Hi from Nashville! I’m so excited and honored to have been invited to share my latest project with you here. Whether you are an author, editor, or avid reader of romance, I hope my new book Sleigh Bells Ring will put you in the Christmas spirit.
Now let’s get real about the life of an author. It’s not as glamorous as people think. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as an author, a developmental editor, and agent, and an acquisitions editor is that no matter how well organized you are, life happens and you need to be prepared. One minute you’re ecstatic about signing a contract with a dream publisher and planning out your writing schedule to meet the deadline, and the next, life throws you a curveball. I’ve seen it so many times I actually build in a “contingency” plan.
When Sue Brower, V.P. of Editorial at Gilead Publishing, called me to ask if I would be willing to work for them as a freelance editor with their new company, I jumped at the chance. She laid out their plans for the future and told me about the types of projects they wanted to publish. During our phone conversation, Sue mentioned she needed a Christmas collection of contemporary novellas, so I pitched her an idea that Sandie Bricker, Lynette Sowell, and Lenora Worth and I had been working on for an anthology. Originally, the project had nothing to do with Christmas, but as an author, you need to see the potential and pivot to another strategy if necessary. We all loved the idea of a Christmas collection, and our idea was tailor made for it. Sue loved it!
There was only one catch: we needed to deliver a final manuscript by April 1. It was March 1. Each of us would need to write a 20,000- to 25,000-word novella in four weeks. We each counted the cost in time and treasure. All of us were working on other projects with deadlines. But the opportunity was too good to pass up. We all said yes! So I set up a spreadsheet to keep track of my daily progress.
Then life happened. I had been undergoing a series of steroid shots in my lower back to relieve the pain of spinal stenosis. I had been working through the pain, and I knew if I stuck to a schedule of writing 1,000 to 1,500 words a day over the course of four six-day weeks, it would be no problem. Until it was.
The steroid shots didn’t work, and I was scheduled for a lumbar laminectomy on March 9…kind of major back surgery. Initially, I panicked, but friend and author Sandie Bricker talked me off the roof. I adjusted my schedule. Before I went under the knife, I wrote about 3,500 words and then gave myself a week to get over the worst of the pain from the surgery. Silly girl. But the Lord showed me in quite a dramatic way that His grace was sufficient for me and I didn’t need to be afraid.
For the first three days after the surgery, I refused to take pain pills, but finally caved. I spent one day taking the full dose. I’m not sure I could remember my name if you’d asked me. So I cut it down to half a dose for another three days. Better, but when I resumed writing, I reread my previous day’s output and realized I had written the same exact paragraph several times. So I went cold turkey (so to speak) and a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a dishtowel became my best friend. Immersing myself in a fictional world for a few hours every day also increased the endorphins in my brain to block pain signals.
Did I make the deadline? Yes, I turned in a completed manuscript of my novella “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” on April 1.
Lest you think I’m some kind of superhero, let me disavow you of that notion. I’ve worked with lots of authors on deadline who battled worse circumstances than mine—the loss of a spouse or parent, a diagnosis of cancer and then writing through chemo treatments, serious accidents, computer crashes, planning an unexpected wedding for a daughter or son. They soldiered on or an editor extended them grace. But you can’t always count on that kind of understanding. Lots of people are depending on you to deliver on time.
What’s my point? A writer is human. Embrace your humanity and always plan for the unexpected. But know that only God’s grace can help us cross the finish line.
Join us Thursday evening!
Writing is usually a solitary act, but God put together reader favorite authors (and friends) in a happy Christmas miracle for all of us to work together on Sleigh Bells Ring with Gilead Publishing. To celebrate the book’s release on October 14, we are throwing a Facebook Launch Party on Thursday, October 13 from 8 to 9:30 PM (EDT). Stop by our event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/529342940593183/ and let us know if we can plan on seeing you there.
Since you’ll be sitting at home in front of your computer, jammies and ugly Christmas sweaters are perfectly acceptable attire for the party. We’ve planned lots of fun activities, including a virtual buffet, games, videos, and prizes you DON’T want to miss out on. Would you believe a cozy electric blanket, a snow globe, lots of free copies of Sleigh Bells Ring and Cowboy Christmas Homecoming, bookmarks, and AMAZING (and real) gourmet goodies?
Stop by and get to know us and all the Tucker sisters!
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Now, for the giveaway!
Today, I’m offering free Kindle downloads or paperbacks of Sleigh Bells Ring to two people who leave comments below. Winners will be announced in the October 16 Sunday Edition.
Here’s your question of the day: What is your favorite Christmas tradition? Or you can simply comment below to throw your name into the punch bowl for the #Giveaway !
Barbara J. Scott
An inspirational book editor for more than eighteen years, Barbara has recently returned to her first love—writing!—and is working on a new contemporary romance series. She published two bestselling novels in the mid-1990s, as well as numerous gift books, before her stint as a senior acquisitions editor for several Christian publishers. Barbara lives and breathes words, whether she’s reading the latest novel, editing a new book manuscript for other authors, or writing her next novel. Married for 40 years, she and her husband Mike have two children and four grandchildren they adore. They live in the Nashville area where sweet tea is a food staple.