For Shonda Fischer, there was a silver lining in the diagnosis of a painful medical condition.
The married mother of two said she had to quit her job after being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a condition that causes pain throughout the body as well as sleep problems and fatigue, among other things.
But the ordeal also motivated the avid reader to become a prolific writer. She has published three books and is working on a fourth.
She started writing not as a book author, but as a reviewer. She reviewed books on Amazon and other sites. Authors, some self-published and some with traditional publishing contracts, started sending her their new books and requesting her reviews.
"I would have authors comment on my reviews or just people how much they liked reading my reviews," she said. "They all suggested I should write a book."
So one day she sat down and started writing. Her first published work was a contribution to "Christian Writers Collective," a Christian devotional.
"As I wrote, God just placed it on my heart that he wanted me to write Christian historical fiction books," she said. "One day I sat down and wrote a book, "Strawberry Summer," based on memories of my great-grandmother on my mom's side.
The book is about Viola Branson, who is fresh out of finishing school and needs a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. The book's bio says: "Leaving St. Joseph, Missouri, she boards a train to visit her grandmother in Once Over, Colorado. Childhood memories of preserving juicy strawberries and her grandmother's loving arms stir a yearning in her. Seeing a handsome childhood friend she fancied herself smitten with at one time only brings memories she would like to forget. Can they get past the old hurts and become friends again or possibly more, or will circumstances tear them apart?"
Since then, the Jefferson City High School alumnus has written two other books in the "Once Over" series: "Sunflower Fall" and "Snowball Winter."
Her books take place in the 1800s and, despite being romance books, she says they could be read by 12-year-olds without parents being concerned about the content. The graphic details don't go beyond kisses, she said.
She's working on a fourth book. She and seven other authors will each write a book in a series called "Prairie Rose." The connection is each book involves wagon trains on the Oregon Trail. That series is set to be published next year.
When she's not writing, she's often reading. She read more books than there were days in 2020.
"I just love reading, so I wanted to introduce to the world something that's not the mainstream, where everything you see on TV or read is all based on sex," she said. "I want people to realize you can still be entertained and enjoy reading a book that is a good, wholesome book."
Her love of God also motivates her to write.
"I don't preach in the books, but do show the characters believe in God whether they are praying or getting through that tough situation, whatever they're going through," she said.
She also spends time marketing her books, which can be bought through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She does a "Once Over" podcast, operates a website and has a presence on Facebook. Many authors she has helped through reviews and otherwise now help her market her books as well.
"This world has so much hatred it in, but I just want to get across that there's still people who love each other and care for each other and are willing to pray for each other and show their faith. That's the reason I write for the most part. I just want to share my love for God and for other people."