Monday, April 13, 2009

Final installment of my writing story...

I just realized I left you hanging and never finished my writing story! For shame, For shame. (see previous three installments here: What was God thinking?, Decisions We Make, The Choices We Make.

Okay, where was I.

Oh yah! Karalynn!

So, I had a baby. Writing was the least of my worries. I had about 3 chapters done, and really wanted to finish, but I didn't know what to write next and didn't have time. Over the next, oh, six or seven years, about twice a year I'd take out my manuscript, write the 4th chapter, then delete it because it was crap. I finally gave up. Maybe when the kids (now numbering three) were older, I'd have time to sit down and try again. It was a dream postponed.

But there was still that little desire in my heart, that little seed that wanted it so badly.

In 2007, we bought a house. We were happily settling into our house, and that summer I came home one day to find a fedex package on the table. Evidently the FedEx guy had just left it on the doorstep and Scott had found it that afternoon, but hadn't opened it.

I casually picked it up and started to open it, but noticed two things. First, it wasn't for us. It was to this house, but the name wasn't ours. Second, the package was thick, VERY thick, and rectangular.

My husband found me standing there, tapping my foot, deep in thought. He asked me what was wrong and I said, "Honey, I think it's a book manuscript."

He looked at me like I'd grown two sets of ears. "What are you talking about?"

But somewhere deep within me, that little seed was shaking and starting to sprout roots. I know, somehow, that my life would never be the same.

Then I did something I'm ashamed to admit. I peeked. I opened just a little corner of the package, just enough to see if I was right. (I can't believe I'm admitting this online... I'll be awaiting the handcuffs when the police come to arrest me...)

Let's just say, I was right. I found out later when I joined a local writer's group, that that same guy, who IS a published author, was a member as well. Go figure!

Of course I returned the package, but I was left with something really important. A deep, burning desire to write. Not long after, I decided to start back on my book. As I headed up the stairs to my computer, I stopped. Somehow, I knew that God didn't want me to work on that old book. He had a new story he wanted me to write.

I then spent the next 3 months working feverishly on my novel, the idea that God whispered into my ear. I had many sleepless nights, weekends were filled with writing, and we had many PB&J sandwiches for dinner. But the more I got into my story, the faster I wrote.

Finally, 3 months later, I typed THE END on my 96,000, 370 something page manuscript.

I felt...euphoric. I did it! I completed a book! Then, I did what every good author does after completing a book. I tried to pitch it. I bought Sally Stuarts Christian Writer's Market Guide, found a publisher that accepted faxed query letters (one of the ONLY such ones), used the handy dandy "how to" books I got from the library, and write my query letter. Then I faxed it.

I heard nothing.

Huh? Didn't they see my GENIUS writing? (I already gave you excerpts from this disastrous first query letter...) So, on to plan B. I went to the Internet. Where on the Internet you ask? Well, DUH! I went to my favorite authors websites to see if they had any tips.

They did. And, while they were helpful, I got a very, very BAD idea. (although I thought it was ingenious at the time!) One said that after you had your "summaries" to contact an agent. Then she listed her agent with a link.

JACKPOT!

I went to the website. They didn't accept unsolicited manuscripts, but DID accept manuscripts that were referred by current clients. And, I think you can guess where my very, very bad idea came in. I was referred by the current client... kinda. Via her website right? Wasn't that creative? The agent would think I was really a thinker! So I e-mailed my query letter and referenced the authors website as my referral. As bad as this was, I AM thankful that I didn't say, "So and so referred me..." At least I said it was their website.

But I received no response. Yeah, um, not surprised are you! On to plan C. Uh, crud. I had no plan C. I had no idea what to do next. I went a few months, a little dejected. I then found a few other things. I found another agent's website, and submitted my FIRST full proposal. (I learned how to write a proposal from a few online resources as well as Book Proposals that Sell by Terry Whalin. AWESOME book by the way! I highly recommend it!)

Six weeks later, I got my FIRST rejection. (Not just an 'ignore' but a rejection!) I was SOOOOOo excited. I know, rejections aren't nice, but heck, an agent had READ my idea, commented on it, and returned a letter to me. It said something like, "Your idea shows promise, but you need to work on you craft." And he was right. I had a lot of work to do.

Since then, I've started my blog and website. I joined ACFW, went to a local writers retreat, and went to the 2008 conference. I joined a local writer's group, and have a FAB critique group. I've edited my first novel numerous times, and entered it into the Genesis contest this year. I'm also a third of the way through book 2, and have a good start on book 3 as well. (I submitted both of those to Genesis too)

God has taken my little seed and started to water it. It's growing and I'm waiting patiently for it the buds to bloom. God knows the timing, and I'm content with that. I'm being obedient, or trying to, each step of the way.

So, there is my writing story. *grin*

For the rest of my story... well, keep reading my blog!

8 comments:

T. Anne said...

I must admit, I'm having a bit of my own angst today. I'm short on patience these days, it feels as though waiting is the hardest part after all. Your post brought me much comfort! Hope you had a happy Easter!

Krista Phillips said...

Oh, so glad I could make you feel a bit better!! Patience is difficult, somedays more than others! Take heart! *hugs*

Billy Coffey said...

As bad as this sounds, it's nice to hear someone else's horror stories. I have so many of my own, and it really is hard to hang in there sometimes. But we do, don't we? We do because we must, because we're called.

Jody Hedlund said...

Finally!! I've been waiting! :)

Seriously, sounds like you've learned a lot on your writing journey and are making steady progress! I think the key is to keep moving forward and learning and growing even when we face rejections.

Thanks for sharing!

Terry Whalin said...

Krista,

Keep your material out there. Repeatedly look for the open door for your work. It is there.

Terry
Sample Jumpstart Your Publishing DreamsThe Writing Life

Krista Phillips said...

Billy, I so understand! It's nice knowing that we aren't alone:-)

Jody, I HAVE learned a lot, and look forward to learning tons more!

Terry, thanks for the encouragement! It means a lot coming from an industry pro like yourself.

Amy Deardon said...

Krista, it takes such a l o o n g time to get published. Your story is so encouraging. Good luck with Genesis! When will you hear back from them?

Krista Phillips said...

Amy, the ACFW website says that the finalists are notified between 5/1 and 5/15. I've heard conflicting reports, some say it's usually never before late May, but then someone else said last year everyone was notified towards the beginning of May. I personally am just trying not to think about it and am business as usual. When May 1st hits, I'll probably start getting nervous butterflies though!