How a Non-Writer Like Me Got Published (Part III)

(Continued from Part I and Part II)

What made me think I could write a book? I mean, really. Book writing is for experts… for people who know things. Important things. My friend’s critical feedback on the early chapters of my manuscript only served to confirm what I already believed to be true: Who would care what I had to say, or if I even had the right to say it?

The wind had been knocked from my sails and I saw no point in continuing my brief writing career.

Yet in the midst of the doldrums, I couldn’t shake the memory of that moment with God many months before. “Write a book about the gifts you were given,” I heard him say in my office. If that was really God, maybe He knew something about me that I didn’t. Maybe He had a reason… a plan.

It was just about this same time another friend of mine traveled to Israel on vacation. She invited me to write a prayer on a slip of paper for her to place between the ancient stones in the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. I’ve always wanted to do this myself, but sending my prayer with her… a praise, really… was the next best thing to being there. In my note, I thanked God for the time he met me in my garage, and ultimately delivered my daughter, Annie, from the bondage of meth addiction. He had restored our family, and I still could scarcely wrap my mind around it.

Image, Jordan RiverMy friend also asked if there was a souvenir I might like from the Holy Land.

“So, um… yeah,” I replied. “Could you please bring me some of the Jordan River? Just a cup or so will do.”

Within a month, precious holy water and a few tiny river rocks had a new home on my
desk, right next to the computer screen. I transferred the water into a small Manzanita olive jar and labeled it “Jordan River” in black felt tip marker.

It was as if God’s presence had returned to my office, and I again found myself back in the business of writing. I needed feedback though. Professional feedback this time. I knew no writing professionals per se, and no one in publishing, yet my new neighbor, John Vawter, had self-published a book… about addiction no less. His book, Hit By a Ton of Bricks, had been in my reading arsenal when Annie was on the streets! John had a friend-of-a-friend with an editing business here in Bend, a fellow by the name of James Lund. He’d once worked for Multnomah Publishing in Sisters, Oregon, and became a freelancer when Random House acquired the company and moved it to New York City.

“Am I delusional to think I can do this?” I asked James Lund when we first spoke early that March. “I mean, is what I’ve written any good, or am I completely wasting my time?”

Jim was working on a project with a tight deadline but said he could give me a couple of hours in about two months.

Two hours in two months? He already sounded too important for a novice like me.

But I did hear from Jim two months later, at which time I sent him my story’s table of contents, two chapters, and a check for his time. A week later, his feedback stunned me. “You’re not wasting your time… keep writing. And I don’t think you’re going to need much help from me.”

Initially, my inner Woody Allen lamented that this James Lund person must not be very good at what he does. However, I secretly delighted in the apparent vindication from my friend’s critical review. I confess to skipping through the house chanting, “neener, neener, neener.”

Jim and I agreed to reconnect in five months, at which time I was to have an entire first Image, self editing bookdraft ready for his review. Jim also had a few tips for me. He suggested I read Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.

It will help equip you with some fundamentals that will improve your writing,” he said. “Try inserting ‘beats’ in your dialogue to make it more interesting. You also want break up some of the narrative by creating ‘scenes.’ Have you ever heard the term ‘show don’t tell’?”

“Jim… what’s a ‘scene’?”

(Please stay tuned for the conclusion in Part IV, when I go from clueless to published.)

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WordServe News: April 2013

Exciting things have been happening at WordServe Literary!

On the final post of each month you’ll find a list of Water Cooler contributors’ books releasing in the upcoming month along with a recap of WordServe client news from the current month.

New Releases

TestedArnie Cole and Michael Ross Tempted, Tested, True (Bethany House)

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ConfessoinsAmanda Jenkins Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist (Tyndale House)

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StressTestRichard Mabry Stress Test (Thomas Nelson)

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DiscipleshiftJim Putman with Marcus Brotherton Discipleshift (Zondervan)

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New WordServe Clients

Jennie Atkins signed with Sarah Freese. Excited to have her join our other wonderful WordServe authors!

New Contracts

Judy Morrow signed with Regal Publishing for her devotional titled Listenings.

Keith Robinson signed with Regal Publishing for his non-fiction book titled Is Anybody Out There? 

Rachel Moore signed an ebook contract with Cook Communications for her novel titled Language of Sparrows.

Barb Stoefen signed with Zondervan for her memoir titled A Very Fine House: A Mother’s Story of Love, Faith and Crystal Meth

Mike Yorkey signed with B&H Publishing to write the story of Tampa Bay Devil Ray infielder Ben Zobrist, along with his wife Julianne, who is a budding Christian singer.

Dr. Kara Powell from the Fuller Youth Institute signed with Zondervan to write The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Unique Family.

Michelle Griep signed an ebook contract with Cook Communications for her novel, A Heart Deceived.
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What We’re Celebrating!!

Julie Cantrell is a finalist in the “new author” category for this year’s Christy Awards for her debut novel Into the Free.

Jordyn Redwood for her debut novel Proof, which was a ForeWord Reviews finalist for religious adult fiction.

And Julie and Jordyn both made the Inspy Award Short List for their debut novels.

Maureen Lang’s book Bees in the Butterfly Garden hit the ECPA fiction list again, this time at #6.

A Higher Call by Adam Makos continues to stay on the New York Times hard cover nonfiction list, having made it in the top-15 every Sunday in April.

Thank you to Writer’s Digest magazine for naming the WordServe Water Cooler one of their 101 best websites for writers for 2013. We are honored!

What can we help you celebrate?