Welcome to my Second Acts Series!
Today we have Lynn Chandler Willis reflecting on forgiveness, redemption and second chances.
I knew early on I wanted to be a writer. I thrived on junior high and high school writing prompts. I wrote short stories, misguided novels, song lyrics, poems, greeting cards, journal entries, newspaper articles…you name it, I wrote it.
So when the opportunity to pen a True Crime book came about, I jumped at it. I was familiar with the crime – it happened in the small town where we lived. I even knew the suspects. I had covered the story for the local community paper and knew it inside and out.
I pitched the idea to a True Crime publisher and they wanted it. The book, Unholy Covenant, was published in 2000. It would be thirteen years before I published another.
It wasn’t the dreaded sophomore slump that prevented the words from flowing. They flowed fine. I just couldn’t bring myself to pursue having anything else published. It took me many years to figure out why. The publisher of Unholy Covenant wanted more. He really liked my style. But, I kept remembering something he had said early on in our publishing relationship – True Crime has to have a murder. Someone has to die. And as cold as it seems, the bottom line was the more sensational the murder, the higher the profits.
I just didn’t have the backbone for it. Knowing people in my community thought I was profiting from a neighbor’s tragedy made me re-think the whole writing gig. Yes, I gave the victim a voice, and I told her story…but still…the reality was always there. A family lost their daughter in the most horrible way. No amount of pretty prose would ever change that.
But, like I said, during my thirteen year hiatus I never stopped writing. I just stopped submitting for publication. Until I ran across a call for submissions from Pelican Book Group. I read over it, and read over it again, and within the hour, The Rising was on its way to Pelican. It’s a story involving forgiveness, redemption, and second chances. It was a perfect fit, for us both.
The Rising was released through Harbourlight/Pelican Book Group in July. This time around comes with no mixed emotions. I’m very proud of the work that went into bringing it to life and humbled by the welcoming it has received. Is it my story? Not really. I’ve never dated anyone as handsome as Jesse.
Lynn Chandler-Willis has worked in the corporate world (hated it!), the television news business (fun job) and the newspaper industry (not a fan of the word “apparently” and phrase “according to”). She keeps coming back to fiction because she likes making stuff up and you just can’t do that in the newspaper or television news business.
She was born, raised, and continues to live in the heart of North Carolina within walking distance to her kids and their spouses and her nine grandchildren. She shares her home, and heart, with Sam the cocker spaniel.
She is the author of the best-selling true crime book, Unholy Covenant. The Rising is her debut novel.
A little boy, beaten and left to die in an alley. A cop with a personal life out of control. When their worlds collide, God intervenes. Detective Ellie Saunders’s homicide investigation takes a dramatic turn when a young victim “wakes up” in the morgue. The child has no memory prior to his “rising” except walking with his father along a shiny road. Ellie likes dealing with facts. She’d rather leave all the God-talk to her father, a retired minister, and to her partner, Jesse, a former vice cop with an annoying habit of inserting himself into her life. But will the facts she follows put Ellie’s life in mortal danger? And will she finally allow God into her heart forever?
“Jack told me you were at lunch. Caper’s is one of my favorites, so I thought I’d take a chance.” He winked at her then sidled closer. “Anyway, I was thinking about your dead kid—“
“He’s not dead.”
A waitress slammed a sandwich down in front of Ellie, and Jesse helped himself to a homemade chip.
“OK, so he’s not dead. You have sent his picture to the National Center for Missing and Exploited
She huffed. “Did Jack send you?”
“No, Jack didn’t send me. I was just thinking if the center didn’t get a hit, I’ve got a few connections with the FBI, and they’ve got some really cool equipment.”
Ellie pulleda piece of bacon from her sandwich and chewed on one end. “Thanks, but no thanks. I really don’t want the Feds involved.”
Jesse snatched another chip and shook his head. “No black suit with shades is going to swoop in and take your case, Detective Saunders.” He grinned and helped himself to another chip. “I thought we could get them to run his picture through the facial recognition scanner. Maybe we’ll get a hit.”
What was with all the we stuff? The case was complicated enough. The last thing she needed was Jesse involved. She didn’t need a constant reminder of her downward spiral.
Where to find Lynn…
Lynn, thank you for sharing your extraordinary journey and reminding us that pauses can be powerful and lead to breakthroughs.