I’m starting the happy story from long ago and faraway. What I’ve come to understand during these past years that I’ve allowed God to whisper and or shout in my ear is I don’t always “get it” until I’ve already “gotten it.”
So many times those seemingly random events in our lives are all part of God’s plan. And following God’s plan, at least for me, is like listening to that chick who guides me through my navigation system. Only, with God, it’s just His voice, and no map for double checking. I have to trust I’m being led in the right place.
Several years ago, my husband bought me a laptop and, ever so romantically said, “Here, now go write something.” And, being the ever obedient wife, I did. Months later.
I’d started reading Kristen Billerbeck‘s Ashley Stockingdale books because (are you ready for this?) I liked the covers. A voracious reader, I’d never picked up Christian fiction; I expected it to be, well, boring and preachy and unrealistic. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Then, because I didn’t know any better, I actually had the chutzpah to email her with these incredibly B-A-D one page notions (think giving someone three raw eggs and telling them it’s an omelet) of a book. And Kristen, God bless her unselfish and kind soul, responded. Instead of recommending I repeatedly pound myself on the head with my laptop, she offered gentle suggestions. A writer who had absolutely no idea who I was had emailed me. Amazing.
It was all I needed. After endless internet cruising, I somehow found Cheryl Wyatt. Through Cheryl, I found ACFW. Cheryl had formed a critique group, and I jumped in. Her encouragement kept me going (it still does).
Through ACFW, at some point, I found Jessica Ferguson. At the time, we lived about three hours away from one another. Katrina changed that. Because most of the business my husband worked for was then floating somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico, we moved. As God would have it, we found jobs in the same city Jess lived it. She and I became fast friends. Jess told me I needed to go to the ACFW Conference. I’d never been to a writing conference in my life, but I trusted her. So, we made hotel reservations, I registered, and we made plans to drive there together. In the meantime, I’d submit and get rejections. Submit, reject. Blahblahblah.
Less than a month before conference, my family moved back to our pre-Katrina home. It seemed as if everything conspired against my being able to follow through with attending the conference. The night before I was to leave, I was in a puddle on the floor of my classroom trying to understand why my printer had Alzheimer’s and couldn’t remember to put ink on the business cards I was attempting to make.I couldn’t make them at home because I didn’t have a computer there yet, plus I still didn’t have internet. On the way to my daughter’s house in Houston, the night before I was to meet Jess the next morning so we could drive to Dallas, an accident delayed me almost two hours. My husband had an out-of-town trip the same weekend, so I had to make arrangements to pick up Sarah on the way back, which meant I wouldn’t arrive home until after midnight on Sunday and had to be at school on Monday.
But I made it. And it made me.
A writer I met there, someone I truly admired, told me she liked my writing. I almost fell out of my chair. Months later, she referred me to an agent friend of hers. In writer-land, this is a VBD (very big deal); even in Louisiana, more important than getting tickets to the LSU Championship Game. Since it’s difficult to hug via email, I sent my chapters along with profuse thanks. So, the Friday before Christmas, I left school with my work in the cyber-hands of the writer who’d just given me a fab-o Christmas gift.
Christmas Eve, because I still don’t have internet, I ask my daughter to check my email. “Somebody named Rachelle sent you something,” she said. I debated whether or not she should open it, but too late. Erin had already started to read it to me. Rachelle wanted the full manuscript. Merry, Merry Christmas.
With an out-of-town trip in the works, I managed to get it all together and send it off. After having wandered like Moses in the desert of rejection-land, I attempted to remain calm.Until last Wednesday. That’s when my third period class walked in to see me crying as I stared at my computer screen.Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary wanted to schedule a phone call.
We did. She called. . . really. . .just like she said she would! We chatted, discovered some amazing commonalities, and when she asked if I was still looking for representation, I managed to not scream.So, I have an agent.
Even when I click my heels together three times, I still have an agent, and it’s still Rachelle.
My epiphany? When I look back on the road I traveled, I am awed by the thin thread that connects these events.
Our God truly is an awesome God.
[Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2!]