We are excited to introduce to you the winner of the Word Alive Press 2018 Free Publishing Contest for best non-fiction manuscript, Darlene Martens. The memoir is called Amazing Grace, Abounding Love. She lives in a rural setting in Southern Ontario with her husband Jake. Darlene feels the happiest when she is with her husband, daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren. She enjoys travelling, the outdoors and swimming. From dish rags to chemo caps, her crochet hook provides her with an opportunity to sit and relax. In addition, she works as a Social Worker/therapist.
Q & A
Q. One of your endorsers of Amazing Grace, Abounding Love said that this was the greatest love story ever told. What did she mean by that?
A. As I searched for God’s unfailing and unconditional love, I discovered a God whose love has no end, expects nothing of me and loves me exactly the way I am. God’s provision, support and love for me is so central throughout this story that by the end of the story it is apparent that the main character in the novel is really God Himself; my story is just one story of the love and healing that Jesus has for all of His children. Through Scripture, forgiveness and understanding the Amazing Grace and Abounding Love that Jesus has for me, I eventually claimed my place as a child of God, recognized He loves me because He IS love and commit to this telling of HIS
story of my restoration.
Q. What was it like to fall into a pit of depression?
A. I fell into a pit with depression when I was faced with the unresolved pain of the sexually abused little girl inside of me. I felt hopelessly lost, doomed in a world of existing from moment to moment, day to day. I was in a spirit of gloom, imprisoned in dungeons in my mind where there was no light. No light meant that there were no shadows. Sightless, I grappled for security, sanctuary, and a sense of belonging. There seemed to be no way for me to be redirected back to the surface. It was a place of deep sadness and despair.
Amazingly, in was in that lowest point in my life that ended up being the event that turned my face towards God and His love for me.
Q. Your book cover indicates that the book is a memoir of depression, lies and abuse. What does this mean?
A. As a mother with children of my own I was impacted by the sexual abuse I suffered as a little girl at the hands of my father. It became necessary to look back at that abuse in order to help me understand how it was still affecting my daily living. That was when I fell into that very dark and deep depression and battled the demons of darkness, anger and fear.
While in that pit of depression, there were additional painful experiences that I faced. First, my father passed away and shortly thereafter, I was told that I was the product of one of my father’s affairs. In an attempt to uncover the truth about my identity, I recognized the layers of lies that had been told over the years in order to maintain the family secrets.
Later, following an eighteen year search and with the use of DNA
testing, I uncovered a brother, only then to face the additional emotional pain when we were once again separated.
Q. How did you feel when you found out the identity of your biological mother?
A. I felt sad, numb, stunned, and dumbfounded. At the same time, anger surfaced because I didn’t want that woman to be my mother! She was someone I knew as a child and she scared me.
Q. It has been four years since you claimed your place as a child of God. Where are you now?
A. I am still snuggled in His arms of love, still basking in His presence, still listening to His calm comforting voice, still hearing Him say to me: “Yes, Darlene. I love you.”
Q. Why did you write this book?
A. Over the years, when people would hear part of my story they would tell me: “you should write a book!” I put the idea off until one day, when my husband I were visiting a church, the pastor stopped his preaching, leaned on the pulpit and said: “You have a story, now respond to it!” I felt like God was speaking directly to me. So I argued with God: “so what?! I have this huge, messed up life! It’s not like anyone cares or wants to hear about my story. So what?!” That’s when I heard God say to me, “Because the story about your life Darlene isn’t about you! It’s about me!” I knew then that I had to be obedient and tell this story, because the story was really about how God ministered to me and brought me healing from a very dark and emotionally painful place in my life.
Q. What advice would you offer to new writers?
A. My first advice is to encourage you to “draw what you write.” As a paintbrush is to the canvas, let your words be to the paper. Let your reader see what you see, know what you know, feel what you feel and hear what you hear. This will help draw your reader into your story as an active participant.
Keep a thesaurus and a dictionary nearby and refer to them often. Proof read your work rather than rely on spell check. Be self-critical.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to use a “hook” at the end of the chapter. This helps entice the reader to keep on reading.
Excerpt from Amazing Grace, Abounding Love
I sat with my back flat against the block wall, my arms curled around my knees, which were drawn tightly toward my chest while providing a resting place for my chin. Tears streamed down my face as I wept uncontrollably. I was alone. In an effort to comfort myself, I rocked back and forth while my broken heart repeatedly chanted, “Nobody loves me. Everybody hates me.”
I had easily tucked my small, six-year-old frame into the darkened space under the porch stairs, reassuring myself that I was out of sight. I remained quiet and hidden, my knees muffling my sobs. No one was to find me.
How to contact Darlene
March 4: March volume of BizX magazine to be released featuring Amazing Grace, Abounding Love (BizX Magazine features the people and businesses that make up Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan.)
March 23: Book signing at Indigo in Windsor, Ontario (Devonshire Mall)
April 6: Book signing at The Sanctuary (Bookstore in Kingsville, Ontario)
April 13: Facilitating a seminar on depression and postpartum depression at a church in Leamington, Ontario