Ramona Richards

Ramona Richards started making stuff up at three, writing it down at seven, and selling it at eighteen. She’s been annoying editors ever since, which is probably why she became one. Twenty-five years later, she’s edited more than 350 publications, including novels, CD-ROMs, magazines, non-fiction, children’s books, Bibles, and study guides. Ramona has worked with such publishers as Thomas Nelson, Barbour, Howard, Harlequin, Ideals, and many others. The author of eight books, she’s now the fiction editor for Abingdon Press. An avid live music fan, Ramona loves living in the ongoing street party that is Nashville.

Track Changes

God’s Timing Is Perfect

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.
He has planted eternity in the human heart,
but even so, people cannot see
the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.
                                                                                 Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

From 2000 to 2005, I worked as a freelance editor, working for a number of different publishers, editing just about any subject matter you can imagine. I edited for big name folks and for companies no longer in business. During this time, I edited a contracted book called Angel Falls by Connie Mann—a debut novel, but extremely well written. This book pushed the edges a bit with Christian fiction, with both character arcs and setting, but I loved every word. I worked closely with the author, and we smoothed out the rough spots and toned down some of the “edginess.” I turned it into the managing editor and deposited the check.

Then came the oddest phone call. The editor remained concerned about the subject matter. I reviewed the manuscript. Connie and I worked on it a second time. Still, the concerns lingered. Finally, Connie and I both took the position that if we removed the elements that created the most concern, it would rip out the heart of the book. The publisher agreed.

They killed the book.

I was angry and frustrated. Connie was devastated. She’d written for six years, working hard to learn her craft, and this was the book of her heart. Which, apparently, no one wanted.

I went on to edit other things, but not for that publisher. Connie stopped writing. “To say I was crushed would be putting it mildly. I’d been writing for about six years then and had stacks of rejections before getting the yes on this one. Having it rejected when I’d come so close was devastating. Due to serious family and financial issues, coupled with this rejection, I became a boat captain and didn’t write for several years. I couldn’t.”

Connie, however, is a writer. A good one. And when God puts words on your heart, you don’t ignore them for long. “But as with most of us, the stories pulled me back. I started writing again and sold Trapped! to The Wild Rose Press and then worked on the movie Catch of a Lifetime. But Angel Falls has always been the ‘book of my heart.’”

Time passed. I didn’t forget, however, and neither did Connie. I worked at Thomas Nelson for four years, then freelanced another eighteen months. When I became the fiction editor at Abingdon Press in August 2010, I emailed Connie to see if Angel Falls had sold.

The day I sent the email, a copy of the manuscript landed on my desk. Like minds, I guess. Or God in the machine.

I read it, and it was as good as I’d remembered. I couldn’t propose it yet; our list was full and a lot of changes were going on. The months went by. I was promoted to senior acquisitions editor. The in-house shifts and changes began to settle. Then one day a spot opened up on an already full list.

Connie said, “I sent it to [Ramona], and another one and a half years passed while she championed it with the publishing house. Then I got an email from her that began, ‘I know you thought this day would never come . . .’”

Looking back, I think the concerns of the previous publisher were spot on. At the time, foreign settings were not in demand, and the issue of healing from past sexual abuse was almost unheard of in CBA fiction, especially in the context of a fast-paced romantic suspense novel. Regina, the heroine in Angel Falls, is one of the most unique main characters I’ve ever read in Christian fiction. She’s not just feisty; she’s fierce.

Regina grew up in the slums of Brazil and is now head of an orphanage. Her faith in God as Savior is unshakable, and her life is all about the children. She carries a knife at all times and will do anything she can to save them from the fate she suffered as a child. She’s paired with Brooks Anderson, an American soldier who’s almost as damaged as she is. Their bond is a toddler someone wants dead. Badly. What results is a wild ride through the jungle to save the child—and each other. That they begin to heal each other on the way winds up being essential to their ultimate goal.

Despite that it’s a high-quality, tautly written story (I lost a couple of fingernails on the first read-through), it might not have been well received all those years ago. But trends change, as do the expectations of readers.

Angel Falls will release in spring 2013—almost a decade from the time I first saw it and much, much longer than from when Connie began writing it with a dream in her heart.

For every writer who is still waiting, I think Connie says it best: “So if you are discouraged today, I hope this will encourage you. Never, ever, ever, ever give up on the dreams God has planted in your heart. His timing may not be ours, but it’s always perfect.”