In 2004, I took a creative writing class from UAA. One of our assignments over the course of the semester was to take a story that we already knew and write it from a different perspective. I knew instantly what I wanted to write about: The Harrowing of Hades, Christ’s descent into hell during His Sabbath rest in the tomb.
My class was made up of a lot of agnostics and atheists, so–as you can imagine–my essay only got a so-so review. I, however, loved it (which is a big deal for me, since I can be my own worst critic). I shared it with my husband, who then took it to a Lenten class he was helping teach at our church. He read it to the attendees, who had nothing but praise. Later, I started thinking: “This would be a really intriguing book of short stories, if I added all the Holy Week events to it, instead of just the Harrowing of Hades.”
The Road to Golgotha was born.
It took me nearly ten years to finish. Life, as I’m sure you know, is nutty, and in that ten years, I also gave birth to four babies, so quiet time for introspective writing was a little thin. I was about 2/3 of the way done when a friend, who had just published his own book, came over for a visit one night and encouraged me to finish and get it out there.
So I did.
Six months of hard word, carving time from odd places, and writing in circumstances only other Mom-writers have experienced (typing with one finger while bouncing a sobbing toddler, for instance), and I was done. At least, I thought I was. We were on a long flight home from a family vacation and my oldest daughter (who was eight at the time) had finished her book, so I gave her the computer with my manuscript saved on it and said, “Here, read Mom’s book.” She devoured it, and then told me, “Mom, I love it except for one thing: You forgot about Joseph of Aramathea.”
Another few weeks passed, and I finished Joseph of Aramathea’s chapter, which, as it turns out, ended up being one of my favorites. I tentatively submitted to an Orthodox publisher, but was kindly declined. Being my own worst enemy, this rejection pushed me pretty close to giving up. But, I decided to soldier on, and self-publish with Amazon.
I was blessed with the help of some great friends who edited, did cover art, and helped with formatting (Thanks Mary Alice, Meghan and Kent!). I held my breath, hit “create,” and promptly looked myself up on Amazon.com. Holy smokes, there was MY NAME and MY BOOK. I called my dear friend Erin, screamed something unintelligible, and then sat and stared. I was done.
Writing this book has been a labor of love: a love of Holy Week, a love of God, and a love of the Gospel message of His passion. It is impossible not to rediscover the truth of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ when immersed so deeply in retelling the story. My hope and my prayer is that I am able to give to the readers of my book a new sense of wonder, of awe, and of thankfulness for God’s great grace and love for mankind.
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