Camille Eide has known for years that her calling is to share God's love through the written word, but she waited until her children began to venture outside the nest to begin sharing her talent.
This Christian writer uses one of the most popular genres of fiction novels to reach people she would never be able to witness the love of God through Christ.
She writes romance novels and uses real-life scenarios to deliver a message of hope. A devoted fan of Jane Austen, Eide says she loves a 'clean, intelligent love story.'
That is her calling. She knows it, and now all that remains is to persuade others that her gifts of word choice, phrasing and identity will convince publishers that readers will be drawn to her books.
She is nearly finished with her second book. The first book has been submitted to 10 publishers, undergone severe editing and is in the hands of a publishing committee - which will decide if her story, 'Like There's No Tomorrow,' will reside on bookshelves. That book was a finalist in the 2009 Zondervan contest.
The second book is earning acclaim, even before Eide pens the final page. The first 15 pages of her book, titled 'My Father's House,' have been entered in another contest for unpublished authors.
That contest, named 'Genesis' by the worldwide American Christian Fiction Writers, is nearing its final stages, and Eide's entry is one of three finalists from among the 90 writers in her category: Women's Fiction.
'My Father's House,' Eide says, is the story of an ex-social worker turned surrogate mom to a mismatched bunch of outcast teens. The woman is desperate to prevent foreclosure on the group home she's worked hard to build in Oregon's Eastern Outback.
'Her only hope,' Eide said, 'lies with the last person she'd want help from: A beefy handyman with a guitar, a questionable past and a God he keeps calling Father.'
The theme of her story, set in a broken world, is brought to the fore by the handyman, who shows the woman there is a Father whose love never fails.
As it is with her fiction, Eide draws from her experiences and those of people she knows. Her goal is to fictionalize real-life experiences by changing names, life situations and locations, but not the scenario or the message of hope it delivers.
But her first goal is to grab the reader's emotions in the first sentence, the first page, the first chapter and instill in them a thirst for the story - a hunger that grows to the final paragraph.
Eide has a gift as a storyteller, and she wants to use that gift to share her knowledge of the way God's love can shape and change a person's life.
So one day she just decided to write a novel.
But saying it and doing it are completely different. It took her about 18 months to write the first book and another year to edit it.
Needless to say, Eide is a perfectionist. Her stories are character driven, and she spends a lot of time bringing out the strengths and weaknesses of each character. Then she'll check with her best critics, who also are her friends, and ask questions such as 'Would this character say that or do that?'
She often returns to words she has already written to see if she is following her outline and developing the essential theme of her story.
She says she's striving for a 'good clean love story that has character value.'
'Women who like faith-inspiring romance,' she said, 'are typically women who don't want to read explicit or graphic sex scenes or language.'
Moving forward, Eide is hoping the fact she's a finalist (one of the top three) in the Genesis contest will turn publisher's heads.
Ideally, she'd like to be offered a two- or three-book contract.
Eide has a vivid imagination, and considers her writing a form of art. It's her creativity that helps her turn a phrase into an artistic expression that reaches out and pulls readers into her stories.
Today, she'd like to be released from the limbo she feels, waiting for responses from her submissions to the Genesis contest and the publishing committee.
Meanwhile, she continues writing her second book because publishers often want to see the entire manuscript from finalists.
Eide says she has a lot of ideas, and her right brain is ready to create faith-filled scenarios for a multitude of thirsty readers.
For more information about the author, visit Eide's blogspot 'Extreme Keyboarding' at camilleeide.blogspot.com.