Monthly Archives: July 2013

On a Wing and a Prayer (But Mostly a Prayer)

Writing and prayer … what could be more natural? As writers, many of us find ourselves praying for inspiration, for guidance, for good news, for acceptance, for positive reviews.

So much of writing is outside of the writer’s control. Certainly most of the publishing process is out of the writer’s control and, though this may come as a surprise to non-writers, much of the writing process can be as well. Creativity so often has a mind of its own.

So … we pray.

acceptable_wordsFor those who write and pray, Acceptable Words: Prayers for the Writer offers a compendium of prayers for, and for the most part by, writers. I first found this book when searching Amazon for anything and everything written by one of my favorite middle-grade authors, Gary Schmidt. Turns out he and his wife, the also very talented writer Elizabeth Stickney, put this wonderful volume together.

In addition to entries written by those who are perhaps the “usual suspects” – C.S. Lewis, George McDonald, Thomas Aquinas – it includes prayers from Jane Austen, e.e. cummings, Madeleine L’Engle, and two of the three Bronte sisters. Somehow I feel better just knowing that even these fabulous authors felt the need and desire to pray.

While the prayers themselves are great sources of inspiration, one of my favorite sentiments in the book is found in the introduction, where Schmidt and Stickney write:

“… when the writing day comes to an end, when we shut down the word processing program, put the vinyl cover back on the Royal, set the pencils back in the pencil holder our children made the summer they were four, and when we look at the word count for the day and it’s not even close to what we had hoped for, and when we re-read our stuff and realize that we didn’t manage to say something that might be unique and important – when all of this is done, then what matters is that we worked hard and faithfully at the task that we were called to do: to bring acceptable words into the world, to bring acceptable words into God’s world.”

Voila! It’s a Book!

I first started writing THE FUNERAL SINGER five years ago. I remember it like it was yesterday. (Well, not really. I mean, it was five years ago!)

But here’s how it started: In April 2008, I went to a children’s writers conference, where T.A. Barron, author of the wildly popular MERLIN and MERLIN’S DRAGON series, gave the keynote address. Barron was talking about everyday heroes, and he commented that kids and teens today too often have a skewed idea of what it means to be a hero.

His remark stuck with me, and on the four-hour drive home from that conference, I started formulating the plot for THE FUNERAL SINGER. I decided to write a novel about a girl who becomes a pop “hero” but who ultimately discovers it can be more rewarding, more real, to be an everyday hero. Next thing you know, voila! It’s five years later and I have a book! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Seriously, though, let’s take a look at my path to publication, by the numbers:

  1. I went through one agent “break up” while working on this book. My former agent was smart and successful and sweet, and I admire and adore her, but she didn’t love this book like I did. I had to choose, and I chose the book. I’m not going to pretend it was easy. I’m not going to pretend I didn’t cry. But ultimately, it was the right choice.
  2. I entered two online contests with this book. It did well in both contests, and in one of them I received some feedback that ultimately led to major revisions and improvements.
  3. I put this book through three writing workshops. The feedback and support I received in those classes played a huge part in my writing and revisions.
  4. I received four “close, but no cigar” rejections from agents on this book. The ones where you get so close, where you can practically hear the phone ringing with the agent’s offer, are the toughest. Rejection sucks and leaves you with two choices: Give up, or try again. Only one of those choices offers the possibility of success.
  5. Did I mention, I spent five years writing, revising and submitting this book? That’s like, a lifetime (if you’re a five-year-old) (or a hamster).

Had I known my journey to publishing this manuscript would have meant going through all of that, I’m not sure I ever would have begun it. But I’m glad I did and am so thrilled to finally have a chance to share THE FUNERAL SINGER with the world!

Swoon Romance will publish it in Fall 2013 as an e-book. I want to thank publisher Georgia McBride, editor Amy Garvey, and agent Andrea Somberg for believing in this book!

Stay tuned to this blog for details and updates—including a sneak peak at the cover—as we lead up to its release!