Shannon here: Helen Gray shares her bumpy road to publication, plus a chance to win a copy of her Romantic Mystery, Schoolhouse Injustice. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a copy. Deadline: Sept 28th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Helen:
My writing odyssey began in the early 1980’s when I started to write stories rather than just read them. No computer No internet. Just a three-ring binder of notebook paper, a typewriter and carbon paper. I wore out two typewriters.
The life of a minister’s wife is rewarding, but it’s not always the most private. You get “critiqued” a lot. Writing began as my private hideaway.
I joined RWA and attended a national conference in Minneapolis. I began to experience near misses and collect rejections. I completed ten manuscripts. At one time I had four manuscripts with a publisher. Then they cancelled that line.
Life got busier, the kids grew and became more involved, and the churches got bigger and more time consuming. Uncertainty and futility won. I boxed up the manuscripts and stored them.
Years later I retired—and started over. I wrote three 80K mysteries. Then I dug out the old romance manuscripts and completely rewrote some of them. A couple of the oldies were trashed.
As time passed, the writing became an adjunct to my ministry. The manuscripts and rejections accumulated. Then a friend asked to read one of my manuscripts. Then another. And another. Everything I had. She read everything I wrote. And believed in me!
Questioning whether I would ever be published, a scripture verse came to my mind—and lodged. “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 18:19
I couldn’t forget that scripture. So one day I asked my friend if she would claim the promise with me. She not only gave me an emphatic YES, but her prayer warrior mother joined us. From that point on the three of us were united in petitioning God for my books to find a publisher.
For the next two years all I did was enter contests, garnering feedback and using it to improve the manuscripts. I placed second in a couple of contests. My critiques got better—much better. Then I began to submit. Things seemed brighter, more promising. I had a request for a complete from Heartsong Presents. It was under consideration when the line was cancelled. Major blow!
At that point, in spite of my prayer pact, I questioned whether it really was time to quit. How many times could I get this far, be knocked down, and get back up? But, gripped in the passion of writing, and with another project already underway, I couldn’t abandon it. So I kept writing. And waited for another opportunity.
Then Harlequin bought the Heartsong Presents line. I queried Kathy Davis. And sold a series!
If you’re struggling to reach your goals, take heart. God’s timing may not be what you want. But stick with it. Have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish. Be consistent about working toward those goals.
Remember Matthew 18:19: Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
About Helen: Helen Gray grew up in a small Missouri town and married her pastor. While working alongside her husband in his ministry, she had three children, taught school, directed/accompanied church music programs, and became an amateur ventriloquist. Now retired, she and her supportive husband still live in their native Missouri Ozarks where she weaves stories meant to honor God and depict Christian lives and problems as she knows and observes them. Helen thanks God for the time and opportunity to write and considers it an added blessing if her stories touch others in even a small way. Learn more and connect: Helen’s Website
About the series: Heartland Heartstoppers:
My most recent release is the third in a romantic mystery trilogy titled Heartland Heartstoppers. It is a spinoff of my four book Heartland Heartmates series.
The teacher had apparently walked in on a robbery and been killed in his classroom Resource Officer Lanell Rhodes is determined to see justice for the young man.
Pilot Connor Prescott is shocked to learn of the death of the young teacher his sister has been dating. But when he arrives at the school and seeks information, he is warned by the attractive Resource Officer that he is not to meddle in police business.
Lanell and Connor share a common goal of finding justice for the victim, but can they overcome their differences and share a future together as well?
Small Town Injustice
Police Officer Carly Prescott has endured loss, but now throws herself into enforcing the law, volunteering at women’s shelters and seeing to the needs of others. When a friend goes missing, the case extends into another jurisdiction, and she meets successful poultry farmer, Brody Macklin, who stirs dreams and feelings she tries to ignore as he becomes involved in the search for their mutual friend, and then for her killer.
Brody has known love, and the loss of that love through death. He can’t risk another such loss. He doesn’t count on the lovely cop who sends his heart into a tailspin.
Can these two find justice for their murdered friend, conquer their fear of loving again and have a happily ever after together?
After spending years caring for her ailing parents and teaching art in a Springfield, Missouri high school, Jasmine (Jazzy) Dwyer no longer has any expectation of a committed relationship. Yet, beneath her self-sufficient exterior, a lonely heart longs for such a bond.
Steve Prescott made a mistake that cost him his family and years of his life. Now he’s a free man, working hard, and doing everything he can to make amends, but is unable to forgive himself. When a man with whom he once worked is murdered, and he is questioned, he sets out to prove who really killed the man.
Can a man with a jaded past find peace with God and start life anew with the school teacher who represents trouble at every turn, yet somehow ends up as his sidekick sleuth?
Question for Readers: Do you have a friend who will covenant with you in prayer?
Come back Sept 20th for Regina Merrick!