My writing journey began when I realized how much I like to make up stories and live in a fantasy world where I could create the perfect family, especially after my parents’ divorce. I made up stories for my paper dolls and my dolls using them as the characters. I wrote short stories as a teenager and my first novel as a freshman in college, still using it to escape into my “ideal” life.
Rejection after rejection disappointed me, but I kept on writing. I met DiAnn Mills at a writing conference, and she took me under her wing and mentored me. She also convinced me that joining ACRW would really help me improve my writing. I took her advice and it’s the best thing I could have done. She formed a critique group with Myra Johnson, Kathleen Y’Barbo and me as members. Later Janice Thompson joined the group then Marcia Gruver and Linda Kozar.
Through ACRW and then ACFW, I met Brandilyn Collins, Lena Nelson Dooley, Deb Raney, Lynn Coleman, and Rebecca Germany as well as my agent, Tamela Hancock Murphey. The most important lesson I have learned from them is patience. Giving God time to work on His schedule and not mine was difficult for me to do because I’ve always been a “take charge” sort of person. It didn’t take long for me to realize that catching the eye of an editor was more than being in charge.
DiAnn, Kathleen, Janice and I collaborated on a novella anthology, Sugar and Grits and submitted it in 2001. Patience paid off as we waited and left it with Barbour until 2005 when we were offered a contract for it. When it was published in 2007, I thought now I would be on my way. Two years later I still didn’t have another contract, but I didn’t give up.
I adopted Galatians 6:9 as my writing verse because I knew if I didn’t give up on what I believed God wanted me to do, I would reap a harvest. Then in 2009, Tamela called me with the news that Strang was interested in Becoming Lucy. They first sent an offer letter then a contract for one book with an option for three more. I started working on the manuscript and after I turned it in, a got another email from them saying they were ready to contract the next three in the series. In September of 2009 I signed the contract to finish out the Winds Across the Prairie series.
Since then I have signed for Christmas novella that will be released in September 2010. When God opened the door, He kicked it wide open with five books in one year. Unbelievable.
The road has not been easy, and the hundreds of rejections hurt. But I learned from the rejections. I paid attention to what my critique partners and judges in contest said. Of course some of what they said made me a little angry, but then I settled down and began to think things through.
The best way to further your writing is to attend conferences. There you will have an opportunity to attend workshops with great authors and learn from them. Books on improving your writing are usually available, and you have the opportunity to meet and network with others who are on the same journey you are as well as meet those who are well established and long down the road ahead of you.
Detours, bad roads, hazardous conditions, stop signs and other road difficulties with pop up to distract and take you away from your writing. The key is to keep on with your writing. However, we sometimes have to put our writing aside for a season because what is happening in our lives is more important than a manuscript.
Spend time with the Lord, and He will direct your paths in the right direction. Listen for His instructions and follow Him in all that you do. Be patient because our time tables are not God’s and seldom do they match. If it’s to be, it will be, when He ordains that it’s time.
Martha will be speaking at the May 2014 meeting of Writers on the Storm. We'd love to see you there!