In fact, I hated English in high school (although now I wish I would have paid more attention). But it wasn’t until my final English assignment senior year that I even knew I liked writing. The teacher told us to write about our favorite place and I worked and worked until I had the words just right and turned in the paper, which I ended up getting a 95 on. Pretty good considering I had to make an 80 in order to graduate. Yes, my loathing for English was that bad. But had the course been in writing (and about what I wanted to write), I feel I would have excelled in the class. Heck, I probably would have even paid more attention to little rules I would need to adhere to later in life.
So I graduate and never thought about writing again, well, fast forward some odd years (I’m not giving you the specific number just so you can turn around and figure out my age so you might as well forget it). I was now married to a wonderful man and had two school-aged children. But just as life often does, there came dark days. Days that threatened to choke out any hope of a good future for us. As my husband and I struggled to find a way out of this inescapable situation, I began to pray to God.
Days and weeks past and nothing changed. The situation did not get better, but it also did not get worse, which I was a blessing in itself. But still the weight of “what if” was so heavy that it threatened to suffocate me, not to mention my husband. We finally got to a point where we turned it over to God and told Him that whatever the outcome, we knew He was in control. we knew He would never leave us nor forsake us. We knew that He would bring some kind of good out of this terrible chapter in our lives. And with that decision to relinquish control (although we knew we never had control of it in the first place), we had a new sense of peace.
I don’t remember exactly how long afterward, it could have been a few days or a few weeks, but I was in bed, trying to go to sleep when a thought came to me about a book. It was just a spark, a whisper, whatever you want to call it, but I just remember thinking, “This was a good idea for a book.” Now I wasn’t a writer and had never dreamed about being a writer, so to have this thought was so out of place, so out of character for me that I stayed there for a long time, thinking I would just write it down in the morning. But the idea would not be quiet, it kept going around and around in my head, growing with details and characters. So after a while, I finally got up and tiptoed into the kitchen, turned on the laundry room light, and sat on the floor near the refrigerator with a notepad and pen and wrote out all the details I could think of. After that, I could sleep.
But the next day, the urge to write the story haunted me again, and so I started. Everyday, it was the same thing and soon the story began taking shape. All the while, I focused on Crossroads (a story about a girl’s journey to find Christ and the evil of the world doing everything it could to keep her from it), letting God work out the situation that was still going on around us. I believe this was His way of answering my prayer. He knew I needed something else to fill my hours and so He gave me the story.
Now remember, I had never wanted to be a writer, never really knew anything about the writing industry or how really to get published, so I bought “The Writers Market” book about agents and publishers, and sent my queries off, thinking this book would certainly get picked up by the first one to see it and be an overnight success.
It was rejected by every agent and every publisher out there. Huge reality check for me and frustration set in. I knew about self-publishing, but I didn’t want to go down that path. I wanted an agent, I wanted a publisher, I wanted a contract. But again, God had his own timing with everything.
The afternoon I received the final “we appreciate your submission but…”, I came home upset and frustrated (this is the nicest way I can put it), and told my husband I was going for a walk. I didn’t even change out of my work clothes, just set my purse down on the counter and walked right back out the door. I had made it a few blocks from my house when I looked up to the sky and asked God, “What do you want me to do with this?”
I knew He had given me the story. I knew He was the one who had driven me to write it when I wasn’t a writer to begin with. So after all of that, now He was just going to just leave me to figure out the rest? I knew He wouldn’t do that. I knew He had a plan. The only problem was that I didn’t know what it was.
So I finished my walk, feeling a little better with some fresh air in my lungs, but not better about the future of Crossroads. I didn’t tell my husband anything about what had transpired (or not transpired, depending on how you wanted to look at it) and we ate dinner and got ready for bed. As he’s pulling back the comforter, he said, “Oh, I forgot to tell you. I saw this way you could self-publish your book on iTunes.”
After that, I understood what I needed to do: I would have to self-publish.
This was hard for me as I already explained what I wanted to begin with. But as most of us know, God does not give us what we want, He gives us what we need. So after that, I took a leap of faith and self-published, realizing that God would get this book to whomever it was meant to touch, and it would be because of Him, not a marketing strategy, not a publisher, not an agent. It would be by His power alone.
Now don’t get me wrong, I did all I could to let the world know about Crossroads. I’ve sold quite a few and am very pleased with the results. But the greatest gift that came from trusting in God came a year or so later.
I worked with a lady named Melanie. We graduated high school together, but weren’t friends back then. It wasn’t that I disliked her, we just ran with different groups. But now we were employed by the same bank and became close. A little while later, her life took her from our small town to another part of Texas, but we remained connected online.
A few months after she moved, I received a Facebook message from her, stating that she had a friend that was a publisher and she thought we would be a good fit. I was super excited (as you can image) and Melanie introduced me to Dana Chisholm from Trail Media. The first email to her was nerve-racking. I wasn’t sure what to expect or really what to say, but Dana quickly put me at ease. She told me Trail Media wasn’t really looking to get into the young-adult genre at the time, but would like to read my work nonetheless, so I pointed her to where she could buy it online.
And then six weeks passed.
I was convinced that she absolutely hated Crossroads, so much so that she couldn’t even find it within herself to email me back and let me know. But after I had given up hope, she contacted me and said she loved the book and would like to talk. A little while later, I signed with Trail Media and the Saving Scarlett series was born.
It still amazes me when I think of my journey. It was all backwards and upside down, but that’s how God works sometimes. He doesn’t go by our plan, but His. We just have to have the faith to let Him lead.