I never cease to be amazed at the journey God has taken me on since I started writing. My writing journey started in February of 2005, when I attended a special service at a neighboring church. A speaker that I’d heard and trusted for a number of years was holding a series of services. He’s a pastor with a prophetic anointing and often prays for people at the end of a service. In all the years I’ve heard him speak I don’t believe he’s ever had a prophetic word for me, or spoken anything out of the ordinary into my life.
This night was to be different. I went forward with no expectations other than wanting to give my all to the Lord. Pastor George Watkins began to pray, then stopped and spoke to me, instead. His words would become what I call “a defining moment” in my life, and changed the direction I was headed.
“You’re supposed to be writing. I don’t know what, whether it will be poetry, short stories, or something else. I have no clear leading on that. But I feel the Lord is speaking to me that you are to be writing. Does that witness to you at all?”
I replied that it was something I was interested in and had thought of before, but never pursued seriously. He urged me to do so, then added: “And whatever it is, it needs to be published.” He then prayed for me, that the Lord would do a work in my life and bring His word to pass, and moved on to the next person.
Due to the rarity of this ever happening to me, and the belief that God had spoken, I took it seriously. Over the next two weeks I earnestly prayed for the Lord’s leading, and sought counsel from my husband and pastor. They urged me to begin writing “what I know”. I dove into a book covering my journey with the Lord and my husband, over our 34 years of marriage, but I knew it might not be marketable.
I began to join writer’s groups online and sought out wisdom from others more experienced than I. The consensus: write magazine articles and get published before taking on a full book project. It would give me valuable exposure and experience in the publishing world.
Along the way I met a wonderful woman by the name of Elizabeth, a published author and professional editor living in Canada. A committed Christian, but not a member of the groups I was frequenting, rather, a customer I met via eBay! We developed a friendship online and she began to encourage me in my writing, as well as helping with editing.
I had one magazine article called God’s Airplane published in The Breakthrough Intercessor, a magazine started over 25 years ago by Catherine Marshall. Elizabeth learned of my love for horses and asked if I might have any horse related articles. As it happened, I was working on one that dealt with my daughter’s riding adventures on a 90,000 acre ranch in central Oregon. Elizabeth reviewed it and recommended I submit it to the publisher of The Rocky Mountain Rider. They bought and published it a few months later. Another article sold to yet another horse magazine, and my confidence increased.
My journey progressed to fiction—again—through Elizabeth’s encouragement. I didn’t feel I had enough creativity to tackle fiction, as I hadn’t used my talents in that direction in many years. We were discussing possible plots when the Lord dropped the seeds of a story line in my heart. I began to write that evening, and five weeks later the rough draft of The Other Daughter was complete. Several revisions and lots of editing later, I began to submit the book to agents, as well as sending proposals to one publishing house, and to Writer’s Edge Service online.
My first three chapters were requested by an acquisitions editor at Harvest House, but due to some editing and plot weakness in one of my main characters, she rejected it. However, again God intervened. Two months and a lot of revising later, I attended a writer’s conference with a workshop taught by this same editor. I had no expectation of being able to speak to her, and even less that she would remember me, as it had been almost three months since she’d reviewed my material. From what she shared during the workshop, I knew that approximately 300 proposals or manuscripts had passed over her desk since that time.
I began to walk from the room, planning on going home, but met her at the table near the door. I thanked her for the class and for the input she’d given me on my work those months ago, as the comments she’d made were invaluable. She of course didn’t remember my name. However, when I mentioned the name of my book,Yesterday’s Child (it was changed to The Other Daughter when it came under contract), and the subject, she grabbed me and gave me a hug. “Of course I remember that book! It was an unusual story line.” I mentioned that I was looking for an agent and had been asked by one (I shared his name with her) if I thought she (the editor) might be interested in seeing it again, if I were represented by an agent. She recognized his name and said yes, she’d be interested it seeing it again with representation.
I went home floating on air, only to receive one more blessing on my arrival. The mail had come in earlier that day and a letter was waiting from a large publishing house where I’d submitted a proposal and three chapters two weeks earlier. An editor asked that I send her my entire manuscript. God is SO good!
The Harvest House editor mentioned an agent during her workshop that she highly respected, Tamela Hancock Murray, from the Hartline Literary Agency. I’d sent her a proposal less than a week earlier, with no reply as yet. I decided to send Tamela an update concerning my conversation with the editor and the request from the second publishing house.
I sent the email Sunday evening, and Monday morning Tamela called. What a delight she was to talk to! Down to earth, a great sense of humor and excited about the proposal and three chapters she’d read. We spoke at length, with the end result of Tamela offering to represent me, and I happily accepted. The Lord brought exactly what I’d been praying for; an agent who believed in my book and was enthusiastic about representing it.
In December 2006 Kregel Publications offered me a contract. In January, 2007 I signed with them for a fall 2007 release date on my book, The Other Daughter. I had the privilege of taking the photo for the front cover and being actively involved in many phases of the marketing over the 10 months until publication. It released in October 2007 with excellent reviews. The Romantic Times Review magazine (which does all genre’s, not just romances, in both secular and Christian) gave it Four out of Four and a half stars, with a very strong review.
Two different major motion picture studios considered the book as a possible family movie, and my second book in the series, Finding Jeena, released in April 2010.
Since the release of The Other Daughter I’ve signed four contracts with Summerside Press for historical romance books in their Love Finds You line. One of those books won the Will Rogers Award for Excellence in Western Fiction, and currently, a family-oriented producer is shopping itto TV channels, in the hope of producing it.
I am now under contract with David C. Cook for a three-book historical romance series, as well as a four-book middle grade, horse novel series for girls. I’ve discovered I LOVE writing historical fiction, and believe I’ll keep on for a long time. God has been so amazing… Only about 2% of all books that are submitted to Christian royalty publishing houses make it to the shelf, so this journey has indeed been nothing short of a miracle!