Shannon here: Dana McNeely shares her journey to publication. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a copy of her debut novel, Rain. Winner’s choice of print or digital, U.S. only. Deadline: March 20th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Dana:
How My Book-in-a-Drawer Got Published:
After a long break from social media, I was browsing through Facebook when I heard a message ping. I cringed a little. The FB messages I’ve received are too often trolls. Sighing, I opened it and read:
“Hi, are you the Dana McNeely who wrote RAIN? And if so, have you sold it yet?”
My mouth probably dropped open. A stranger was asking about my book-in-the drawer, RAIN.
I’d finished RAIN quite a few years back. It had placed in contests, interested a few agents, but ultimately every response was “No, thanks.” I loved the story of a mysterious prophet, a desperate youth, and a relentless queen during the time of Israel’s great drought, but it seemed no one else wanted to read it.
I’d continued writing, but switched to cozy mystery stories. One got published and I thought, “Maybe that’s where my writing should go.” Then I got the message from Angela Ruth Strong, a Christian author I’d never met.
We seldom have the opportunity in life to know how God works behind the scenes, but in this case, I got a glimpse. I’ll let Angela pick up the story from here.
Do you believe? by Angela Ruth Strong:
Five years ago, I judged a writing contest for unpublished writers. Two entries stood out. One was written by Joanna Politano, who I’m sure you’ve heard of if you’re familiar with the Facebook group, Avid Readers of Christian Fiction or if you cheered on finalists for the 2019 Christy Awards. Her writing is like velvet – smooth and rich.
The other entry that stood out was a biblical fiction manuscript titled RAIN. It’s the story of Elijah, as told by the boy he brought back to life. The boy’s mom is a prophetess at a pagan temple and the kid is about to be sacrificed to a false god. It had the feel of a fantasy novel, which I don’t normally enjoy, but because it really happened in our world, it intrigued me.
Fast forward to 2019. My life was in a dry season, and I needed some refreshment. I thought of the manuscript RAIN. I figured it had been snatched up the way Joanna’s had, and I looked for it on Amazon. It wasn’t there. Maybe the title had changed.
I emailed the coordinators for OCW and asked if they could tell me who the author was. Now, normally they don’t do this, but I think they were intrigued, as well. Emails went back and forth. Award-winning biblical author Mesu Andrews even got involved.
Finally I had a name. Dana McNeely. I messaged her to find out whatever happened to RAIN.
Surprisingly, nothing had happened. Multiple agents and editors told her that people weren’t buying biblical fiction. So she’d shelved it and hadn’t been writing for a while.
I wasn’t okay with this. Not only did I want to read the whole book, but I wanted others to be able to, as well. I suggested she submit to my publisher. Then I wrote to my editor and raved about RAIN as excitedly as if it were my own novel.
Meanwhile, I read the story of Elijah in the Bible for myself and found so many spiritual lessons that were exactly what I needed. I wrote about it in Charisma, and you can read it here.
Then Dana and I both waited. Whenever I’d talk to my editor, I’d ask, “So…what do you think of RAIN?” And she’d vaguely mention a committee meeting coming up or another biblical fiction manuscript she was considering. At least RAIN was still in the running.
Finally I got the message from Dana. Mountain Brook Ink offered her a two-book contract! I rejoiced.
How did I just happen to look up this book five years after reading the first chapter? How did I just happen to have a connection with a publisher willing to take a risk on biblical fiction?
I’ll tell you how. God is always working behind the scenes where we can’t see.
Dana did all she could do. She researched and wrote and submitted. She was told what I’ve heard about my books before when there is nobody left to pitch. “The book is dead.” Then God did what God does and brought it back to life.
For this reason, I want to encourage you to continue crawling through your desert. Rest when you need to and let God provide in unexpected ways. But keep believing.
RAIN IS COMING!
Dana, again. I’m still overcome by gratitude. Mountain Brook Ink is a wonderful publishing house, and they’ve made me feel like family! God’s fingerprints are all over this story. When I’d given up on RAIN, God brought a downpour of blessing. What a wonderful God! And He is never late!
About Dana: Dana McNeely dreamed of living in a world teeming with adventure, danger, and romance, but she had a problem—she also needed a lot of peace and quiet. She learned to visit that dream world by stepping into a book. Better yet, hundreds of books. Soon, she began writing her own stories, fact and fiction.
Inspired by the Bible stories of Elijah, Dana wondered why the prophet came to stay with the widow of Zarephath and her son. Who were they? What was their life, before? How did the boy change after he died, saw the other world—and came back?
Those questions led to Dana writing RAIN, in which she built her dream world of adventure, danger, and romance. Peace and quiet, however, have remained elusive.
No stranger to drought, Dana lives in an Arizona oasis with her hubby the constant gardener, two good dogs, an antisocial cat, and migrating butterflies.
Her debut novel RAIN spins the tale of a mysterious prophet, a desperate youth, and a relentless queen. RAIN and a second novel are contracted by Mountain Brook Ink. Get the FREE prequel when you sign up for Dana’s newsletter ~ also book updates, garden exploits, butterfly effusions, and writerly fiascos. Learn more and connect:
About the book – Rain:
(WHISPERS ON THE WIND, #1)
by Dana McNeely
He is destined to be high priest—but at what cost to those he loves?
In ancient Samaria, Aban anticipates his rites of passage with excitement and dread. He yearns to join the priesthood of Ba’al Melqart, unlock the power of the rain god, and hear the deity’s voice. He’s been warned the licentious ceremony can take a dangerous turn, but as eldest son of the high priestess, he holds a privileged position. If he can make it through the ceremony, one day he’ll rise to high priest.
On the eve of the rituals, Aban’s mother confesses a dark secret about the bloody sacrifice demanded by Melqart. Aban may have escaped the flames, but if he is to save his brother, Aban must take his destined position of power as soon as possible.
When the mysterious prophet Elijah interrupts the rites, overturns the idol, and curses the land with drought, Aban’s world is shaken. The current high priest and the king appear powerless, but even more confusing is the fact that the rain god does nothing.
Against his better judgment, Aban conceals the strange prophet’s whereabouts, forfeiting the high priesthood. Now an enemy of the relentless Queen Jezebel, Aban has little time to question his fading commitment to Ba’al Melqart as he and his loved ones flee. But the conflict in Samaria is much larger than just a high priestess and her sons. Soon, Aban will have to choose a side in Yahweh’s war against the Ba’als—and it may cost him his life.
Can’t wait for the drawing? Worried you won’t win? Get your copy now! Dana’s Amazon Page
Question for Readers: What have you experienced that could only be a God thing?
Come back March 12th for Amanda Cabot!