Happy, Happy Monday! Wow! I hope you all are well, wherever you are in this world. I am so excited to be here in Seekerville today. As a new writer, I stuck close to this blog. I had the honor of meeting several Seekers at ACFW conferences… this would have been sometime during 2007 to 2012. I was also a guest here in 2009. Search the archives and you’ll find me!
I’m telling my writer age here… I’ve been around a long time.
Y’all, (can I say y’all? I am from the south, you know ;)) I’ve been trying to get published for about 20 years. If you count the stories I wrote in middle school, well, that’s longer than 20! I believe being a writer takes talent, imagination, and a whole lot of faith. That’s faith in yourself and, more important, in God.
I’ve got to be honest. I’ve struggled with fear for a long time, but only recently have I admitted the issue. I’m stubborn and red-headed. My salty stubbornness only got worse after I turned 40. Oh, I’m a nice person. If we meet, you may think sugar won’t melt in my mouth, but there are two sides to every story. For me, I’ve got several sides. I love the Lord and I pray a lot – usually while driving in the car or in the shower. I’m stubborn. I’m sweet. I’m scared. I started getting honest with myself about fear when in 2017 so many of my writer friends, even those that started after me were getting published and I wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I try to be cheerleaders for all of my friends. I am thrilled for them, but I had to look at myself and ask why I was parked in neutral. I’d push the gas, but doggone it…it was like the emergency brake was on, and stuck!
My problem, I finally figured out after nearly 20 years of contest wins and final spots, but no publication, was that I feared rejection. You see, I would pitch my heart out at conferences. I’d get requests! Then, I’d get home, look over my work in progress and I’d point out all of the things wrong with it. Or, I’d polish the first 3 chapters a million times and when I sent the full manuscript to the publisher, the rest of it was like an uncooked casserole! Who wants that let down?
Here’s an example of that half baked casserole… In 2009, my manuscript, The Bridge Between, won in the Contemporary Romance category of the ACFW Genesis Contest.
Mindy Obenhaus and I at ACFW Conference Denver 2009 – Mindy’s a wonderful roommate and has a stunning fashion sense! And she’s got a great way with words! Love her stories!
Wow! I just knew my publishing career was set by that win. Plus, a New York publisher had requested it from the Genesis Contest. So I sent the full manuscript, and by 2010 I got a rejection letter. The editor said she wanted to like it, but…
Hey, y’all, if it’s not in God’s time, in His plan, then it’s not going to happen.
Ane Mulligan and I were both Genesis Finalists in 2009. Awesome and funny writer!
Missy Tippens and I after the ACFW awards gala 2009.Missy has always been one of my sweetest cheerleaders, mentors, and she’s a wonderful writer!
After the 2010 rejection, life went on. My second child was born and my family rejoiced. Then, I changed positions at work. Soon I found myself in a spiral that involved high stress at work, little time for family or anything else, and a lot of confusion as the years plodded ahead. Despite all of the difficulty, I continued to think of new storylines even though my writing time was less and less. When I was able to write, creating the manuscripts helped me escape that stressful time in life. Eventually, unable to take the pressure of the job any longer, I transferred out of the department. The relief of stress on me was a true blessing.
By 2018, I received more nods from contests as the manuscript finaled, but fear kept choking my creativity. I didn’t have the finances to self publish. I wanted to be a traditionally published author but I didn’t write cookie-cutter stories. My stories were a little gritty. Where did they fit in? I started considering maybe I shouldn’t write Christian fiction. I could write sweet but not have the spiritual arc… That voice inside my heart started talking:
“I’m not good enough.”
“No one wants to read my stories.”
“I should just quit.”
I’d started praying more. Instead of praying for a publishing contract, I prayed for God to take the desire away from me. I’d be happier if I could focus on something else if I wasn’t meant to be a published author.
As I have struggled with fear, I’ve also struggled with knowing when God is speaking to me. God has never told me to do something or go somewhere. I’ve never heard his powerful voice from Heaven. Instead, He speaks to me by pressing something upon my conscience that I can’t release until the deed is done. Sometimes the feeling is so heavy it’s like someone is sitting on my shoulders. I will do anything to get this off of my shoulders and if I don’t, I feel really bad about it!
In the spring of 2018, I had something bothering me about my health that I had been ignoring for quite some time. I had not seen a doctor in four years. As a busy, working wife and mom of two, I made sure everyone else went to the doctor. That pressing feeling began to infiltrate my thoughts that this lump I felt in my left breast had been there for a long time. It wasn’t going away and it wasn’t getting smaller. Still, I ignored it a little while longer.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to write new stories, but a story I had worked on for a long time, the same one that won Genesis, would not leave my heart. I couldn’t put “The Bridge Between” in a drawer and move on. I kept shopping it, kept pitching it, kept tweaking… By March of 2018, I had an email from an editor which indicated interest in the story, but she requested changes. A revise and resubmit letter! I’d never gotten one of those! I agreed with the changes and knew the story needed something but I couldn’t understand what...
By May of 2018, that nudging, annoying, pressing feeling would not let go of me. I saw a new doctor and told her about the lump that had been bothering me. I’d never had a mammogram as women at 40 are instructed to do. My family didn’t have a history of breast cancer. Following a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound on the same day, the radiologist came in to the ultrasound room and somberly advised that the results were very serious and he would notify my doctor immediately. In July of 2018, at 43 years old, I began treatments for Stage 3 breast cancer.
Earlier, I mentioned I was stubborn. Well, this is the time when my stubbornness jumped to a whole new level. A cancer diagnosis was not going to be the end for me. Irritated worse than the Tasmanian devil, I put on my big girl pants and I faced those cancer treatments. On the first infusion, I took my laptop thinking I could revise while I went through chemo. That didn’t work out too well, but what I learned was that God is at work everywhere!
God has put some of the kindest nurses in those infusion centers. He has sent friends and family my way to pass on what they learned from their own journeys. He also showed me through this journey that I have friends everywhere. Friends across the country that I did not even know that were praying for me. Y’all, I received so many cards and letters, it was humbling. People from my church brought food. Others were at the hospital waiting with my family to offer them comfort. I am truly blessed and forever grateful.
I had to take multiple forms of chemotherapy from July 2018 until June 2019. Radiation followed in the fall of 2019. My body went through many changes. Some of those changes were painful – emotionally and physically. In the photo below, my daughter and I are in the pre-op room in July of 2018 on the day I receive my chemo port. This was the first of many trips to the hospital, but as you can see, we try to remain in good and goofy spirits.
No hair, don’t care! September 2018
Despite chemo treatments, continuing to work full time, and stay involved with my children’s activities, I finished the revisions for my story. Those past rejections seemed small after being slapped with a cancer diagnosis. God had given me another chance and I was determined that cancer was not going to take over my life. Life is precious, it can be short. If you want something, you have to go after it, each and every day. So, I did…
Christmas 2018, before my first mastectomy.
By the end of 2018, I had my first surgery, a left mastectomy. Prior to surgery, I sent the manuscript back to the requesting editor. She rejected it again with an invite to resubmit if I made additional changes. By this time, I felt I needed a different editor to look at it to help me figure out what was wrong.
Here’s another nod from God… About that time, my good friend and fellow author Patty Smith Hall posted that she was looking to edit manuscripts on the side and needed some clients. I sent Patty some of my chapters, but I never ended up hiring her. Instead, Patty told me about a contest her publisher, Winged Publications, was holding. By August of 2019, my manuscript was a finalist. And by September 2019, Patty called me to tell me I’d placed 2nd in the contest, but Cynthia Hickey at Winged Publications wanted to publish my book!
We made a round of revisions, we moved the black moment (I had it happening too early), and by November of 2019, two things happened. I had a right mastectomy and six days later, my first book, Hope Between Us, was released. Talk about multi-tasking… I never imagined I’d be recovering from surgery while celebrating a book release! That’s life! My crazy life!
I praise Jesus that I am cancer free today. I give all the glory to God. He heard the prayers of my family and friends and He answered!
He also ignored my prayer to take away my desire to write!
As God had a plan for me and my crazy dreams, He also has a plan for you. If you’re afraid of something, pray about it. Keep your ears, your eyes, and your mind open to Him.
Stay strong in your faith, because God’s plan is bigger than any of our fears.
Thank you for having me on Seekerville today! If you’d like to find out more about me, visit me at my website. While you're there, please sign up for my newsletter! I’d also love to give away an autographed copy of Hope Between Us. If you’d like to be entered in the drawing, let us know in a comment here. I’m headed to my day job now, but I’ll jump in to chat later this afternoon and evening.
Hope Between Us: A Christian Romance
Aimee McClain returns home to Point Peace, Georgia, hoping for a fresh start. She wants to find a new treatment for her seven-year-old son’s Aplastic Anemia. After the devastating loss of her parents and her husband Aimee can’t lose someone else she loves, but as a single mom with limited resources, she’s running out of time and her son’s life is at stake.
Ever since being behind the wheel the night his best friend died, Seth Garrett works hard to help people. He is a coach and a teacher, he helps his parents, he feels like his debt of sorry will never be paid. At first, Aimee is just another person who Seth can help, but soon he realizes her trouble is a lot more than fixing an old car.
The Kevin Ridley Walk/Run, an event Seth started ten years earlier to honor his best friend, has garnered statewide attention and continues to raise money for underprivileged youth. When Aimee’s family asks Seth to help her organize a bone marrow drive and fundraiser for her son, he jumps at the chance to help the pretty widow and her adorable child.
Aimee, fighting to make ends meet in the face of Luke’s illness and single parenthood, doesn’t like this interception with Seth. He may not remember her now, but Aimee knows in time the truth of Seth’s accident will come out. How can they continue a relationship, build a new life together, with this between them?
Claims adjuster by day, writer all other times, Christy wrote her first book, a mystery, while in seventh grade. Currently, Christy writes heartwarming southern romance. Married to her high school sweetheart, Christy has a daughter, a son, and four fur-babies: Thomas: a nosey German Shepherd; Josie-Bobo: an adorable English Bulldog; and last but never least, Twitter and Ranger, two very loud Parakeets. Connect with Christy online: