As a Multiple Sclerosis patient, it has become necessary for me to reinvent myself. I have ... and continue to ... refuse to lie down and die, or in this case, follow the normally prescribed drugs and treatments that do nothing to defeat my disease. I am not only surviving by pursuing alternatives, I am thriving. I do the things specialists told me I would never be able to do. I walk and hope to one day even run regularly. I retain my cognitive and creative abilities for the pleasure of my readers. Although you may never see me on my daily walk, you are welcome to read my novel(s) and in doing so, come to ask yourself, "How can the 'out of the box' protocol she has followed, help my loved one with an autoimmune disease like Multiple Sclerosis?"

Uhgt - Oh! You don't read what you write...

When I think about my journey to becoming a published author I always feel a tad overwhelmed with astonishment. Sometimes I'm not even sure if it's something I chose or stumbled into. I'm not complaining though, because now that I'm here I can't imagine it any other way.

So here's why my story is a little strange. First of all, I never intended to become a writer. My journey began with an obsession over making sense of a dream I had over the Thanksgiving holidays in 2002. I woke up feeling like I had experienced pieces of someone else's life, and for the next six months I pondered continuously over how it all fit together. Eventually it became too big to keep straight in my head, so I began to write in secret -- because, really... who tries to work out a story from a dream merely because it fascinates them? As I wrote though something transformed within me. I fell in love with these characters in my head, I fell in love with their plight to be together, and I felt this strange sense of honor at being the one to convey their story through the written word. I fell in love with the ability to create.

I toyed for several years more, putting the book away, pulling it out, considering the idea of trying to get published and then convincing myself that I'd written the story solely for my own satisfaction.

Around 2007 I began to feel a gentle nudge in the direction of publication. That's when I faced a couple of new challenges. I knew nothing about the industry, and even less about the genres of the book I had written. You see, I read a fair amount. Tom Clancy and Tess Gerritson were and still are two of my favorite authors, but neither of them write romance. So here I was, a non-romance reader who had written a romance. To add to that conundrum, my romance had strong elements of faith in it. It was Christian fiction romance. Guess what? Not only did I not read romance, I didn't read Christian fiction, and certainly had never so much as picked up a Christian fiction romance. Was there even such a thing?

So that's when I began to study. To my horror, one of the first things I learned was that a.) authors are supposed to read what they write, and b.) the kind of things I wanted to include in my book/s were the sort of things that most publishers of Christian fiction ask authors to edit out. The author of one book I read about getting published in the Christian fiction market flat out stated that if you were a new author, and your book contained a,b or c (you know, the "big sins") then you should put it away and write something else. If you were lucky and made it big, then maybe one day you could publish the story you really wanted to tell.

At that point, I remember closing that book and thinking the advice seemed a tad disingenuous. Wouldn't readers feel duped if they'd come to expect one thing from a beloved author only to find out that was never who the author really was. Wouldn't that be a little like learning Tom Clancy really was a communist, and the true reason for getting his character Jack Ryan into the White House was to make that known. I had to ask myself: Did I want to write for the purpose of being published, or did I want to write for the purpose of telling a story from my heart? For me, it was never really a question.

So here I am, an unintentional writer of Christian fiction/romance for readers who don't read either. And something rather amazing has come of it. I've discovered that there's a whole audience out there.


Shawna K. Williams

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