A Marriage Writer Discovers the Staying Power of Love After Divorce
Mary Jo Rennert was on a mission: she wanted to write a book, from the perspective of her Catholic faith, exploring how marriage reflects God’s love for humanity.
She spent years drafting material, tweaking the message, but never got around to publishing it.
Then the unthinkable happened: her own marriage ended due to her husband’s infidelity.
Suddenly, everything she believed about marriage and love came into question. How could she draw parallels between God’s eternal love and man’s commitment when man’s commitment had failed? Mary Jo explored these questions more deeply than ever before and discovered God’s love to be steadfast, even in the wake of marital heartache and human failure.
“Every one of us is loved because we are created by God,” Mary Jo says. “That message became even more important when I was not writing from the standpoint of seeing that love reflected in my spouse.”
If she needed that message, Mary Jo realized, other divorcees also needed it. “Even though we’ve lost so much, we are still beloved. We still have access to that love.”
She determined to write a different book.
Words Pack A Punch
Mary Jo met Nancy Erickson, founder of The Book Professor®, at an independent author’s conference. Mary Jo knew immediately that Nancy’s writing process could help her.
“I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person, and The Book Professor’s course structure, framework, and timeline kept me on track,” Mary Jo says.
She admired Nancy’s structure, but didn’t anticipate everything else she’d gain from The Book Professor’s process.
Mary Jo felt confident in her writing skills. She’d worked for a small publisher, written articles for newspapers and textbooks, and helped others edit their own books. She didn’t expect to need The Book Professor’s help to improve the quality of her writing.
But, says Mary Jo, “Nancy taught me the nuances of language and how to make my message more powerful.” Even small changes made a big difference, like adjusting sentence structure, changing passive language to active, and choosing powerful verbs.
“I was amazed at how much more powerful and concise I was able to make my book, and how much clearer the message became,” Mary Jo says.
Submitting to the Process
Mary Jo also didn’t realize how much she’d gain from writing a BookMAP. Initially, she thought a pre-planned book structure might stifle her muse. On the contrary, it freed her to explore ideas, and later, to write one chapter after the other without writer’s block.
She could even write chapters as standalone pieces and wait until later drafts to tie them together with transition material.
“It took me a mental change to be able to submit to a process, but I knew going in, having had that one day workshop with Nancy, that she had what I needed,” Mary Jo says.
Mary Jo was pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie and support she found in her Executive Group MASTERMIND class. When she first heard that she and her cohort members would share their manuscripts for critique, she envisioned criticism and discomfort.
Instead, she found enthusiastic support from fellow writers. Cohort members gave helpful and encouraging critique and offered a sounding board when she ran into writing challenges.
“We became involved in hearing each other’s stories. From week to week, we looked forward to hearing from each person in the group,” Mary Jo says.
Mary Jo stayed in contact with four other authors from her cohort. Together, they have shared the joys and struggles of one another’s publication journeys.
Binding Wounds With Words
When Mary Jo began writing her new book, she was still healing from the pain of sudden abandonment. The grief of losing a long-term marriage doesn’t resolve overnight. Mary Jo found that the writing process brought some of the healing she needed.
“I’m not writing from a theoretical perspective; I’m writing from an experiential perspective,” Mary Jo says. “When you’re writing something very personal like that, you step back and look at what you’ve been through, and it gives you a more objective perspective.”
To Publish, or Not to Publish
When it came time to release her very personal story into the world via publication, Mary Jo felt trepidation.
“When it came time to publish, in the two weeks before the book went live, I almost backed out,” she remembers.
Nancy reminded Mary Jo of the reason she’d written the book in the first place.
Mary Jo didn’t write to be vindictive. She didn’t write to air dirty laundry. She wrote to help other divorcees. She hoped her book, written from a Christian perspective, might help clergy understand the huge need to minister to their divorced church members.
“I had to push past my own fears and recognize that my purpose in doing this is beyond just me,” Mary Jo says. She moved forward with her publication plans and released You Are Still Beloved: When Your Long Term Marriage Ends In Divorce in June 2020. Mary Jo’s self-consciousness faded, leaving her with a sense of peace that she’d made the right choice.
If You Write It, They Will Come
As Mary Jo had suspected all along, there was an audience hungry for her message of hope.
Since the book’s publication in 2020, Mary Jo has heard from many readers touched by its message. Those who have struggled through divorce are grateful to find her encouraging voice, and even those who have not experienced divorce have shared with Mary Jo how much they needed the reminder of being deeply loved.
Mary Jo was able to spread her message even farther as a featured speaker at The After Divorce Online Conference in fall 2020.
Help Others Walk Your Journey
Mary Jo identified an audience that she believed was not being reached: Christian divorcees struggling to make sense of God’s love. As a member of that audience herself, she knew that others must need the lessons she had learned.
Have you ever felt that the world needs more resources for people like you? Why not be the one to create those resources?
When you write a nonfiction book, you offer hope and help to others. At The Book Professor®, we guide our authors to write books that help readers address needs in their lives—needs for healing, needs for solutions, or perhaps just the need to hear someone say, “I’ve been there. It gets better.”
Want to learn more? Contact us today and let’s talk about your project idea.