I’m doing a shameless plug for my own book because I really want to share some things about this story that are very dear to me.
First, I want to talk about my inspiration for this story. Argosy Junction began as a NaNoWriMo challenge. I’ve done NaNo for three straight years. The first year, I challenged myself to write a romance (that being the point of the story rather than a part of the story), and Hope 101 was the result. Last year, I made myself stick to an outline (I never write with an outline… I usually don’t know the end of the story when I start writing!), and I finished a week ahead of time with Thirty Days Hath… In 2007, my NaNo challenge to myself was to write about a subject near and dear to my heart. Phariseeism and what happens when it grows into legalism. Argosy Junction, then called Not As I Was, took months to finish even though I wrote the allotted fifty thousand words in the thirty day time frame of NaNoWriMo.
In Argosy Junction, a small group of like-minded families grow more unified of mind until deviations from the core are seen as sin and rebellion rather than individual methods of applying principles. I’d seen this happening repeatedly with friends and online and it hit home closely. I love rules. I confess, I see how ‘spiritual’ I look with rules. I tend to lean toward Phariseeism in my heart so writing this book was very cleansing to see where I might end up if not careful.
Nothing that the church in this book encouraged was wrong in and of itself. Much of it is a part of my own life. From clothing choices to gender roles, I support them all, and this book was not intended to be a vilification of anyone’s personal convictions. My point in writing this book wasn’t to attack anyone’s application of scripture. Rather, my purpose was to show what happens when we make our applications law where scripture does not. I took each tiny extreme to its “logical” conclusion and showed the pain that resulted and how that pain affects different people. (You see the varying ways that different people respond. From growing hard, to panic at change, clinging closer to the rules, to utter rejection of the Lord and His church, people handle the extremes very differently.)
The other thing I wanted to share with you was the unintentional symbolism in the story. I’d originally started with a bison ready to charge as an opening to the book. My dear friend Judy had an obstetrician who met her husband in Montana while she was reading a book and looked up to see a bison pawing the ground. Her thought, “how picturesque.” A Jeep raced across the countryside, a door flew open, and my friend’s doctor was ordered into the Jeep by a park ranger who eventually became her husband. She later discovered that Mr. Bison was ready to “charge”. I had considered using that as my opening scene. I thought it’d be fun to put her story into print, but I was changing it up quite a bit. Then I learned that there is some kind of book that begins with a very similar story happening in the Outback or some place like that. Well, I didn’t want that. So, I went for comic relief and brought in sheep.
My reason for explaining all of this is to show how unintentional the use of sheep in the book was. For the sheep rancher’s family to be the ones who have walked away from the Lord’s “flock” was a bit of irony that I couldn’t have planned if I’d tried. On top of that, seeing the shepherd being one of the main people who led the Lord’s flock down that path away from His “green pastures” really brought home the point that we always look to The Shepherd, not just a shepherd and how important it is for the Lord’s shepherds to keep His flock in His fields and not lead them astray.
This brings us to the final thing I wanted to share. The cover of this book has so much unintentional symbolism it almost hurts. At first, I was looking at page after page of sheep pictures, pictures of the Montana Rockies, and horses. I tried ranches, boots, and even guitars and hats. Finally, I realized that maybe a piece of barbed wire would give enough empty space for words, so I looked for that. The moment I saw this barbed wire with a bit of wool attached to it, I knew I’d found my cover.
As I recently contemplated the picture, my heart constricted. The Lord puts protective fences around our hearts and lives. He does this out of love and concern for our physical, spiritual, and emotional safety. That’s what the piece of fence on the book would symbolize, but it has a barb. That barb is just like the additional rules and regulations man adds to the Lord’s fences. Perfectly harmless if you keep an eye out for the fence and keep away, but if you aren’t careful and get too close, it can hurt. If you look very closely, you’ll see that the wool on that barb is tinged with blood. Oh, how it hurts me to realize how often the church is the cause of Christians’ deepest wounds.
The cover shows all of this, and I can’t take credit for it. It wasn’t intentional. I don’t like to credit or discredit the Lord’s hand in anything. To say the Lord did this, implies that somehow my cover is ‘inspired’ and that is not what I mean to say. However, I can’t help but wonder if the Lord didn’t lead me to the very picture that I needed for my book knowing that there was this subtle story within the picture that symbolizes a major theme in this book.
I am so excited about this book. While Noble Pursuits is always going to be dear to my heart as one of the first stories I wrote as an adult, Argosy Junction is a deeper more well-rounded story. I always recommend Noble Pursuits with a caveat, but I have no caveat for Argosy Junction.
Argosy Junction will be available through Amazon.com in six to eight weeks. Until then, it is best purchased directly from me. Just email me at: chautona at chautona dot com.
However, in keeping with my tradition of giving away copies of books I review, I thought it only fair to give away a copy of Argosy Junction so please do leave a comment if you’d like to win a free copy!
Stay tuned for an upcoming blog contest for those who have read the book! Both bloggers and their commenters will have a chance to win!