When Someone Believes in You – My Agent Story

I’ve been told by several authors that you aren’t a REAL writer until you have rejections under your writing belt. I don’t know if the same rule applies for agent rejections, but I’ve definitely had those too. About nine specific rejection letters and over ten “no responses” – and those all happened over a two year period of time.

Let’s not even start calculating my manuscript rejections 🙂

At ACFW 2011, I had a chance to have dinner with an editor. I didn’t really pitch. She didn’t really ask. We just talked. It was a nice conversation, followed by a few other conversations throughout the remainder of the conference. Just before leaving the conference she said, “Hey, when you get an agent, I want to read your work. Okay?”



So I queried 5 agents after the conference. FIVE. And I’d actually met 4 of the 5 in person at the conference. AND I was a Genesis double-finalist. That had to count for something, right?

Nothin’. Nada. Zilch.

For nine months this ‘baby’ didn’t go anywhere.

I assumed it was because my stories didn’t really ‘fit’ with what was selling in CBA. Rom Com wasn’t the top genre. My historcals walked on the edge with some of their content.

Self-doubt reared its ugly head on many occasions. I carried insecurities around like a pack of gum. Was I just dreaming too big? Missing the mark? Living on stardust and daydreams?

After all, I’d been seriously writing for over seven years at the time of ACFW 2011 with no ‘happily-ever-after’ in sight 🙂

BUT, like the obedient flunky I was, I kept doing what Ruth Logan Herne and Mary Connealy told me to do. I kept writing.

In July I finished another novel and posted my excitement on Facebook. Low and behold, the editor saw my comment and replied, “Hey, when are you going to send me something to read?”

To which I replied. “You told me not to send anything until I had an agent. I still don’t’ have one, so I haven’t sent anything.”

Then the most amazing thing happened! She asked me to compose a cover letter and she would send it out to agents for me. Agents she thought would be a good match for me.

I was overwhelmed. Floored. Humbled.

And did exactly what she said.

When two agents emailed me, I sent my proposals. They both responded quickly and favorably.

Then at ACFW, I had the opportunity to meet Nicole – one of the agents recommended to me. She seemed as excited about my stories as I was. She was funny, sweet, and savvy – plus she had a great sense of style. There was an immediate match. (Look at that GREAT smile!)

And she told me she would like to represent me.

I told her that I thought we had a great connection, but I wanted to think and pray about it first.

So I did. And consulted close writing friends. And prayed some more.

And I knew it was right.

When I heard her beautiful acceptance speech as Agent of the Year, it just confirmed what a special lady she was.

End of story?

Not quite.

It was the last day of conference before I had the chance to talk to the editor who set this up. She was the same editor in which I’d had the lovely conversations in the beginning of this post. Remember? We’d missed each other throughout the conference, but in God’s good time, we were both in the lobby waiting to leave for the airport at the same time. I went up to her and told her about what happened with Nicole and she smiled. “I’m so proud of you.”

To which I replied. “I can’t thank you enough. You didn’t have to do that. It’s not your job to find me an agent.”

She answered, “I believe in you.”

And I said, “ You’ve never even read my writing before. How can you believe in me?”

(I will NEVER forget her answer. EVER. I still get tears in my eyes thinking about it) She said, “Pepper, I didn’t say I believed in your writing. I said, I believe in you.”

It was as if the voice of God sliced through all the chaos of the moment, all the emotional baggage of my past rejections, all the doubts in my heart, all the questions and insecurities, and used this editor to speak directly to my spirit.

“I believe in you.”


End of story?

not quite.

Through a lovely turn of events, the same lady who told me ‘I believe in you’…the same editor who sat and encouraged me at dinner, the same woman who set up my meeting with my former agent, Nicole, became my NEW agent almost ONE year AGO – and lots has happened in a year.

Thankfully, JULIE GWINN still believes in me even now….and has for a long time.

She’s one of the best encouragers, brainstormers, and believers I know out there! I’m so glad she’s on my team!

It’s a great human example of a divine concept.

CHRIST is our greatest cheerleader, biggest fan, and the One who believes in us the most.love

He may give us great and amazing talents. He may bring us fame and recognition. He may shower us with opportunities to spread His word through our writing.

But at the heart of it all, He’s doing a whole lot more than those things.

He’s letting His kids know that He believes in them.

Enough to take on the Devil, Death, and Hell.

Our writing is just an extension of what’s happening inside of us. Who we are in Him.

And with His faith in us spurring us forward, we are equipped to do great and marvelous things…whether those “great and marvelous” things are meant to minister to a small number of 1 or a great number of MORE.

He believes in you.

He believes in me.

We are His.

Year To Date: Change and Abide

christmas2014familyWell, it’s been quite a year – probably one of the most difficult ones of my life, and that’s saying something. For the past three years I’ve chosen a ‘one word’ to focus on throughout the new year. In 2014 my word was Change – and it has definitely been a year of change, transitions, upheavals, and surprises.

In February my husband was offered a full-time job that fit his skill-set and passions perfectly – Pastor of Music Ministry in a  church in Asheville, NC. This meant relocating our family from a place we’d lived for eight years, from a house I’d spent two years renovating, and from a job as a university instructor I loved with friends I adored. For the next four months, my husband stayed in Asheville most of the week and commuted home to us (about an hour and a half drive) for Friday and Saturday. There was so much to do to prepare for the move, of course, including finding a house, checking out schools, and looking for a new job for me. Those months were tough as the rest of our family prepared to transition to our new home with hubs.

IMG_1526Within this craziness, I had three wonderful opportunities. The first was to make a surprise road-trip to St. Louis to visit my crit partner and brand new mom, Amy Leigh Simpson. Along the way I had lunch with Julie Gwinn and dinner with friend and Alleycat, Krista Phillips. IT was a fantastic break in the middle of all the transition.

Secondly, I worked at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference as support staff for Edie Melson and Alton Gansky. It was so much fun to have the opportunity to give back to a conference and a community who had been such an encouragement to me over the years.

Last but certainly not least, was signing with my amazing friend and agent, Julie Gwinn. Wow, what a great match! I’m so thankful. She’s been a wonderful encourager and herald for my stories

IMG_1008We moved to Asheville in the middle of June, the same day I started my new job in a private outpatient clinic. The summer moved along at record speeds and I tried to learn a new paperwork system and adjust my skill set to meet the demands of something quite different than I’d done the previous thirteen years. I missed my colleagues, my students, and teaching. My kids were adjusting to missing their friends and school.

But behind the scenes, Julie was working her magic by beginning a massive network of my writing. She edited my manuscripts, encouraged me in the move and the writing journey, and believed in my writing more than I did at the moment. At the beginning of September, I received my first contract offer. My fun, 10646741_10204870944154085_8514285265217180766_nAppalachian modern day My Fair Lady story, A Twist of Faith, was headed to publication. I officially signed the contract at ACFW with many of my wonderful Alleycats present. God certainly knew what I needed most when he brought them into my life!!!! They’d been such a part of my writing journey I couldn’t imagine signing without them to celebrate with me!!

This conference I also spent time with fantastic encouragers like Jeanne Wynn, Julie Lessman, Beth Vogt, Susan Mason, Rachel McMillian, the amazing Janice Thompson, Jim Rubart, and SO MANY MORE! Wow, I’m blessed!! It was an amazing boost of support to head me into the next big transition.


In the middle of November, I received a contract to be a coauthor for a YA book coming out in 2015 associated with a new video game. The game creators, 2nd City Studios, have developed a Steampunk-like game called The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance. It’s been such a fun experience to get to work with these guys in creating a companion novel to go along with their MMO Role Playing Game.

On the heels of this contract came another at the beginning of December – a three-book deal with Vinspire Publishing for my historical romance series, Penned in Time Series. I can’t tell you how fulfilling it was to have an editor be as excited about my book as I was.

jetpackwithcutieI’m in awe, a bit overwhelmed, and really nervous about making this all work for 2015 while being a mom of 5 FABULOUS and FUNNY kids, wife of a minister, and full-time SLP, but I’m finding great encouragement in my new Word for 2015: Abide.

There are many things in this world. Good, bad, crazy, painful, thrilling, unpredictable – but one thing remains the same. God, and his ever-present, all-consuming love for his children.

In John 15, Jesus talks about how to abide, but what does abide mean? In a very generic way, it means to ‘live’, kind of like I abide in my house, but there is much more to it.

It means to rest, to find security, shelter, a ‘framework’ for my life, the structure for what is true and certain.

It’s a beautiful thing to consider abiding in Christ. There is a comfort, strength, and rest in it. It gives us strength because we know our foundation is secure and we’ll always be welcome. We are not called to abide with him because of our goodness, strength, power, beauty, or anything else of our own making, but all because of Christ’s love. That’s it.

As I go into 2015, I pray that throughout all the change, transition, and new adventure, I will keep my heart, mind, and spirit at home in Christ’s love.

Happy New Year and many blessings for 2015

News to Share

10646741_10204870944154085_8514285265217180766_nWell, so much has been going on lately that I figure it’s time for a recap…and just maybe I’ll get back on track to posting at least once a week on this blog 🙂

Ever hopeful!

God has an amazing way of surprising us with more than we expect.

I’ve been pursuing writing for the past ten years and in that time God’s done some amazing things like:

Introduced me to the fabulous Alley Cats

He brought the FABULOUS, Julie Gwinn to be my friend first – and then my agent

Brought wonderful authors like the Seekers, Janice Thompson, Beth Vogt, and so many others into my life

He’s brought teaching and resources to help hone my skills.

And now..well, I’ve joined the roller coaster of published authors.

1. I signed my first contract with Lighthouse of the Carolinas for my Contemporary Romance novel, A Twist of Faith, at the end of September. It’s a fun story that is a modern day retelling of My Fair Lady set in Appalachia. It’s scheduled to release in June 2015.

2. I signed my second contract in mid-November to co-author a Middle Reader/YA novel that accompanies a new video game releasing in 2015.

3. Yesterday I signed a three book contract with Vinspire Publishing for my historical romance series, beginning with The Thornbearer to be released in October 2015. This Penned in Time series takes place during World War 1 and follows the lives of three friends who each struggle with forgiveness and the definition of true beauty as they face a world at war.

I’m excited about these new opportunities but also nervous about how to make it all fit into a very busy schedule as a full-time speech language pathologist and mom of five. It’s great to know if God provided the opportunities, He’ll also provide the ability to complete them 🙂

Here’s to seeing what God ends up doing with MY story in the middle of writing these stories!!

A Twist of Faith Teaser quote

Here is a little teaser quote from my upcoming release with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas: A Twist of Faith