Writerly Wednesdays

The Bottom Line: What I’ve Learned in 40+ Years of Writing

The writing life is a great ride—if one can hang on. I’ve never liked roller coasters—and yet, that’s exactly what I’ve been riding for nearly half a century.

How well I remember that glorious first book contract somewhere back in the mists of the 1970s. I thought I was set. I had a publisher, I had an editor, I could just spend the rest of my life writing the stories I was passionate to tell and—Voilà—they would be published.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that editors change, publishers cancel series, agents retire—or even die. Life is unstable—and nothing more so than the writing life. Zondervan cancelled their Serenade series. Scripture Press quit publishing fiction. Editors rejected story proposals… Fortunately, my passion for my stories was stronger than my dismay.

There were always more publishers to submit to, more Christian writers’ conferences to feed me new information. And most of all—there were more stories to tell. In those first thirty-some years I published some forty books with close to ten different Christian publishers.

And then I didn’t.

The writing life isn’t the only one that changes. In the first decade of the new millennium our family experienced births, deaths, graduations, marriages, job changes, church changes, house moves, emigrations… I was still writing, but I wasn’t publishing.

Then in 2010 I got a new agent, a new publisher, and launched my new series The Monastery Murders. It was like starting an entirely new career. While my back was turned the electronic revolution had happened: Ebooks, blogs, websites, Facebook, Twitter—email, for goodness’ sake!

I wasn’t just starting a new career. I was doing it in a new language.

But once again, I was on a mission—a mission to tell the stories of what God has done in our world. The stories of ancient saints. The stories of men and women of vision and courage who have built His kingdom. The Monastery Murders became a six-book series, in spite of going through four different publishers. Roller coaster again. Series I had started in the previous century I updated and added to. Backlist titles were re-edited and re-designed. And yes, I got into the swim with website, blog, and social media.

And now, something completely different. My newest project is a travel memoir with a short story collection featuring characters from my various series. Going There, Tales From the Riviera and Beyond will be out in time for Christmas—with a special gift edition.

So, what has life on the roller coaster taught me? Just hang on and keep going. Write from your passion and let your stories take you where they will. And most of all—enjoy it. It’s a wild life, but I can’t imagine any other.

Beliefs represented by individual authors are not necessarily shared by all members of ICW.


  • Donna Fletcher Crow

    Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History, is an intrepid traveler and an indefatigable researcher. She is also an award-winning author who has published some 50 books in a career spanning more than 40 years. Her best-known work is Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England, a grail search epic depicting 1500 years of British history. The Celtic Cross is a 10-book series covering the history of Scotland and England from the 6th to the 20th century. Crow writes 3 mystery series: The Monastery Murders, contemporary clerical mysteries with clues hidden deep in the past; Lord Danvers Investigates, Victorian true-crime stories within a fictional setting; and The Elizabeth and Richard literary suspense series, featuring various literary figures. Where There is Love is a 6-book biographical novel series of leaders of the early Evangelical Anglican movement. The Daughters of Courage is a semi-autobiographical trilogy family saga of Idaho pioneers. Donna and her husband of 60 years live in Boise, Idaho. They have 4 children and 15 grandchildren, and she is an avid gardener.

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