I sensed the need to
take baby steps toward publication...
I first got the “bug” to write
at the ripe age of fifty-two, back in the summer of 2000. I was nearing
retirement after nearly three decades of teaching elementary school, so
I began to ask the Lord about next steps for my life. What could I do
that would not only bring a sense of fulfillment, but also make a
difference for eternity? I had just come through a year of emotional
difficulties, mostly stemming from that age-old syndrome known as
“Empty Nest,” and I felt at a loss for purpose. In fact, what was my
role in life now that my children didn’t seem to need me as much as
they once had and I was considering retirement?
To say I prayed is an
understatement; begged and pleaded might better describe my action. Please,
Lord, let me do something that will point people toward the Savior,
something that will keep me occupied and “outer” focused in this second
half of my life.
Shortly after, I began having a
recurring dream that I had written a novel. It seemed odd to me, since
the last time I’d dabbled in fiction was my teen years, but I knew
those repeated dreams held extra meaning for me. God speaks to us in
many different ways, His Word and Holy Spirit being the most
significant, but occasionally uses a person or even a dream to nudge us
in a certain direction. For me it was that recurring dream. And once I
recognized His leading and the seed of passion embedded itself in my
heart and soul, nothing could stop its growth. I started writing like a
house on fire, the winds of imagination literally blowing through my
After writing four manuscripts
that next year and allowing a few friends to read them, I sensed the
need to take baby steps toward publication. At first, it seemed
arrogant of me. Yes, God had gifted me with a desire to write, and it
imparted to me such joy and satisfaction—but publish?
Just because my friends told me I had talent didn’t make it so.
Still, I had that nagging memory
of asking God to give me something to do in the second half of my life
that would point people toward Him. Dared I dream He might want me to
push toward publishing?
Stepping out in faith, and with
a huge amount of earnest prayer, I searched the Internet for publishing
houses and discovered a never ending line of them. In fact, the line
seemed to encircle the globe! Which one to submit to became the
question of the day—and what exactly did that entail? What, pray tell,
was the difference between a query and a proposal? What did “no
simultaneous submissions” mean? Why did every house keep saying I
needed an agent? As if that wasn’t enough, “No unsolicited manuscripts”
admonitions seemed to show up at every turn!
Several rejection slips later,
and with a much deflated ego, I finally found a publisher who believed
in me. A print-on-demand (POD) operation offered me no advance,
demanded seven-year rights to my manuscript, and promised good sales.
The door opened, and I walked through it! Was it the right thing to do?
In some ways no, in others absolutely! It got my
foot in the door, and it started me on my journey.
Print-on-demand (meaning one
book printed at a time) publishers are not for everyone. Usually, the
cost to consumers is exorbitant, and the author winds up buying large
quantities at a discount to resell to friends and family. Also,
usually becomes the author’s
responsibility, and without a
marketing plan, you won’t sell many books. But it can be a start for
many writers and often will get you noticed by a bigger publisher,
which happened in my case.
Since that first POD book
released in 2002, I have contracted with Whitaker House, a CBA
publisher, and am gearing up for the release of my second historical
series. Those, combined with two contemporary stand-alones, will be my
seventh, eighth, and ninth releases. On top of that, there is some talk
of reprinting my first book, a dream in itself.
Indeed, when God takes the wheel
of our lives, there is no telling what roads we may go down—some bumpy,
some smooth, but all promising and adventurous!
Sometimes I question the wisdom
of having leaped into a POD contract that required owning the rights to
my book for seven years. I’ve tried to figure out how many of that
particular title might be circulating today, and the most I can come up
with is about 300.
A waste? Hardly.
The other day I received a
letter from a woman who read Spring’s Promise,
about a young woman whose husband dies in a downhill skiing accident,
my first POD book. I don’t know how she came across it, but her story
blew me away. She told me that when she launched into my book her life
was wonderful, blissful—perfect. But midway through reading it, her
husband had a heart attack and died at age forty-five. Her life stopped
there, and everything went haywire. But just two short weeks later, God
urged her to finish reading my book, and although it was difficult and
painful, she managed to wade through it to the end. She confessed it
was the best thing she could have done for herself because my words
spoke comfort and healing into her shattered heart.
Can you imagine? My words, the
ones I’d written several years ago and put into a book that published
by POD came off the pages to touch a bleeding heart. It was the only
one of my books she’d ever read!
Now, that is God at work. And I