Thursday, May 05, 2005
How I Got Here, Part 47
This is going to be a shorter post today. I’ve had trouble since yesterday with the wireless in my office. Yay for Starbucks and T-Mobile.
So we left off yesterday’s NES with waitin’ for the biggy. It was spring of 2002, 12 years after I’d started writing fiction. I’d come through 10 years of rejection and was now on a pretty good roll. God had just straightened out some stuff with me, and I was ready to walk in His power, refusing to heed that nasty little “you know you can’t do this” voice.
Then one day the phone rang.
Y’all authors out there—what’s your idea of The Call from heaven regarding your writing? Well, I think for me, this was my Call.
It was Jane, my agent. With a question. “I’ve had a conversation with the folks at Zondervan,” she began with that no nonsense business tone of hers. “It’s occurs to them that you’re about to finish your last contracted book with them. They wondered if you have any ideas for other series. Their question to you is: “How many books would you like to sell them?”
I can’t remember quite what I did at that moment. Other than think I’d died and gone to heaven for sure. Or that I was dreaming. How many would I like to sell them?
Um, actually I didn’t have a clue.
But I really liked the general concept.
By the time I got off the phone I’d promised to come up with one or two other series to propose to Zondervan. I probably blathered to Jane like an idiot. Or maybe said very little because my tangue was all tongled. I simply can’t remember. I do remember kinda being in a daze for the rest of the day.
Oh, yeah. I do remember one thing. I was writing desperately on Capture the Wind for Me, and wanted to make deadline as usual. So I told Jane that I couldn’t propose anything until after that book was done. I simply had no time to think about it at the moment. She said not to wait too long. “Strike while the fire’s hot,” she said.
I wrote like mad and finished Wind. Then turned to figuring out a new series. Actually two new series. I was thinking of a new suspense and a new women’s fiction series. Why not? After all, they had asked a rather open-ended question of me.
I started looking around the Christian suspense market. Noticed something interesting. Forensics was hot, hot in the secular world—books, movies, TV. But little of it in the Christian world. So I then looked into different aspects of forensics and figured out that the forensic artist would be a great character to have. Someone with both left brain and right brain capabilities. With knowledge of science and aging and bone structure, but also the ability to empathize with people, interview victims of crime. An interesting character. This idea sounded great to me. I wanted to be one of the first to fill the niche of forensics in CBA fiction.
And so I developed the Hidden Faces series.
Then I turned to a completely different series, called the Dearing Family. A wacky extended family with unpredictable occurrences at their reunions. Four generations worth of interesting, colorful characters.
I wrote the proposal for these two series. Not really saying much about what the stories would be, because I didn’t know (except for the general premise in the first book of each). I described the settings for each series, the overall feel of the books, then gave a line or two of what could happen in each. All in all my proposal included 6 books—3 in Dearing Family and 3 in Hidden Faces.
Yup, back to that.
Zondervan did answer without too much delay, however. Yes, they liked the proposal. Yes, they would take both series!! Oh, my. I’d just sold six books at once. Six books. Head spin time. Snoopy dance and cabinet-polishing time.
But hold on. Zondervan had one problem with my proposal for Hidden Faces, Jane said.
Oh, great. Here it came. Some quid pro quo I couldn’t deliver.
I had offered ’em three books in that suspense series, right?
“Thank you very much,” Zondervan basically replied. “But we want four.”
Read Part 48