Friday, June 2, 2017

Fridays from the Archives - Finding Your Place

Time for another Fridays from the Archives! Today, we're jumping back to 2009, right before I went to my second ACFW writers conference. This was right as I was planning to re-release A Stray Drop of Blood in paperback. Before I had any readers. When my agent was advising against pitching historicals. Kinda fun to look and be see how much has changed in the last nearly-8 years! Check in at the bottom again for my Now thoughts on Yesterday.

With the ACFW Conference in Denver only a week away (woo hoo!), my thoughts have inevitably turned to the dual hope/fear of finding that perfect editor (or not) for the book I'll be pitching.

Up until two days ago, I didn't even know what I would pitch. I have a few books that were possibilities, but my agent systematically eliminated them all. "No historicals this year," followed by "too sophisticated to break in with" followed by "needs work." I sent her my ocean book, now titled Yesterday's Tides thanks to y'all, with a cringe. As close as I feel to this book, I groaned at the very thought of getting another "Not the thing" on it. Not to mention it would leave me with nothing to try to sell. So you can imagine my relief and joy when my agent sent me a series of emails with "One sheet is good. Interesting idea," "Synopsis is good. I really like how you handle this story," and "Yes, pitch this one. I'll have it read by the time you get back, and we'll make any tweaks necessary before sending it to the editors who request it." Whew! Step one down.

Now for Step Two: finding an editor who loves this book as much as I (and my critique partners) do. Never a guarantee, obviously. In the two years since my last conference, I have sighed many a time over the fact that the editors out there haven't jumped at the Victorian series that captured my agent's attention. You just never know.

But said critique partners have done so much for me. Not just in critiquing my work, but in building me up. Stephanie said once, "You know why you'll succeed? Because you keep writing new things, looking for that one that'll break you in. You don't sit back and wait. You keep coming up with new stuff, better stuff." The twenty manuscripts on my computer prove the "you keep writing" part, lol. Then Mary said of Yesterday's Tides that she had a threefold prayer for it: that it would sell soon, that it would be a bestseller, and that it would win a Christy. A dream for everyone, for sure. And it really touched me that Mary believed in this story enough to beseech the Lord for it in such a big way. And then Carole made me preen by saying I was becoming one of her favorite authors--a label she doesn't give out easily. Could a writer have a better group of friends and encouragers?

On one of my loops, we've been talking about that place we all visit sometimes where the not-knowing-where-we're-going gets so overwhelming. Where the fear outweighs the hope. Where you question your calling, your ability, your everything. Roseanna the Optimist doesn't often dwell on that, but I wonder. I wonder if the encouraging news I got on two different projects last week will come to anything--and if it'll come in time for conference. I wonder if all the work I've put into other projects will ever amount to anything or if they'll molder on my computer for all time. I wonder if, when I finally do get published on a national level, I'll have any readers. I wonder if the re-release of A Stray Drop of Blood will actually sell.

All things I can't know. Things that could lead to those "Is this where you want me, Lord?" questions. But as I'm getting ready to head to Denver and pitch a project I love and believe in, I'm instead getting excited about what He might have in store. The fact that I will even be pitching this story, when I had assumed it off the table, is enough to excite me. I finished its rewrites a year ago, but everyone kept losing it, forgetting about it . . . it wasn't it's time. Now it seems to be. Will that result in the "perfect editor"? I don't know. But it gives me hope.

Today Me again. One reason I loved rereading this is because I can at this point look back and see the winding but steady road I traveled from that conference to where I sit today, with 14 published books soon to be under my belt.

I pitched Yesterday's Tides in Colorado, and the best reaction I got was from Kim Moore at Harvest House. She loved it. Loved the writing, loved the story, loved me. But a year later, I still hadn't heard back from her on it, so I checked in with her. She'd lost the file--but I resent, and she ended up taking it to committee. They didn't buy it, but Kim liked my writing so much that she asked me if I had any historicals (ha! full turn around on the 'no historicals' thing). In the meantime, I was also getting to know Rachel from Summerside Press, who also first said, "We're penciling you in" to a contemporary and then asked for a historical, which became Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland. By the time that one was in the publication process, Kim had convinced Harvest House to buy my Culper Ring Series. All because of that meeting with her in 2009.

That said, Yesterday's Tides still sits on my computer. I still love it. But it hasn't been published, it hasn't become a bestseller, it hasn't won a Christy. My dear Mary (who passed away just a couple months before Annapolis hit the shelves) was wrong on the "soon." But her faith in me kept me going. And I hope all I've accomplished would make her proud. I've now brainstormed how to turn Yesterday's Tides into a historical, and we'll see if that's the way God wants me to tell that story. Who knows? Or it could be that He'll have me sit on it a while longer yet. I don't know. I just know that someday, that story that holds me captive every time I draw it out to work on it, will find its place in the world. I'm looking forward to that.

Just as I can look back and see that, yes, that conference led me to the editors I needed to know, so too do I know He holds all my stories in His hand. I love that feeling.

Happy Friday, y'all, and don't forget to join me for my LIVE chat on Monday, to talk about Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland! I've heard from a ton of you that Annapolis was the first book of mine you'd read, and how much you love it; I'd love to take your questions and comments on it!

Jigsaw photo credit
© Aliaksandr Mazurkevich | - Hand inserting missing piece of jigsaw puzzle


  1. Too bad that novel hasn't been optioned. I know I WOULD READ IT, will wait patiently til it is in print! Happy writing!

  2. Yes, this was the first book of yours that I read. When I read it and it was "me", and i reached out to you, you so sweetly counseled me about my situation and how it was different than Lark and Emerson and that you would pray for me "until I told you things were resolved". I still have that printed out and hold onto to it. It is so precious to me...that you would be willing to pray for me for that long, and led me to reading lots more of your books that i treasure.. I really appreciate you, Roseanna.