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I wish I could tell you the number of times people have shyly come up to me after I have spoken somewhere to tell me they would like to write a book too.  Some have a clear idea of what sort of book they hope to create.  Others, however, are much more vague.  Some, I suspect, like the idea of being published, but not all the hard work needed to get there.  But for the majority, it’s more that they can’t seem to allow themselves to actually name their dream, to commit to a goal they believe in their heart of hearts they will never attain.  So it would be foolish – a waste of time really – even to try.  Better to forget about it and go and do something useful.

My heart goes out to these people, because I felt like that myself once.  Before I began writing seven years ago, I had wanted to write for at least twenty years and often talked about it with my family.  At one stage, in desperation, one of our daughters gave me a pile of books on how to write, accompanied by a homemade bookmark, bearing the inscription ‘Write your own!’  However, it took the ending of a ministry I loved, followed by six months’ break, before I finally realised that the moment had come in my life when the dream to write and the call of God were in fact one.

It happened like this.  I was holidaying in Turkey and was sitting reading Isaiah 42 in my bible one morning.  I had read verse 9 – See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare – and noted in my journal that I knew my old role had gone but now I truly wanted to hear the ‘ new things’ God had for me.  Then I read on – and stopped in my tracks at verses 18-20:

Hear, you deaf, look, you blind, and see!  Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like the messenger I send?  Who is blind like the one committed to me, blind like the servant of the Lord?  You have seen many things, but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing.

Yes, it was a strong challenge – a rebuke even – but so patient and kind too.  It was as if God were saying with a big sigh: ‘Come on, Jo!  How many times do I have to show you?  Go home and start writing the book!

Well – I did! That was what it took for God to get through to me that yes, it was okay to write – that this, in fact, was what I was being called to do at this stage of my life.

So what is God calling you to do?  Is it perhaps the very thing you’ve been dreaming of doing all your life?  Could God in fact be giving you permission to bring your dream to reality?  …  Could you possibly have a book in you too?

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No, I am definitely not some ‘miracle mum’ giving birth in my ripe old age to a real flesh and blood baby!  I already have three beautiful children and two equally beautiful granddaughters.  Nevertheless, this whole process of launching another book into the world does feel like giving birth all over again – especially when the book concerned has the very personal name of ‘Laura’.

Yes, my third novel will officially enter the world on Sunday 13th September at 2.00pm!  If you would actually like to be present on the occasion of Laura’s ‘birth’, please feel free to leave a comment on this blog, or to contact me via my website, www.jo-anneberthelsen.com for further information.  

Also on my website, you will find I am offering a special deal for any who want to purchase ‘Laura’ prior to her actual ‘birth’ on 13th.  Yes, I am selling ‘clones’ of my new baby for the very reasonable postage-free price of twenty dollars – but only for this strictly limited period.  After all, one has to draw the line somewhere.

Seriously though – this ‘birth’ has definitely been one of my more prolonged.  While the initial writing of ‘Laura’ did take around nine months, just like any normal pregnancy, the actual ‘germ’ of the idea for this novel came fifteen years ago when I first met my friend Heather.  It was she who unintentionally inspired me to create my ‘Laura’, who in her turn became almost a real person in her own right to me.  There were many puzzling, frustrating moments along the way, however, as ‘Laura’ grew inside me – times when I spent hours searching for exactly the right information about becoming blind, about education for blind students, about artificial eyes, about so many things.  At one stage I almost aborted the whole idea – it just seemed too difficult a book to write well and with integrity.  But by then I had grown very attached to my Laura – and I so much wanted her to push through all the difficulties confronting her and to make a safe entrance into the world.

And now here she is at last – after a ‘pregnancy’ lasting around three years all up!  While the original writing took around nine months, since then there have been many re-writes and many periods of waiting for my publisher to say ‘yes’ and to put the final touches on my ‘baby’.  So it is with great joy and no little relief that I can finally say, with great thanks to God …  WELCOME TO ‘LAURA’!

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