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?”

Sure.

Fabulous.

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.”

Wow.

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.

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!!

Fired Up by Mary Connealy

fired upMary Connealy lights another delightful spark with her usual concoction of sassy women and stubborn men in her latest release Fired Up. From an avalanche to a measles outbreak to a mysterious fire and a host of other troubles, self-taught Dr. Dare Riker and widow, Glynna Greer, find there’s better cooking going on in their own hearts than in Glynna’s kitchen, – though her poor results as a cook in her own diner is helping Dare’s business 🙂

And any interest Dare has in Glynna is going to have to burn through Glynna’s suspicious and wounded heart as well as the over-protective nature of her solemn son.

But somebody has a plan to put out any sparks in Dare and Glynna’s relationship, let alone Dare’s life.

It’s another fun and exciting book by award winning author, Mary Connealy, and probably my favorite so far from the Trouble in Texas series.

Pick it up and be prepared to laugh, wince, and cheer on a perfect match made in unlikely places with unlikely people who are willing to fight each other and anyone else who tries to hurt those they care about.

Springs of Inspiration with Mary Connealy

Okay – I have every book this woman has ever written…except her newest one. But I can assure you that as soon as I can find my purse (we moved to a new house this weekend. I can’t find anything), then I’m off to BUY it!!!

Mary Connealy is not only a wonderful and quite prolific author, she’s a fabulous encourager. Her ‘cowboy’ books wrangle in your emotions and keep you on the edge of your saddle from page one. With humor, adventure, and romance braided through the pages, and a smattering of faith to bind them all together, they’re such delighful reads.

So- What does Mary have to say about Inspiration?

 What is your favorite inspirational (i.e. salvation, repentence, forgiveness,) scene you’ve ever written from one of your published works?

My favorite moment in this category is, I think, an odd one. But maybe that’s just because I knew what was going on in my head when I wrote it.
In Calico Canyon, Grace is trapped in their cave/home by an avalanche with one of her troublemaking stepsons, John.
 
The air is running out. The fire is dying. They have no idea if the rest of the family survived the avalanche. Grace feels herself falling asleep.
And Grace realizes she’d been running for a long time. She’d allowed herself to become this frightened rabbit after spending most of her childhood facing danger constantly to protect her little sisters. She was bold. She took her little sisters’ punishment for them. She fought and kept thinking and learning. Then she needed to run to save her little sisters and somehow running was more than just jumping on a train, in her mind she started running, fearing everyone and everything.
And since she’s gotten married she’s doing the same thing.
There, in that dark cave, facing death, she pulls John onto her lap and says, “I was brave.”
 
Here are a few sentences of the scene:
She wrapped her arms tightly around John. “You just did something wonderful for me, John.”
He looked up at her. “You mean praying for you?”
That pulled Grace up short. No, she hadn’t meant that. But maybe, just maybe, praying was what it all came down to. She settled John firmly against her. “Praying for me was wonderful. Thank you. And you did something else for me, too.”
“What’s that?” John rubbed his head against her neck when he looked into her eyes.
She glanced at the dying fire and heard the dripping of the melting snow. She felt a pang of regret that she hadn’t been able to do more to save this precious little boy. She felt even worse to think that she would never have the pleasure of being his mother.
Her chin trembled but she held it steady. “You reminded me of who I am.”
“The teacher?”
Grace shook her head. “No, before I was a teacher.”
“You worked somewhere else?” John shifted his weight around as if getting comfortable for story time.
“Oh, yes. I worked very hard somewhere else. But I’m not talking about what I did. I’m talking about what I was.”
John shrugged and looked confused. “What were you?”
“I was brave.”
 
This moment is the changing moment in Grace’s story. She goes into that cave a frightened woman, a slave to her fears and unhappy about the marriage she’s been forced into.
She comes out restored. She’s regained her courage. If she doesn’t like her life (and she doesn’t) then look out because she is going to FIX IT.
This is almost a resurrection moment. Almost a salvation moment. Grace finds the courage to stop running and face her life bravely, shaking off the enslaving chains of fear and claiming true freedom by claiming God.
It’s a quiet moment but one I think of often.
(LOVE IT!)
 
2. When you’re in a writing slump (or frustrated in your writing journey in some way) what is one verse that encourages you?
The one that comes to mind right now is Psalms 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear?
 
To me, in many ways, the whole Bible is almost summed up in this one sentence (I know it’s not…but there is so much in this one sentence). If we could just remember that God will be with us, even in death, we could face everything. Fear nothing. I think the whole world would change and our whole outlook would change if we could just feel the depth of God’s protection–the beauty of His salvation. It’s a part of His love, and key to remembering He’s always with us.
 
And I’m speaking as a woman who is a pretty major whimp.
 
Thanks so much for visiting today, Mary. And I’d say that we’re all wimps and need the strength of the Lord to get by!
 
Blessings, 
 

Springs of Inspiration Blog Tour

Time for my ‘seasonal’ blog tour with tips, clips, and hints from some of your favorite authors.

Starting March 5th, I will be hosting authors 3 times a week to share one of their favorite inspirational scenes from their novels AND one of their favorite inspirational verses.

When times are dry, writing slow, or life is hard – what do these authors do to find encouragement?

Stop by and find out.

Fabulous authors like Rachel Hauck, Mary Connealy, Ruth Logan Herne, Missy Tippens, Siri Mitchell, Janice Hanna Thompson, and so many more!

The Yearning

Tomorrow is the first day of Advent – the time in which many Christians celebrate the ‘coming of the Messiah’.

Emmanuel – God with Us.

In celebration of this wonderful God-gift and in anticipation of His coming, our choir is singing a series of fantastic choir anthems. The first song is a new arrangement known as The Yearning by Craig Courtney. The words to this piece are absolutely beautiful.

There is a yearning of hearts weighed down by ancient grief and centuries of sorrow

There is a yearning in hearts that in the darkness hide – and in the shades of death abide, a yearning for tomorrow

Later on the piece reads:

There is a yearning for the One who visited His own and by His death for sin atoned

to bring to us salvation

Apart of beautiful words, the music stems from a feel of ‘yearning’. A call to all of our hearts that the Hope for our Salvation is not only real, but has already come. Jesus Christ

The fulfillment of every yearning in our hearts.

Follow this link and enjoy a new Christmas song for the season – http://www.jwpepper.com/10276203.item

And speaking of songs – starting in December, I will be hosting Twelve Songs of Christmas – a celebration of famous Christmas songs and some of your favorite authors with chime in as to why it is his/her favorite!

Come join me for visits from Julie Lessman, DiAnn Mills, Ruth Logan Herne, Missy Tippens, Siri Mitchell, Rachel Hauck, Mary Connealy, Deeanne Gist, and many more!

Friends in ‘westerly’ places

While at ACFW I have the wonderful opportunity to meet people I’d only chatted with online. Of course, meeting the fabulous FIFITEEN of Seekerville is always a delight – and getting to hug on my fellow Alley Cats from The Writers Alley was another joy.

 

But I also got to meet marvelous ladies like Susan Ann Mason, a constant encourager and fabulous writer.

 

A Genesis finalist and magnificent lady, Karen Schravemade (who happens to have one of the coolest accents around)

Authors I want to be like when I grow up – like Ruth Axtell Morren, Liz Curtis Higgs, and Kaye Dacus.

 

And friends I NEVER grow tired of hugging – like Audra Harders, Laura Frantz, Mary Connealy, and Angie Dicken.

 

It’s pretty remarkable how God takes all these different people from different places and binds them together with a love for Him and the joy of writing.

I am SOOOOOOO glad He does! Aren’t you?

Conference Tips with Mary Connealy

Well, if you’ve been a frequent follower of this blog, you’re already well aware of what a Connealy fan I am.

I happily own all of her books, and look forward to her newest releases- especially more of the Kincaid Brides series.

Now, let me tell you that one of the highlights of my first ACFW conference was getting to meet the Seekers – and especially Mary Connealy. She and Siri Mitchell were the first authors I read who wrote something similar to what I liked to write – and were the first authors to help me find a ‘home’ in Christian fiction.

Mary is also the one who introduced me to the wonderful world of Seekerville.

She creates stories about as fast as her heroes can round-up cattle- and all of her romances are filled with fabulous humor, adventure, and male-female banter.

Last year at ACFW, Mary won the coveted Carol Award for her novel, Cowboy Christmas. That’s me with Mary after she received her award. Does’nt she look so happy!!!

Okay, okay – back to conference tips.

Mary, what are three things a writer should never forget to bring to conference?

Unpublished?
One sheets
Business casual clothes
ten times your true courage
_________________________________
Published?
Ruthy Logan Herne’s cell phone number
that’s it. I can survive everything else.
__________________________________
Okay – 10 times my regular courage? I can definitely see how that’s helpful. Time to visit the Wizard of Oz…or would that be the Ruthy of New York? 😉 I’m sure she’ll pump me with enough courage, or scare me more than any editor ever could – right Mary? 🙂
Good thinkin’
Do you have a favorite Connealy Classic?
You can find out more about Mary’s books at www.maryconnealy.com
Saturday – come find out what Laura Frantz top 3 conference tips are 🙂

Conference Tips with Kaye Dacus

Having just read her newest novel, Ransome’s Quest, all I have to say is LISTEN TO WHAT THIS AUTHOR SAYS!

Kaye Dacus has not only written an intriguing historical series in The Ransom Trilogy, she’s mostly known for her wonderful contemporary novels like The Brides of Bonneterre and The Matchmakers series. A few things I personally appreciate from Kaye is her thorough critiques, attention to detail, and wealth of realistic encouragement.

With that in mind, here is what Kaye has to say about conference:

Three necessities for a writers’ conference . . .

1. A plan. It’s important to go into a writers’ conference with a plan in place—not just for what sessions you want to attend and what editors/agents you’re going to request appointments with, but a plan for what you’re going to do if you don’t get the appointments you want—how will you make sure that you get to talk to that publishing professional? Also, make a plan for which editors’/agents’ tables you want to sit at during hosted meals. Even more importantly, plan ahead to meet up with online friends, new and old, to make sure that you find each other—because sometimes it’s hard to find one person out of seven hundred!
____________________________________________________________________
 
2. A purpose. Sure, you have a purpose in attending the conference, but what’s your purpose for why you’re writing? And if your answer is “to get published,” you may need a new purpose. There should be something more to the reason you write than the pursuit of a contract with the “right” agent or the “right” publishing house. What’s your purpose as a writer? Clarify that before you get to the conference. Write it down as a mission statement. (Google “writing a personal mission statement” if you need help.) Carry that mission statement in your pocket/bag with you throughout the conference. Pull it out every couple of hours and read it. Don’t let the craziness and chaos of conference make you lose focus on your purpose as a writer.
_________________________________________________________________________
 
3. A perspective. Not only do you need to have a perspective on who you are and what makes you and your writing unique, you need to plan ahead for having a positive, pragmatic perspective on what’s going to happen when the conference ends. What will you do if you don’t hear what you want to hear? What will you do if all of the editors and agents you talk to say, “Thanks, but no thanks”? How will you handle the emotional surge of conference, followed by the inherent crash afterward once you’re back home again and not surrounded by seven hundred other writers? Most importantly, though, is determining your overarching perspective of yourself and your writing and your life and making the decision before you leave for conference that no matter what happens, you aren’t going to let it affect your belief in the calling God has put on your heart to be a writer.
________________________________________________________________________
 
Don’t you love how she just gets to the heart of the matter? What IS your purpose for writing? Some answers will stand the test of time, heartache, and rejection much better than others. It’s important to know your reason. 🙂 AMEN, Kaye! And thanks for sharing these with us.
 
To learn more about Kaye’s books, visit her blog at http://kayedacus.com
You will find a WHOLE LOT more than just book information and a bio.  Kaye’s Writing Series Index is a MUST READ for aspiring authors- slathered with useful information.
Friday – we have a visit from the cowboy queen, Mary Connealy.
Saturday – it’s the sweet and eloquent historical author, Laura Frantz

Conference Tips Series

Starting next Tuesday, I’ll be hosting a series about conference tips – straight from some of your favorite authors. Each have given 3 top things to remember to bring with you for your future Writers Conference -experience.

So who’s on the agenda for this coming week?

Denise Hunter

Missy Tippens

Kaye Dacus

Mary Connealy

and….

Laura Frantz

It’s gonna be inspirational, educational, and FUN! Stop by and get prepared!