication. In addition, I found her personal story moving and love seeing how God is using her experience with birth mother relinquishment to reach others who may be facing a similar situation.
•Christine, I’m inspired when I learn about writers, such as you, who are shining examples of perseverance. You’ve been writing with the goal of publication for eight years. What motivates you to keep writing when the first contract has yet to be offered?
I’ve learned that only by lovingly yielding to what God wants to do with my life do I have that sense of freedom and excitement that my life will count for something. If I didn’t feel His call to write, I would seek out what He was calling me to do. Time is too valuable to waste. My call to write first came when I was re-visiting the grief of having relinquished my first child to adoption—this was shortly after the reunion with my birthdaughter, Sarah, eight years ago. My husband, who knew my story so well, came to me with a brand new pen and journal and said, “Write it.”
Each time I test this “calling,” the Lord does something pretty significant to nudge me to continue. Last spring I asked Him to help me finish the second novel and said if I didn’t hear something from Him by the end of summer to continue, I’d set the writing aside. Within weeks Rachel Moore, another historical writer, became my critique partner, and we both got our novels finished by the end of August. Rachel, a wonderful, gifted writer, has been an incredible help to me.
In addition, I won a scholarship to the ACFW conference. I’d sent my essay off in the hopes of winning a spot, but weeks later heard that all spots had been given out. But sometime in July an email came out of the blue from ACFW saying that someone had donated the funds for another spot, and as first runner-up, would I like to accept it. You bet I did. Bells ding donged inside me, and I felt tremors as if I’d been offered a book contract. But the fact that the scholarship came to me this way meant even more than if I’d been one of the first five chosen.
It was at the conference that I heard the heartbeats of people just like me. Writing is such a solitary ministry, and we often don’t realize other authors have the same doubts—did I really hear God’s call? Am I wasting my life here, writing when no one may ever read it? That sort of thing.
Three people have greatly encouraged me to continue. The first is Crystal Miller. She’s a book doctor, a book reviewer, and also a writer who has critiqued my two novels. Through our on-line relationship, she has become a dear friend and has made me feel that I really am a writer.
The second is my agent, David Sanford. Another great story that I won’t go into now. To be contracted by such quality literary agents like him and Rebekah Clark is a great gift from God. I’m excited to get to know the folks at Credo Communications now that David’s agency has amalgamated with Tim Beals.
The other is Golden Keyes Parsons, who I sat beside briefly for breakfast one morning at the ACFW conference. She struck me as one of those beautiful Christian ladies, filled with quiet trust in God, and tenacious when it comes to what He has called her to do. It was her story about her writing journey as her first book, In the Shadow of the Sun King, came out that bolstered me. There were times when she, too, felt time was slipping by, and “When are you going to do it, God?” was the theme of her prayers.
•Other writers can be some of our greatest allies on the journey to publication. You won that scholarship and attended the ACFW conference in 2008. What a great place to connect with other inspirational writers and authors. What were some of the blessings you experienced at the conference?
The biggest thing was the affirmation that I was doing exactly what God wanted me to do. What I’ve learned from other authors, and my own experience, is that the writing journey is not a quick and easy one. I don’t think it’s supposed to be. I’ve come to believe that God wants us to walk that long journey with Him. Only because of that seemingly-never-ending-trek will we end up with great writing to encourage others. But what we learn ourselves is more about Him, a deepening of that love relationship with Christ. For that alone, the solitary work, the sweat and tears, and the bleary eyes are worth it, even if we’re never published.
• Four years ago, you shifted your focus to fiction—romance in particular. What led to this change?
I wanted to share the emotional and spiritual truth I had learned through the relinquishment of my child to adoption and our reunion twenty years later. But I felt the Lord nudge me to change the story to a fictional one to protect the identities of my family and my birthdaughter’s family. So, I set the story in a contemporary mystery-thriller, but with a strong love story.
I like a book to end with a satisfying sigh of happiness. And I loved how my own autobiographical story faded into the background as another story morphed—elements like the birthfather being on the fringes of the IRA during the Irish troubles, and a chase over Irish cliffs in the middle of a raging storm to catch the bad guys who were threatening present day peace in Northern Ireland. I thought it was a great story. Still can’t figure out why it hasn’t been picked up. Smiling as I write this.
•You’ve completed two manuscripts, which are being shopped by your agent, Rebekah Clark of Credo Communications. I was intrigued by the setting of the second story, the British Raj of India. Why did you choose this place and period?
They say to write what you know and what you like. My very favorite novels are those by MM Kaye who wrote long, exciting romantic epics set in that unique place and time. My mother’s side of the family had strong ties to the British army, particularly the British Raj of India. So, I took what I like, coupled with what I learned as a girl who made some poor choices in my early life, and feeling somewhat invisible as the birthmother in an adoption triad. I know what it’s like to persist when life gets tough and work that theme into my stories.
The greatest female hero in my own life has been my mother. When we immigrated to Canada life wasn’t easy for her, especially when she became a single parent. Through her, I’ve watched a true heroine, who may appear a victim to such things as spousal abuse, poverty, etc, but who, through faith in Christ, perseveres. She taught me to stand up, take on the hardships of life and see them as an adventure with God, like my characters.
•You have a special story to tell, that of a birth mother who was reunited with the daughter she entrusted to an adoptive family years before. A distilled version of this story is your first published piece. Please tell us how this came about and what it means to you.
Several years after I relinquished Sarah, I met and married a fantastic guy and we had three children. When our first two, Lana and Kyle, were small, I had a strong desire to write my birthmother story, specifically for Focus on the Family, and I prayed about it. I’d read many adoptive mothers’ beautiful stories of God giving them their long-awaited child, that I wanted so much to show the positive side to a birthmother’s relinquishment.
Relinquishment is not “giving up” your child. It’s a very different thing altogether. I’m not saying my birthdaughter is my daughter; she is the daughter of her adoptive parents. But all birthmothers have a story, and I wanted their voice to be heard in a small way. I wrote that piece for them.
So, about twenty years or so after that prayer, my agent, David Sanford, and his wife Renee, invited me to write something for the book they were putting together in conjunction with FOTF called Handbook on Thriving as an Adoptive Family. Even though the book was targeted to adoptive parents, FOTF liked my birthmother piece and kept it in the book. Not only was this incredibly affirming to me as a writer, but also life-affirming to the young twenty-year-old girl in a maternity ward I once was, who believed she had heard God’s request to give her child to Him. If we wait long enough, we can see the beauty of what He’s really doing with our heartaches.
•Over a year ago, you took a leap of faith when you gave up a lucrative full-time position to focus on your writing. What effect has that change had, and what are you working on now?
I had a very fulfilling job as an administrative assistant in Canada’s premier Christian university, Trinity Western. To leave that secure income to work part-time close to home, just so I can focus my energies on the writing, was a big risk. My husband and family have been nothing but supportive. Although it’s been tough financially, I’ve found the Lord to be faithful, and those nudges to continue just keep coming. So, I’m writing. Even though publication may not be God’s plan for me, maybe I can encourage a few people through my blog.
At the moment, I’m re-writing my non-fictional birthmother story to post on my blog. My birthdaughter, Sarah, an ER nurse, is very much like me, Pro-Life. She supports me in the idea of sharing that story for free on the Internet, just in case some young girl is out there feeling the fears of being pregnant and unmarried. After that, I plan to put the outline together for the second book in my British Raj series, taking the reader up to the partition of India and Pakistan. After that, it’s up to God.
•You’ve entered a new chapter in your life. You and your husband are empty nesters. What are some plans you have now that it’s just the two of you? Will you be jetting off to far away places, taking up a new hobby, or tackling a home renovation project?
Well, thanks to me not bringing home a full-time paycheck like I used to, there are no plans to travel. Oh, how I wish it were otherwise. There is a cost to writing, and we’re paying it. But we do plan to travel a little and keep in touch with family across the country, and hopefully soon I can return to Ireland to visit the folks there.
Another dream is to write about the Belfast shipyards, starting of course with the people building the Titanic. Big mischievous smile.
•And now a question just for fun. As someone who’s been writing for a number of years, I’m sure you have dreams of what it will be like to land that first contract. Imagine that Rebekah called to tell you she’d sold your first book, that it’s just been released and that you’re at your launch party. Who’d be there with you? And what would you say when your supportive husband asked you to say a few words to your guests?
Well, if that were to happen, I’d say through a shaking voice thick with tears, “There are so many people to thank.” I’m an emotional mushball. “An author may sit in her ivory tower, pounding out the scenes and emotion with only the sound of clicking keys in her ears, but in truth she is not alone. There are so many of you I want to hug.
“Where would I be without my creative writing professors at Trinity, fellow author Loranne Brown, who took me through my first directed study on writing, and my original critique group—Jane, Andrea, Joan, Jenn, Rachel? Then there are my pastors and their wives; friends at church; ALL my pals at Trinity; my new on-line friends through ACFW—especially Crystal Miller, Rachel Moore, HisWriters; and my agents David and Rebekah. Good grief, have I missed any?
“You have all shown me the sweetness of God’s kind and interested face, and I love you dearly. Being published means nothing compared to your friendship.”
It’s been great having you as my guest, Christine. And now, in closing, is there a final comment you’d like to make or a question you’d like to ask?
I want to know what kind of books my visitors like to read. What are some of the elements in a novel that turn you off or on to a story?
And, lastly, thank you so much, Keli, for interviewing me. I feel terribly blessed by this. You have been one of those nudges the Lord has used to encourage me. I’d like to encourage you, too, to keep on persevering. God is in this with you and me. Hugs, Christine.
Learn More About Christine by Visiting Her Blog
Leave a Comment for Your Chance to Win!
On the evening of January 23, I’ll choose one winner from all those who left a comment for Christine (and included an email address when prompted, which will not be shared).
Andrea won and got to choose from:
1) A $5 gift card from either Borders or Taco Bell (Keli’s Hangout 🙂 ),
2) A Hallmark motivational bookmark made of metal,
3) A set of 8 personalized note cards handmade by your blog host, Keli Gwyn.
You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook!
If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by your blog hostess, Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and January 31, making sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) You may enter once per post.
On February 1, Keli will choose one person who will have her choice of four covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your “firstborn” in your hands.
(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling. Watch for pictures added on future posts.)