Many years ago -- many, cause I'm 40 now -- a 13 year old girl closed the pages on a Nancy Drew novel and decided one day she would write mysteries. Not long after, she closed the pages on a Janette Oke novel and decided one day she would write historical romance. Later, she closed the pages on a Tracie Peterson novel and decided she would write historical romance with a mysterious plot. She also studied every Christian Book Distributor catalog and found every Bethany House Publisher novel and studied the covers, the authors, the words. Bethany House was, after all, the epitome of publishers, wasn't it?
Fast forward. This same girl was 15 years old and finally completed her first novel. Excited and anticipating, she mailed it to Bethany House Publishers with a SASE in case of rejection. Sure enough, not long after, it was returned with a lovely letter from the editor telling me they felt I had talent for a young teenager, and to keep writing. Best rejection letter an editor could send to a sensitive, not-yet-used-to-criticism, kid.
Fast forward. From ages 15-26 she had written three novels. None of which garnered any interest from editors, and most definitely not from Bethany House. And then came the awful day when publishing houses closed down to unsolicited manuscripts and a writer needed an agent to represent them. It was as if a massive hurdle was placed before this girl. So she quit writing.
Fast forward. This girl began writing fan emails to her favorite author. Just emails to encourage her, not to be a stalker. She was 30 now, and life had moved far beyond being a writer, although occasionally she dabbled in it just because ... it was in her blood. Said author emailed her back! A relationship via email was birthed and what this girl meant to be an encouragement for the author became an encouragement for her. She picked up her pen (or computer) and began to write again. Seriously.
Fast forward. This girl had meanwhile been married to a pirate who stole her heart with an "argh!" and noticed occasionally she'd work on stories as she had for many years. This pirate sent her to a writer's conference two years in a row where finally, she panicked -- give me a break, she left a six month old Tinkerbell at home -- and raced to the prayer room. A man sat there on his cell phone and when he hung up he profusely apologized.
"I'm so sorry. I'm here to pray with people, but this call came in. It's my baby girl. She needed me."
Release the tears! She started sobbing and said, "that's why I'm here. I miss my baby girl!"
So they prayed. Then he introduced himself.
Oh no big deal. He was just TRACIE STINKIN' PETERSON'S HUSBAND!
Fast forward two more years. (By now you've figured out this girl was me, right?) I drug my six month pregnant self home from work early on a January day. I was fed up with people -- it'd been a hard day, don't judge -- so I crawled into bed for an afternoon nap. Before drifting off to sleep, I checked my email on my phone. A suspicious looking email popped into the inbox. "Raela Schoenherr". No clue who that was. But I opened it. She stated "this may seem weird", but I "saw you on Twitter", I'm from "Bethany House Publishers", and wondered "if you had a book proposal you'd like to send me".
Yeah. Sure. I'll send you my book proposal, Twitter Creeper, so you can plagiarize my work. (Cause we all know my writing was so amazing in 2012 that people were LINING up to steal it).
I forwarded the email to my writing mentor and said, "seriously, is this lady legit?" A few minutes later, I received an email back "yeah, I never heard of her. Let me check into it". A few minutes late, "JAIME! She's legit! She's a new acquisitions editor at Bethany House Publishers!"
Fast forward. 1 book, 1 very kind acquisitions editor, 1 very kind rejection letter. 2nd book. Same very kind acquisitions editor, 1 super nice rejection letter. We met in 2012 and 2013, over coffee, at the writer's conference. But my books were either not quite ready, or not quite right. Regardless, this "Twitter Creeper" was anything but, and became a wonderful encourager in my writing journey. SO much so, that in 2013 I had the courage to pitch one of those novels to an agent, Mary Keeley. Within three months, she offered to represent me. YAY! I had an agent! That massive hurdle? We jumped it.
2014, 1 more novel, same editor, but this time no answer. No rejection, but no offer of contract. My agent said, that might be a good sign. My writing was improving, the stories becoming more intriguing.
Fast forward. 2015 my mentor (remember that super nice author I fangirled ages before?), she emailed me and said "You should write a split-story. Half historical, half contemporary. Tie them together with a suspense and see if editors are interested". When my mentor suggests, I typically act. I mean, she's published well over a million books so she must know her stuff. I emailed my agent who heartily agreed. I wrote the book. Same editor. This time? An affirmative rejection.
This time the rejection came with a page of suggestions. Change this, edit that, spruce up this, cut out this character. So, I did. Because it only made sense and the story came alive to me in ways it hadn't before. My agent resubmitted it to Raela, my friend, this editor, this champion of my cause. And we waited ...
Fast forward. September 2016. An email popped into my inbox. "Are you sitting down?" My agent asked. Yes. I was also eating a burrito at a Mexican restaurant. I read and re-read the email. Then my phone rang. Mary. My agent.
WE DID IT.
So last week, I sat down in my Administrative Assistant's office, 27 years after the day I decided to be a writer of mystery with history and twists and turns. 27 years after I prayed that someday, maybe the Lord would bless me with Bethany House. 4 years after a Bethany House "creeper" :) stumbled into my Twitter profile and held out a hand of welcome. My admin snapped pictures as I picked up my pen and for a moment, I paused. I breathed deep.
None of this was an accident, a coincidence, and certainly not of my doing. It was orchestrated, designed, and offered as a gift. A gift I pray I never take for granted. Because sometimes, God does grant your dreams, down to the most minute details, but rarely does he do it in your timing.
Soli Deo Gloria.
Professional coffee drinker & ECPA/Publisher's Weekly best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.
Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures atjaimejowright.com.
Web site: www.jaimejowright.com