In my German family, the term “Stubborn German” gets tossed around a lot, sometimes in a lovey-dovey kind of way. But it’s mostly uttered through clenched teeth because said “Stubborn German” isn’t giving in and doing things our way.
Over the years, though, as I’ve pursued this dream of fiction writing, I’ve found stubborn can be a good thing, even a necessary thing. Without that deep-seated, dogged determination I find so annoying in beloved family members, I would have quit and pursued another career long ago.
Back in 2004, I thought my time had finally come. I’d been writing for about six years, had acquired towering stacks of rejection letters, but finally, finally, I sold a story–one I loved, absolutely loved. I worked with a freelance editor, Ramona Richards–who loved the story too. We smoothed out some “edgy” parts while I happily deposited the publisher’s advance check.
But several months before release, the publisher said they still had concerns about the story. Ramona and I toned it down some more. But then they said unless I changed some key elements, they couldn’t publish it. I was stunned. Ramona and I both felt that making the changes they wanted would take the heart and soul out of the story. How could I? After some serious soul-searching, I realized I couldn’t.
The contract was nixed. I was crushed.
I had an agent by then who said not to worry; we’d sell it elsewhere. Which he tried to do–for the next year. Nobody wanted Angel Falls.
As my frustration grew, he suggested I write another book. But when I sent it to him, he wasn’t sure he could sell a gator-trapping heroine to Midwestern readers. We parted amiably–he’s a great guy and a great agent–and I took up crying as a part-time job.
Family and financial issues finally forced me out of bed and I decided to try something new. I became a boat captain–and loved it! Still do. It gives me a chance to get outside on the water and provides my regular people-fix, too.
But at heart, I’m a writer. I didn’t write a word for several years. I couldn’t.
Eventually, though, the stories called me back and I decided I could take risks again. TRAPPED! is the story of my gator-trapping heroine, which I sold to The Wild Rose Press in 2008. Then in 2009, I had the chance to write the screenplay for the movie, Catch of a Lifetime, which is available now. I’ve completed several other manuscripts since then, but Angel Falls has always been the book of my heart.
In 2010, I saw that Ramona had taken a job at Abingdon Press. The same day I contacted her, she said she’d been thinking about me and Angel Falls. I was blown away…and humbled that she remembered this story after all this time. (Do you know how many manuscripts an editor reads on a regular basis??)
Another 1 1/2 years went by while she championed this story with Abingdon Press. (She’s determined, too!) Then I got an email from her that began: “I know you thought this day would never come…”
The paperwork is done and I’m thrilled to say that Angel Falls is scheduled for release in March 2013– TEN YEARS after I first started writing it.
I can’t wait to take you to Brazil and introduce you to Regina–my switchblade-toting orphanage director who will do anything to protect “her” kids. And Brooks–a big, scary burned-out Army Ranger who never wants to protect anyone again. Together these two damaged, courageous people will risk everything to save one small child–and find hope and healing along the way.
If you are discouraged today and your dreams seem impossibly out of reach, I hope this will encourage you. Never, ever, ever, EVER give up on the dreams God has planted in your heart. His timing may not be ours, but it’s always perfect.
Thanks so much for celebrating with me!
And if you have your own “stubborn” story, I’d love to hear it!