Sheesh, just realized it’s a good thing I decided not to use Roman numerals in the title.
Ron—waytago in joining ACFW! Becky, you have signed up by now. Right? As for the ACFW conference, I get to emcee it. This’ll be my fourth year. We have way cool fun. And we learn lots about fiction, too.
So, after that little digression yesterday—in the summer of 1999, I had my first sale. Yowsa!
The second great thing happened within a few months. I heard from Jane about Eyes of Elisha. She loved it. A few things needed to be tweaked, then it would be ready to send off. Hey, this was really cool! I’d mastered the Christian rewrite thing. Got this book basically right on the first try.
Yup, I was truckin’ now.
It took another month or so to receive the report about what needed fixing in Eyes of Elisha. Of course, I got right to that. And somewhere toward the end of that year, I received the editorial letter regarding changes to Cast a Road Before Me. There basically weren’t any. A few questions about word choice, but other than that—nada.
I was new enough to rejoice at this. I thought it was a great, great thing. My book was so wonderfully written, it didn’t even need editing! Now I know better. Every book, even if it’s terrifically plotted and written, needs editing. Some will need a lot more than others. I’ve have fairly easy rewrites, and I’ve had rewrites from hell. (Matter of fact, I’m in the midst of one of the latter right now.) But all novels need editing—for story structure issues, character motivation, and the smaller sentence structure stuff. These days, when I send off a novel, I don’t even consider it done. The longest, hardest part is over, but I know when I receive my editorial letter from Zondervan, I’ll be right back in the thick of the book, usually for about two weeks. Two long weeks of writing day and night.
But, hey, at the time—another victory. No editing! Whoa, I was riding high.
By spring of 2000 I’d joined a small organization called American Christian Romance Writers (ACRW). Not that I wrote romance, but my “women’s fiction” books qualified me for membership. To think that was only five years ago. Today, as y’all know, it’s American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), representing novelists in all genres of Christian fiction, and is rapidly growing to become a major voice for the industry. I’ve been on the advisory board for—I don’t know, I think since the latter part of 2000. Anyway, getting an e-mail address and joining ACRW would be a major shift for me. All those years I’d gone it alone, working and working behind my computer. Now I was connected. I could talk to other writers—immediately. I could ask questions, answer questions, network. Give encouragement and gain it. Man, what a difference!
I prepared to attend Mt. Hermon 2000 feeling much more confident than the year before. Maybe just a little too confident. I had one novel on the way to being published. The option for the second in the series, Color the Sidewalk for Me, was sure to come through. The house that bought Cast a Road Before Me wanted it. It was just a matter of doing the formalities of getting it through pub board, etc. Nothing to worry about. And—Eyes of Elisha? It was out at a number of houses who were very interested in it. No doubt one of them was going to snap it up. I mean, after all, it was a killer story. And God had redeemed it—so He had to have a plan for it somewhere.
Piece of cake, all around. Color the Sidewalk for Me would soon sell, as would Eyes of Elisha. Even if that one did push the current envelope and have weird things like visions in it.
At the conference I got to know more editors and authors. Started doing the late night thing of hanging out in the lounge, where a Certain Editor (C.E.) often held court. C.E’s a kick. Really smart and knows the business in and out. One night C.E. asked me what was going on. I told him about Eyes of Elisha, how it was circulating. I got this look. “Why didn’t you send it to me?”
What a question. A little over a year ago, I'd have died for an editor's attention. Now this?“Um, I don’t know. Guess Jane didn’t think your house would want this kind of story.”
That was probably a pretty accurate read. But let me tell you one thing about editors. Nothing gets one’s attention like hearing a bunch of other editors are looking at a book that he/she doesn’t have. This is akin to a reporter who badly needs a story seeing a gaggle of his colleagues rush by, cameras waving. Wait a minute, wait a minute! I want on this wagon, too!
“Of course I want to see it,” C.E. said. “You got a copy with you?”
Well, no. Who brings a full manuscript to a conference? No editor’s gonna want to cart the thing home. Besides, I wasn’t even there to pitch. My agent was doing all the work for me. I was just hanging out with my new buddies, picking up more secrets for the craft of fiction.
But wait a minute. I did have a copy of Eyes of Elisha with me. Sort of. See, my roommate that year was a friend who badly wanted to read it. So I’d printed off a single-spaced copy, three-hole punched it, and put it in a honkin’ big green binder. (After all, the manuscript was 120,000 words.) My friend was devouring it in the cabin at night.
“Well.” I cringed. “I kinda have a copy. But it’s in a form no editor would ever wanna see.”
“Go get it.”
So I did. My roommate pouted like no tomorrow when I snatched the copy out from under her nose. But hey. This was business.
And that is how major editor C.E., of major house, ended up hand-carrying a very heavy, three-hole punched, single-spaced copy of Eyes of Elisha home on the airplane.
Read Part 27