Thursday, October 13, 2011

Specs in the City

If Paris, IL, population 9,000 counts as a city, I have some specs for you that I promised on Monday's post, where I announced my publishing contract. Here is how it unfolded for me:

2001: I begin writing a column for our local newspaper titled God is Bigger. I fill it with little doses of humor and great gulps of mercy from God's heart.

After several years, people start telling me I should turn the columns into a book. I say, "NO, I shouldn't." Having published articles, poems, greeting card verses and stories since 1980, I know enough about publishing to realize that a creating and birthing a book is like building Rome. Only harder.

Spring, 2008: My son, an excellent writer himself, asks me if I've every considered turning my columns into a book. I say, "NO." He says I should give it a shot--even if it takes ten years, I'm going to be doing something during that time anyway; it may as well be this. I start to consider it.

Clella Camp
As I pray for direction, the Lord brings a friend, Clella Camp, to my mind. She has publshed a devotional book, Just Walking, with Kregel a few years before. I call her. She tells me I need to sign up for a conference, and refers me to Mike Hyatt's blog to find tips on writing a proposal

Fall, 2008: Clella gives me her proposal to use as a sample, then goes to Florida for the winter. I piece together a proposal for God is Bigger, and start a blog.

November 2008: I attend the Indy Christian Writers Conference, where I meet Lin Johnson, the director of Write to Publish Conference in Wheaton, IL. I pitch my proposal for God is Bigger, but the editor I pitch it to is not buying devotionals.

Dec 2008-May 2008: I work on God is Bigger, and at the advice of Rachelle Gardener from an elevator pitch I made on her blog, start a new book, The Secret Life of a Preacher's Wife.

June 2008: I attend Write to Publish conference with both proposals. Secret Life one sheet catches the eye of the lovely Diana Flegal of Hartline Literary, and she requests the proposals for both books.

Aug. 2008: Diana offers me representation. I flip out, cry, ask my husband if he thinks I can manage it, he says "Yes," I cry some more and promise not to neglect him. Please don't ask him if I've kept this promise. I might cry again.

Aug. 2008- Jan. 2011: Diana pitches both books to many major publishers. The answer is usually: "The writing is good, but we have no market for devos."

Jan. 2011: Diana suggests I take the best stories from both books and compile them into one, creating a book that appeals to a wider audience, and to work on widening my platform. I start on both projects.

Aug. 2011: I attend GPCWC and pitch Mirth and Worth, my new compilation book to several editors, one of whom is  Cindy Sproles of Christian Devotions Ministries. Her partner is Eddie Jones, the acquistions editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. They ask for the proposal to Mirth and Worth.

Sept. 2011: I email Diana, asking her if she's heard back from the editors we sent proposals to. She emails me back with a CONGRATULATIONS!!  letter, telling me that Eddie is going to offer me a contract, but please don't say anything until it's official.

Oct 7, 2011: I receive my contract, the day before I have a TV interview. Praise Jesus, I can go on TV and say I have a book coming out soon! The Lord is faithful and sweet.

And YOU, my dear blog friends, have helped me so much along this arduous journey. Several gave me pep talks when I was ready to throw in my tools and quit building. All of you have laughed at my silly jokes, read my posts, and encouraged my writing ability. I could not have done this without you. Thank you for believing in me.

I want the above list to encourage you not to give up on your dreams, no matter how long it's taking them to come true. My journey has been a bit longer than most, but everyone takes different turns in the road, and God will guide you in His way if you trust Him to open the right doors for you.

I believe in your dreams, too. Will you share one with me today, so I can mix my faith with yours, and help you along your journey?

With Love,


  1. Hi Jen -

    Isn't it amazing how each step is engraved on our memories? Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

    I'm seeking representation for my book, "The Moses Conspiracy." I need an agent, who will believe in the story and help get it published.

    Susan :)

  2. Suze: You are so funny--I had to twist my brain in knots to remember the years these events happened!

    I will pray that God open doors for you no man can shut.


  3. I love those details. He's in every one of them.

    And I love where you are now (able to look back).

    Bless you moving ahead.
    ~ Wendy

  4. This is such an interesting story to this also-aspiring-to-get-published-and-take-more-territory newspaper columnist. Thank you so much for sharing it. The perspective from this end is sooo much different from that starting point, isn't it?

    My dreams? Well, you know 'em, but I'll repeat it. Today, the first packets are going out to various editors across the country. I want newspapers - many more newspapers. And then books after that.

    So I'm casting my bread upon the water and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

    So proud of you, Jeanette, and thankful on your behalf.

  5. That is fantastic, Jeanette!! I'm so excited for you. What a blessing.

    My dream at the moment is to finish yet another complete rewrite of my novel. I thought it was done several times, but I've learned so much since then, and I think (hopefully) I've finally got it this time around. Got one chapter down. 30ish more to go:)

  6. Jeanette, Thanks so much my dear for mentioning me, but I think that you encourage me too in this writing journey we walk together. I do want to give credit o AMG publishers and the late Dan Penwell(a wonderful editor) for my book JUST WALKING. I am looking forward to reading your new book. Love Clella

  7. Rhonda and Kristen: Praying for the fulfillment of your God-given dreams. You both have great talent, and He is proud of you!

  8. What a journey... and what an encouragement to you on reaching this dream...and for me too!

    SOOOOO very happy for you!

    I enjoyed the peek into the journey... it's not one for the faint of heart. God, give me a courageous heart like you've given Jeanette and that ole Lion from Wizard of Oz (it was him wasn't it, who asked for Courage?).

  9. Oh, Jeanette I could be more thrilled! God is great, and greatly to be praised!

    My heart needed this today. I needed to see God still setting His children in high places for His glory.


  10. Jeanette:
    I find myself getting side tracked from seeking publication. I
    get discouraged so easily. I am happy for you. This is a big door opening for you.

  11. Thank you for sharing your journey! The project changed but God's designs are beyond even what we can imagine. I need clarity regarding my dreams, I think. I have too projects started and not one finished, or excelling at. Broadly, through writing and photography, I'd like bring people a moment of peace and reflection, to see God's light in that moment, and that He is with you always.

  12. What an inspirational story. I especially like how even though you kept saying "no" God kept sending the little nudges. :)

  13. that's quite a schedule! congratulations,
    once again for having your book published.

  14. Jen, I'm so very happy for you! The journey is a long one and often full of detours, but I'm sure the destination is worth every bump in the road you've had to endure. Blessings to you as you embark on this new part of the trip.



Oh, it's YOU! I'm so happy to see you here today, and look forward to reading your comments.