Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Pause for Prayer
My heart is filled with grief and pain for our fellow Americans who overnight have become homeless. They are facing the loss of their homes, their communities, their entire cities and, even worse, their loved ones. My city here in Texas is swollen with refugees. Our hotels are packed to capacity. Our leaders are asking for help, even something as simple as dropping off gift cards for local eateries or discount stores or gas stations.
But we as Christians can not only do physical things, we can do spiritual things. So, as our fellow man is floundering, crying out, and feeling that all is lost, I feel a tremendous calling to pray without ceasing. Will you join me?
Calm the storms. Not only the physical ones, but the emotional ones. Your people are hurting and wailing. Let them know that in the midst of their darkest hour You are there. You have a plan. You can take disaster and transform it into good.
Show those of us in a position to serve Your people what we can do. How we can minister. Then, Lord, I fervently pray that we respond favorably to Your call.
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake.
Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou has anointed my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
In Your Blessed Name we pray, Amen.
posted by Deeanne at 12:29 PM
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Romance Novels Were My Isaac
Part II of "What Made You Switch From General Market to Inspirational?"
I've been a romantic at heart my whole life. My favorite fairy tales all included Prince Charming saving the day. My favorite movies were Sound of Music and Oklahoma. My favorite part of Nancy Drew books were the on-again-off-again relationship she had with dreamy Ned Nickerson.
When I discovered romance novels at the age of sixteen, there was no looking back. At that time, the majority of heroines were of high moral fiber. As the years went on, however, the moral bar for these women kept creeping lower and lower until at one point I thought, Lord, what if my baby girls turn out to be romantics? They'll read about these women who live outside our value circle and have no qualms about it whatsoever.
Now mind you, I'm not saying I haven't stepped outside that "value circle" many a time. I have. The difference between me and the characters in the books, though, was that at some point, I began to feel remorse over my choice. And would then begin to back peddle (or as we Christians like to call it, "repent"). Yet, these characters were perfectly fine with their choices and went on to live Happily Ever After.
So, the Lord challenged me to write a mainstream romance that had all the components of a general market romance, except that both my protagonists were Christians. That's it. Other than that, He gave me full creative license. So that's what I did.
In the meanwhile, I was voraciously devouring every romance novel I could get my hands on. You should have seen my collection of novels. It read like a "Who's Who" in the romance industry--many of them signed. This love affair with romance novels went on for about twenty-plus years, until one day the Lord revealed to me that these novels had a stronghold on me.
I would literally read one, after another, after another without any break in between. I would forsake my duties at home. No hot meals, no clean house, no clean clothes, no bedtime stories. Nothing was more important to me than my romance novels. And God was a bit annoyed.
He convicted me big time (a story too long to tell here, but which I share when speaking to various groups) and the long and the short of it was ... I'd placed my love for consuming those books above Him. They were, in fact, an idol. I had to give them up. Completely.
This was a kind of Abraham and Isaac story. You know, where God makes Abraham take his son up the mountain and offer him as a sacrifice? Same kind of thing, except, pathetic as it sounds, my "son" was my consumption of romance novels.
You'd have thought I had lost a loved one. I balled. I begged. I pleaded. And before that day was through, I had filled dozens of lawn-and-leaf bags with my idols ... and drove them down the street and put them in the recycling bin. The hard covers. The soft covers. The signed copies. All of them.
This all happened while I was doing my chore system thing. Tomorrow, what happened next.
Meanwhile, be sure to enter our contest!
posted by Deeanne at 1:14 PM
Monday, August 29, 2005
Switchin' Saddles Midstream
Menu question: "What Made You Switch From General Market to Inspirational?"
I finished Bride in 1997 and got an agent shortly thereafter. I had every intention of sitting down and writing the next novel. Even got so far as completing Chapter One. Then, life happened.
We decided to build a new home 8 miles north of where we currently lived. That involved selling the old one, moving our family of six into a 2-bedroom apartment, acquiring a new puppy, and keeping on top of my journalism.
Once into the new home, I, of course, needed new stuff. I abhor paying full price for anything. So, in order to get all my stuff wholesale, I opened a home accessory business in an antique mall. (This is about the time my mama decided my hubby was a candidate for sainthood merely because he put up with my foolishness.)
Then the Lord pressed upon my heart to package and sell the chore system I had used in my home for the past nine years. That involved writing a business plan, and articles of incorporation and, of course, money. Lots and lots of money. Money we did not have and no one, for some odd reason, wanted to give me. (More stuff for the hubby to list on his Sainthood application.)
So, I did what every enthusiastic entrepreneur does and borrowed the money. The hubby co-signed. And I was off into a wild world of developing, manufacturing, marketing and selling chore systems. Needless to say, I wasn't getting a lot of fiction writing done (though I was still doing journalism.)
That was in 2001. At this point, my agent had been pitching Bride, but had received no bites. So, I asked him to send the manuscript back to me. I knew if I sold, they'd want edits, promotional time and more books. I couldn't do that and run a corporation, too.
Well, this is sorta where the general market v. inspirational market part comes in, but I hate posts a million miles long. So, maybe we better get to that part tomorrow. Okay?
See ya then and may the Lord hold in the palm of His hand those folks effected by hurricane Katrina. Amen.
posted by Deeanne at 12:02 PM
Friday, August 26, 2005
After the Amen
We have been discussing God's role in my Journey to Publication. Yesterday, I told how I had given my writing career to God. Amen.
Not too long after the Amen, I'd forgotten I had given it to Him. Little by little I began taking it back. So that by the time I was finished with manuscript #1 (you remember--the one that stunk), I had illusions of fortune, fame, approval from my fellow-man.
Well, that didn't happen. And as the Lord revealed my fickle heart to me and grew me, I felt like such a heel. But then came the grace. And the forgiveness. And the unconditional love. I'm tellin' you, being a Christian is such an awesome thing.
Manuscript #2 (A Bride Most Begrudging) I gave to Him. And this time, I didn't forget it. Then things that the world calls "coincidences" started happening.
I'd sit down on a shuttle bus, only to find out the man next to me was an agent from New York. I'd pray the Lord handpick my critique partners. At the next writer's meeting I met two fantastic women that were looking for a third critique partner.
My journalism began to take off. My queries began to bear fruit. The Lord maneuvered my footsteps so that they would cross paths with influential people in the business.
I typed "The End" on Bride, fell to my knees and told Him I'd done what He had asked. As far as I was concerned, my part was over. I'd go ahead and submit it to publishers, but if they said, "No," I was fine with that. Because I was far enough along in my walk with Him to know--I only wanted what He wanted. And if He wanted it published, He could certainly make that happen.
At this time, Bride had been written for the general market. Monday we will talk about what made me decide to go from the general market to the inspirational market.
In the meanwhile, don't forget to enter our contest.
posted by Deeanne at 10:38 AM
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Where Was God In All This?
Well, I went through that whole Journey of Publication series without ever mentioning God. It wasn't an oversight, nor was He missing from that journey. It was a conscious decision to wait and tell this part of the journey separately.
I'd been taught since I was a wee little lass to give everything to God. Everything. Myself, my loved ones, my relationships, my worldly goods, my decisions, my pride, my desires, my everything. Needless to say, I haven't always done what I was taught.
Bit by bit, though, I would lay down certain areas of my life and give them to Him (usually the areas I had tried to control and had then failed miserably at). Eventually I caught on: It was best to give Him these things right from the get-go so He could run them.
After all, His perspective was so much better. He had a heavenly view of the whole sha-bang. I had a teeny-weeny view of only what was in front of my nose. He had the power. I had control over zilch. He knew what was best for me. I only thought I knew what was best for me.
So when I started my writing career way back in the early nineties, I gave that career to Him. It was in His hands. He could do with it whatever He wanted. Amen.
Tomorrow, what happened after the Amen.
posted by Deeanne at 12:01 PM
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Journalism vs. Fiction
Menu Question: "What Made You Decide To Switch From Journalism To Fiction?"
I was first published in a magazine called Family Fun way back in the early nineties. I continued to have a successful journalism career for many years thereafter. But journalism was something that more or less supported my "fiction habit." Fiction had always been my first love.
Both venues are a lot of work and of the two, I happen to prefer fiction. In journalism, you can't submit the same idea to multiple magazines at one time. It's not a pretty sight if a magazine editor calls you wanting you to write the article you pitched to him and you have to tell him his competitor bought that article last week. In the end, you only hurt yourself because the editor on the short end of the stick will never buy from you again.
So, I would brainstorm and come up with 14 or 15 different article ideas and send them to 14 or 15 different magazine editors. As soon as the rejection came back, I'd think up another idea and send it off to them. I made sure I had a continuous flow of queries on the desks of those magazines. If you sell one article for every 10 queries you send out, you are doing really well.
Some folks love this process. I did not. So, while I was waiting for the rejections to hit the mailbox, I would write fiction. Over the course of my journalism career, I wrote articles for People Magazine, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle, Orlando Sentinel, and whoever else would pay me.
When I started doing my chore system, I began to wean myself away from the journalism. The honest truth is ... I don't miss it. Not at all.
posted by Deeanne at 11:55 AM
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Honing My Craft
After taking a short hiatus to settle our daughter into her first semester at college, we will return to the Menu from our Journey to Publication. Today's feature is: What Specifically Did You Do To Hone Your Craft?
Lots of things. The biggest contributor to this was a writers organization I joined called Romance Writers of America. They have chapters all over the country that meet on a monthly basis offering writing contests (many of which are judged by editors), workshops, newsletters, tape cassette libraries and networking. Then once a year all the local chapters meet at a designated spot for the big National Conference.
I did it all. I joined; I entered contests; I went to workshops; I read the newsletters; I listened to the tape cassettes; I went to the conferences; and I networked with published authors, aspiring authors and publishing industry professionals.
From there, I read lots of how-to books. And I joined a critique group. This critique group was made up of two other aspiring authors. We would meet once a week and come to the meeting with one completed chapter. Then, we would all critique each other's chapters.
Lastly, I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. Then I would rewrite and rewrite and rewrite.
It took me three full years to complete Bride. Now I'm on contract to complete one book per year. So ... prayers appreciated!!
posted by Deeanne at 1:11 PM
Monday, August 22, 2005
Heard From My Baby
Well, I heard back from our college girl. She read yesterday's post and emailed me to say she did clean her room--that I should have seen it before it was cleaned. Ha! I sure hope this college education she's getting teaches her the definition of "clean."
Then she sends me a list of things she'd forgotten and needed right away. Check out this list:
- pink shower robe
- DVD "Ferris Bueler's Day Off"
- a 25 pack of bland CD-R's (they're on top of the kitchen desk shelf)
- my cool looking bible verses that are on my walls in my room
- Veggietales calendar (on the floor to the right of the desk, leaning against the desk)
- "Disney and Veggietales" CD (in the black cd case in my room)
- could you send me the pictures from TN's camera of the Phantom of the Opera
- Kevin was also upset that I didn't have a picture of him in my dorm room... so if you could look in the shoe box of all my pics from senior year and pick out one of me and kevin he would very much appreciate it
- the picture and the frame w/ me and Stef that says "Best Friends"
So, guess I better go. Seems I've got things to do that are of utmost importance. And, to make you feel more connected, Stef plays "Lady Constance" in my book trailer. (See link in top righthand column of this page).
Don't forget to enter our contest for a free, autographed copy of Bride. See you tomorrow!
posted by Deeanne at 1:59 PM
Friday, August 19, 2005
My Baby Leaves the Nest
Well, we took our firstborn off to college yesterday. Left at 4:00am, didn't get home until after midnight (she probably didn't either--ha!) This daughter is the designing-type, so we'd given her a budget and I'm hoping to upload a pic of the "finished product."
She and I were both worried what Dad was going to do while we staple gunned and glue gunned and organized and arranged and rearranged. So, I bought three separate items that had to be assembled and wouldn't let him pre-assemble them.
Of course, some parts were missing and some were broken, so the engineer-side of him had to figure out how to make it all work. Kept him well occupied up past lunch. And by then, we had a shopping list of things we'd forgotten.
By 6:00pm, it was time for the freshman kick-off dinner and we had yet to cut the rug her roommate had brought for their floor. (It's an old dorm, so beds, desks, sinks, and chest of drawers are all built-ins. No laying down of a rug, then setting the furniture on top. A cut-out was the only thing to do.)
It was time to say "goodbye." We did really, really well. The hardest part was when she started to tear up. Oh, golly. But even then, the excitement of this new adventure overrode the melancholy of her departure from home. We hugged, we said sweet words, then we told her not to forget the TB test she had scheduled for the next morning. :-)
I think it really helped to have her run off, leaving hubby & I in her room to lay the carpet down. Then, we weren't driving off while our baby stood on a corner and waved. That would have been much worse.
Took us three hours to do that carpet. The engineer had to measure every little thing before making a cut. After about 2 hours into it, I said, "It's just a dorm room. Cut the silly thing and let's go!"
He looks at me, steps back and spreads his arms wide. "Fine. You want me to cut? Just show me where and I'll cut."
Assuming quick command, I begin to point, he begins to cut. We finish up in no time and flip the rug over (we had to cut it from the backside). The part I was in charge of was 14" too narrow on both sides of the room.
He did no more than look at me. We've been married 22 years. That's all he needed to do to communicate what was going on inside him.
I clasped my hands at my waist. "It's only a dorm room, honey. And the good news is ... I brought some carpet tape!!"
Another hour later, we were leaving our baby a note telling her the carpet is patched and taped in some places and she might need to go to the discount store and get a little floor mat for the spot in front of the sink and in front of the chest of drawers.
We prayed over the room, threw a kiss to our baby and walked out to the car. As we pulled out of town, I reached over and grabbed the hubby's hand. "Remember when we were first married and laid that vinyl floor in our kitchen?"
"Well, we just laid a carpet, messed up and didn't get into one single fight. How 'bout that?"
He gave my hand a squeeze. "What do you think our chances are of finding something to eat this late?"
"There's always the gas station if nothing else is open."
So we headed home with hearts full and tummies empty, talking about our own college move-in experiences, our excitement for our daughter and how strange it's going to be to have an empty bedroom in the house.
This morning, I put on an old t-shirt of hers that I found in her closet. Guess what else I found? A laundry basket full of dirty clothes, an unmade bed, and a room that looks like a cyclone went through it. I thought I told that girl to clean her room before she left.
Ah. The joys of parenthood.
posted by Deeanne at 12:12 PM
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
All That And Homeschool, Too?
I guess since I attend a lot of homeschool conferences while peddling my chore system, folks have mistakeningly thought I homeschool my kids. But, alas, I don't. My kids are all products of the public school system.
Unfortunately, the high school my kids attend is way too big. My daughter's graduating class had 1200 kids. And my son just hated it. With a passion. So, we took him out and enrolled him in a one-room high school. It was much like homeschooling, except instead of being home and being schooled by his parent, he was in a one-room building with 14 other kids, working at his own pace, all overseen by a supervisor.
This year, he begged me to let him complete his senior year at home. So, I broke down and it looks as if, for this year anyway, I'll be homeschooling one. But he only has one core class left (which he will take at the community college up the road) and the rest are electives. Our main hurtle will be the whole SAT/ACT thing.
Speaking of which, today's the first day of school for my three high schooolers and we'll be taking our firstborn off to college tomorrow. So, I won't be posting until Friday. I'll let you know how it goes. (Big gulp.)
posted by Deeanne at 10:23 AM
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Where Are The Children?
I had four kids in four years. I began my writing career during "naptime" when they were 6, 5, 4 & 2. (They are now 18, 17, 16 & 14.)
You know the adage "if you want something done, ask a busy person?" Well, that was me. Because the busier you are, the more organized you have to be with managing your time. And naptime was sacred. Nothing was allowed to interfere.
When they got a bit older and didn't require constant supervision, I could extend my writing time bit by bit. They always let me know if I was spending too much time at the computer, though. I will never forget my youngest at a very young age approaching me as I typed away. He placed both hands on my cheeks and turned my head so that I was looking him in the eye.
"Are you listening, Mommy?" (My fingers were still going even though my eyes were on him.)
And that's when I knew. It was time to shut her down and be a mommy again. Though my kids no longer have to resort to such tactics, the dear husband has been known to do this if he is feeling like I love my computer more than I love him. :-)
Once I became published, they each had rather revealing reactions (for more specifics click here). To date, not a one of them has read my book. Both girls plan on it--but Harry Potter comes first. (Priorities, don't ya know.) My oldest boy asked for the book quite sometime ago, but has yet to crack it open. My youngest boy has no plans whatsoever to read it. After all, why on earth would anyone read anything if it wasn't required by school??
The biggest adjustment for them has been believing me when I say I'm working. In there mind, I'm not working, I'm only writing.
posted by Deeanne at 11:26 AM
Monday, August 15, 2005
A Great Tax Write Off
The hubby assumed writing would be another one of those things that would provide him with a great tax write-off. Understandable. Every hobby or business venture I've ever participated in has lost money. Writing included.
The amount of dollars I've sunk into books alone would boggle the mind. All under the auspices of my writing career, of course.
"Well, honey, I really need to buy all these romances so I can keep abreast of what's selling in the industry."
"Well, honey, I might want to write a book someday that takes place in ancient Rome and this book is on the Bargain Table, so if I go ahead and get it now, I'll be saving us money!"
"Well, honey, I'll never get past the front door if I don't know how to put together a professional looking query letter, so I bought this book on how to write one."
And so on. Then came the travel.
"The writer's conference is in Hawaii this year, dear. Now before you say anything, I know the cost will be rather steep, but for that very reason the crowd will be smaller and the intimacy will allow me to have more face time with the movers and shakers in the industry." (He put his foot down. I was not going to a conference in Hawaii. Married women who loved their husbands just did not do such things. Period.)
"Well, honey, since I'm not going to Hawaii, I decided to fly up to Virginia and spend a week there researching the novel I'm writing. It would be so helpful to actually see the area my story takes place in. And just think, I'll be saving you so much money by going there instead of Hawaii!"
And on it went ... membership fees in the writer's organizations, contest entry fees, postage, a lasor printer (so my manuscript would look crisp and professional), business cards, stationery, logos, etc, etc, etc.
Every year at tax time when I filled out my Schedule C, he would look it over and say, "Sweetheart, please, please don't make me any more money."
Yet all this time, I don't think he ever really thought I would sell. I believe he thought it would be an expensive little hobby that would keep me out of trouble. His response when I gave him the big news?
"Oh. Gee. Can't you just be a wife and a mother?"
Bless his little heart. I never quite fit the "Mrs. Cleaver" mold he had fantasized about as a young man, I guess. In any event, I smiled and said, "I'm sure, dear, what you meant to say was ... 'Congratulations! I'm so proud of you! Way to go! That's just great!' ... I just know that is what you meant to say."
He nodded. "Yes. I am proud of you."
And you know what? He really is. He has a copy of Bride in his office and shows it off to all who enter. He is one of my biggest fans.
And on top of all that, I'm still a good tax write off. Not because of my fiction, but because of all my other business ventures that I am now having to sell and liquidate in order to concentrate on my fiction full time. So, see? I'm still saving him money!!!
posted by Deeanne at 1:58 PM
Thursday, August 11, 2005
One More Thing
Okay, one more thing before we start the DVD/Menu thing (see yesterday's post). We are launching a new contest today. The prize will be a free, autographed copy of A Bride Most Begrudging. Only one entry per person and you must live in the continental US to be eligible to win. (sorry!)
Here's how it works. You click here, fill out the entry form and answer the question. You do not have to get the answer right to be eligible to win. You simply have to make a guess. (There is only one right answer.)
Our question came from one of our very own bloggers (thank you very much, Barb) and it is (drum-roll):
Which activity from A Bride Most Begrudging has Deeanne Gist participated in?
- Milked a goat
- Wrestled a rooster
- Slept with a skunk
- Hacked at turtle heads
- Fought in a food fight
At the end of the contest, I will announce what percentage of votes each answer received as well as who's name was drawn out of the hat to win the prize. So ... go for it!
A reminder that we are having many visitors over the next couple of days from our "Virtual Book Tour." If you are interested in visiting the blogs that are participating, I will be posting a list of links in the "Press Room" under "Virtual Book Tour" as they become available. I will also post any interviews they do in that same room under the "Interviews" sub-category.
If you are a visitor, please be sure to introduce yourselves in the comments section and let us know you came by! And don't forget to enter the contest!
posted by Deeanne at 12:35 PM
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
I thought we'd do a DVD/Menu kinda thing. You know how after you watch the feature presentation on your DVD, you can then go to a menu and click on all kinds of "behind the scenes" options? Well, I thought we'd do that with our "Journey to Publication" series.
We spent 11 days on our journey from conception of an idea to published novel. But many of you had questions about what was going on behind the scenes. So, how 'bout we put together a menu of sorts? I went back through our comments to see what some of your questions were and tried to group them according to topic. We could then address them one at a time. How does that sound?
Here are the ones I have so far. If you have more, put them in the comments section and I'll add them to our list. Okay, here we go:
Tell me what you want to do first and we'll go from there. Meanwhile, I wanted to give you a quick heads-up. For the next three days I'll be doing a "virtual" book tour. The way that works is about 20 - 30 bloggers from all over the continent will be mentioning Bride and our blog to their readers. So, we will have an influx of visitors over the next several days. Let's be sure to give them a big ol' howdy and make them feel right at home. If you're visiting, be sure to introduce yourself and tell us whose blog you're a comin' from.
Some of the folks participating in this virtual book tour will be posting interviews between me and them. I will be posting those in the "Press Room" of my website under the "Interviews" sub-heading. If you get a chance, check those out and then we can make it a kind of progressive dinner without the dinner!
posted by Deeanne at 11:47 AM
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Pause for Station Identification
Okay, we're not really pausing in our "Journey to Publication" for station identification. We're pausing for winner identification. We had a drawing for a free, autographed copy of A Bride Most Begrudging and I am pleased to announce that:
JANIS L. of Texas is our first winner of our first contest, which was titled, "Now That's A First!" When she visited our website, she checked all three boxes. Which meant when she commented back on the May 16th post, it was the first time for her to comment on my blog, it was the first time for her to comment on any blog and it was even her first time to ever visit a blog.
So, congratulations Janis! Your book will be signed, sealed and delivered this week!
The question now is, what should be the criteria for our next contest? The prize can be the same, but what sort of options should our bloggers have to check this time? Any suggestions?
posted by Deeanne at 11:44 AM
Monday, August 08, 2005
**Day 11 of "Journey to Publication"**
David Long of Bethany House was extremely gracious about receiving an unsolicited email from me. He directed me to his blog where he addresses a lot of the issues dealing with "edgy" Christian fiction. He told me to look it over and if my manuscript looked like a good fit, then to contact him at the email address he has set up for acquisitions (which he then very politely provided me with).
I went to his blog, our philosophies jibed, I emailed him back and told him he really needed to read my manuscript--which he did. That was in April of 2004. In May, my manuscript went through a review process where other folks at Bethany House read it and offer their opinions. A month later he emailed my manager and said they wanted to buy Bride.
Tomorrow, my husband's response when I give him my "big news." (If you missed the day I introduced my husband, click here. It will help prepare you for tomorrow's response.)
posted by Deeanne at 1:10 PM
Friday, August 05, 2005
**Day 10 of "Journey to Publication"**
You're probably wondering "Where was God in all this?" Believe me, He was all over it. But more on that later. For now, we're sticking to a chronological timeline. And as of yesterday's post, I was peddling 30K units of I Did My Chores! and had a romance manuscript on my bookshelf that was too tame for the general market and too steamy for the inspirational.
About seven or so months after the "big rewrite" (see yesterday's post), I received my April 2004 edition of a trade magazine from the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association). I quickly flip through it and come to a screeching halt on page 35.
The title of the article took up half the page and was called, "Fiction on the Edge: Retailers & Publishers Wrestle With Edgier Fiction." Hmmm. I start to scan, then slow down and begin to read. Every word.
It was in a Q&A format, interviewing bookstore owners, publishers and acquisition editors. They said things like:
"Superficial fiction ... trivializes God's grace."
"To make a case for stories with grit, look no further than the Bible."
"The edgier fiction gets, the less retailers trust the publisher."
"We need new voices to reach those who have tuned [CBA fiction] out."
"Edgier fiction is ... one way to reach nonbelievers."
I drum my fingernails against my desk. I reread the article. I start looking at the names of the actual people interviewed and who they represent. I see an acquisitions editor from Bethany House Publishers. He seems to be an advocate for this fiction with an edge.
Because I used to be an investigative reporter, I won't go into detail, but suffice it to say, that within five minutes time I learned the email address of that editor from Bethany House.
I type up a little note to him, telling him about Bride and that I think maybe he should have a look at it.
I sit for a moment. "So, whatdayou think, God? Do I push the 'send' button?"
An overwhelming sense of peace and confirmation fills me.
"Even though I discovered his email address by somewhat questionable means?"
Another wave of peace.
I hit "send." It goes through. I sit at my computer and feel the heat crawl up my neck because I know it is a big "no-no" to cold-call (or in this case, cold-email) editors to pitch your books.
Within five minutes time I hear back.
Tune in Monday for Mr. David Long's response to me sending an unsolicited message to his private email address.
posted by Deeanne at 12:45 PM
Thursday, August 04, 2005
I Need A Break
**Day 9 of "Journey to Publication"**
I dissolved my working relationship with my agent in 2001 when I started the manufacturing process for my chore system. I Did My Chores! hit the shelves in 2003. I licensed the product line in 2004. Yet, I still had 30K units in a warehouse in Kansas City that needed to be sold. And in the midst of all that selling, my creative side screamed, "I NEED A BREAK!"
During that time I had, for the first time, wandered over to the inspirational fiction aisle to see what it had to offer. And like most any aisle in the bookstore, some of the novels appealed to me, others did not. But it got me to thinking. "I wonder if I could rework Bride and make it suitable for the inspirational market?" That was in 2003.
So, for fun, I pulled it from the shelf. Dusted it off. And "cleaned it up." When I was all done, I realized I had a novel that was too tame for the general market and too steamy for the inspirational market. I basically had a novel that no one would want.
So, I shelved it and went back to peddling 30K units of I Did My Chores!
Tomorrow, how my manuscript went from the shelf on my bookcase to the shelf of a store near you.
posted by Deeanne at 12:11 PM
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
I Hate What I Do
**Day 8 of "Journey to Publication"**
I hated being a corporate executive, so I got on my knees and told the Lord if it wasn't going to mess up some vast, eternal plan, I'd ever-so-much like to be relieved of this chore system ... but His will be done.
The following month, I was exhibiting in a trade show and a man came into my booth.
"Do you like what you do?" he asked.
"I hate what I do," I answered.
"Would you be interested in licensing your product to me?"
"What are you doing for dinner tonight?" I replied.
We went out to dinner and within a year, I licensed not only my chore system to him, but two other systems I had in my head but didn't have the capital or the desire to produce. He repackaged my chore system and put it on the market last December. The second product he licensed (that had previously been in my head) is called "I Did My Homework!" and it is my understanding it will be on the shelves by 2006--but don't quote me on that.
So, was I free now to return to my writing? Well ... not exactly. More on that tomorrow.
posted by Deeanne at 12:56 PM
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
It Was A Great Tax Write Off
**Day 7 of "Journey to Publication"**
If I'd been a good, little writer, I'd have been cranking out more books while my agent shopped the other manuscript around. But, God had other plans. Between the years of 1997 and 2001, my husband started his own business, I started my own business (separate from his), we built a house and I continued to do journalism on the side. (Did I mention we have 4 kids?)
The first business I tried was an antique & home accessory business. (Whose sole purpose was to give me an excuse to buy antiques, but--shhhhh--don't tell my husband.) It was a great tax write off.
My next business was to form a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products that promote traditional family values. Our first product was a chore system I had invented and used in my home for years and years. It is called I Did My Chores! and is available nationwide. That's the good news.
The bad news is ... I hated what I was doing. My gifts and talents do not lie in the corporate executive world. So, now I had 30,000 units of a product and I wasn't too terribly talented at selling it. It was a great tax write off.
Tomorrow ... how I managed to make the leap from chore systems to romance.
posted by Deeanne at 12:57 PM
Monday, August 01, 2005
They Still Didn't Want It
**We are on Week Two of my "Journey to Publication." To start at the beginning of this yellow brick road, look at the list of posts in the right-hand column, click on "In The Beginning" and read from there up through today's post.**
Even after three years of honing my craft and after securing a top New York agent, the publishers still didn't want my book. The reasons varied this time, though.
Some said that the setting of the book was at a very unromantic time in history and therefore they didn't think their readers would be interested. Another said he didn't think the two protagonists were truly meant for each other. (I got a chuckle out of that one. Sounded like a parent thinking his daughter was too good for the guy she wanted to marry. Ha!) Another one said it had too many pages. Another said historicals weren't selling very well and had I written any suspense? And on it went.
Now, mind you, this took a great deal of time. Remember, I secured the agent in 1997. Our working relationship ended (very amicably) in 2001. So, what was I doing during all that time???
Tune in tomorrow for the answer to that question and more.
P.S. The winner of our contest has been chosen and the notification has been sent! As soon as I hear back from her I will post her name and the state she is from (assuming she gives me permission to do so).
posted by Deeanne at 11:22 AM
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