If someone were to ask me how long I’ve been writing, I’d say for as long as I could remember. My first published piece appeared in my high school literary magazine. Something about three old men sitting on a park bench outside a cemetery. Very Edgar Allan Poeish, if I recall correctly. Fortunately, I believe my mother misplaced all those copies of literary attempts.
I filled notebooks upon notebooks with story starts and poetry, never knowing what to do with them. In 1998 a friend of mine loaned me a book. It was one of those kind that you hide while reading because you don’t want anyone to see you blush as the hero steals a kiss from the heroine. To think, a mother of four young children and I had no idea romance existed outside the movie screen. Sorry, hubs. *g*
Little did my friend (Hi, Suzy!) know she created a monster. I devoured romance books, one a day. My darling husband bragged to his co-workers about my voracious reading appetite. Soon I was writing stories for supporting characters. Guess that’s what people call fanfic. Who knew such a thing existed? I sure didn’t.
In the fall of 2006, after spending a night with Victoria Alexander’s delectable characters, I searched her on the Internet and discovered a writing contest, Avon Fanlit, she was involved with. It changed my life.
It was one of those popularity contests, being I didn’t know anyone and had a tendency to hang with the wallflowers, well let’s just say my popularity was non-existent. I got excited the week I ranked in the thirties, so excited that I even told my mom. You should have seen me, nail biting, sweating, mumbling. I about fell over at her response. “It’s about time you figured it out.”
I met some wonder, very encouraging, people through that contest. Some of those writers are my closest friends; Ana, Kel, Laurie, D, Alice and Terri. This Kansas girl even flew to Washington D.C and hung out with most of them at Romance Writer’s of America’s writer’s conference in 2009. I didn’t sell that year and I didn’t land an agent but I came home knowing I was a writer.
I also realized I had a bit of a backbone. At that conference I’d been told Scottish historicals, my first love, were dead. I’d been told Westerns, my next favorite, were dead, too. Well, I had decided to not chase the market. I was going to write what God led me to write. I finished my Western and then prayed about the next project. A biblical.
I began stalking Seekerville and paying attention. Their enthusiasm and encouragement for unpublished writers amazed me. I’d never seen anything like it. They really wanted writers to succeed. They didn’t see each other as competition. I found it very refreshing.
My good friend, Susan Hollaway, had attended the Called to Write Conference in Pittsburg, KS and met a few other writers from our home town. Soon, Susie, Tammy Trail and Candace Davis and I were meeting and praying with each other. The following year we all attended conference this Christian writer’s conference.
After much prayer I joined ACFW. And although it was almost like starting all over again, the same sort of spirit from Seekerville carried on there too. I joined critique groups and participated in the once a month, free loop courses. I gained a wunderbaar mentor in Vannetta Chapman. I joined NovelTrackWriting and Editing, met Joy Melville the best prayer partner a person could ever ask for.
Then I had a breakdown. To me, it seemed as if I’d been working toward publication forever. I did not want to be pursuing this dream twenty years down the road. I knew Biblicals were a hard sale. Virtually impossible. So here I was with a complete Scottish historical which was useless to me, a full western and even though I’d gained some attention and semi-finaled in the Genesis it seemed to be useless as well. And, now, this Biblical, which of course, Bibs weren’t/aren’t selling.
Oh sure, I bet it sounds like I have a bit of ADD where writing is concerned, but to be honest, I wrote the stories laid on my heart.
In the midst of my breakdown, an awesome author, Tina Radcliff, had a heart to heart with me. She asked me straight out. What is your career goal? Uh, to be a Love Inspired Historical author. In the back of my mind I’m shouting, then Bethany House. Then go for it. She made it sound so simple. The confidence in her voice made me believe I could go for it and succeed!
Prior to this conversations, I decided to enter a contest whose final judge was an editor I had wanted to get in front of. Since almost every judge who had previously commented on it said my chapters were too slow, I decided to cut it. Problem was I hated it and cried after I sent it in. My only hope for finaling was for the Biblical, although in the back of my mind I thought it’d be uber cool to double final.
The first of October arrived and not a word from the contest. Okay, I’m all right. Contests are subjective. No biggie. A few days later I received an email stating my western was a finalist. The western?! Seriously? I hated that entry. It wasn’t until a few weeks later, on October 21st, that I discovered the biblical also was a finalist. So I did it! I double finaled and both entries were read by another great editor. Oh, by the way, my biblical took 1st, my western took 3rd out of 4.
How cool is that?
On October 25th I flew to Corpus Christi with my mother-in-law. That night I had an email in my inbox that changed my life.
For more on this story go to http://seekerville.blogspot.com/