Nuns, saints, a celebrated Christian novelist, and…me

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Saint Dominique of France – according to a song – went about simply, living in financial poverty and singing. In every town and along every road, he spoke only of the good Lord. One of the French stanzas tells how this servant of God met “a heretic” one day but converted the man by his joy! I love that. What a powerful account in a few lines of poetry. You can find an English translation of the song here.

Dominique taught the world about Life and Truth. The song also says two angels once appeared and provided bread for the hungry saint and his “brother preachers.”

I’m already humbled. I’m already inspired. Are you? But, what has this missionary mini-biography to do with Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, which I attended as a first-timer May 22-26?

I was helped through the long drive home from that conference by listening to my music library. “Dominique” – made popular in America by the 1966 movie The Singing Nun – repeats a chorus whose last line goes like this:

Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu.

You could say this in English different ways:
He talks only of the good Lord.
He just talks about the Lord.
He speaks only about God.

 

Fiction, yes. Christian – why?

As I sang along with that French line repeatedly in my Ford Explorer on Thursday, thanking God for the experience at Ridgecrest and for safety over so many miles of highway, “il ne parle que du Bon Dieu” told the whole reason I went to the conference at all. I’m trying my hand at authoring novels now. I need to learn how one builds characters, constructs plot, and chooses point of view – and how one attempts to find a publisher.

Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu.

When the idea for my mystery set near Gatlinburg came to me years ago, I determined that, if I were going to invest the time such a project would take, the book would be “Christian fiction.”

Now, there is a very valid argument for Christian people writing “secular” books and songs and using that opportunity to connect with fans from all walks of life, rather than pigeonholing themselves with content that specifically exalts Jesus Christ and expressly promotes a life lived in the Holy Spirit and strengthened by unrelenting reliance on Scripture. That approach was suggested to me by one publisher at this conference after he heard me say “mystery” and as he conversed with me about genre and about my goals.

Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu.

On the final morning of the conference, as I began to journal many impressions from the week, it occurred to me that Grace Livingston Hill may be the author whose influence is most prevalent as I try to picture myself among the ranks of Christian novelists. I spoke of this in a thank-you email to the conference’s director, adding, “I know; right?” Today’s response in the realm of Christian reading and publishing might be “Grace Livingston who?”

Elle ne parle que du Bon Dieu. If ever a writer deserved that description, it is Grace Livingston Hill.

If Betsy Lowery ever gets a novel in print, that book will parle du Bon Dieu.

During the conference I changed my novel’s working title from Bend in the High Road to A Stranger’s Promise. I’m very excited about this change. It takes away a reference to the mountain setting, but it adds a strong connection to the Bible verse inscribed: no greater love has anyone than this, that one would lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Please share my blog address with a friend and stay tuned for more in the continuing saga of my attempt to get published in the world of Christian fiction.

And please check out my Facebook album with “behind the scenes” photos of some Ridgecrest artifacts important in my family history. (Thank you so much for the tour, George Boswell.)

3 thoughts on “Nuns, saints, a celebrated Christian novelist, and…me

  1. Pardon my French – really. In the original post that went to subscribers by email, I had an error in dropping “ne” but leaving “que.” It should have read that if I get a novel published it will “parle du Bon Dieu” (speak of the good Lord). I’ve made that correction. I love knowing some of the French language, but occasions to use it are too few and far between.

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