Friday, July 29, 2005
Cleared the First Hurdle
**Day 5 of "Journey to Publication"**
For those of you just popping in, I am on Day 5 of my "Journey to Publication." For the rest of the story, start with Monday's post "In the Beginning" and work yourselves up to today's.
It is 1997 and after 3 years of intense work, I finally finished manuscript number 2. Instead of sending it directly to the publishers, I sent it to an agent I had met several times at the conferences I had attended (including that very first one where Judith McNaught spoke). Which means ... he had seen my first disastrous novel, yet was still willing to take a look at this second one.
I sent it in and two weeks later he called and said, "Yes. I'd like to represent you." I'd cleared the first hurdle!
This particular agent just happen to be one of the top agents in New York. The list of authors he represented at that time read like a Who's Who in the romance industry. So, his representation accomplished several things for me:
On Monday, the response my agent received.
- It validated my work. (He never would have taken it on if he didn't think he could sell it.)
- It meant that I didn't have to submit it to the publishers. He would do that. He was in New York. He would take them to lunch and say, "I have a manuscript I really want you to read."
- It meant my manuscript would not be shoved to the bottom of the pile, but would be placed at the top of the pile because it was coming to them with a recommendation from someone they trusted.
LAST CALL!!!! The contest for winning a free, autographed copy of A Bride Most Begrudging ends at midnight on Sunday, July 31. So, don't delay. Fill out this entry form for your chance to win.
posted by Deeanne at 12:12 PM
Thursday, July 28, 2005
It Took Three Years
**Day 4 of "Journey to Publication"**
It took me three years to hone my craft. The first thing I did was join that romance organization that had hosted the luncheon (see Tuesday's post). I went to their conferences, their monthly chapter meetings, signed up for workshops given by published authors, entered contests, joined a critique group, listened to tapes, read "how-to" books and wrote, wrote, wrote.
Rather than trying to fix that first novel, I shelved it and started all over on a new one. I called it Tobacco Bride. It was about a 17th century English woman who was sold in the colonies for her weight in tobacco leafage as a bride. I wrote it for the general market (as opposed to the Christian market).
After three arduous years, I typed "The End" and prepared to send it off to New York. Tomorrow ... New York's response.
P.S. Don't forget: This week is your last chance to enter the contest for a free, autographed copy of A Bride Most Begrudging. Winner will be announced on Monday, August 1.
posted by Deeanne at 11:29 AM
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
**Day 3 of "Journey to Publication"**
"This is a solid try, but ..."
"I wish I had better news, but ..."
"I think this has potential, but ..."
You get the picture. No one (understandably) wanted to publish my disastrous first attempt at novel writing. What I haven't shared is the rest of the comments within those rejection letters. In summary, they basically all said the same thing (beside, obviously, "no thanks").
They used words like "potential ... solid try ... you've got good characters ... strong and lively ... a lot of talent ..." Then in the next paragraph they used words like "needs strengthening ... consistency ... made no sense ... too much background ... add emphasis ..."
In short, my writing wasn't the problem, it was my craft. I liken it to an athlete. You can be the most talented athlete around, but if you don't know the rules, you can't play the game. So, after the fourth rejection letter--which said basically the same thing as all the rest of them--I squared my shoulders and decided it would be the last rejection I received do to lack of craft. If they were going to reject my work, next time, it would have to be for some other reason than craft.
Sound simple? Come back tomorrow and you'll see just how simple.
posted by Deeanne at 11:53 AM
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
**Day 2 of "Journey to Publication"**
Well, I wrote 50 thousand words that first month (half of a novel). That might sound impressive until you read what I wrote. Yeah. It stunk. Bad. The sad thing was, I didn't know it. I thought it was great. And spent the next six months trying to back my characters out of the corner I'd painted them into that first month. Typed "The End." Still thought it was great. (Groan)
So, with visions of some editor running down the hall with my manuscript yelling, "This is it! This is the one!", I started submitting my "masterpiece" to every major publishing house in New York. One-by-one. Tomorrow, I'll share with you some of the responses I received from those pubs.
posted by Deeanne at 12:07 PM
Monday, July 25, 2005
In the Beginning ...
**Day 1 of "Journey to Publication"**
I promised to give you an inside look at my journey to publication. I will try to break it up into bite size pieces and serve them up one day at a time. So ... here is Day One.
In the beginning I was an elementary school teacher who had four kids in four years and was paying out more in childcare than I was earning. So, I became a stay-at-home-mom. In those early years while I had multiples in diapers, car seats and cribs, I was doing well just to get some sleep.
As they reached the toddling stage and I caught up on my sleep, I began to use their naptime to tap into the creative side of me. I painted tee-shirts, made jewelry and read romance novels by the truck load.
On one of my trips to the book store, there was a flyer by the cash register that said, "Have lunch with Judith McNaught." Since she was one of my favorites at the time, I said, "Okay," and picked up a flyer.
Upon further investigation, I found out the organization hosting the luncheon was a romance writing group. And they were also hosting editors and agents from New York. Whom, if you had written a novel, you could meet with.
So, I said, "Okay." And in my naivete, I sat down--during naptime--to write a romance novel before the luncheon (which was a month away).
Tomorrow, I will tell you the results of my foolishness.
For the rest of the "Journey to Publication" click on the links below:
posted by Deeanne at 2:06 AM
Friday, July 22, 2005
Lights, Camera, Action!
If you haven't had a chance to view my "book trailer," then be sure to click on the link at the top of this page (in the righthand column). If you have dial-up, it takes a while to load, but is totally worth the wait, so please persevere. Once loaded, you can watch it as many times as you want without waiting.
This book trailer was one of those experiments that was going to turn out great or really cheesy. And we wouldn't know which it would be until all was said and done. I think I can say with confidence ... it turned out great!
So, you watch it and let me know what you think. Meanwhile, I would like to acknowledge those who put in long, hard hours to make it work. (You'd never believe something like this could take soooooo much work!!!)
Executive Producer .................. Shelley Kay
Costume Director ..................... Lisa Hyatt Miller
Lady Constance ........................ Stefanie Ryan
Drew O'Connor ......................... Christopher S. Gonzales
Sailor ......................................... John Paul Charbonnet
Emmett ..................................... Chris Wrona
Captain ...................................... Kyle Myers
Colonists .................................... John T. Spurlock; Isaac Miller
Thanks to all who made it happen!
posted by Deeanne at 1:30 PM
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Forgiving Solomon Long
Let's shoot for doing a book discussion on Forgiving Solomon Long by Chris Well sometime in September/October. This will give everyone a chance to buy the book and read it. It will also give our "lurkers" time to start diving into our dialogs on the "comments" link.
If you're not sure how to post a comment, click here for directions.
If you would like a chance to win a free autographed copy of A Bride Most Begrudging, fill out this entry form.
posted by Deeanne at 4:44 PM
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Anybody up for a book discussion? I picked up Chris Well's Forgiving Solomon Long last week. It is a Christian Crime Drama. I've never read a Christian crime drama and I thought it would be fun to try it out.
Maybe we could set a date, read the book, discuss it and even have the author come on by my blog for a visit. Whadduya think?
posted by Deeanne at 4:13 PM
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
If you haven't stopped by Christianbook.com, I highly recommend it. It is much more than an online bookstore. It is an online experience. If you are a member of a bookclub, you can find discussion questions for many Christian titles. You can discover an author's favorite Bible verse and many have been interviewed. (Here's mine.)
It's a great place to visit. Drop by and see them and let me know what you think.
Grace and peace,
P.S. To win a free autographed copy of Bride, fill out this entry form.
posted by Deeanne at 9:49 AM
Monday, July 18, 2005
My 15-year-old daughter and I are in Chicago for a few days. While here, I met the offspring of some lifelong friends. Their children are grown now and between the ages of 18 and 29. The moment I shook their hands, the great love that I have for their parents spilled over onto them. Immediately. It was the most amazing thing.
I could have picked every single one of them out of a line up, so incredible was the resemblence to their parents. Talk about deja vu! And this age is such a great age. Some in college, some just out, one engaged to be married.
There were ten of us all together. Five siblings. One cousin. Two friends. My daughter. And me. My daughter knows them from attending the annual church retreats of my parents. Though my daughter and I are having a big time going to museums, seeing shows and walking the Magnificent Mile, without question, the highlight so far has been getting to know these young and charming loved ones.
Great is the Lord.
posted by Deeanne at 1:30 PM
Friday, July 15, 2005
Boys Will Be Boys
Well, the 14-year-old and his buddy snuck out last night. I knew within 10 minutes of their departure that they were "missing." This was about 1:00am. So, I wake the husband and while he jumps in the car to go looking, I pray. But he has no luck finding the boys.
Two-and-a-half hours later, the anger and disappointment turn into fear. And then, the "what if" game begins. What if they are in the woods and have fallen out of a tree or twisted an ankle or been bitten by a snake or attacked by a boar or attacked by a human. On and on your mind goes and inbetween each scenario, you pray, pray, pray.
At 3:30am, my husband grabs the flashlight and heads for the reservoir. He said if he can't find them within the next 30 minutes, he'll return home and we'll call the police.
One minute before the husband returns, the boys show up. They had walked to the grocery store, purchased 96 rolls of toilet paper, went to a buddy's house, wrapped it, walked back to the grocery store to see if the donut place was open (boys will, after all, be boys). Of course, it wasn't open, so then they decide to walk home.
I fell to my knees in thanksgiving, then gave the two boys all I had with both barrels. On the heels of that, the hubby walked in and did the same thing all over again.
That was just after 4:00am. It's been raining ever since. The two of them are at their friend's house trying to clean up 96 rolls of wet toilet paper. They've been there for 3 hours and still have a long way to go.
Deep breath. Praise the Lord they are well and good ... and grounded. For a long, long time.
posted by Deeanne at 3:06 PM
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
I have received many requests for a sequel to Bride. Especially Josh's story. At this time, a sequel is not in the immediate plans, though I imagine there will be one eventually.
I am not one of those fast writers that can spit out four books a year. I'm one of the slow ones. (sorry) My books will be a year apart ... almost to the date. And at this point, the books coming out in the summers of 2006, 2007 and 2008 are pretty well decided on.
So, maybe 2009? But, that is not a promise, merely speculation. In the meanwhile, all of the upcoming books will be "stand alone" books. (As opposed to series.) All will be historical romances. All will be set in completely different times and places with completely different characters. And, Lord willing, all will meet up to your expectations. (prayers appreciated, here)
Grace and peace,
To win a free, autographed copy of Bride, fill out this entry form. Winner will be chosen August 1, 2005.
posted by Deeanne at 10:47 AM
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
After all, I'm Just Writing ...
What is it about working out of your home that makes people think you don't have a "real" job? I work 8 hours a day. It's just that my commute consists of going from the breakfast room to the study and my dress code consists of flannel p.j. bottoms and Bugs Bunny slippers.
But once the commute is made, I sit down at my desk and put in a full day. I write, plot, critique, research, edit, answer emails, promote, maintain my non-fiction product, visit blogs and loops that pertain to my profession and keep me "in the know," compose presentations for the speaking circuit, return phone calls, write some more, print out what I've written, revise it and write it again. And again. And again. Until, a year later, the next book is finished and it's time to start the whole process over again.
In the middle of all that, my kids want a ride to so-and-so's house ... because, after all, I'm just writing. And the hubby wants to know if I can do this, this and this today ... because, after all, I'm just writing. And the phone rings and somebody knew it would be okay to call at this time ... because, after all, I'm just writing. :-)
Next week, I'll start a series of blogs about my journey from unpublished to published. Hope you'll join me.
Meanwhile, the contest for winning a free, autographed copy of Bride is still going on. Fill out an entry form for your chance to win!
See ya' tomorrow.
posted by Deeanne at 12:02 PM
Monday, July 11, 2005
And the Winner Is ...
The Christy Awards, named in honor of Catherine Marshall's beloved novel, are awards that recognize novelists and novels of excellence in Christian fiction. The 2005 winners were announced Saturday night at an awards ceremony.
And they are ...
BAD GROUND by W. Dale Cramer
Bethany House Publisher
SECRETS by Kristen Heitzmann
Bethany House Publisher
THE SHADOW WITHIN by Karen Hancock
Bethany House Publisher
KING'S RANSOM by Jan Beazely & Thom Lemmons
TIGER IN THE SHADOWS by Debbie Wilson
"First Novel" Category
THE MENDING STRING by Cliff Coon
Congratulations to the winners and their publishing houses!
posted by Deeanne at 3:26 PM
Friday, July 08, 2005
We're Gonna Have Fun, Fun, Fun
The big, annual Christian trade show starts tomorrow in Denver. So, I will get to see my editor and buddies from Bethany House Publishing, along with some friends from the non-fiction side of me.
The Christy Awards are Saturday night and Bethany House is up for five! I am taking the laptop with me, so I will try to give you some up to the minute reporting, if cyberspace is kind when I arrive at the hotel.
Meanwhile, have a great and blessed weekend.
See ya' Monday.
posted by Deeanne at 12:31 PM
Thursday, July 07, 2005
You Know You're Married To A Jock When ...
You know you're married to a jock ...
- when he buys tickets to "A Christmas Carol" because he thought it was a musical.
- when he takes you to this "musical" and asks the guy in the tuxedo behind the coffee bar for popcorn, Junior Mints and Hot Tamales.
- when he refers to intermission as "halftime."
- when you arrive at the hospital to deliver your first born and he brings along his catcher's mitt.
- when he paints regulation lines on the driveway around your basketball goal.
- when he buys another basketball goal from Academy, saws six-feet of the pole off, drills a hole in the decking beside your pool, drops the basketball goal into it and concretes it in. None of that plastic poolside basketball for him. No siree. (And this monstrosity looks so nice next to my saga palm.)
- when he thinks reading is the epitome of being bored.
- when he's only read 3 books since 1986.
- when he thinks soap operas reflect the lowest form of our society.
- when he thinks romance novels are just one teeny-tiny step above soap operas.
Well, I'm sure you've figured out ... I'm married to a jock. Now don't get me wrong. They have their perks. They are hard workers, driven, passionate, great leaders, great providers, fiercely protective of their woman and offspring, and they come packaged very, very nicely.
My sweetie-pie has been secretly wishing I never published simply because he didn't want to have to read my novel. So, when it arrived, it was a black day for him indeed. Bless his athletic little heart.
Still, because his love for me is so fierce and so loyal, he set his mind to conquering this unpleasantness. He had a 15-hour overseas flight coming up. He'd read it then.
He boarded the plane, settled into his seat, reached for my novel and paused. The Drilling Superintendent sat down next to him. Hubby subtly changed course and pulled the Sports Page out of his briefcase instead. The novel stayed where it is for the entire 15 hours.
Now, he's on a drilling rig. With a very rough and tough crowd. But lucky for him, he had a private room. With a door. So under the cover of darkness, he burrowed down and began to read A Bride Most Begrudging.
I so desperately want to share with you the email he sent me after he finished, but he makes references to the end of the book that would spoil it for you. So, I'll share this much with you:
"Well I finished the book! How about that. I thought that it was excellent and
as far as my first romance, it wasn't too mushy! I was very impressed and found
myself wanting to get back to the book once I had started ... I was very
entertained and impressed. You are so talented and smart, just like Connie!!"
I cannot even begin to tell you how much his "review" meant to me. I had impressed my non-reading, romance-novel-hating, jock-of-a husband. It was easily one of the proudest days of my life. He had a very nice homecoming.
And I shall leave it at that.
P.S. For your chance to win a free autographed copy of A Bride Most Begrudging, fill out this entry form.
posted by Deeanne at 10:30 AM
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
What's For Dinner?
Funny how those who are the closest to us give us such unexpected reactions to the milestones in our lives. When I received my very first copy of Bride in the mail, I immediately showed it to my beloved family members. Here's what they had to say:
- Husband (age 45): "Well, I guess I'll have to read it now." (He was serious.) :-)
- Daughter (age 18): "It's so big! Wow." She gives me a hug. "Congratulations, Mom. Good job. That's awesome."
- Son (age 17): "That's a horrible picture of you. Did they pick it out?"
- Daughter (age 15): "Your book came! Your book came! Wow! That's so totally cool! Are you, like, so excited?" (She reads up through the end of chapter one.) "So, like, thanks for leaving me out of the Acknowledgements. I'm seeing how it is. You thank the husband. You thank the parents. You mention the kids with the dogs. It's always been my dream to be dedicated. So, like, will you dedicate the next one to me? Jesus won't mind."
- Son (age 14): "350 pages. Sheesh."
And the refrain to all that was: "What's for dinner???"
That very same night was my daughter's high school graduation. (A class of 1146 students, so it was a looooooooong ceremony.) So, I took a book and Greg (my hubby) took his newspaper and Bride. (We were at an outdoor concert pavilion on a blanket on a hill, so it's not like we were in some nice auditorium or something. The graduates and the grandmas were sitting in the covered area in the "real" seats.)
Anyhoo, Greg read the Sports page, the Business page, the Graduation Program--twice--and finally picked up Bride. He flips right past the Acknowledgment Page. I stop him and tell him he skipped the acknowledgements.
His entire facial expression changed to distress. "I have to read every single page?!" I told him, yes, every single page. So, he reads it and his chest expands and the man who is way too shy for public displays of affection, leans over and gives me a big ol' kiss. Right there in front of God and everybody. Made my night.
Tomorrow, I'll tell you the story of how my big, 6'5" athletic Texan reconciled himself to reading a romance. Meanwhile, here's a story of another man's first experience with my romance novel and my male boss's story of how he, begrudgingly, acquired a romance, of all things, as his first acquistion. (Let me mention, he is an intellectual and his favorite book is Moby Dick. ha!)
Grace and peace,
P.S. To enter a contest for an autographed copy of Bride, fill out this entry form.
P.P.S. For you newbies, there is a "comments" link after EVERY daily journal entry. See it? Right below this line? So ... if you want to post a comment about TODAY's post, you click on TODAY's "comment" link. Not the one at the bottom of the page. Love ya'! :-)
posted by Deeanne at 9:05 AM
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Now That's A First!
It's history in the making and a moment of "firsts." This is my very first blog, my very first fiction website and all is in honor of my very first novel (A Bride Most Begrudging) that just hit the shelves this weekend!
I'm so excited that I have decided to string tin cans along the back of my car and paint "IT'S MY FIRST TIME!" all over the windows with shoe polish. But alas, my hubby is saying, "No." And my kids are saying, "We'll disown you."
So instead, I have decided to have an "IT'S MY FIRST TIME!" contest. Here's how it will work:
Anyone who comments on my comment link (below) this first month will be eligible to win a free autographed copy of my first book! (So long as you fill out an entry form.) How many times your name is entered depends on how many items on the entry form you can check off (the more you check, the more chances you have for winning.)
- The first option, everyone will check. It is the box that says, "This is my first time to comment on Deeanne Gist's blog."
- The second option is for people who have never in their life commented on a blog before. So, commenting today will be a first for them. (We veterans call these folks "lurkers" because they lurk around reading blogs, but never post a comment, so no one knows they're there.) If you are unsure of how to post a comment, click here.
- The third option is for people who have never in their life visited a blog before. (My blog is their first.) By the way, "blog" is short for "web log" (a journal that is kept online).
- Once you have posted a comment on the comment link below, then fill out the entry form and check as many boxes as you can (remember, this is a Christian-based site and we are on an honor system here). Winner will be announced August 1st.
- Disclaimer 1: The contest is only open to those who have a continental U.S. mailing address (sorry!)--but everyone is free to post a comment.
- Disclaimer 2: You can only fill out one entry form per month, but you can comment all you like!
And may I be the first to say, "Welcome to my blog!" My name is Deeanne, but everyone calls me "Dee."
Grace and peace,
posted by Deeanne at 11:45 AM
Saturday, July 02, 2005
HOW TO POST A COMMENT
If you would like to post a comment, print these instructions, then go back to the daily post that you want to comment about and follow the below instructions.
- Click on the "comment" link. (Located at the bottom of each daily post.)
- "Choose a Username" This is the name you will use to "log in" everytime you post a comment. No one but you will see this name. (Write this down so you remember it.)
- "Enter a Password" Think up a password and enter it. (Write this down so you remember it.)
- "Display Name" This is the name that will show up everytime you post a comment. Many people use their first names. Others have "code" names. It's up to you.
- "Email Address" Enter your email address. This is not available to the public when you post.
- "Accept Terms" Click the "yes, I accept" box if you agree to the terms.
- "Continue" Click on the Continue arrow.
- When you get to this box, if you do not want to set up a blog of your own, simply close out of this window.
- Now, you can type in whatever comment you would like to leave on my blog.
- Enter your username (from step 2) and password (from step 3) and click on the "Publish and Login" button.
- That's it. From now on, anytime you want to post a comment, you simply type it in, enter your username and password and "publish."
- Looking forward to hearing from you! Don't forget, we start up on Tuesday, July 5th!
To enter my contest for a free book, post a comment below, then fill out the contest entry form!
posted by Deeanne at 7:55 PM
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