Debby Giusti here!
Thanksgiving brings to mind friends, family and blessings. I’m especially grateful for Seekerville and the wonderful people who are part of this online community – my Seeker sisters and the extended family of writers and readers who visit each day. Sharing the ups and downs of the writing journey with all of you has been and will continue to be one of the highlights of my life.
Since most of us are writers and in keeping with the season, I decided to revisit a few of the turning points in my road to publication and beyond. I invite you to do the same. Think of the events, whether planned or happenstance, that have spurred you on, turned you in a new direction or impacted you and/or your writing for the better. Together, let’s find those special moments for which to give thanks.
Often we focus on the big successes, which are so important, but we also need to consider the small stepping stones that have merit and help guide us to our destination.
1. Writing a book.
Early on, I published a number of fillers and slice-of-life vignettes. Because I wrote short pieces, I never thought I could pen a full-length manuscript. With encouragement from an instructor at a one-day novel writing workshop, I started to think of each chapter as a short story. If I put the chapters together, I could end up with a complete manuscript. The instructor stressed the importance of finishing the work. Four-hundred-plus pages later, I typed “The End.” Writing that book was an important first step and a significant turning point in my journey to publication.
Pam Hillman talked about contests in her blog last week, which brought back memories of the many writing contests I have entered over the years. Each critique, as well as any final or win, boosted my morale and motivated me to keep working. A turning point came when I won three contests, and the final round judges were all editors at Steeple Hill, later renamed Love Inspired Books.
3. Meet the editor!
Long before those three contest wins, Steeple Hill senior editor, Krista Stroever, visited my Georgia Romance Writers’ chapter. The Love Inspired Suspense line was expanding from two books a month to four, and Krista was looking for new authors. She encouraged me to rewrite my secular suspense into an inspirational story. I vividly remember my hesitation before making that first editing change as I weighed whether the Christian market would be a good fit for me. Once I started to include a faith element, the story came alive, and I knew I’d found my home in the inspirational genre.
4. The Call!
As we all know, getting “The Call” is a huge turning point. Like many of you, my dream was to have one of my stories (I’d written six by that time) accepted for publication by a traditional New York publishing house. My pre-pubbed journey had been long and many of my peers had already received contracts, while my forward momentum seemed to have sputtered and stalled. I attended the RWA Conference in Reno that year, knowing I was close because of the positive rejections I’d received and the feedback on my various submissions. It was in Reno that I won the three contests judged by Love Inspired Editors. A few days after returning home, Krista called and asked to buy my debut novel. NOWHERE TO HIDE was published in 2007 -- certainly a significant turning point, but my journey didn’t end there…I had other roads to travel.
5. Book Ten!
In the beginning years when I freelanced for magazines, I often wondered if I would ever intuitively understand "story" and how to craft a novel the way I could mentally envision a magazine article before I started the writing process. After publication, the number “ten” took on significance as if that would be an important milestone, which indeed it was. That inner sense of how to craft a story was in place by my tenth book, which provided another turning point.
6. Say “No!” to Fear!
The thought of creating an entire work of fiction can be daunting. A tight deadline makes the task even more of a challenge. Frequently, I would be nervous midway through a story and grow even more anxious as the submission date drew near. In scripture, we hear Christ say, “Do not be afraid.” Unwilling to let anything negative have power over me, I prayed to lose the fear and put my writing totally in the Lord’s hands. Although I never missed a deadline, I hated the stress. Anytime I felt anxious, I turned it over to him, and eventually, the fear lifted. Some months later, I began to focus on living “in His perfect time.” It’s a mindset of sorts, but when I give him control of my schedule and ask his help, I am working in accord with his holy will and living in his perfect time. Now, the many tasks and projects that need to be done are achieved not only on schedule but also without fear.
My most recent turning point came during RWA 2014. I attended a number of workshops that focused on the business side of publication and came home with a newfound confidence. I can’t explain exactly what happened, perhaps an acceptance that this is the road I have been called to travel. Up until then, I sometimes wondered if writing fiction was a bridge to the next stage of life that might not include the written word. Whatever I experienced at RWA left me firmly committed to my writing career. There will always be more to learn and new ways to improve my craft, and while the various stories may take time to develop, I am a writer. I can trust the process and my ability—with inspiration from the Lord—as I continue on my journey.
What have been the turning points—large and small—in your writing life? Look back on 2014 or farther. Are there moments that seemed insignificant at the time, which have turned into major breakthroughs to success? What about today? Are you struggling to find your way and unsure which road to travel? Perhaps you’re being called to write a bigger book or to change your genre or to break into the independent market and go hybrid. Could you be standing at a turning point, not yet ready to venture forth and take that leap of faith?
Today and throughout the week, I’m giving thanks for all those who have touched my life and have joined me on my writing journey--to the wonderful readers who buy my books and share my stories with friends and family, to my agent, Deidre Knight, and my talented editor, Emily Rodmell, and the entire editorial staff at Love Inspired Books and to all of you who bring joy to my heart. Thank you for being such an important part of my life.
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The breakfast bar is loaded with goodies: eggs, ham, biscuits, coffee cake, fresh fruit and grits. The coffee’s hot, thanks to Helen, and tea is available. Fill your cup and your plate, and let’s talk about our thankfulness for turning points on our road to publication and beyond.
Watch for A RECIPE FOR ROMANCE, a collection of short stories and recipes from some of your favorite Love Inspired Authors. Proceeds benefit children's charities. Details to be announced on Black Friday!