A few writers have asked me, "How did you get a book contract so quickly?" Little do they know! This journey has been a long and winding road. I think because I showed up on the writing scene in the ACFW only in recent months, it might be perceived that I'm a new writer. But nothing could be further from the truth!
To get published takes a measure of talent, of course, but I know there will always be more literary, more talented and prolific writers. I wouldn't wish to be saddled with high expectations, for then I'd surely fail. But our gracious Lord has equipped me with the ability to tell stories and has opened doors for me in HIS timing. But it wasn't easy, and it didn't happen overnight. There's also something to be said for dogged determination and developing a thick skin.
I first tried writing a novel when I was a stay-at-home mom in Philly. With our oldest daughter away at a Christian summer camp with my husband for a week, and an infant at home, I slept when the baby did and wrote pretty much around the clock. I sent it to one publisher, and it got the attention of an editor. She suggested changes and to send it back...and then moved on to another publisher, and then the line folded. I continued to write, but more for my own enjoyment, and never sent anything to any editors or agents.
Then we moved to Boston. I sent something to one of the biggest Christian literary agencies, too ignorant to know they only took on published authors. I told them I'd written three books, but I never told them I was published. Through one of God's "flukes," it got their attention. I didn't get published, but they told me to keep at it because I had "something." And told me to come back when I was published...
Not long after, I put my writing - but not my passion for it - aside for a decade and stayed busy as a wife, mother and pastor's wife. God used that time in my life to equip me with life experience that helped contribute to my own unique "voice."
In November 2008, I picked up some Christian romances. By this time, we'd moved to my native Indiana, "home in my heart." I told my husband, Jim, "I think my books at least measure up." I literally blew the dust bunnies off the manuscripts bound in notebooks beneath our bed. The last manuscript I wrote in Boston took me all of a week to write. I picked it up with fresh eyes 10 years later. But, I only had the second half. I told Jim, "This could be the start of a series." I hated the thought of having to reconstruct it, and of all my stories, it's the one I remembered the least. But I also knew THIS was the story God wanted me to tell.
My daughter found the antiquated disks, but they couldn't be read. I kept praying, and told Jim, "We need to go to our knees on this one. If this is the story God wants me to tell, He'll give it back to me." Two weeks later, I plugged the disks back into the computer again. The backup disk did something it never had before. The hourglass appeared with a prompt, "Do you want to read it as text only?" I pressed the button and waited, praying with one eye open as it churned in the computer. Something popped up, and it wasn't gibberish...it was English! I printed it, saved it, and rushed to compare it to the other half, and it was SEAMLESS. I'm crying again as I type this - as I do every time I relay this story. God gave me my story back. The story HE wants me to tell.
That manuscript got the attention of one of the top Christian agents. He was right in telling me it wasn't quite there yet. It was slaughtered by one published author who basically told me it wouldn't sell and to leave those characters on the proverbial cutting room floor. But it was loved by another published author, and she encouraged me to keep going. I did. Don't ever give up! The Lord has given you stories for a reason. To SHARE them. Someone will be blessed, I guarantee you.
Sam Lewis and Lexa Clarke's story is now under contract with Torn Veil Books. It's called Awakening and it's the first in a long series. Stay tuned for further details. Up next month..."And the man said peaches!" Would you share YOUR story? We'd all love to hear it!