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
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
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
The day I sent the email, a copy
of the manuscript landed on my desk. Like minds, I guess. Or God in the
I read it, and it was as good as
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.
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