Shannon here: Soon to be published novelist, Pat Nichols shares her journey to publication. Comment or answer the question at the end of the post to enter the drawing for last week’s drawings. Deadline: Jan 27th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Pat:
The Journey Worth Taking by Pat Nichols:
As far back as I can remember, I loved reading fiction. After our goddaughter died, the desire to tell a story based on her troubled life—except with a happy ending—planted a seed in my heart. Our daughter’s unwavering faith, despite losing an eleven-month-old baby who was born with severe neurological problems and struggling with her own declining health, inspired me to water that seed. I stepped out in faith and began a journey as a Christian fiction writer. I assumed the transition from avid reader to novelist would be easy. After all, in the corporate world I’d written numerous training and publicity materials, speeches, and proposals.
During the year it took to complete the manuscript, Tim, my husband and biggest fan—who didn’t read novels—listened to my story and encouraged me with positive feedback. After completing the last chapter, I was eager to hear more accolades. So, I asked two dear friends to read my work. Their kind words convinced me I was months away from wowing a publisher with a best seller.
Until Sherri Stewart, another close friend—now a successful author with seven published novels—edited my work. Her professional insight rocked my brain with a huge dose of reality. I’d made every mistake novice writers make times ten. After recovering from a bruised ego, I leaned on Sherri’s positive reinforcement and suggestions to launch phase two of my journey—study the craft.
I combed the internet to learn more about POV, showing not telling, active vs. passive, and a long list of other skills and attended my first Christian writer’s conference. The highlight of the three-day event was a critical review from Eva Marie Everson. Her feedback—which demonstrated I’d made progress, but still had a long way to go—served as another important milestone on my journey.
Armed with additional knowledge, my desire to continue learning escalated. I enrolled in on-line courses, read blogs, joined national ACFW, and became active in the north Georgia chapter with an amazing group of published and pre-published writers. Equally important, I wrote five, sometimes six days a week.
While rewriting my first manuscript, I began a second novel based on a vision God gave Shelley. Again, Tim listened to my chapters, helped me catch mistakes, and encouraged me to continue improving. In the summer of 2016 I registered to attend an ACFW conference. Having learned the importance of pitching to agents and publishers face-to-face, I selected from a list of potential contacts. When I arrived at the venue in Nashville, I discovered I’d been scheduled for three sessions and had the opportunity to sign up for a fourth.
What’s crazy is during my corporate career I was interviewed on live television and radio programs and spoke to large audiences, with no more than a moment of apprehension. Yet the opportunity to pitch what I’d written triggered angst and bombarded my mind with questions. Were my elevator pitches compelling? What if I couldn’t remember them? Had I missed errors on the pages I printed? What if no one liked my synopsis?
Thankfully, the professionals I met were gracious and encouraging. I survived all four rejections and walked away with another discipline to learn—platform building. As it turned out, the conference was a fruitful experience. I met dozens of talented writers eager to share their knowledge and attended workshops which strengthened my skills
I returned home, began writing a third manuscript, joined Word Weavers, submitted chapters to contests, and enrolled in more online courses. A year later, Sherri forwarded an email announcing a new contemporary women’s fiction line for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. My pitch to Guiding Light resulted in a request for a synopsis and the first chapters of my second manuscript. Another rejection. However, the door remained open to submit a synopsis for manuscript number three. Now, fewer than four years after writing my first sentence, I am blessed to have a contract with Guiding Light and a January 10, 2019 release date. Although the title and cover are not finalized, my journey continues as Jennifer Slattery, an amazing writer, editor, and mentor guides me through the editing process.
To all who are pre-published, I urge you to take all feedback to heart and learn from it. Study the craft, apply what you learn, and study some more. Connect with other writers and read their work. Trust God to lead and inspire you and savor every moment on your writing journey. It’s well worth it.
About Pat: Pat Nichols is an active member of ACFW, Word Weavers, Christian Pen, and Gwinnett Church (a campus of Northpoint Ministries). Her diverse experience with an international corporation includes writing public relations releases, newspaper and magazine articles, training materials, project proposals, and speeches. Learn more and connect:
Question for Readers: Do you have a dream you pursued or didn’t? Who is your constant supporter through every endeavor?
Come back Jan 26th for Deanna K. Klingel!