Stay tuned at the end of this post for an exciting announcement of a new box set collaboration!! The cover is shown to the left (the same bride as on the cover of my book, Perchance to Dream!) Isn’t it absolutely gorgeous? I also have some specials running today on Amazon for my Lewis Legacy Series, and you’ll find all the Amazon purchase links at the end of this post.
For last month’s Inspy post, I shared about meeting and falling in love with my husband, Jim. The road wasn’t always easy, and it was filled with twists and turns I could never foresee. In a way, you could say our journey to love was much like an unfolding novel. The layers are slowly peeled away to reveal a story that in many ways ultimately revealed the Lord’s will for our relationship.
When my debut novel, Awakening, was first published in November 2010, I was asked by more than a few authors (and some readers), “How did you get a book contract so quickly?” Little did they know! Our gracious Lord has equipped me with the ability to tell stories and has opened the “right” doors for me in His timing, but it wasn’t easy, and it certainly didn’t happen overnight!
My story to publication also reveals how the Lord was with me every step of the way. I like to believe that my spirit of optimism shines in my work. My primary goal in writing is to show the hope and grace to be found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ…hopefully in an entertaining way. The Lord has given me these specific stories for a reason. To share them. It has always been my prayer that if even one reader is blessed, all the hard work will have been worth it. I love receiving emails and messages from readers who tell me that one line, one paragraph, a story line or characters somehow enriched her life in some way. I even have a few men reading my books, and I love that!
I first tried writing a full-length novel when I was a stay-at-home mom in Philadelphia in the early 1990s. With our oldest daughter away at a Christian summer camp with my husband for a week, and an infant daughter at home, I slept when the baby did and wrote pretty much around the clock. I sent it to one publisher, and it snagged the attention of an editor. She suggested changes; if I was willing to make them, she asked me to send it back. I did not long after, but then I discovered the editor had moved on to another publisher. And then the line folded. Such is the saga in the publishing world. 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 at the recommendation of one of Jim’s former pastors (a published non-fiction author), too blissfully ignorant to know they only took on published authors. I told them in my cover letter that I’d written three books, but I never told them I’d acutally published three books. Big distinction in the publishing world, apparently. Through one of God’s “flukes,” my manuscript managed to get their attention, anyway. I didn’t get published, but they told me to keep at it because I had that special “something” that made my work stand apart from others.
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.
In November 2008, I picked up some Christian romances to read. 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 old 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 a decade later. The title has always been Awakening. It best suited my story then and now. 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 diskettes, but they were hieroglyphics and 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. Where the first part of my story ended, this new part began. I’m crying again as I type this, as I do every time I tell this story. God gave me my story back! The story He wanted me to tell.
And then… It’s interesting how the Lord affirmed in my mind that Awakening was the book the Lord wanted me to pursue getting published first. Even though it’s the first in a series, I had written a number of stand-alone books prior to this one, and I was in the middle of writing this series when the following happened. Let me preface my remarks by telling you that my core character in Awakening (and the entire Lewis Legacy Series), Sam Lewis, loves peaches any way they come. Here’s what happened:
One day at lunch, I got into the elevator of my office building with two gentlemen. As soon as one of the men said something, I looked at him and said, “If I closed my eyes, I’d think I was in this elevator with Nicolas Cage.” As you may know, Nicolas Cage is an actor with a distinctive voice. The man laughed and said, “I hear it all the time.” He even laughed like the actor. When we stepped off the elevator, I asked him to please humor me and say something to my friends – yes, it was that uncanny. The man was very accommodating. He walked over to the two ladies, planted his feet apart, literally threw his arms wide, and said, “Peaches!” I think my friends could have scraped me off the floor. Of all the words, phrases, or anything the man could have said, he said something that had personal meaning to me and my writing, and my core character.
And then… 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 a story about a couple in a missions camp would never sell in today’s market 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.
In November 2009, the Lord saw fit to remove me from my full-time paralegal position. I never shed one tear. It was truly a gift of the Lord. Armed with a generous severance package, I was given the precious gift of time to sit at my computer and make the necessary contacts in the writing world. And the Lord orchestrated it so that my book eventually found its way into the hands of Torn Veil Books, a new, small Christian romance publisher in Canada. Torn Veil was the first entity to request and receive the entire manuscript. Lo and behold, they sent me a contract on May 1, 2010, a day forever burned in my memory. My publisher later told me that half the battle in publishing is that determination and self-confidence. By virtue of printing, packaging, and mailing the book, I showed him that I was serious about my craft and had a firm belief in my writing. I started a new paralegal position in March of 2010 and Awakening first released in November 2010.
Now for the really fun part. I’m privileged and honored to be a part of Whispers of Love, a collaboration with twelve total contemporary Christian romance authors in an exciting new box set with all new novels for the spectacular low price of 99 cents! This is an absolutely spectacular deal! You’ve seen many box sets, but this one is special, and available for a very limited time. I hope you’ll take a peek on Amazon or your favorite online ebook retailer and click to pre-order. How can you go wrong? Simple answer: you can’t! The authors are all working diligently to finalize our novels for this box set (many of which are sequels to an existing series or the beginning of a new series!). My contribution to this set is a spinoff novel of my 2016 book Heart’s Design. The theme of the set was summer, and I just “happened” to have finalized a book cover a few days earlier for which I had no idea when I would ever use it. When I heard about the box set, that cover screamed Maine in the summertime! to me. I had an older brother in Heart’s Design that I knew I should get to know better. His journey is told in Gentle Like the Rain.
Here is the Amazon link for the fabulous Whispers of Love ebook box set collection:
Now for another final note: SPECIAL OFFERS FOR TODAY (Monday, April 4th):
Enchantment, Lewis Legacy Series, Book 6 is discounted for the first time ever! Only 99 cents for the last release in advance of the upcoming release of Abide, Book 7!! Grab it now on Amazon! Here is the link: http://amzn.to/1UCdtMv
Not only that, but the first four books in The Lewis Legacy Series, are available in a 4-in-1 Special Edition is also discounted from its regular $9.99 price (a great deal as it is!) to only $7.99 for over 1,200 pages with four full-length novels! Here is the link: http://amzn.to/1qpkO5q