Moving on

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Now that I have come down from the ceiling (directly related to having landed a book deal) and settled onto firm ground once again, I have had a chance to reflect on the journey thus far.  The Beatles would affirm that it was "a long and winding road."  

Perhaps my trek could be useful to some out there who have set out on a similar journey.  For those who have already traveled this road, it might be interesting to compare notes.  Here are just the facts, ma'am (relying on memory in many cases because, as you will see, the journey was long and arduous):

  • 1994 - Sitting under a palm tree on Myrtle Beach, while my husband watched our twin boys, I wrote a poem called "Oceanography," a cathartic exercise in dealing with my mother's mental illness
  • 1996 - "Oceanography" published in The Texas Review
  • 1994-2004 - Numerous poems dealing with the same topic were written and published in various literary magazines.  
  • 2004-2006 - A collection of twenty poems materializes, and writing buddy Carol Baldwin suggests that they need to be a book.
  • 2007 - Work begins on the first draft, called Breakdown
  • 2009 - Attend the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop at Chautauqua, NY and work directly with Patti Gauch, retiring senior editor of Philomel Books
  • 2010 - Sign with Julia Kenny, agent at MarksonThoma Agency in New York
  • 2011 - Revision requested by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company on YA novel written in verse titled CRAZY 
  • 2012 - Receive 3 offers within 2 weeks, sign with Eerdmans for a 2014 publication date
If you are good at math, you already know this process spanned eighteen years. Eighteen years!  I feel like this has to be some kind of record.  Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.  But hopeful writers listen up.  Life went on as usual for most of those years, with full-time teaching, full-time kid raising, and full-time being a minister's wife.  I would have to say that the last year of waiting was probably the nearest I got to pulling my hair out, sitting on pins and needles, chewing my nails to the quick, being totally driven to distraction.  Perhaps if it had been fewer than eighteen years, I may have been able to eliminate a few of those cliches!  

But I write this to ENCOURAGE all writers out there.  If I can wait eighteen years you can stay the course, whatever your course may be, and all the while keep believing in your work.  

Friday, November 16, 2012


You know the old 1941 song made famous by Glen Miller, sung by everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Beyonce.  Its love song lyrics go like this:

At last my love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song.

It goes on to say:

I found a dream that I could speak to
A dream that I could call my own......

Writing a fiction book is a lot like entering a love relationship with a real, live person.  You certainly have to get inside the character to the point that he or she becomes real, and you have to love that character through and through.  That's the writing part.  Then, you have to find an agent and/or a publisher who falls in love with that character.  That's the hardest part.  And all the while, you have to hang on to that dream that drove you to the writing and carried you through the desolate days, weeks, and months of waiting for someone in the world out there to connect.

This is my official announcement that my YA novel written in verse, CRAZY, will be published by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company sometime in 2014. Today I've been running around the house like a mad woman singing this song, because the tune is as seductive as a contract offer, and the words lilting enough to lift my feet right off the floor.

I have lots more of the process that I want share in the days and weeks ahead. But for now, I simply want to bask in the warm glow, give all the glory to God, and keep on singing AT LAST......