It started out with a salad.
A little background: I had been an empty nester for several years and spent a lot of time on my computer. One day I came across an online prayer request site. I found myself sitting at my desk praying for needs, sometimes three hours a day. During these times I became very close to other prayer warriors, and we started to communicate via email with each other.
I started saving their emails, both the praises and the heartfelt prayer requests. God had impacted my life with this new opportunity. I felt different, committed, more in tune with Him. I had never felt this close to Him before.
One evening I was tearing up lettuce for a salad when I felt such a strong nudge that I stopped. “Write.” I didn’t actually hear His voice, but I felt His presence so strongly that I left the lettuce and ran to my computer. I wrote for an hour pouring out my heart. The next day I realized what I had to do, what God had called me to do.
I categorized and compiled the saved emails into groups, then into chapters. I emailed permission forms to everyone whose comments, praises and prayer requests I had chosen to include. I had ten chapters, an introduction and a postscript. Every chapter contained prayer requests and praises, some actual answers to original requests. The chapters were diverse – We Can’t All Be Proverbs 31 Women, But We Can Try; Laughing With God; Leaning On Each Other and He Spoke To Me were a few of my favorites. The title of the book is Email Angels: God’s Angels on Earth. One prayer warrior sent me a beautiful drawing of an angel to use for the cover.
Being a newbie, both as a writer and an ACFW member, I scoured Sally E. Stuart’s Christian Writers Market Guide and sent a proposal (probably poorly crafted) to a publisher. One that published devotionals and non-fiction Christian books. That publisher requested one of the chapters to use in its magazine. I sent it, but never received a reply.
At about the same time I was encouraged at a small, local Christian writers’ conference to attend Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference.
When I applied, I learned it was full. But, God stepped in. Two days later I got an email telling me there had been a cancellation. I could attend!
The first class I took at Mt. Hermon was led by a new editor for a publishing company in Ohio. I requested an interview with her which she graciously granted. I wish I could remember the year I attended, but it was a long time ago. So long that Brandilyn Collins was just recovering from Lyme Disease and had received her first contract. We all applauded her.
The new editor and I met. I explained my book and my passion for it. She looked at me as if I had three heads. She had no comprehension about how people connected with online prayer groups. None. Looking back, I realize online communication was still new. Thanks to my techie son I was comfortable with it, but this editor wasn’t.
So, I made an appointment with another person. I can’t remember if she was an editor or agent. I knew so little then, especially not names of publishing houses and people. She did understand the concept, but she wasn’t ready to embrace it.
When I returned home I felt a bit deflated. Being a voracious reader, I spent my leisure time reading instead of writing. I read so many novellas my head spun, but I loved the genre. Encouraged, I began writing novellas. Until I discovered one has to publish with at least two published authors. Being a relative newbie, I knew none personally. So, I inquired on the ACFW loop, and a multi-published author said she would mentor me and accept me for a novella collection. She never really explained why she dumped me, but she did. I’m sure the quality of my writing wasn’t good enough, but it hurt. The dumping, I mean.
The next time I attended Mt. Hermon I was blessed to be accepted into Gayle Roper’s Fiction Mentoring Class led by James Scott Bell. Several of us formed an email critique group that lasted for over a year. Very helpful. Two of our members acquired publication. One was Kathryn Cushman, Katie, as we all called her. Katie is now a multi-published author and graciously acknowledged every one of us in the crit group in her first novel. That was inspiring.
Since that time I have completed five novels and numerous novellas. I have one novel I’ve pitched at several ACFW conferences, even had a full manuscript request for it. Right now it has gained status in the semi-finals in a contest a small publishing company is conducting. It is the first in a three-part series, with the potential to become an ongoing series.
Most of my venues are Newport Beach, CA where I lived and raised my family for over thirty years, and Scottsdale, AZ where I live now and have visited long-term for fourteen years. I am half-way through a novel set in NW rural Pennsylvania. I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and visited that area numerous times. It has memories.
I consider myself “Not yet-published.” I am exploring the idea of e-publishing my non-fiction Email Angels book. I truly believe the testimonies in it will be encouraging.
That’s my story, my publishing journey. Almost.