Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Take Your Passion And Make It Happen

By Kathleen E. Kovach
Back in the early eighties, a movie about dancing inspired a generation to don their leg warmers and oversized t-shirts, and to hit their aerobics classes with an energy never before experienced. With a song by Irene Carra titled "What a Feeling," Flashdance burst on the scene, empowering anyone with a dream to "take their passion and make it happen."
I had a dream. A couple actually. One was to have a body like Jennifer Beals, the other was to write for publication. In 2002, my second dream was set in motion at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. The next six years were testament to how God took my passion and made it happen.
Right now, if this article were a movie, you'd see me gazing dreamily toward the ceiling, my face blurring in a wavy distortion to signal a memory . . .
I'm a four-year-old sitting next to my mother in church. She has just handed me the small spiral notebook from her purse that she uses for her grocery list. I reach for the stubby pencil conveniently sticking out of a hole in the pew in front of me. I spend the next half-hour scribbling nonsense, but in my head I'm writing a story. This, I believe, is my first Pulitzer worthy work of art. It's a shame no one can make sense of it.
Now I'm about eight, bent over a piece of construction paper in my room and working diligently to finish a poem about a "Fat Cat in a Black Hat." I draw something that looks like a black snowman with whiskers. On his head is a top hat, tilted in Fred Astaire fashion. It looks goofy. Art is clearly not my passion. However, I sell my poem to my friends for a nickel and make twenty-five cents. I am now a self-published author!
For the next seven years I fill up pages and pages of notebooks with poems, short stories, and plays. Then, I enter the Ninth Grade Writing Contest with "I Was A Female Dog—An Autobiography By George." I win the grand prize. Three dollars! Now, I'm not only a published author, I'm a contest winner!
At this point, my passion to become published sparks anew. But, I don't know how to pursue it. How do you make your passion happen when you're fifteen?
Even so, it would be nine more years before I attempt a full-length novel . . .
I'm a mother of two now, with hardly time to work on my Jennifer Beals body, let alone write a novel. My husband is in the Air Force and we're living in Frankfurt, Germany. With one television station to occupy my downtime, I buy a nifty new notebook with narrow ruled lines (wishing that Bill Gates would get his act together and invent the computer) and launch into my attempt at a romantic suspense.
I write when I can during this time. A paragraph here, a chapter there. Eventually, by our second tour in Germany, I find others with a passion to write and we form a group that we call The Inkslingers for our enthusiastic critique style of slinging red ink all over each other's work. At the end of that tour, I leave Germany and my crit buddies with an unfinished manuscript and a deflated dream. I'm in my mid-thirties and still have no idea how to submit a novel. My passion has been side-tracked but not derailed. It still chugs away in my spirit, waiting for the day to burst out of the dark tunnel of buried dreams, where my life has become family first, volunteer work, and globe trotting.
The year is 2002 and my now retired hubby and I are living once again in our beloved Colorado. I finally finish my suspense novel that I title, Once Was Lost. Birthing that novel and typing "The End" was akin to a twenty-three year pregnancy and delivering a baby with the head the size of a basketball.
Relief is soon replaced with a sense of "now what?" I have a first draft of a novel and still nowhere to turn. Researching markets seems as foreign as trying to learn conversational German.
In May of 2002 I find myself at the YMCA conference center in Estes Park, mingling with other passionate writing friends, and feeling a touch of what heaven must be like. I had written and submitted my article, "If Anyone Hears My Voice," and at the end of the conference I sit in delirious anticipation as the director, Marlene Bagnull, announces the winners of each of the contests offered that year . . .
Her voice is coming from the bottom of a swimming pool and I realize my heart is pounding so hard the swooshing of blood in my ears is making it hard to hear. I've surrounded myself with friends whom I've bonded with throughout the weekend. If Marlene calls my name, I'll want someone to celebrate with. If she doesn't, I'll cry on the closest shoulder available. I tell myself not to get my hopes up. Not since the Ninth Grade Writing Contest have I ever won anything. Yet, if I win, I'll feel validated—as if God has heard all those pleas through the years.
In slow motion, Marlene's voice now sounds like Darth Vader's, only scarier. "And the winner of the 2002 Unpublished Writing Contest is—" Breathe, Kathy, breathe. "Kathleen Kovach."
Hugs of congratulations envelope me and I'm grateful that I choose to sit in the middle of my friends. I race to Marlene who is holding out the most precious piece of paper that I'll ever own, aside from the birth certificates of my children. This is my birth certificate, where years of passion is birthed into this one single moment. As I walk back to my seat, I hear God clapping and He asks, "What are we going to write next?"
Three years after that conference, my first book, Merely Players, was published through Barbour's Heartsong Presents line. This is not the book that took me twenty-three years to write. That one still sits in my computer waiting for God to release it. Once I put "The End" on that piece, I knew I could finish something. This gave me renewed courage to start another story, the idea of which I pitched to the then Heartsong editors, Tracie and Jim Peterson, at the 2002 conference. That story, six years after I received my writing birth certificate, is now bundled in a compilation with two other authors, Lynn Coleman and Kristy Dykes, called Florida Weddings.
I'm still working on my first passion, to have a body like Jennifer Beals, but the older I get, the more that dream fades. However, after hearing God's encouragement that day in 2002, I realize writing is God's passion for me. More specifically, our passion together is to write spiritual truths in an entertaining and subtle way—with a giggle.
If you have a passion, be it writing or anything else, you can do as the song writer suggests: "Take your passion and make it happen." Even if you find it side-tracked in some forsaken tunnel. Even if it takes you nearly five decades to birth it. With God's help and timing, it will happen.
Oh, what a feeling!


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Kathleen, what a great post on perseverance, integrity, hope and life in general!

Your post touched my heart and soul with its warmth. Great job, girl!

God has a time and a plan for all of us... How wonderful to see that reaffirmed with your beautiful words.

I've made wedding Danish to celebrate the release of your book, and we'll have wedding soup for lunch....

I love wedding soup!

Great stuff.

The cappuccino/coffee bar is well stocked. Tina, Mary, somebody, pass the carafe, would ya, and let's get this show rockin' the big Kahuna. And, hey, I bought some of those to-die-for International Delight White Chocolate Mudslide creamers... Give 'em a try, ladies, they're splendorifically delicious!

Ruthy (who regularly needs reminders of God's plan...)

Jessica said...

What a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing such sweet encouragement! Definitely nice to hear.

Mary Connealy said...

Good Morning, Katheen. Welcome to Seekerville.
Thanks for a nice dose of inspiration so early in the morning.
I mean it's not THAT early but since I am walking around in a zombie like daze today, I'm going to go ahead and call it early.
Kathleen and I got our first contract at the same moment... well okay she went first by a few minutes, which makes her Esau and me Jacob, and we all know how THAT worked out... at the ACFW conference in Nashville in 2005.
My ears have never fully recovered from her screaming.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Awesome post, Kathy! Very encouraging! Thanks for sharing.

Ann said...

What a visual about the 23-year pregnancy and baby with a bowling-ball head.

Sounds like real life!

The coffee is great this morning.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, Kathleen, I think Mary's ears are sufficiently recovered...

Ya gotta be kiddin' me.

She MUST be able to hear if she can gripe about poor Ivan the way she does.

Such a sainted, blessed man of the earth. Farm-stock, born and raised. A country boy, of the race that knows Joseph. Simple and sweet.

Ah, Mary.

And it's, umm, planting time, right, Sweetcheeks? Which means it better rain on the right days and the sun better shine on the right days, and heaven forbid something gets stuck in the mud because it's all...

You guessed it...

Mary's fault.

Which just goes along with being a farmer's wife.

So, yeah, Kathleen, she CAN hear. She just doesn't always CHOOSE to hear.


Ruthy (who loves that new mudslide creamer...

oh, my stars, that's a taste made in heaven.)

Debby Giusti said...

Hey Kathleen! Seems my life overlaps with yours in a few "nodes of conjunction," which I'm blogging about today at (shame on me for blog name dropping!).

Anyway, I thought I was reading my life story, especially the part about writing as a child. I grew up thinking every kid wrote stories until my own three were born. Oh yeah, they loved to read, but no one wanted to try their hand at writing a novel over summer break. Go figure!

I'm an army wife and lived in Aschaffenburg, Germany, about an hour from Frankfurt! Love the country and the people. Unfortunately, no one I knew was writing so the desire of my heart (beyond children and hubby) was kept on the back burner.

My first ACFW conference was Nashville when you and Mary got the High Five! I do remember someone screaming! Was that you?

Hope to see you this year at ACFW! Congrats on your success!

Love your giggles!

Gina Welborn said...

With all this Germany talk, I feel the need to share a fond memory of my childhood.

Dad did a three-year stint in what was West Germany at the time when I was in 1st-3rd grade. We lived in housing off-base and went to basically was an American school.

For some unknown reason, my third grade teacher thought we ought to learn to speak German. What's with that? But she was the teacher and for some odd reasons teachers expect students to do the course work.

Well, I did...until I got bored. So one day our sweet German instructor stopped walking around the room and focused on my unanswered paper.

"Little fräulein," he said, "vhy are you not doing your paper?"

I'm sure I rolled my eyes at him. "'Cause I'm American. Why do I need to learn to speak German. It's not like I'm gonna live here all my life."

He patted my head and resumed walking around the room.

What an annoying chit I was. Good thing I've learned to keep my opinions to myself. :-)

I can count to ten in German and say please and thank you. Of course, I can say that much in French and I took two years of it in high school and two semesters in college. I'm practically completely non-fluent.

Coffee smells good, Ruthy. Did you get new mugs for Mother's Day?

Thanks, Kathleen, for sharing your story!

Okay, my word verification, phonetically of course, is we see be guilt. Yikes.

Pam Hillman said...

So, Gina, what are you feeling so guilty about?

Kathleen, loved the story of you life, esp. that basketball-head size kid of yours! lol

I was there in Nashville.

Barbour's contract offers are one of the highlights of conference. The anticipation that builds when we hear they're about to go on stage is astronomical.

I can't read my word veri....hmmm...but I think it's German.

Pam Hillman said...

I meant to say I think it's IN German, not the word German...

Pam Hillman said...

Ruthy, what's wedding soup?

Hi! I'm Kathy Kovach... said...

Okay, you all get up way too early! I'm popping in and am so encouraged by all your kind words. I'm sure you all can identify with my article if you're a writer, if God has placed that passion in your heart, and if you've been at this for some time...yeah, I'm probably not telling you anything new!

Ruth: Cyber food??? Come on! I'm a starving artist here! But you can keep the coffe. I'm a tea drinker.

Jessica: What sweet words. Thank you.

Mary: Your post says it's 6:52 AM, and you say it's not that early? I had only been in bed for 4 hours at that time. Yes, I'm a certified Night Owl, or what I like to call "The Night Watch."

More about Mary: She talks all the time about me screaming when I received the contract for Merely Players (now bundled into the 3-in-1 Florida Weddings ;-)), but actually, it was the rest of the room that erupted that day. Everyone on the ACFW loop had heard about my book. I used it in every example, I talked it up like crazy. Some people thought it had already been published and that I was a seasoned writer. ha ha Here's a little secret: When they called my name, I knew it was going to happen by the way Tracie Peterson was acting that day. And the fact that she and Jim had held my hand the whole journey because they REALLY wanted a story about a dolphin trainer, so it was no surprise. (Take away: write about something the editors have never seen!) Now, Mary here...She walked up there after they called her name and she was so shocked, she looked like she'd just won the lottery--except that it hadn't sunk in yet. Eyes as round as dollars, mouth wide open, (Yet in her totally cute way!) she accepted her contract and floated back to her table where she promptly disappeared into a tidal wave of her friends. I understand that at first she thought she'd been contracted for the book she had already written, which she was, but they also contracted her for one that hadn't been written. I imagine fear was as strong an emotion as shock. I'm so proud of her as she has continued on her journey after publication! Talk about perseverance! This lady has it!

Eileen: You're more than welcome! I love to talk about my writing walk because it's part of my testimony. God created me to write, as He has all of you. That little flame burning in your chest whenever you see a blank piece of paper? That's passion for the craft.

Ann: I know of that which I speak. My second son had a large head. 'Nuf said.

Debby: I absolutely loved Germany! The area was so beautiful. I wish I'd had more time to put all of my impressions on paper. I'm sorry you didn't have any support while you were there. Our group just "happened", in a God way, of course. I still keep in touch with one of the members, but as far as I know, I'm the only one who has pursued my dream to publication.

Gina: I learned only enough German to get by. Since we lived on base, there wasn't the immediacy of having to learn the language. I learned the words for left, right, and straight ahead, but if anyone elaborated, I was lost! Oh, and I learned how to order "Paniert schniztle mit pomme frits, und eine Coke, bitte!" A girl's gotta eat!

Pam: You're so right about the ACFW conference. I love watching the new authors go up and and get their contracts. It's truly a highlight of the week!

Well, folks. I'm 24-hour Granny Day Care here. The gkids live with me, and so my time is divided between computer and sibling rivalry. I'll pop back in later today. Thanks for all the wonderful words so far! And thanks, Mary, for the invite to guest blog. I'm lovin' it!

Megan DiMaria said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Kathy. Isn't it amazing to see the dream God planted in our hearts slowly grow and blossom?

A prisoner of hope,

PamelaTracy said...

Loved your post. My dad told me once that I used to scribble on paper, bring him the scribbles, and demand he tell me the story I 'thought' I'd written.
LOL We all have to begin somewhere.

Debra Ullrick said...

Boy, howdy, don't we all want a svelte body. Oh, in my dreams! But alas, sigh, double sigh, triple sigh even...THAT particular dream has faded into oblivion. hehe

Thanks for the reminder that dreams do come true with time and patience. Don't you hate that word? Patience should be classified as a naughty eight letter word never to be spoken. And if one does speak it, their mouth should be rinsed out soap or some other vile tasting sustenance... don't ya think? ~cheeky grin~

Great article, Kathy.

Have a great day!
Debra Ullrick
The Bride Wore Coveralls, now available.

Karen Witemeyer said...


Fun post. Back in my elementary days I can remember writing books at school that were published with my own illustrations and bound with cardboard covered in shelf paper. In 3rd grade I wrote about two mice, one skinny and one fat who were friends (inspired by the Frog and Toad series that I enjoyed). In 5th grade I was much older and serious and wrote "The Miracle of the Blind Girl".

But my favorite book was written in fourth grade. I don't remember the title, but it was all about a girl who went to another planet cleverly called "The Great Ball of Purple" and met many friendly purple people until they all ran screaming from the dreaded one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater. I wonder where that inspiration came from. :)

Thanks for sharing your road to publication. It is an encouragement to all of us to keep on "making it happen".

~Karen "crit buddy" Witemeyer

Angela Breidenbach said...

I feel like I've walked much the same road. But my overseas place was Spain :-) I'm working on several books both fiction and non. We'll see what dreams may come...

Paula said...

LOVE this story, Kathy!!! And so pleased to see you experience your dreams.

You're a wonderful writer, amazing encourager, and precious friend.

Thanks for all your work for ACFW CO. MANY of us have benefited greatly from your vision, hard work, leadership, and grace-filled love.

Mary Connealy said...

You did too scream, darlin'.
Trust me.

And I did walk up there in a daze. Someone grabbed me from behind.
Uh...I'm pretty sure one of them was Debbie Giusti, then on my way back down, Ruthy stepped out in front of me in the aisle and hugged me or I'd have just zombied on past her.

I think I remember Julie Lessman in there somewhere or maybe Janet Dean, or maybe both, they're both so classy, I get the two of them mixed up.

That time is wrong on my post. Which give me hope that Ruthy didn't really post at 4 a.m. but I wouldn't be surprised. It must be set on Eastern time because I wrote it at more like 8:52 a.m.

And Gina, honey, don't you look back on that opportunity to learn, learn, learn and just grieve. Think of the sassy things you could be saying to us in German with no repercussions

Sandra Leesmith said...

Kathleen, Thanks for the great post. I was in Nashville so remember the screaming. Nice to put a story to the name. smile I was so excited for you and Mary.

I too wrote as a child but it really backfired for me. I'd written all of these poems and I guess they were full of angst (which I didn't really have in my life so where they came from one can only guess) but my teacher found them and became so concerned that something terrible was going on in my life that she called my parents. My parents were horrified so I never wrote poetry again until an adult. Wish I cold remember what they were. Something about a flower blooming and then dying. I don't know?????

Anyway, thank the Lord, my gift wasn't totally stifled. I'm back at it. Your words really help to encourage and remind me that God will not let our efforts go to waste. It will be fun to see when that first novel of yours ever sees the bookshelves. smile

D. Gudger said...

Woo Hoo! Let's hear it for our Colorado Gal!

Awesome post.

Pam Hillman said...

Sandra, I can't help but laugh. Maybe you'd recently lost a pet, or had pulled all the petals off a black-eyed-Susan and felt bad because the flower was no longer pretty! Who knows?!?

I guess the teacher was trying to be helpful, but kinda overreacted, didn't she?

Tina M. Russo said...

Wow. How lovely to come home to Seekerville after a long day in the world and read your post. It just made me smile and of course I was humming, What A Feeling!!!

Thanks for sharing. I was in Augsburg, Germany in the late seventies with Army Security Agency. And yeah, one stinking TV channel, dude.

So where in Colorado is home? I am in the Denver burbs.

And while I am rambling...your book cover is GORGEOUS!~!!!

Thanks for being our guest!!

Debby Giusti said...

Sandra, love your story. I, too, wrote about death and dying in beautiful--at least I thought so--poetry. Maybe it's that coming-of-age thing! I think my parents laughed it off. Or maybe I never showed it to them.

Debby Giusti said...

Kathleen, can you and Mary give us the inside scoop on how to submit to Heartsong Presents? Maybe a few tips for writers who would love to be screaming at ACFW one of these years!

Melanie Dickerson said...

What a moving post, Kathleen! Dreams really do come true!

I've been in the woods, next to a lake that stank of dead fish and what I'm pretty sure was rotting ... something, in the middle of Alabama with 500 kids for the past three days. I'm SOOOOO glad to be back with you guys, even if I am still on Unpubbed Island! Did y'all miss me?

Anyhow, I know what you mean about it being a lifelong dream. I wrote my first novel when I was about 14 or 15. Typed it up. Even sent it to an agent. I also subscribed to Writer's Digest back then. But then I finally realized how difficult it would be to get a novel published, and how naive I was to think I could write the great American novel at such a young age. I also realized how hard it was to learn enough about writing to get something published, and the dream died for me when I was about 18 years old. But then I picked it back up 15 years later and I don't plan on ever quitting again!

Missy Tippens said...

Oh my goodness, I am so there with you on the Flashdance!! My roommates and I used to do the dance in our apartment! lOL

Thanks for sharing your story with us. It was so cute! :)


Cheryl Wyatt said...

I got to hear Kathleen's talk on her plotting/worksheets method at the Colorado ACFW meeting. I can't recall what she called it but it is really a wonderful system.

Great post, Kathleen!
Cheryl Wyatt

Kathy Kovach... said...

This is what I did while you all talked about me:
~ Worked on ACFW Zone stuff.
~ Broke up a tug-of-war fight between the 2 year old and 4 year old.
~ Sent out my newsletter (which you can sign up for on my website!
~ Yelled at the 5 year old for yelling at the 4 year old for yelling at the 2 year old. (I don't know what the 2 year old did to get yelled at, but at that point, I didn't care!)
~ Prepared a spreadsheet of phone calls I've made to my medical insurance who has called a collection agency for $12 that apparently my secondary co-pay hasn't picked up, but the secondary says they haven't gotten anything from them and would be happy to pay if only they would get billed! Grrrrr!
~ Removed the cordless phone from the 2 year old's sticky fingers, as well as the DVDs he took from their cases.
~ Went to the dentist. Look ma, no cavities! It's a sad day when sitting in a dentist's chair is the most peace I've had all day! I didn't want to come home.
~ I went home. Tried to replan dinner after my son announced he was going to the movie, and was I okay to watch the kids! SERIOUSLY? (He insists he told me a few days ago, but honestly, with days like this, who could remember?)
~ Took the kids to Burger King.

So, if it's not too late, I'd like to answer the rest of you.

Megan: Yes, it is amazing to see that dream blossom. I'm so sad for people who don't have a dream, or don't know what God has for them to do. Folks, Megan knows about that dream. Hers just came true with her first book, *Searching For Spice.*

Pamela: That is sooo cute! My oldest gdaughter does that with her letters, which she can do fairly well, but after graduation from Pre-K, only knows limited words. However, the 4 year old is the one who can tell a good story. She once spent 20 minutes telling me about her brother named Goldie.
It was fascinating. I wish I had written it down. Guess I'll do that next time.

Deb: You and me, babe. Let's don our legwarmers and go get a Dairy Queen Blizzard! (Butterfinger with cookie dough. YUM!) Speaking of patience -- which btw, never pray for or He may send your son, his three kids, two dogs, and a cat to live with you -- Deb has just published her first book through
Heartsong Presents, *The Bride Wore Coveralls*. I know what she went through to get it to publication.

Karen: My online critter! I totally believe that you've been
writing books since you were little. You're so prolific now,
I'm sure a contract is waiting for you in God's hands. BTW,
while you were writing about a blind girl, I was scripting
out Monkee stories. Yeah, the teeny-bopper dreamboats that
appeared on TV and made me scream with delight whenever I heard
Mickey sing "Last Train to Clarksville." I talked my friends
into performing them with me in my backyard and we sold tickets to
their families. I was an enterprising young woman, wasn't I?

Angie: Keep plugging away on those books, both Fiction and
non, and if God has placed that
passion in heart, your dreams will come true.

Paula (My local critter and conference roomie!): You *should* love this story, 90% is yours! Well, maybe that's 90% split between you and the other JOY Writers, as well as Crit2 of which Karen W. belongs. (Take away: Critique partners are INVALUABLE if you can find the right mix. I'm doubly blessed!)

Mary: WHAT EV! You were clear across the room. :) What I'll
remember the most about that night was the Barbour party in Peterson's room afterward. I felt like an interloper. What ever was I doing there? I' over that.

Sandra: I'd ask you to be a witness as to whether I screamed
or not, but you probably weren't focused on me. :> And as for
your teacher, ahem, didn't she know a fiction writer when she
saw one? Thank goodness someone doesn't call our parents when we kill someone off in our suspense. I'm glad to hear you've come back into the light.

Darcie: Shoutin' back out at you, girl! Colorado rocks! (Get it? Rocks? Rockies? ...Do you see what gkids will do to your brain?)

Tina: Are you a member of ACFW? If so, let me know and I'll plug you into the local chapter. We have one that meets in North Denver, and one at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs. Here's a story about my oldest when we were in
Germany the first time. He was 3 and used to his morning Sesame Street. AFN (Armed Forces Network) didn't come on until the afternoon. I have a picture of him sitting in front of the TV, his baby pillow jammed into his cheek and his two middle fingers in his mouth, and staring at the blank screen. It was so sad, but in that cute, kid way. I kinda enjoyed only one station except when Dallas was the only thing on. I did the weekly cleaning of our stairwell to avoid that show. Thanks for the compliment on the book cover. I was blown away by it myself.

Debby: I'll post after this with the "insider's view of publishing" which may be outdated since it's been *gasp* 6 years since meeting the editors of HS.

Melanie: After today, I think I'd trade three kids under four feet tall to romp in Alabama near rotting fish. Yeah. It was that bad! However, now they're fast asleep and looking so cute you want to bite 'em. How cool that you sent something in as a teenager! I didn't even get that far. I'm sure that perserverance will serve you well as an adult. Another cool inspirational quote I like to use is: "Never Give, Never
Surrender" from *Galaxy Quest* the movie with Tim Allen. Which, btw, is a great study on character arc! My Colorado buds are going to have a monthly movie night to study the
craft. That one will be on the list soon.

Missy: I hope you had a big apartment! LOL There was a lot of
kicking in that movie as I recall. And, uh, what did you do with all the water? (Remember when she's dancing in the club and the water drops on her?) Or maybe you and your friends didn't go that far with it. :>

Cheryl: Thanks for the cool encouragement! I'm so glad you were there that day. That talk was called "Left Vs. Right Smackdown". Here's my little ad. "Are the two sides of your brain wrestling with each other? Does the calculated left side tend to overpower the creative right side . . . or vice versa? Do you find that each have their strengths at times? This workshop will coach you on how to utilize both sides of your brain in a way that both will win. Organization is the key, providing Left Brain the joy of thinking analytically and Right Brain the fun of writing without dwelling on the technical stuff." I proposed this to ACFW this year, but didn't make it. Maybe next year! So, I've been doing it all over Colorado. The next one will be at Words For The Journey, Barnes & Noble near the Park Meadows Mall south of Denver at 7:00 PM on June 24. It's an eyes-on presentation as I show examples. Some people love it, others just don't get it. Those are the serious right-brainers -- but not hopeless.

Now, everybody sing!

First when there's nothing
But a slow glowing dream
That your fear seems to hide
Deep inside your mind.
All alone I have cried
Silent tears full of pride
In a world made of steel,
Made of stone.
Well, I hear the music,
Close my eyes, feel the rhythm,
Wrap around, take a hold
Of my heart.
What a feeling.
Bein's believin'.
I can have it all, now I'm dancing for my life.
Take your passion
And make it happen.
Pictures come alive, you can dance right through your life.
Now I hear the music,
Close my eyes, I am rhythm.
In a flash it takes hold
Of my heart.
What a feeling.

Kathy Kovach... said...

Sorry about that formatting above! I wrote it in Notepad so I could have it sitting on the website page next to the person I was answering. It worked well, except that everything came out goofy! Oh well. I'll never understand computers.

Here's an insider's view of publishing for Heartsong. I can only comment on how it happened for me, which will seem so simple, you may want to scream.

The best thing to do if you have the means is to go to conferences and meet editors. This will get you in the door, even if you don't have an agent.

As I said before, the 2002 CCWC conference was my first. I enrolled in the Petersons' early bird workshop on Writing Romance. They went around the room, asking us what occupation our hero and heroine had. It got to me, and I used that first unpubbed story: a fashion designer and a caretaker of his parents' mountain lodge. This was met with polite nods. Realizing this wasn't particularly exciting, I blurted out, "My next story has a dolphin trainer and an actor." Jim and Tracie's eyes popped open and they leaned forward in their chairs. (Take away: this is showing, not telling. :>) Jim said he definitely wanted to talk to me more about that and I told him he was my first editor appointment later that day.

Here's a serious take away from what I've just told you. Editors love characters with different occupations than what they see come across their desks daily. When they were working for Heartsong, the Petersons often said they were so tired of reading about nurses and teachers from Texas. (All of you who have written about nurses and teachers from Texas, please don't shoot the messenger!) My dolphin trainer was the sole thing that interested these editors. Well, that and the fact that I bear a striking resemblance to Tracie's best friend in Kansas whom she missed terribly. That must have been a God thing since I had absolutely nothing to do with that!

From there, they waited, and waited, and waited for my manuscript. When I met them, I only had two chapters written, and I didn't know a thing about writing. I found this out during that conference. Talk about a wake-up call! Generally though, they would take stuff from new authors, then help mold them. I don't know if it works that way today. JoAnn Simmons is the Heartsong editor now and I haven't sold anything to her yet. (She does have a proposal for three stories on her desk, though.) Maybe someone else could chime in who have published through her.

At any rate, I wanted to learn the craft before I gave them a disappointing manuscript. My name is Kathy and I'm a perfectionist. But, it paid off. I had very few edits (also thanks to my crit buds!) and I have a piece that I'm very proud of.

If you can't go to a conference, all I can say is to write the story God places on your heart and polish it until it shines. This may take the help of a crit group. At the very least, invest in some books to learn the craft. I had bought *Stein On Writing* by Sol Stein and outlined the entire book on my computer. Other books to consider: James Scott Bell's *Plot & Structure*, and he has another one out, "Revision & Self-Editing" that has gained attention on the ACFW loop. Join the Writers Digest Book Club. They don't charge shipping if you pay when you order. Oh yeah, join ACFW! I think most of you are members, but if you're not, this group is the best support around for Christian fiction.

So, my insider's take is to create as original a story as you can come up with, use interesting characters that you rarely see in your reading, and try your hardest to look like the editor's best friend.

(BTW, I'm submitting this at 1:53 AM MST just to prove that I'm the Night Watch. Sweet dreams everybody...)

Ausjenny said...

sorry didn't make it in last night or this morning Im fighing a cold and it making me feel really stuffed up and my brain seems to have gone missing. (as the poor guy waiting to use the automatic teller can tell you!) I make a lousy patient. (I keep saying im dying and its only a little head cold!) sorry for not coming in sooner. now im off to bed and hopefully sleep. (not that thats always wise last night i dreampt i was lost in Seattle!)

Tiff (Amber Miller) Stockton said...

Fantastic, Kathy. Loved your vivid examples from childhood and your emotions that you so clearly expressed or relayed through your words. No wonder you won that unpublished content in 2002. :)

Great advice and encouragement. Kudos and hats off to you as you've taken your passion and made it happen.

It's just beginning for me as well, and I'm loving it!

Paulette Harris said...

I love your story Kathy. It is full of encouragement and keeps me writing.

Love in Jesus,
Paulette Harris

Patti Shene said...

Kathy, I loved this post! I enjoyed hearing about your writing juorney. It gave me hope and encouragement that my dream will someday be realized as well. God bless you in your writing career! Love ya!

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

What a wonderful, wonderful post.

Thank you for sharing.