Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Best of Seekerville from the Archives and First Five Pages Critique

By Julie Lessman

“Come in and make yourself comfortable.”

I blinked. Comfortable? With sweat on my palms and an eye twitching to the beat of my pulse?? Dear God, why had I switched deodorants???

She closed the door with an ominous click and extended her hand. “I’m Zsa Zsa Gabor (name changed to protect the innocent), Acquisitions Editor for Publisher-R-US.

And you are …”

A basket case … on her first conference pitch ever. I swallowed hard. “Lessman, Julie Lessman.

She nodded and settled in on a worn paisley couch with all the grace and dignity of a queen on her throne. “Tell me about your manuscript,” she said.

I sucked in a deep breath, genuflected in my mind, and let it fly … “Well, you see, it’s a story about an Irish-Catholic family in pre-World War I …”

She extended her hand in the air, palm facing me, and for a moment I thought she was going to do the princess wave. The air fused in my throat when I realized she was halting my spiel. “I’m sorry, we can’t have Catholicism in our stories …”

And there you have it. My maiden pitch to an editor … a glorious seven seconds long! I went back to my hotel room and did what I’d been doing all conference long—cried my heart out and wanted to quit. God help me, the room maid had to think I was pilfering Kleenex!

Nobody ever told me what a bumpy ride it would be on the road to publication. No one ever mentioned that it’s truly an exercise in humility and perseverance that few have the stomach for. That it takes a unique individual to even try. All you know at the time is that you have this story burning a hole in your heart and you want to get it out. You want to pour your passion—for God and for writing—onto paper and … well, yeah, get paid for it.

So you buckle up and grit your teeth, and keep your eyes riveted to the road as you embark on a journey that has more pit stops (as in “in the pits”) than the Indy 500. And, regrettably, the bumpy ride doesn’t end when you are finally published, at least not for me. But with God’s voice on my GPS (“Turn right at the next 1-star review and pray till you get to Forgiveness Lane …”), you plot out a route for publication that hopefully won’t have you driving in circles.

Over the last few months, I have had a number of new writers ask me what advice I can give them as far as traveling the road to publication. The only thing I have to offer is the road map that worked for me, which I have outlined below. But I invite the other Seeker authors (or any authors who read this blog) to chime in regarding their own personal path to print. Let's share the wealth of tips for the many excellent writers out there just waiting for that one, wonderful green light...

Mile Marker #1: Get connected. This is the FIRST piece of advice I ever received, and it’s some of the best. I joined RWA, ACFW and FHL and trolled their Web sites for “travel tips” on my way to publication. I joined an ACFW crit group and made wonderful friends and partners in writing. I networked with fellow writers, whether on a blog post or in crit groups or book clubs or at conferences. And I was blessed enough to fall in to this wonderful group of talented ladies called The Seekers, and the blessings have been phenomenal! Not only do you acquire AMAZING friends, but you interact with fellow writers and are able to draw upon their wealth of talent, humor, support, expertise and publishing savvy.

Mile Marker #2: Improve your craft. I took a fiction-writing class at my community college, then attended several writing seminars and conferences. I also purchased tons of writing and self-editing books and studied them like crazy. Books such as Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King or Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas and The Synonym Finder by Rodale Press (my writer’s bible!!) have proved invaluable. I submitted my work to my crit partners, entered contests for feedback, purchased paid critiques at conference—all of which helped me to grow as a writer.

Mile Marker #3: Enter contests. As far as testing the waters of publication, I think contests are absolutely essential. They helped me to obtain insightful feedback, some name recognition, WONDERFUL friends and toughened me up a lot … which, trust me, comes in handy when you get 1-star reviews!!

Mile Marker #4: Go for an agent first, publisher second. I spent two years and about 31 rejections on unagented queries to publishers, some of which took as long as three years to reply. In fact, within six months of signing with my agent, I sold to a publisher who STILL had an unagented proposal (requested from me at a conference) lost somewhere in their very deep slush pile!

Mile Marker #5: Pray your guts out and stand on Scripture. This is pretty much the most important step, in my humble opinion, so I have a habit of posting “billboard” Scriptures that help me along the way. Here’s a listing that I put together, along with prayers for each. Pick one or two to tape to your computer or print the whole list off and keep it in your Bible. Either way, I hope they fortify you as much as they fortify me. And I wish each of you much success and a safe journey on the road less traveled!

Psalm 90:17
May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us –
yes, establish the work of our hands.

Oh, God, pour out your favor as we send proposals,
enter contests, submit stories to magazines, etc. and grant us favor and success
in all we set our hand to. Establish the work of our hands
so that we may honor You.

Psalm 45:1

My tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.

Father, pour out Your grace and wisdom
as we strive to honor You with the gift you have given us.
Let our tongues, our hearts, and our minds be the pens of a skillful writer,
and let our words always be worthy of You.

Matthew 6:21

For where your treasure is, there your
heart will be also.

Dear Lord, Let our treasure not
be in getting published or the plot of our next book,
but let it be first and foremost in You,
the true joy of our heart.

Psalm 119:116
Sustain me according to your promise,
and I will live. Do not let my hopes be dashed.

Thank you, Oh Lord, that hope does
not disappoint. And thank you, Oh God, that You
are the God of Hope. This day and always,
I rest my hopes in You,
for I know you watch over both them
and me ... to bear fruit.

Psalm 143:10
Teach me to do Your will,
for You are my God; may Your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.

As we strive to do Your will, Oh Lord,
keep us steady and strong, humble on the heights
and lifted up in the valleys. But wherever the
path of our life shall take us,
keep our faith, always, on level ground.

Psalm 71:14
But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise You more and more.

Dear Lord, as we press on to become the writers
you want us to be, fill us to overflowing with Your hope.
And may our lips never cease their joyful
song of praise to You,
our God.

Micah 4:2
He will teach us His ways,
so that we may walk in His path ...

Heavenly Father, precious Holy Spirit and dear Lord Jesus,
thank You that You not only have a path for
each of us, but a plan to equip us to
walk it. Let your Word, oh Lord,
be a lamp unto our feet and
a light unto our path.

Psalm 138
The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me;
Your love, O Lord, endures forever –
do not abandon the works of Your hands.

Thank you that you have a plan and a purpose for each of us.
Fulfill Your purpose for us -- strengthen us, fine-tune us, humble us
and guide us to be the writers You have called us to be.
That we, the works of Your hand, O Lord,
may serve You with ours!

Proverbs 16:9
In his heart a man plans his course,
but the Lord determines his steps.

Lord, prepare us for your plan, your steps for our lives.
Help us to keep focused on You
as we walk the path You have for us.

Hebrews 10:35-39
Therefore, do not throw away your
confidence, which has a great reward. For you
have need of endurance so that when you have done
the will of God, you may receive what is promised ...
my righteous one shall live by faith, and if
he shrinks back, my soul has no
pleasure in him.

Lord, even though we suffer
rejection and disappointment in our
dream of wanting to write for You, please
give us endurance and hope so we
will not shrink back from
all you have planned.

Isaiah 40:31
Those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run
and not grow weary, they will walk and
not be faint.

Renew us, O Lord, from
the fatigue of the day, the oppression of
the world and the heaviness of
our obligations. Let our spirits and souls be
filled to overflowing with Your hope
and Your strength.

2nd Corinthians 11:3
But I am afraid, lest as the serpent
deceived Eve by his craftiness, your mind
should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of
devotion to Christ.

Dear Lord, before our families,
before our jobs, before our writing ...
let our devotion be to Christ,
pure and simple. And let the effect be seen ...
in our families, our jobs, our writing,
and our lives.

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 13 Romance Writers of America awards and was voted by readers as “Borders Best of 2009 So Far: Your Favorite Fiction.” She resides in Missouri with her husband, daughter, son and daughter-in-law and is the author of “The Daughters of Boston” series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. Her “Winds of Change” series has recently released with A Hope Undaunted, which ranked #5 on Booklist’s Top 10 Inspirational Fiction for 2010. You can contact Julie through her website at

By the way, many of the scriptures and prayers Julie mentioned in this post are available on the Seeker bookmark, designed by the designer who created her web site. If you'd like a book mark drop us a line. More info here.

This post first appeared in Seekerville March 4, 2008

Don't forget...

Today is the last day to be considered for our weekly critique.



  1. The coffee and tea pots are ready.

    This post is as relevant and helpful as it was almost three years ago.

    I've been trying to spend more time in prayer and follow these steps.

    Today I received a request for a complete. I know that has to be taken with a dose of reality, but it's encouraging.


  2. Julie

    Thank you for the wonderful collection of Scripture verses & your prayers that followed. Another Seeker keeper!

    Your markers are great too. Looks like I'm on the same path. Appreciate you leading the way!

    May at maythek9spy dot com

    Way to go Helen!!!

  3. Hi Julie:

    You had me going there! I read the below and said to myself: “Surely that’s not in the Bible!”

    Psalm 90:17

    May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands.

    Oh, God, pour out your favor as we send proposals, enter contests, submit stories to magazines, etc. and grant us favor and success in all we set our hand to. Establish the work of our hands so that we may honor You.

    Psalm 45:1

    I think it might help to put the Bible quotes in Italic or bold or in quotes. : )


    P.S. Even though it is late at night the 'etc.' gave it away. I'll read it again in the morning.

    HELEN: Good luck and keep us informed! : )

  4. GREAT post, Julie--thank you! Before I began writing seriously (when I was still teaching Kindergarten) I developed a habit of posting favorite Bible verses around my house (on my bathroom mirror, etc.) so I could be reminded daily of God's promises and how I should be living. Now I need to keep some posted by my computer also--to remind me WHO is in control and WHO I'm really writing for! ~ I have to add that I love your sense of humor too (and must confess that after reading about your very first conference pitch I felt better, LOL! At mine I just sat there for a few seconds, looking DAZED, I'm sure!). ~ Blessings, Patti Jo :)

  5. Great post, as always, Julie!

    Helen! Congratulations on getting a request for a complete ms! You just advanced a level! :)

  6. Helen!!! Congratulations!!!

    This is so huge@@

  7. good morning! almost good night for me - working night shift (or at least pretending I'm working!)
    yeah - tea! thank you!

    I've got to read that Daughters of Boston series - I've seen others mention them but reading only contemporaries sorta hindered me at the time! I've broadened my horizons a bit this past year though!

    soooo sleep and I slept most of yesterday so shouldn't be.


  8. Helen. Can you feel the love?

    Congratulations on the request. You also said exactly what I was going to say - Julie's post is classic.

    I am going to print them all off--even those parts of her bible that I don't have in mine (tee hee Vince)

    Susanna, did you start the coffee and hot water? And where's AusJenny?

  9. Helen-Wonderful news! Sending good wishes you way.

    Julie-Thanks for sharing scripture to help sustain us through the bumpy writer's life.

  10. YAY, HELEN! Congratulations on the request! No matter what the outcome, this is one more step in the right direction on your writer's journey! So excited for you.

  11. Ohhhh -- Helen -- exciting news!!!! And you still put the coffee on!

    Julie -- loved this post. Love the Julie Lessman Writer's Version of the bible. Those scriptures and prayers are definitely getting printed up and posted! So encouraging.

  12. Julie, I absolutely love this. I love too that you put scriptures & scriptures prayers on bookmarks. I have heard SO many authors talk about them and how they've encouraged and ministered to them.

    Also, you give such sound advice.

    I love your heart!


  13. Helen, congrats! That's a huge accomplishment that you SHOULD be excited about. DO keep us posted!


  14. Patti, my squirrel-loving-buddy, what a great idea to post these by the computer!

  15. Julie, This is so encouraging, and the scripture quotes and prayers are very helpful; I'm posting them next to my computer. I was devastated when the publisher didn't even open the proposal I'd agonized over for weeks. He handed it right back and gave told me 'we don't do that' (when my research had validated that they DID). UGH. Thanks for the inspiration to 'just keep writing' (read that in 'Dora-speak' from Finding Nemo).

    Congratulations on your success. I can't wait for your next new release!


  16. 'Mornin'All and Happy Weekend, to boot!! We've got a balmy 35 in St. Louis today, up from 7 degrees a few days ago, so I feel like I'm "cruisin' again"!! We have "sink" omelets today, which means you can have everything in them BUT the kitchen sink, so belly up to the omelet bar and give your order. I personally like 'em run through the garden several times with a side of salsa. YUM!!

    HELEN, WAY TO GO, GIRL ... that's not just "encouraging," it's downright awesome!! Getting a request for a complete is HUGE in my book, so I'm praying RIGHT NOW for supernatural favor on this request. You go, girl!! And as always, thanks for plugging in the coffee ... :)

    KC ... my pleasure, sweetie! It's always nice learning from others' mistakes, isn't it??? SO much less painful that way, you know???

    VINCE ... well, we can blame your confusion on Blogger because really, sweetie, do you NOT know how anal I am???? That blog was near-perfect when I originally posted it, with Scriptures in Italics, spaces between them and the prayers AND everything centered. Unfortunately, Blogger chose to mess it all up, so I spent about 30 minutes this morning (yes, I'm as stupid as I am anal, apparently!) fixing it all JUST for you!! Okay, okay ... I may have done it for me too ... :)


  17. Good morning,

    I loved the humor of your post, even though your first "pitch" isn't to be laughed at. On my first one, I talked for about thirty seconds and then the agent said: "And why should I care?" Like you, I was stunned.

    I'm printing out the scriptures and your prayers and will be posting them in my office for daily reading.

    Thank you,

  18. This post was just as good the second time around. I keep these scriptures near my computer and reference them often.

    Congratulations Helen, and best of luck!

    I'd like to be entered for the 5 page critique.


  19. PATTI JO ... honey, you sound like MY kind of gal ... Scriptures posted EVERYWHERE!! The Seekers know me as a sticky-note Queen with prayers, but I do the same thing with Scriptures too ... on my kitchen window, on my purse, on my books ... even on index cards in my Bible, which if you think about it, is pretty redundant ... :)

    Thanks, EVA MARIA ... for your kind words and for stopping by! Good luck in the contest!

    Uh, SUSANNA ... yeah, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say YES, YOU SHOULD READ THE DOB SERIES!!! I happen to know from a very good source that although it is a historical, it is written from the mindset that applies to today, giving you the flavor of early 1900s, but the feel of today. Check it out from your library, borrow it from a friend or try to win it here next month on my Seekerville blog ... but read it, darlin' 'cause I'm hoping you won't regret it!


  20. DEB!!! Hey, girl, my apologies for not getting your winner's copy of A Hope Undaunted to you yet, but I promise to ship it next week, okay? A few things fell through the cracks for me this week, and you were one. Hope it didn't hurt!! :)

    ROSE ... you're more than welcome! We writers have to stick together, and we CHRISTIAN writers have to stick to SCRIPTURE!!

    GLYNNA!!! Thanks SO much for your new book Second Chance Courtship -- looks FAB and will be in bookstores in February, right???


  21. Thanks, KAV ... I actually have about three little binders full of Scripture/prayers from prayer journals in my past. I like to read a Scripture and then pray it because NOTHING makes prayers more powerful than reminding God of His Word!!

    Oh, CHERYL, it's SO good to hear that about the bookmarks, because I actually never hear that, so thank you for passing it on! And, girl, you gotta know how much I love YOUR heart!!! :)

    SUSAN!!! Soooo good to "see" you -- how are you doing??? And, man, your story is as jolting as mine! Fortunately for me, someone told me NOT to give any paper to editors at a pitch other than a one-sheet, which, of course, I didn't have, so I didn't have to suffer that rejection on too. Thanks for your kind words, Susan, and one of these days we WILL meet! Seems like a shame we haven't thus far, with you living in St. Loo, but maybe at ACFW this year???


  22. Jules,
    Thanks so much for this VERY, VERY (did I say VERY) timely reminder!!

    Esp #5!

    And I'd LOVE to be entered into the contest for the 5 Page Critique.

  23. Where's Aus Jenny is right!?

    Julie -

    As wise as she is, uh, anal...

    We writers have to stick together, and we CHRISTIAN writers have to stick to SCRIPTURE!!

    EXCELLENT! And why so many of us hang out in Seekerville. Each of you is such a gift. Thanks for being who you are. (or is that whom you are... nah... Nodding to Grammar Queen)

    My CP was talking about this application today: I just had an insight!! (oh no!) Music and art are both mechanical and mathmatical in nature. The one viewing it or listening to it does not see it, but the person either painting or creating the music knows it is. So, writing must be the same way. If you follow the formula smoothly, the person reading it doesn't know that mechanics are involved.

    In God's world, everything has an order. It's up to us to find that order and embrace it. When we do, everything runs according to plan. His plan. I think when we run into problems is when we try to make things fit into OUR plan.

    Isn't she brilliant? :D

    Again, I count my blessings...

  24. Oh Julie! I had to laugh (In sympathy of course) about your first pitch. That would me...all...the....way! I am terrified of such pitches.

    Though I think listening to the agents on recordings from past conferences have made them see more approachable. GULP!

    I loved your verses, but especially the one about giving your dream to God. Kick in the pants for sure, but a good one. :)

    Loved this one!!

  25. Hi Julie:

    I know I was tried last night.

    I was also quite surprised because I was reading the start to “A Hope Undaunted” and was all set for it to be another story where the heroine has to choose between two heroes (I don’t like this theme because I don’t know which hero I should vicariously identify with) when I got a shock!

    How did Cluny get so big! While I was trying to figure this out and stay awake a little longer, I decided to take a look at Seekerville.

    When I read your post, I thought, “Oh, Psalm 90, Moses wrote that one”. (No, I don’t know the Bible that well but Psalm 90 is sometimes a Bible trivia question.)

    While Moses was on my mind, the wording kind of got modern-like! I just naturally thought I was reading the New Living Translation of the Bible. That kind of woke me up. “Magazine articles?” That’s just taking too much liberty for me. (I have issues with the NLT.)

    Then it occurred to me, (‘etc.’) Julie wrote this! But it is very Biblical! With just a few changes you might have fooled me!


  26. Oh, WOW, SANDY, you poor thing ... the response you got would have tripped my tongue and flushed my face something fierce!! I'm sure the editor was one of these no-nonsense, dry types of persons, but even so, that would have really put me off. Thanks for sharing and good luck in the contest, sweetie.

    KIRSTEN ... you want to subject yourself to that torture AGAIN??? Honey, you ARE a brave soul, let me tell you. But then again, it's not Ruthy's red pen, so it could always be worse. :)

    PEPPER ... AMEN TO THAT, SWEETIE!!! And like Kirsten above, you want to go up against my red pen AGAIN??? You girls are gluttons for punishment, I'll tell ya. :)


  27. Julie, thanks for the scriptures. Those are great!

  28. Great post, Julie! It was nice to have a laugh and encouragement break while mopping my kitchen floor.

    My verse is Jeremiah 29:11 (goes along with your Proverbs 16:9):
    "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

    That plan might not go quite how I picture it, but I have God's promise it will be for the best.

  29. Having never been to a conference before, your portrayal of it floored me! In my mind, agents are sitting at tables, with a line standing in front of it, waiting for their turn to pitch! I never realized it was behind closed doors! That is MUCH better! I was thinking people would be HEARING my pitch and snickering behind my back! lololol

    I feel so much better now. Thanks!

    Annnd, I have never seen the Lessman red ink, so you can put me in for the draw. I've heard it runs really red! ;)

  30. I felt for you, particularly on the Catholic issue. I struggle with keeping Catholicsm out of my stories, to the point where I once even met with a priest about it. The priest totally got the non-denominational marketing aspect of what I was doing. His response to me was "as long as you quote Scripture, the (Catholic)Church won't have any problems with it."

    I try to live with that advice.

    I won the critique last week, so I would feel somewhat greedy placing my name in again. However, I do have another WIP. Also, after Mary's post (this week, I think) on being greedy, I think I'll put my name in again anyway. :-)

  31. KC SAID: "As wise as she is, uh, anal..." Mmmm, KC, that would be nice, but I'm afraid my anality is WAY off the charts, which in and of itself, is an indication of someone who is not very bright, wasting one's time on perfection that can never be achieved ... nor needs to be! :/ And, YES, your CP IS brilliant, and so are you for picking her! I'm hoping Jenny will pop in sometime today with an update.

    Hey, CASE, giving your dreams to God is the ONLY way to fly, for sure! And, sweetie, wanted to let you know that I mailed that book to Kristy two days ago, so hopefully she will get it mid-week next week.

    "Another story where the heroine has to choose between two heroes (I don’t like this theme because I don’t know which hero I should vicariously identify with)"

    Oh, Vince honey, that's my FAVORITE kind of story, don't you know??!! I LOVE the romantic tension created by a third party, or in Katie's case in AHU, a fourth party! :)

    And I'm glad you asked the question of how Cluny got so big, because I've been waiting for somebody to ask that. In A Passion Denied, he was 14 and looked ten, a pipsqueak who was almost a head shorter than Katie, who was petite to boot. But in AHU, he is 6"3", so how DID that happen??? Well, I'll have you know that it is more than possible because my husband grew 7 inches in one summer (three months), no joke. He told me that his mom bought his school trousers in June and the hem rested on his shoe, and in September, they were almost calf high, with red socks to boot!! He got Osgood–Schlatter disease from that growth spurt, as a matter of fact, which is a rupture of the growth plate at the tibial tuberosity.

    Plus, my brother-in-law was a runt in high school and grew almost a foot after, so I figured it was perfectly acceptable to grow Cluny as well. Thanks for giving me the chance to explain that!


  32. Julie--
    I think you could write a grocery list and it would still sound beautiful! I am reading A Passion Most Pure--for the second time! But what touched me most--and I mean really resonated, was your choice of lovely Scriptures for this blog. Going through a difficult time right now, and they made my day! Thank you!
    (God bless your writing efforts,Helen)

  33. CARA!!! It's always nice to "see" you, girl!! Hope all is going well with you and your beautiful family, including Janna and your mom. Can't wait to see you all in Sept.!!

    SANDY ... sooooo glad I could bring some joy to mopping a kitchen floor, my friend, always glad to help! :) And that's a GREAT Scripture, especially the part about giving us a "hope and a future," because as another Scripture so wisely states, "hope does not disappoint"! ;)

    SHERRINDA ... BLOOD RED, my friend, but only because of said anality mentioned in my comment to Vince. :) And hate to tell you this now, but my pitch was six or seven years ago when editors met you in their hotel suite or another small suite, which I don't think is the case anymore. Now I think it's a bunch of table/chairs set up in a room where tons of people are pitching. Not 100% sure, so you might check with Pep. Sorry, sweetie. :/

    WALT ... sounds like a very wise priest to me! And congrats on winning the crit last week and good luck this week. We get 2nd opinions from doctors, so why not from critiquers??? Go for it!


  34. Hi Julie. I just joined Seekerville after reading your post. I've been on this bumpy ride for a long, long time, but my "other" life has gotten in the way of my writing for a couple of years. This year I have resolved to get my fingers moving across the keyboard again. I loved your post and your amazing advice. Thank you for sharing.

    I'd like to be entered in the "First Five," please. :)

    God bless

    Lianne B. Lopes

  35. PAT!!! What an incredibly sweet thing to say, my friend -- you made my day -- THANK YOU!! And I don't know what you are going through right now, but I hope those Scripture/prayers help and am saying one for you RIGHT NOW that God will see you through, with tons of grace, peace AND favor in the process.

    Big, BIG hugs, my friend.


  36. LIANNE ... what a beautiful name!! And I am SO glad this post today prompted you to join Seekerville. We have a lot of fun here and learn A LOT from each other. Good for you, girl, getting back to your writing -- YAY!! Good luck in it AND this contest!


  37. Noooo! Say it isn't so! Sigh....

    Oh well, I can handle it. Surely. I'll get with Pepper and get the scoop.


  38. Love the Scripture prayers, Julie! Those are the best kind--sure to be in line with God's view and to comfort our hearts as we pray them.

    I guess each season of life presents its own pressures and difficulties, whether it's hoping to be heard among all the voices out there or toiling to make a manuscript readers will love once you've "made it" . . . Anyway, thanks for a great post!

  39. LOL, Julie! The sting from the first critique has worn off. I'm willing to stand in front of the guns again! :o) If you're brave enough to read it, I'm strong enough to take my medicine. Bring on the RED!


  40. Sherrinda:

    In September the editors and agents were set up in a room with two or three to a room. Someone came out of the room as I went in. The only other people there while I was pitching were the other two interviewers, and they were several feet away and paying no attention to other tables.

    Chin up. It's not so bad.


  41. Thanks, Helen! That's good to know. I am hoping to make my first conference this year, and sure want to go in knowledgeable.

  42. RENEE ANN SAID: "I guess each season of life presents its own pressures and difficulties."

    Oh, girl, you said a mouthful!! This has been one of the hardest pills for me to swallow, realizing that being published is only the beginning of problems I never even dreamed about. Which brings us all right back to where we need to be in the first place -- focused on HIM!!

    KIRSTEN ... If you're game, girl, I am. As I recall, I LOVED reading your stuff! :)

    SHERRINDA AND HELEN: First of all, Sherrinda, am I understanding this correctly that we will be hobnobbing with you at ACFW this year, I hope??? I can imagine you will only add to the sparkle in the Seeker gatherings in the bar after 9:00 PM!!

    And, Helen, thanks for calming her down ... Uh, now what can you do for me besides a stun gun??? :)


  43. Hey, sweet Julie!!!!! Hope you had a FABULOUS time on your cruise!!! Woohoo! Meanwhile I was at home reading everything I could find on the Titanic, as I'm working on a story about a girl who survived the sinking and meets her true love when she lands in NY on the rescue boat. I did not envy you, Julie. In fact, I'm not sure I could ever get on a ship after this research! LOL!

    Anyway, that's neither here nor there! LOL! I wanted to tell you that I'm still on Mile Marker 5, praying my guts out, only now that I'm published my prayers and scriptures are a little different. Now I have to pray for those reviewers--4 of them--who gave me 1-star reviews on Amazon, along with the 5 people who gave me 2 stars, and the slew of 3-star reviews that read like 1-star reviews.

    But I digress, again.

    Becoming a writer has taught me lots of things, and getting published doesn't really make things much easier. So pray pray pray. That's my advice. Julie, you are right on, as usual. :-) At least I can praise the Lord that people who hate Jesus now associate me with him! I rejoice in the privilege of being hated because of the name of Jesus. Although it's taken me a few weeks to get to this point.

  44. Oh, and I printed off the Hope Scriptures on Julie's website and used to read them every night before I went to sleep after one particularly heart-breaking rejection.

  45. Now I'm collecting scriptures about the privilege of suffering for the name of Jesus. :-)

    I'm getting as bad as Mary about leaving multiple comments!

  46. JULIE!!!! I would hazard a guess that EVERYONE begins to sparkle in a bar after 9 p.m.!!! lol

    And do you really let outsiders in to your Seeker gatherings? :)

  47. Hi Julie:

    I think we have a tendency to think in different frames of reference.

    I was looking for backstory on how Cluny got so big. Was he in the Army or did he play football in college? Did he eat wheat germ to bulk up?

    I love backstory!

    I don’t have ADD.

    Three paragraphs of backstory won’t cause me to go to sleep or throw the book against the wall.


    I think we need to bring back backstory.


    Let me just give you an example of what authors do to us poor readers:


    Your 14 year old daughter comes home after being missing for 24 hours. In a near panic you ask her:

    “What happened? Where have you been?”

    And she says, “That’s all backstory now. I’ll work it all in during the next two weeks. It will be much more interesting that way.”

    You see?


  48. Julie, I remember this post from '08 and blessed by reading it again. On my very first appointment with an editor I got a whole 30 mins. with a request for the proposal. At the same conference I received a request for a full from an agent. That was 4 mos. ago. I'm taking your advice to heart. Huge congratulations, Helen. Good weekend to all.

  49. Hi Julie:

    If your name has an ‘M’ in it, are you more likely to leave multiple comments?

    I like that you have Irish Catholics in your books. My family has a great many Boston Irish Catholics in it right now. Actually, because you have the only romances that I’ve read with Catholics named in them, they just seem more real to me. It’s like when an author names real towns, and actual streets, and even has famous people as named characters.
    I think this really helps the reading experience to be more enjoyable.


  50. I just wanted to let you know that the scriptures that you took time to post really touched my heart. I'm new to all of this and am trying to learn as much as I can about Christian Romance Writing through this blog. I'm working on goals now and trying to improve my writing. Thanks for sharing!


  51. Hey Julie: Really enjoyed A Passion Most Pure! I'd have needed the kleenex, too after that pitch outcome. I've been fortunate in my pitches so far, but they still send my pulse skyrocketing and cause my braincells to refuse to fire, LOL! Last pitch I just finally said, "Look, I write a LOT better than I pitch." She asked for the full :)

  52. Julie -

    I'll be printing these out and copying them onto notecards. Jeremiah 29:11 is one of my faves. It's currently written on the mirror in my bathroom in dry erase marker.

    @Sandra - that stinks :/. I'm so fortunate that both of my meetings with editors [thus far] have gone relatively well. One much better than the other, but neither bad.

    @Helen - WOOHOO!!! Go girl! I'm so happy for you!

    @Sherrinda - the conference I was at had a fellowship hall type area at a church and each person was at a table but spread out - some of the long tables had more than one agent/editor/etc but spread apart. There were other people in the area but no one I ever saw was intentionally eavesdropping. Voices carry of course, but it'll vary by conference.

    Off to clean :p.

  53. @Vince - LOL! I love the BBB!!!!

  54. Oooo, MEL, LOVE the new premise about a girl who survived the Titanic, and yeah, I can see how that might give one a "sinking" feeling about going a cruise ... And that's a wonderful way to look at bad reviews!! Think of all the people who might not go to heaven if we didn't pray for nasty reviewers!!! How about we throw a party for the 1-star reviewers when I see them in heaven??? :)

    SHERRINDA ... grin, only if one imbibes, my dear girl, so yes, there is a fair amount of "sparkling" going on, you might say. :) And OF COURSE we open our Seeker get-togethers to whoever wants to come, ESPECIALLY our Seekerville buds whom we've come to know and love from this blog. In fact, I would venture to say meeting all you guys is a HIGHLIGHT of our conference, truly.


  55. HELEN!!!

    I just saw this. So happy for you. We'll deal with that "dose of reality" later...

    but right now we will


  56. Welcome Lianne!

    I found Seekerville about 10-11 months ago and they've not run me off yet... Or else I'm too stubborn to get it. ;D

    Aus Jenny - we're praying for you and your friends/family and the entire country. Need to add Brazil to this. I just heard on the news, 600 dead thus far. Many missing.

    Melanie! OOOhhh Titanic! Sounds like a great story you have going there! BTW, we enjoyed this one and thought it was SO much better than the more recent we thought. Oh well.

    Vince, multiple comments are not only left by "M" folks, but "Z" folks as well apparently. It's amazing how people look at me sometimes when I spell my last name (that I married into, thank you). It's like I have 2 heads. If I'm feeling particularly saucy, I tell them to check the last letter of the alphabet, it's there.

    Julie - YES! She has been a great CP thus far and we've only gotten started. :) She's a bit ahead of me on the path, so I'm glad she's letting me tag along...

    Have a great afternoon. The snow is finally melting here and everything is dripping. Alrighty, I'll see y'all later!

  57. VINCE!!! I can always count on you for fun comments, sir -- LOVE BBB!! Like you, I am not adverse to BS (the back-story kind, that is), so I'm with you! As far as Luke's back story, he was such a twerp as a teenager, that living on the streets of Boston and NY toughened him up, especially after he ran with street gangs in New York. Between finally catching up hormone-wise and working out at the gym like Brady taught him to do, I figured it was okay to make him kind of buff, you know? Besides, I'm the author ... I can do that! :)

    WHOA, PAT JEANNE -- that is ONE great conference, girl!! I'm praying right now that things are cooking for you, sweetie! :)

    DEB, thanks SO much for reading APMP -- glad you enjoyed it. Also, GREAT RESPONSE!! I'd have asked for the full, too, if you said "Look, I write a LOT better than I pitch" to me as well. Good job and hope that full took/takes you somewhere, girl.


  58. CAROL SWEETIE ... Jer.29:11 is one of my favs too, just one more thing we have in common, I guess. :)

    PAMMY ... thanks for sneaking in, girl!

    KC ... that's the perfect setup -- a brilliant CP who's a few steps ahead in the game to buffer the blows. :)


  59. Beautiful, just beautiful! Last month I submitted an essay to a news magazine, and finally got a call from an editor... but they're assigning it to someone else as a news article and will pay me an honorarium for giving them the story. *SIGH* Very nice peole, very nice journalist, and I admit I have no background in journalism. But it was a hard pill to swallow. Thank you for the great inspirations and the laughs (directions from God!).

  60. ANNETTE -- You're very welcome, my friend, and Seekerville is a GREAT place to learn things that will help you along the way! Sounds like you have a good start and plan, so don't forget ... every single published author started out right where you are!! God bless and good luck in the contest.

    VIRGINA, oh honey, that really sucks pond water, girl!! I am SO sorry to hear that. BUT ... the beauty in all of this is that you are one "pill" closer to publication (think of it as a vitamin, making you stronger for the next query, the next pitch, the next contest), and when you praise God in the middle of it, HE can turn it around for your favor. You'll get 'em next time, sweetie.

    CASE ... you're welcome, my friend, and thank YOU for buying my book for her!!


  61. Love this!!! The scriptures are great!

    My *first* pitch was pretty funny. I sat down and had no clue what to say and just wanted to puke so I shoved my one-sheet into agents face and said, "It's my first time. Here is my one-sheet." I'm sure there is some fancy, writer-way to describe my blazing red cheeks...

    Bless his heart, he read it, then read a few pages of my manuscript, gave me a few pointers, then said, "Times up. Good talking to you."

    It was the sweetest rejection I've ever had... as he didn't even reject me technically. That's how I looked at it anyway. It was my practice run:-)

  62. Thanks, Julie. Your advice may be 2 yrs old, but it's as relevant today as it was then.

    And the scriptures and prayers are a sweet treat. Thank you.

    Anita Mae.

  63. Julie,
    The Seekers write books faster than I can read them, so I am looking forward to A Hope Undaunted whenever it gets here!

    A special shout out here to my friend Pat Iacuzzi!

  64. I'm late to the party, but thank you! What a wonderful, inspirational post.

  65. Aw, KRISTA, that was kind of sweet of him, and it sounds like you took it pretty well. I should do a blog sometime on all the horror stories of pitching/querying editors ... I bet we'd get a few giggles out of it now!

    ANITA ... ALWAYS good to see you, sweetie, and can't wait to give you a big hug at ACFW in St. Loo -- my home town!!

    DEB ... I've got your book sitting on the counter and hope to send it out tomorrow or the next day. It will definitely go out this week, so keep your eyes peeled!! Hope you enjoy it. :)

    CHERI ... thank you for coming by, sweetie -- better late than never, right?


  66. As always, very encouraging!

    Please include my name in the 5 Pages Critique. Thank you.

  67. Please enter me in the first 5 pages drawing for a critique.

    A great article that reflects my life perfectly right now!

    Kelli Hughett