“Because God is helping me, anything ‘I write’ will be far superior to anything I would attempt on my own.”
Later this year, Christian author Jackie McDougall will release her first book, Fearless in Euroclydon, which will be available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The title for the book was inspired by Acts 27:14, which says, “But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.” Jackie uses the term “Euroclydon” to refer to the worst storm imaginable, and the book tells her personal story of triumph in the face of life’s brutal storms.
And Jackie has faced her share of storms. Though she has always aspired to be a published author, life brought her many twists and turns, and she had to put her writing on the back burner so she could provide for her children by working as a medical transcriptionist. Later, she was told that she had cancer. “After my battle with cancer, I was declared permanently disabled and thought I would have more time to revisit the writing,” Jackie shares. “My mother and husband both encouraged me to tell my cancer story, but I still wanted to write fiction. I felt God nudging me to follow the advice of two of the most important people in my life. He even told me that if I did this, then we would look at Christian fiction again. It took me a while to get to the point of publication since I found I had less free time while ‘not working’ than I did while gainfully employed. My mother has a quilting business which I help her with, I have a 1-year-old granddaughter whom I care for most weekdays, and I have been helping my best friend who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s with the business aspects of her sewing studio. Despite these obstacles, since Fearless in Euroclydon was ‘my story’ the writing was finished fairly quickly.”
Jackie considers herself to be an “introvert to the extreme,” but took on the intimidating task of seeking out a publisher for her book in November 2014. “This was a daunting prospect as I quickly found out there were no Christian publishers accepting the work of unknown authors,” recalls Jackie. “I submitted my proposal to a website called Christian Manuscript Submissions, which for a small fee would post the proposal to a website ostensibly frequented by some big-name Christian publishers. I have not yet heard anything back from them. In February, I entered a contest by Westbow Press for a prestigious publishing package. Mine was a very late entry called the Princess and the Seed, a story I frequently share at speaking engagements, and did not win. Around the same time, I saw an advertisement for Booktrope. I had not previously heard of them, but after doing some research found they seemed to be a reputable company, albeit not a Christian one. I submitted Fearless to them, not really expecting to hear back from them and was ecstatic when Jesse James contacted me within two weeks! Then I discovered they were starting a Christian imprint called Vox Deiu and the manager of that imprint wanted to be my project manager! Double excitement! It truly felt like everything was coming together completely in God’s perfect timing. So here I am, learning to navigate the world of social media to promote what I feel is God’s work for my life, perhaps even the reason my cancer battle was successful when there were so many reasons it might not have been.”
Along with writing books and navigating the murky waters of publication, Jackie still finds time to draw inspiration from the work of other writers. “In the days when I was still reading secular fiction, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Piers Anthony, and Orson Scott Card were my favorites in that order,” she says. “I do still read Mr. Card from time to time. Ms. Phillips is, in my opinion, the best writer of women’s fiction out there. Karen Kingsbury and Francine Rivers come close in the Christian fiction realm, but I would love to be able to write like Ms. Phillips (but without the smut). In terms of nonfiction, I like John Bevere and Dutch Sheets. One of my favorite books is by a missionary named Ruth Paxson who died in the 1940s. It is a book called Life on a Higher Spiritual Plane. There are very few books that I can read more than once; hers is one of them.”
Though Jackie made several early attempts to be published by a secular publishing company, these all failed. Looking back, Jackie now recognizes this as part of God’s perfect plan for her life. “I’m so grateful to God that He didn’t permit my attempts at secular fiction to succeed; I shudder to think what I would be today had that happened,” Jackie declares. “I do pray as I’m writing that God will help me arrange the words in precisely the correct manner for utmost impact and that He won’t allow anything that could harm someone else to remain in place. Because He is helping me, anything ‘I write’ will be far superior to anything I would attempt on my own.”
When looking for new topics to write about, Jackie recognizes that there is no such thing as new material. “The Bible tells us there is nothing new under the sun,” she says. “The Bible is inerrable, so I would like to tell a story in a unique way that seems new to the reader. It would be primarily entertaining but would entice the reader to seek out God for him or herself.”
More than any other book, Jackie firmly believes that the Bible has the power to change lives. As a Christian writer, however, she is grateful that God also uses the writing of everyday Christians to impact others. “The Bible is the inspired Word of God and our instruction manual for life on this planet, and the words within it far surpass anything Susan Elizabeth Phillips ever wrote in terms of creativity,” explains Jackie. “They actually have creative power within them. So the Word of God is artistic and certainly changes lives – countless lives. Some of the books and writers mentioned above are other examples. Other artistic mediums, such as music and visual art, can have just as much influence.“
Jackie’s upcoming book release, Fearless in Euroclydon, will soon be available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Jackie also plans to do book signings in her area and seek out speaking engagements at churches. Even this is a testimony to God’s healing power in her life. “Before I knew Him, the likelihood of my standing up in front of a group of people of any size and speaking was virtually nil; yet in recent times I have felt His presence so close to me, speaking has not only not invoked tremendous fear, it has revealed strength within me that I didn’t know was present,” says Jackie. “There are many hurting people out there who may not yet be aware of God and His interest in and love for them. My prayer is that this book will be one more avenue through which they can learn of Him and be persuaded to learn about and experience more of Him.”
For more information on Jackie McDougall and her upcoming releases, you can check her website at www.jacquelinemcdougall.com.
Many fellow Christians are facing troubling storms in life, and many fellow writers are trying to find their way in the world of publication. For her fellow artists, Jackie offers this advice: “Stay close to God. Seek His advice in every aspect of your endeavors. Learn patience (though I would not recommend praying for it!).”
“My prayer is that this book will be one more avenue through which they can learn about and experience more of Him.”
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