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.

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!!

Springs of Inspiration with Ruth Logan Herne

I know you’ve heard me talk about her before (eye roll) It’s no secret that I’m a big-time Seekerville fan.

And you’ve heard how much I love this woman (and her novels), but I’m just going to say it again.

The main reason I love her is for her cookin…er…wisdom. Yeah, that’s right.

Ruth Logan Herne is my guest today on the Springs of Inspiration series and I affectionately refer to her as my ‘writing Mom’. My real mom doesn’t mind sharing at all, because she’s already quite aware that it takes more than one mom to try and keep me straight.

Anyway, Ruthy is one of the Fabulous Fifteen of Seekerville and a Love Inspired author. Prolific would be an understatement for her writing since 2010. She’s been on a high-speed roll with seven published novels and two more on the way. WOW!

So heeerrrreeee’s Ruthy!


 Favorite inspirational scene:
From Winter’s End when Kayla’s left the North Country, thinking she’s following her dream, moving south to Virginia for a new job, less snow, less cold, less barren land only to discover that she left her heart up north, and that despite Marc’s flaws, he makes her feel whole. The Holy Spirit gives her a smack-upside the head, reminding her the choice is hers. And while she’s dealing with that, Marc has his own epiphany in the North Country and realizes that he really hadn’t tried to change at all, that his stubbornness and pride got smack-dab in the way. It takes an invite to a new church and snuggling a mop-topped baby for Marc to finally hear the words of goodness his soul craves. But he’s let a lot of time slip by… How will he ever be able to fix things now?
What keeps me out of a funk?  “Pull up your big girl panties and move on…” (Pepper here: That’s the ‘Mama’ part coming out 😉
Oh, wait, BIBLE verse….
“To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven.”  Ecc. 3:1  KJV   🙂
This verse is my mantra. That and the Serenity Prayer. They’re my mainstays because I like simple. Simple works for me.
Thanks so much, Ruthy!

Springs of Inspiration Series

Well, I am certainly going to start this blog series, but I have to put it on hold for a week.


I wanted to give you an idea of the lineup starting NEXT week!

Monday – Siri Mitchell starts off the week

Wednesday – It’s all about fairytales with Melanie Dickerson

Friday – The week ends with the blast of Ruthy Logan Herne!

Stop by and be ‘inspired’ starting Monday, March 12th.


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!

Conference Tips with Ruth Logan Herne

For the unpubbed author, there is nothing better than finding people who support and encourage you.

People who teach and guide you.

People who tell you the truth, critique with love, and have a snarky sense of humor.

Ruth Logan Herne has been one of those people for me!

One of the fabulous fifteen of Seekerville, Ruthy has made an amazing hit into the published world since her first book Winter’s End came out in March 2010, Ruthy has successfully released  FIVE more books with many more to come! Her novels have consistently received excellent reviews and Winter’s End is a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards this year (I plan to CHEER in person!!! Probably annoyingly loudly. Go, Ruthy!!)

So, without further ado, what are Ruthy’s top three conference tips?

Oh, honey, that one’s easy.




Everything else is extraneous.




Can’t make a cake without flour…

Writing’s your flour. THe basic ingredient.

Simple, yet profound. Thanks Ruthy.

Without words on a page, there’s little chance of publication – so….we have some work to do. 🙂

To learn more about Ruthy’s books, visit her website at www.ruthloganherne.com or stop by Seekerville!

Do you have someone or more than one someone who encourages you along this writing journey?


photos courtesy of www.ruthyloganherne.com


Conference Tips Lineup for the Week

Time for another week of conference tips and who is coming to visit??

Monday – The Kissing Queen herself – Julie Lessman

Tuesday – Julie’s ACFW partner and fabulous author, Ruth Axtell Morren

Wednesday with Carol Finalist, Ruth Logan Herne

Thursday – Debut author and encourager-extraordinairre, Keli Gwyn

Friday – Seeker and sweetheart, Audra Harders

Saturday – historical and contemporary author, Siri Mitchell

Stop by and learn from the best.

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?

One sheets
Business casual clothes
ten times your true courage
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 🙂

Are YOU Conference Ready?

Stop by for the next three weeks and get some conference tips from fabulous authors like:

Denise Hunter

Rachel Hauck

Ruth Logan Herne

Siri Mitchell

Mary Connealy

Kaye Dacus


Look for the weekend lineup on Saturday so you’ll make sure to stop by for a quick note that will help prepare you for ACFW or any other writers conference you might have in your sights. It all starts on Tuesday, Sept. 6.