Selah Award Winner: Her Deadly Inheritance

Tonight was a night to remember! Her Deadly Inheritance–the novel that had taken me years to write–won the Selah Award for “Fiction: First Novel.”

Though unable to attend the gala Awards night at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, I watched at home in Wisconsin through live-streaming, clapping for every recipient. It was such fun! I had plenty of friends who were up for awards. Suddenly I heard my name and jumped back in my office chair. Me? My novel?

It seemed too much to take in. Yet publisher Eddie Jones was running onstage in my absence to receive it. Yet I couldn’t help but remember of all who helped make this incredible honor possible.

My deepest gratitude to the One who makes all things possible. My thanks also to:

  • the hard-working the staff at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference
  • coordinator Eva Marie Everson who organized the contest
  • contest judges who put in many hours
  • Eddie Jones at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
  • editors Rowena Kuo and J. Christine Richards
  • agent Jim Hart
  • my two critique groups
  • and my faithful prayer team

God bless you all!

Aspiring Writer: Waiting for a Publisher

Waiting … is anyone good at it? Yet it’s part of the writing life. Especially when it comes to waiting for a publisher who will love our treasured novel.

The Waiting

As my novel went out to publisher after publisher, my agent kept me informed. I prayed. My prayer team prayed. Others prayed. Yet months passed by. More than a year later, we dogstill waited.

I sighed and whispered. “How long, Lord?”

Only he knew.

At first I was excited. Most publishing houses asked for the full manuscript. How promising it appeared. But then … no contract offer.

“Don’t worry,” my agent said. Jim Hart was absolutely certain the novel would sell.

I had to believe him because it seemed the Lord was whispering the same message to me. Soon, I heard in my heart.

Yet what did this particular soon mean? Days? Weeks? Months? Years? Only the Lord knew.

In the meantime, my job was to continue to write and improve my skills, believe, and wait expectantly. I was also to help other writers succeed without losing heart about my own publishing possibilities.

“Helping other writers” was easy. I loved every minute of it. But “not losing heart”? That part took effort. I kept telling myself my novel would find a publisher and be released when the right time came.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (New King James Version) says: “To everything there is a season. A clockright time for everything under heaven.”

Surely that included the promised sale of my novel, the beginning of my career as a novelist, and  the fruition of my longtime dream.

How long, Lord?

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Dear Reader, you may be waiting for your longtime dream to come true. A promise you feel the Lord has whispered in your heart. Let’s wait patiently together. God will not fail you. At the right time, your season will arrive. Mine, too. Let’s believe together.

~ Beth

Copyright 2014 Beth Ann Ziarnik

Aspiring Writer: Finding the Agent

Oh, if only we had a good agent. That would make all the difference! But what if after following all the advice and doing our best, it still doesn’t happen. Does that mean we’ll never get an agent? Not necessarily …

The Agent

Wow, Lord! Really? It felt like some incredible dream. I couldn’t have been more surprised.

My left wrist still recovering from being crushed, I stared at the cast that had replaced the external fixator in the steps toward healing since April. It was now Wednesday of the dreams-come-truelast week in June. Lord, what could a one-handed writer do?

Hmmm. I wiggled the index finger on my right hand. Ha! I knew people in the writing industry. Icould invite some of them to link with me on LinkedIn.

Before I knew it, I was chatting online with a well-known and respected agent I had met at several Christian writers’ conferences. At one point Joyce Hart wrote that she was bringing her son into her agency. She needed projects for him to look at and asked, “Do you have any you send me?”

I blinked. Is this you, Lord?

I sent her my list of eight projects, and she chose the romantic suspense novel which would one day be titled Her Deadly Inheritance. One-handed, I spent four days polishing its proposal before e-mailing it to her. Ten days later, Jim Hart sent a message. He loved the sample chapters and wanted to see the whole manuscript.

I blinked again. Was I dreaming?

During the previous eighteen months of submitting my novel’s proposal, two other agents had requested the full manuscript and then passed on it. They were kind enough to include encouraging words about the quality of my writing and my clear understanding of the romantic suspense genre. One even told me to keep my chin up, and I would find that agent who loved my novel.

I did my best to follow her advice but still failed to find that elusive agent who would believe in me and my writing. Someone who would want to partner with me and see my novels published.

Would this be yet another round of encouragement, letting me know I was close but not quite ready? Or …

Well, whatever the Lord had in mind, it wouldn’t hurt to keep moving ahead. Take that next step. I requested two weeks to go over the 80,000 word manuscript one last time—yes, with one hand—and then e-mailed it to him by our agreed-upon deadline.

How merciful the Lord was! He kept me busy with a family camping vacation followed immediately with an out-of-state family wedding. When I returned, a message from the agent waited in my in-box. As I read his most welcome words, my heart almost stopped. He loved my novel and offered representation.

I was in!

Hardly able to believe my eyes, I called in a lot of prayer from friends and family and tried to calm down. Then I sent the agent my phone number and said I would be glad to talk with him. That afternoon, he asked if he could send me a contract, and I told him I would be glad to look it over, but I had a lot of questions. He offered to call me the middle if the contract-signingnext week.

The next day as I prayed about this opportunity, I knew the Lord wanted me to sign that contract. A few days later when the agent called, I let him know I intended to sign the contract. I then ran my questions past him, knowing it’s not wise to sign a contract unless both parties fully understand the agreement. Then I signed the contract, dropped it in the mail, and officially became a client of the Hartline Literary Agency. I danced with joy!

God’s Word says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9, King James Version). Without a doubt, the Lord had directed my steps, just as he does for each of us as we seek his will,and no matter what pathway he chooses for us.

* * *

Dear Reader, it may not feel like it now, but your day will come. Keep taking your next step as the Lord directs. The details of how you team with an agent may not be the same as mine, but one day the Lord with bring to pass your agent partnership.

God bless you on your journey.

~ Beth

Copyright 2013 Beth Ann Ziarnik