Tag Archives: getting published

How to Persevere and Succeed

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I’ve been writing since Spring of the year 2000.

The first seven years of writing were such fun. I wasn’t involved in any writing groups, I wasn’t trying to get anything published, and I didn’t feel any push to carry my writing to a higher level. Writing was an avocation when my vocation was teaching music.

I wrote for the sheer joy of putting stories, which had been clamoring to be expressed, on paper, and discovering that characters develop minds of their own, and lead me in mysterious and delightful directions.

In 2007 I finished my first novel. Flushed with the feeling of victory that comes from this achievement, I immediately registered for a writing conference. (I heard that’s what one does in order to meet agents and editors.)

 

I met with several agents, and one expressed interest in seeing some of my writing.

I thought, this is easy. I write a book, find an agent, get a contract, then the agent will quickly find representation, maybe with Harper Collins or Random House, etc. Within a few years I’ll be another successful and well-known author. My books will immediately sell well. I’ll have no trouble selling subsequent books. Marketing? What’s that?

At the conference, I heard lots of talk about platform, whatever that was. Uh, maybe that’s just for non-fiction writers.

Nope, that’s you, too, you ignorant fiction writer.

The nice agent eventually rejected my novel proposal. Surprise.

That’s painful. It’s like walking into a an invisible wall. Maybe that’s where we get the expression: you nose gets out of joint. I wanted to yell, or something:

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I kept praying. And writing.

Wake up call for me. Just writing a book does not guarantee immediate success.

Join a writer’s group, or two, I was advised.  I joined three, just to be safe.

Each week I drove 100 miles from Estes Park, Colorado to Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Made some writing friends, listened to lectures on the craft of writing, practiced.

Two years later, I submitted an article to a Christian publisher. And got published!

I kept praying and studying God’s Word so my own words would pour out helpful and inspiring stories. And kept writing.

Feeling more confident, I attended another, bigger writer conference in Denver. Rejected again. I have to say that, though agents and editors are busy—and I understand the frantic pace of their work—they barely listened to my pitch.

I went home and finished writing book number two. Submitted more articles and got lots of them published. I found another writing group and met wonderful people like Amanda Cabot, Jane Choate, Audra Harders, Leslie Ann Sartor: all great writers.

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I kept praying and studying, and serving in church. And writing. You can’t stop.

I also started entering writing contests. Little by little, over about a five-year period, my entries started doing very well. My scores went up and up.

I published more short stories and articles. Found an agent. Almost got my first book published, but at the last moment, the publishing board voted to reject my manuscript.

Back home, I parted ways with my lovely agent and struck out to independently seek publication for my now three-book series.

By now, I’d been in several critique groups, had written, re-written, edited, re-edited my books at least ten times. I still have several old versions on my computer. (It’s kind of bittersweet to read some of my earlier attempts.)

One day, I checked my email and noticed that Anaiah Press had contacted me. “We like your book and would like to publish it.”

Unfortunately, I was sitting in the food court of my local mall drinking a Starbucks Americano so I couldn’t  jump up and do the Snoopy dance. Well, I could’ve if I didn’t want about a hundred women to steer clear of me, glancing sidewards, clutching their purses close to their chests, muttering to their children, “stay away from that funny old woman.”

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Little did I know that the next six months were going to be intense with edits, re-writes, emails back and forth between the editor and me.

A month later, Write integrity Press offered me a three-book contract on my suspense series, The Hunted. More intense and long hours.

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Then, the books released on Amazon, within a few weeks of each other. I thought I’d lose my mind, what with all the marketing activity, combined with all the volunteer things I do in the community and my church.

I remember someone—a published author— telling me, “Once you get published, your time will never again be your own.” At the time, I kind of sniffed at her words. Easy for her to say. She’s published. She can’t relate. She’s forgotten the angst and frustration of trying to get your first book contract.

But, you know, that writer was absolutely right.

My fourth book will release in the beginning of 2019. And I’ve got another one just about ready to be submitted. And I’m working on two other manuscripts, as well.

Back story: Near the end of 2015, I had sat down before God and said, “Lord, I’m just about all in with this trying-to-get-published thing. If I don’t get a contract within a year, I’ll know you’re telling me to hang up my skates. I want to do only those things that are pleasing to you and are building up your kingdom. So please don’t let me waste time if it’s not going to happen.”

Six months later I landed my first full-length book contract. God is funny, that’s all I can say.

And now a few words on perseverance—the Christian way, that is:

As you’re doing the thing you hope to succeed in—it doesn’t have to be writing. Good grief, it could be learning a language, or trying to be an astronaut—here are some God-things to be doing simultaneously:

  1. Read and meditate on God’s Word. Every day.
  2. Pray for wisdom and understanding.
  3. Mindfully connect your daily trials—and your joys— to the truth of God’s Word.
  4. Now that you know what the Word of God says, practice obeying it.
  5. Make a daily habit of praising and worshiping the Lord.

These activities are not some magical way to manipulate God into doing things your way. Instead, this is the way to grow in seeing your life the way God sees it, and growing in your desire to bring Him honor.

I wish you God’s best. His ways are higher and better than our ways. Commit your way to the Lord.

God bless you as you persevere in working—yes, it is work— toward your goal.

Col. 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (NIV Version)

Haven’s Flight Finally Flies

I remember talking to published authors a few years back at a writer’s conference.

Most of them advised me: Take your time. Don’t be in such a hurry to get published. You’ll never be as free with your writing time as you are now, not yet published.

Of course I smirked at this advice, although not visibly. Easy for you to say, published author, looking down from your high perch as an author with credence in the publishing world.

I was in a hurry. I bristled at the thought of all the things an aspiring writer has to do to prepare for a career (or even a partial career) in writing. Why can’t I just write?

Why do I have to have a platform? Why do I have to join all these writer groups and have critique partners?

Why do I have to submit my excerpts to contests and get stinging criticism from judges? Why do I have to read and study all these books on the craft of writing?

And why does it all take so much time?

I wrote my first book nine years ago. Man, was I ever ignorant of the publishing process. I thought I’d just take my baby down to the nearest agent and get a contract the same day.

Wrong!

My first critique at my first writer’s conference pulled me up short. The critiquer, a seasoned author said, “Before we go over your excerpt, let’s pray.”

We have to pray because it’s so bad? Not an auspicious start to our meeting.

She handed my printed excerpt to me and my stomach went sour at all the red ink on the pages.

 

A couple of years later, I attended another conference. This time I interviewed authors during our meal-times. My question, “What is the most important advice you could give me as an unpublished writer?” got the biggest response.

“Don’t give up.” Without exception, each author had said nothing was more essential than the will to keep going.

God reminded me of that bit of advice over and over during the next few years as I slowly began to get small articles and stories published.

My first full-sized novel releases in three weeks: Haven’s Flight is the story of a young woman, a pianist, who has witnessed the violent death of her mother during a robbery and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress. She enrolls in a wilderness therapy camp, hoping that the program will help her heal so that she can perform on stage again. But, while at camp, someone is following her, leaving her threatening notes.

If you click on “my books” you can read a little bit more about the story.

Haven’s Flight is a Christian story, a redemptive story. It’s got some dark themes in it. I wouldn’t recommend this story to anyone younger than sixteen.

But the biggest spiritual message in the story is the one God gives to each of His children:

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Haven’s Flight releases April 4th as an ebook, (Write Integrity Press is the publisher)) and can also be ordered as a print book from Amazon.com. I hope you enjoy it!