Shout it from the rooftops! My friend Carla Stewart has made her first (of many, I'm sure) sales! YAY!!! Carla's book, A Dandilion Day, will be published by FaithWords, releasing in the Spring of 2010. This is the first of a two-book contract. I'm so excited for Carla. Please leave a comment here to congratulate her.
Carla's guest blogging about her experience today. Thank you, Carla, and welcome.
Thank you so much, Erica, for having me here today. As you and most of your readers probably know, I recently signed my first contract. I’m still breathless about that, and lest anyone think I just wrote the story, sent it off, and got it accepted for publication . . . well, no. Not exactly.
I began (at a not-so-young age) with magazine and anthology pieces. I won a short story contest, had a vignette about my dad published in a regional magazine, and won the Guideposts Writing Contest (with subsequent articles published). Looking back, I believe this was God’s affirmation that I could be a writer.
While I enjoyed writing short pieces, I envisioned myself as a novelist. My first attempt at a mystery was wretched, and I found that what I really wanted to write were character-driven stories that didn’t fit definite categories. I was advised I might find the market too difficult to break into. Okay. Forget the story or accept the challenge? It was a no-brainer to me. I would do what needed to be done. I kept writing and sent off queries to 40 or 50 agents. I now have a very fat folder of rejection letters to remind me that coming to publication was not a fast process.
Then I discovered ACFW—American Christian Fiction Writers—and it was like coming home. Here was a huge group of writers who understood my heart. I attended my first ACFW conference in 2006 where I signed up for a paid critique. The author suggested an agent for me to contact, which I did. He recommended I have my manuscript professionally edited. Oh my goodness! The result was a total rewrite which took three months, but gave me the courage to enter the Genesis contest for unpublished writers the following year. Imagine my total shock when I won. That entry was A Dandelion Day, which is now my first contracted book.
That year I met with Chip MacGregor who requested the manuscript but passed it to Sandra Bishop, a new agent he was bringing on board. Last April I signed with her, and she began shopping my manuscript.
I wrote another novel and entered the Genesis again—in the Young Adult category. It was an angsty, character driven story which I was sure wouldn’t appeal to the judges. Another shock—a second Genesis win at the 2008 ACFW conference in Minneapolis.
Winning the Genesis twice was affirmation, but also very humbling. My scores weren’t all that good the second time, and I prepared to dig in and go through the grueling rewriting process again. Before I finished the rewrite, my agent called and had someone interested in Dandelion. Now, more than three months later, I’ve signed a two-book deal and am ecstatic that A Dandelion Day will release in the spring of 2010 with FaithWords (Hachette Book Group).
Here’s the skinny on the book:
A Dandelion Day is a novel about a girl growing up in Texas in the 1950s, struggling with her faith and identity in light of her mother’s mental illness and the family dynamics that result from her mother’s suicide.
While the new phase of my journey is exciting, it’s also terrifying. I feel like it’s the first day of school, and I have no idea what to expect when I walk through these strange doors. What if I can’t find the restroom? What if no one sits by me at lunch?
The what ifs can be paralyzing, so like I’ve done in the past, I’ll dig my heels into the dirt and navigate each day as it comes. God has blessed me, and I’m humbled to be at this juncture.
Thanks, Erica, for having me. I’m honored to be here, and more than that: it’s comforting to have another writer to cling to as we enter this newly-contracted phase of our writing lives.
Erica here: Thanks, Carla, for guest blogging, and congratulations again. I can't wait to hold your book in my hands.