After sharing a pizza with TV producer Brian Bird of One Calls the Heart, an unexpected creative collaboration results.
Posted in , Feb 14, 2018
Last May as I prepared for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference where I’d be on faculty, I glanced through the list of publishers/editors who would be at the conference. While our main purpose as faculty is to be there for the conferees, it’s common for us to talk with editors about our own projects during off-times. I realized I’d already either pitched my book ideas to the ones who would be there, or they weren’t a fit for what I write. “Well,” I muttered, “there’s not really any reason for me to be there in that regards, but maybe I can be a blessing to the conferees.”
It’s a tradition for the faculty to drive into town at the end of a day's session to enjoy pizza and time together. This particular night as we took our seats at the long table, by coincidence (or so I thought) I ended up sitting next to Brian Bird, a longtime friend and the executive producer and co-creator of Hallmark Channel’s hit show, When Calls the Heart. (Brian is pictured above, center, on the set of the show.)
I’ve loved the show since the first episode, and my eight-year-old granddaughter is a huge fan. I delivered the message she’d sent to Brian. “Tell him I love it when Jack and Elizabeth kiss, and ask him if they can do that more often.”
We both chuckled about that, and then as our conversation continued, Brian said, “I’ve always wanted to do a devotional book in conjunction with the show, but I know there’s no way that could happen in time for the new season in February.”
That simple statement led to a chain reaction of events over the next few hours. I’ve written numerous devotional books and told Brian I thought I might know one publisher who could do it that fast. Before the evening was over, the two of us decided to write the book together, and by the time our group returned to the conference center that night, my publisher at BroadStreet Publishing had replied to my email and said that they wanted to do the book.
Any writer knows that kind of quick publisher commitment and taking a book project from concept to bookshelves in just over eight months is almost unheard of, but that’s exactly what God orchestrated.
It was a crazy few weeks as Brian and I wrote 40 devotions based on episodes of the show and added verses and quotes from the “citizens” in Hope Valley as well as prayers and questions for reflection—especially since both of us already had such busy schedules. But God worked out every detail, and When God Calls the Heart: Devotions from Hope Valley and a companion, When God Calls the Heart Journal, both published in early this month.
If you are at a point where it seems like nothing is happening for one of your big dreams, you might discover what we did: When God has a plan, nothing can stop it.
"Thank You all. Every book, magazine, and letter means a lot to us when we are away from home. It gives us hope, confidence, happiness, strength and pride that someone is there for us." - Former Navy Sailor, Part of Operation Gratitude