Dee Stewart

A literary journalist and publicist since 2003, Dee Stewart's writings have appeared in Precious Times, Romantic Times, Spirit Led Woman Magazines and on The Master's Artist Blog. She is also the owner of DeeGospel PR (,) Christian entertainment PR boutique located in Atlanta, GA. Visit her Christian Fiction Blog, which turned 6 years old in July at Her debut novel "A Good Excuse to Be Bad (Kensington/Dafina) releases Summer 2011. Talk to her in real-time on Twitter at @deegospel.

Boomerangs and a Summer Book

A Good Excuse To Be Bad

When I was fifteen years old, a deaconess in my family church had dark, ashy toes that coiled and were crooked so close together they looked like birds’ claws.

Her toes would catch and tear the cotton wash rags we used when we washed her feet. The scraping sound her feet made when she removed her support hose sent nauseating chills down my shoulders. I had nightmares about kneeling in front of her and baptizing her with my tossed cookies instead of blessing her like Mary Magdalene did with olive oil to Christ’s feet. Actually I had nightmares of shaming my great-grandmother Rosa in front of the other members of the Mother Board. That was worse than any hell my young mind had imagined.

Back then (the 1980s), embarrassing grandparents was the kiss of death. Yet in my family church, being chosen to perform the Footwash was an honorable rite of passage. It was an oxymoron in my mind. What teenager could get through such a thing without making a fool of herself and her elders?

So during every altar call, I prayed hard to God to help me get through it. I prayed so hard I cried. The Mother Board, who was not accustomed to seeing a teenage girl in fervent prayer, assumed I had a calling from God. From then on they called me the Anointed One.

To my chagrin, more elder women wanted me to wash their feet. To make matters worse, the teenage boy I had a crush on at the time (you know, the gorgeous, bad-boy PK who always sat on the back pew) would not touch me with a ten-foot pole, just like I didn’t want to touch the deaconess’s bird feet.

I empathize with her now…

Ten years later, my boss assigned me to interview a new pastor in town. He was a local loadie, bad boy turned good, who now had returned to his hometown to fulfill God’s vision for his people and make a better name for himself (my boss’s words). The church had grown exponentially. The young pastor was all atwitter. I was intrigued until my boss told me my subject’s name. You guessed it: my old crush who dropped me like a hot potato because I was too holy-fide to be a high school hoochie. Now he was the Anointed One.

So I got dolled up in a wholesome, feminine, contemporary-Christian, Natalie Grant kind of way, put new batteries in my recorder, and met this guy for the reunion/interview. When I reached the church, an old friend who had just joined the church greeted me. We chatted long and short enough for me to get more excited about seeing my heartbreaker again. Could this be when life comes full circle for me? The Boomerang Moment?

Nope. What happened in the interview made me race back to the radio station and throw myself at my editor’s feet. “An exposé on him is worthless,” I panted. I begged her to ditch the

features story and allow me to write an investigative piece about his holy harem. It would cover this secret woman’s entourage devoted to meeting his needs. My fingers signaled quote, unquote when I used the term holy harem. To buttress my big idea, I described a weird moment during the interview when a woman stepped from the shadows in the Sacricity to wipe his brow with a cool cloth then disappear again. Really?!

Although my editor’s eyes bulged and shouted, “Jesus be a fence!” she declined to kill the fluff piece. She needed his repeat business to pay my salary.

Sometimes silence is best for the common good. She patted my back as she walked me to my office.

Stung by the church bad boy again.

Three years after that second Anointed Heartbreaker debacle, I got this bright idea to learn how to write a novel. I had contributed over fifty magazine articles to various Christian magazines and newspapers and had become bored with the same old same old. Plus my writer’s group thought my writing style had a quirky storytelling edge that would work great with fiction.

So I enrolled in a year-long writer’s workshop taught by author Chuck Palaknuik (Fight Club) I had read about in Poets & Writers Magazine. I saw and loved the movie and had bought the book but hadn’t read it yet; however, after reading a few of his interviews, I learned we shared the same writing aesthetic and love for Amy Kempel. Perfect.

And then I read the book. I got to page fifty and read this passage four times: “What you see in Fight Club is a generation of men raised by women.”

As a mom who has sole custody of her child, I should have been angry at that over generalization of a group of women I belong to. Instead I thought, Wow. I can say whatever I want in fiction if I tell a well-written, compelling, relevant story. Even cooler, I can use the stories we killed at the magazine for story skeletons, because who would come forward and say that this crazy, twisted event happened to me? Boomerang Moment?

Not yet, but close. I decided to write a story about a single mother−jaded bounty hunter who discovers a secret women’s church society while searching for her brother-in-law’s murderer. I brainstormed the story, tooled through that workshop, and then retooled through my ACFW WORD and VIP chapters, Penwrights, RWA, and any place I could go that wanted to help me with this book. A Good Excuse to Be Bad releases nationwide July 2011 through Kensington Publishing Corp.(Kensington Books) under my pen name Miranda Parker.

As I sit back, prop my feet up, and wait for the money to roll in (yeah, right), I am reminded of my fifteen-year-old self and all the insecurities I had about my future, family responsibility, and doing the scummy things I didn’t want to do but had no choice in the matter. Twenty years later those three things still haunt me at night; however, now I channel them into my stories and pass the burdens over to God.