The two books were to have different themes:
- family, faith, and friendship in one
- angels, miracles, and other wonders in the second
Since the initial email said we could contact the editor for a list of story suggestions, I emailed and asked for the list so I'd have an idea of what they were looking for.
In the days that followed, two stories came to mind - a contemporary story and a historical one, both fitting the faith, family, and friendship theme. I wrote and rewrote and after each synopsis was done to my satisfaction, I sent it out to my Inkwell Inspiration blog mates (Inkies) for critiquing.
On Mar 25, I emailed both synopses and a writing sample to the Guideposts editor. And then I tried to concentrate on my current writing project while I waited - not an easy thing to do.
On April 8th, I went into town for awhile and although I had my iPhone with me, I didn't have the volume turned up and didn't feel it vibrate. As soon as I returned home and entered the dining room though, I saw the light flashing on the Answering Machine. It was my agent, Mary Keeley, announcing that Guideposts wanted to buy my short story, Riding on a Christmas Wish.
Before I became too excited however, Mary advised that the Guideposts Books editor had some conditions before the contract would be offered. She gave me his number, and after a few hours when I'd settled down a bit, I made the call.
The editor said the main condition was that they wanted the story to be written in the father's point-of-view (POV) only. (He gave me the reason, but I won't say it here because that would ruin the story for you.) Would I be able to do that? I answered yes because several people had told me that I write guys well, and if that's what it took I was up for the challenge. The editor was also concerned that a big action scene would be lost because it was in the mother's POV, but I assured him that I could work around it and keep the action. (It gave me confidence that he liked the action scene.) With that verbal agreement, I got down to the business of writing. My new deadline to submit the complete 5,500-7,000 word short story (22-28 manuscript pages) was May 6.
And I did, again with help from my Inky blog mates. What would I do without them?
On May 10th, I received the Guideposts contract in the mail - all 3 copies. It was right there on paper that they wanted Riding on a Christmas Wish for A Cup of Christmas Cheer. Upon reading the contract, though, my joy was tempered by a sobering fact - that if the manuscript wasn't acceptable, the editor would ask for revisions once only. If the editor did not like my revisions, Guideposts would terminate the contract and I would receive a kill fee for my trouble versus the full payment. Gulp.
But it wasn't enough to stop the joy from bubbling up again. In order not to give away the contract details, I whitened out much of this xeroxed copy prior to taking this self-portrait. Yes, that means I aimed the camera at my chair and set the timer . . . ran to my chair . . . held up the contract . . . and smiled.
On May 31st I received my first ever revision letter. The Guideposts editor spared nothing in giving me his thoughts on my story and it looked bad at first, but it actually came down to one character problem and the tone of the story. The editor wanted the revised copy back by 9 am on June 10th, and after deep-thinking for a couple days, I started the revisions.
On June 9th, I sent in my revised copy, and then sat on tenterhooks while waiting to see if the editor liked it. Was it good enough? Had I understood his revision requests? Had I conveyed on paper the tone I knew he wanted? Would it be rejected because of something I could have easily changed? The doubts lingered...
Thankfully, he answered the next day - on June 10 - with a thank you note saying no further revisions were needed and the book would be out in October.
That was it. Or was it? Although I'd signed the contract, I didn't have the final version with the whole contingent of signatures.
You know, it's funny how your faith can flag when you allow doubt to set in. It's also the reason I didn't write this post sooner - the fear of rejection was very strong. It seemed better to wait and be sure my story had been accepted before making a big hoopla. So far, the only thing I had done was post the above photo on Facebook, and that was all I was going to do until I was very sure of publication. The thing is... the publishing world is changing so fast, an author can never be sure of publication until the book hits the stores.
On July 15 however, I received an email from the Books & Such head office that the Cup of Christmas Cheer contract had arrived and was attached. You can bet I ran that attachment off pretty quick. :)
And now I finally believe that I am going to be published - and soon too, because at this point, Oct is only 3 months away. Sure, things can happen between now and then, but faith in my writing ability has taken an upswing. I've been blessed beyond measure with this opportunity and so grateful to my agent, Mary, and my Guideposts editor, for giving me this chance.
October you say? Yikes, I have to start planning how I can help promote this project starting with the Genre Dinner at the upcoming ACFW conference.... but that's another post. :)