Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jessica Nelson: Her Writing Journey, First Publishing Contract, the Editing Process, and Her Debut Novel, Love on the Range

Jessica Nelson, in keeping with her romantic inclinations, married two days after she graduated high school. She believes romance happens every day, and thinks the greatest, most intense romance comes from a God who woos people to himself with passionate tenderness. When Jessica is not chasing her three beautiful, wild little boys around the living room, she can be found staring into space as she plots her next story. Or she might be daydreaming about a raspberry mocha from Starbucks. Or thinking about what kind of chocolate she should have for dinner that night. She could be thinking of any number of things, really. One thing is for certain, she is blessed with a wonderful family and a lovely life.

When I asked Jessica to share her writing journey with us, this was her response . . . in her own words:

"Thank you so much, Loretta, for inviting me here! I’m honored to post about my writing journey.

"Selling a book takes a lot of things, some within our control, some not. I think that’s the first thing every writer should understand. There are some things we have no control over, and when we get rejections, it’s helpful to distinguish whether they’re a result of our writing or something outside our control.

"The book I sold is the first manuscript I finished, but not the only one I’ve written. This thing has gone through the ringer over the years. I completed the rough draft in 2007. After a few read-throughs and one outside critique, I decided it was ready to submit to HQ's Love Inspired Historical. Of course, I could only sub a synopsis first. I did that and received my rejection months later. Writing wasn't strong enough, it said.

"I had started a new manuscript by then and decided maybe I needed professional help, so I submitted the story to HQ's critique service. I think that was the best thing I ever did. The critique came back and I tried fixing a few things but I was in the midst of my second story so editing was sporadic. Then in Jan of 2008 I found out I'd finaled with my second manuscript in a contest. I was overjoyed! The judging editor with Love Inspired requested my full. Months and months later, that was rejected but with an invitation to submit other work. I took the editor up on her kind offer and submitted another story. Rejected, but she implied that she still liked my writing and wouldn't mind seeing other work.

"By this time, I was working on my 4th manuscript and decided to start submitting the first manuscript to agents. I had a few requests but mostly rejections or no-replies. Finally, in mid-2010, I polished up my first ms (with the help of my wonderful crit group, which I think every writer should have) and subbed the synopsis to Love Inspired Historical (remember, I'd already subbed it in 2007 and been rejected). The editor requested a partial. Months later, a full. Then came a revision letter. I agreed with the editor's thoughts so I revised the MS accordingly. My new agent subbed the story and a few months later (2011), I received "the call". :-) I had more revisions to do, but that was fine by me! *grin*

"The moral, in my opinion, is to never give up and to be flexible with your stories. Even after signing the contract, I needed to make changes to my book. There was a scene that I’ve always loved but the editor never did. After tweaking and tweaking, I finally cut it. I didn’t want to do it but I realized that when it was cut, not much in the story changed. So in the end, it was an unnecessary plot point that didn’t add to the story.

"Through the edits, I’ve found the editors at Love Inspired are very nice to work with and want the best story possible. Don’t be afraid to change things in your manuscript! You’re a writer, imaginative and creative. Be bold with your words and stretch your imagination.

"Now that I’ve sold one book, the work doesn’t stop. I’ve been busy with edits, thinking up a new book, blogging and getting set up on various networking sites like GoodReads and Twitter."

Be sure to watch for Jessica's debut novel, Love on the Range, published by Love Inspired, scheduled for release in April 2012.

If you would like to congratulate Jessica, please leave a comment below.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Inspy Award Shortlist Nominee Ginny Yttrup–her debut novel, her writing journey, and her story – in her own words . . .

When Ginny sent me her story, she said I could make any changes I felt necessary. After reading the following, I didn't want to change one word. So, here is Ginny–in her own words:

"As a child, books were my solace. I could pick up a book and lose myself in the story I read, and for a time, escape the pain of an abusive childhood. I endured the sexual abuse at the hands of an authority figure for twelve long years. As I grew older, I struggled in school, couldn’t focus, and failed many classes. I barely graduated from high school and didn’t go on to college.

"I felt stupid.

"But I kept reading.

"When I was about 30 years old, a wife and mother of two toddler sons, I began dreaming about writing. It seemed an impossible dream because of my lack of education, but one day while vacuuming, I said to God, “I’d love to write a book.” In that moment, I believe God brought to my mind some of the people He used—a young girl to give birth to His Son and fishermen as Jesus’ disciples. He often used the least likely candidates, the uneducated. That reminder gave me hope that perhaps one day He would use me as a writer.

"That year, I attended my first writers’ conference and began the long and winding journey to publication. I spent the first five years just learning and practicing the craft of writing. I wrote devotionals and magazine articles and anything else that felt manageable. And each spring, I returned to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference to continue learning and networking.

"During those years, God also had me on another path—the path of healing. About the same time my dream of writing was born, I also realized that God wanted to do some work in my life—emotionally and spiritually. I was terrified of revisiting my childhood and the abuse I suffered, but it didn’t seem I could hold it at bay any longer. Nightmares and memories haunted me. Finally, for the sake of my sons, I decided to call a counselor and make an appointment. I knew my children deserved a mother who was healthy.

"That first counseling appointment was so difficult. But I made it through and decided I could probably do a month or two of weekly appointments.

"Twelve years later… ☺

"During those twelve years of intensive therapy, God replaced the lies I’d believed about myself with His truth. About the time I finished counseling (although, I still check in with a counselor occasionally), my writing shifted. After years of pursuing publication, I’d finally surrendered the writing to God and told Him I’d write simply as an act of worship. I placed myself, and my desires in His hands.

"But not long after, the first line of what I thought was a story began playing through my mind. I finally sat down one afternoon and typed out the sentence: I collect words. I wrote a couple of chapters and then submitted them to agent Steve Laube that spring at the Mount Hermon Writers Conference.

"The night before the conference began, I received an email from Steve asking me to find him as soon as I was on the Mount Hermon grounds. That felt like a good sign.

"Steve loved the chapters I’d written and wanted to see more. He asked for the completed manuscript and I told him I could have it to him in six weeks. But six weeks turned into three years. Obstacle after obstacle prevented me from writing, but I persevered and eventually did submit a completed manuscript to Steve who then graciously worked through it with me, helping me make it ready to submit to publishers.

"I eventually signed a contract with The Steve Laube Agency for representation and began the long wait while Steve shopped the manuscript. It was almost seven months later when I received the call from Steve that he had an offer: a three-book contract with B&H Publishing Group.

"I was 47 years old when I received that call. 48 when I held my first published work in my hands. 18 years after I first spoke my dream to God. God was faithful and had prepared me for that moment. He’d offered the gift of health through the hard work of counseling knowing what I didn’t know—my first book would deal with a child who was being sexually abused.

"My debut novel, Words, is the story of 10-year old Kaylee Wren, who, because of the trauma she suffers, abandoned by her mother and left with her mother’s abusive boyfriend, loses her ability to speak. Although she can’t speak, Kaylee escapes into the world of words by reading the only thing her mother left behind—a tattered dictionary. Words is a story of hope, healing, and redemption through Jesus Christ.

"My second novel, Lost And Found, releases with B&H Publishing Group in February 2012."

Words is available at,, Barnes and Noble, and many Christian retailers. Get it! This is one you definitely don't want to miss.

The following endorsements show just how life changing Ginny's book can be:

“First-time novelist Yttrup writes a riveting, emotionally charged story . . . page by page, word by word, this talented author proves the adage ‘Write what you know.’”

—Publishers Weekly

“An astounding debut novel. I haven’t read anything this profound, inspiring and life changing since (Francine Rivers’) Redeeming Love.”

—Finding Hope Through Fiction

“It’s hard to believe this is Ginny L. Yttrup’s debut novel . . . Here are 334 pages of words that may very well leave you speechless.”


Ginny is an accomplished freelance writer, speaker, and life coach who also ministers to women wounded by sexual trauma. She has two grown sons and lives in California. Learn more about her at

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Special Feature: Author Lynne Gentry talks about her recently released debut novel, Reinventing Leona, and her journey to its publication

Lynne Gentry knew marrying a preacher might change her plans. She didn’t know how much ministry would change her life. This author of numerous short stories and dramatic works writes about the fragility of family ties and the lengths to which we will go to preserve them. She travels the country as a professional acting coach and inspirational speaker. Lynne lives in Dallas with her husband Lonnie and counts spending time with her two grown children and their families her greatest joy.

Tell us about your new release:

"In Reinventing Leona, the pastor’s wife knows that residing in the parsonage is not for sissies, but the thought of living anywhere else scares Leona Harper spitless. When her husband drops dead in the pulpit, Leona loses more than her spouse. She loses her best friend, her home, and her entire identity. How does a woman cast adrift find the courage to reinvent her life?"

How did you come up with this story? Was there a specific 'what if' moment?

"I watched three of my older friends lose their husbands. Two of them regrouped, rebuilt, and reinvented their lives. One shriveled up and died in a nursing home. Observing their experiences made me ask, what would I do if tragedy struck me? Do I have the spiritual chops to pick myself up and start over? Could I trust God to lead me through a dark valley?

"Fear that I would fail a spiritual test lingered in the back of my mind.

"In 2005, I attended my first ACFW writer’s conference and took a class that encouraged us to write about our deepest fears. I wanted to write something funny, and frankly, writing about something that scared me to death didn’t sound fun let alone funny. But God used this story to teach me to trust, and in the process He prepared me for a devastating turn of events that would either make or break me in 2009. Not the death of my husband, but something almost as bad. I’m happy to say, I’m coming out of that deep grief a reinvented woman, one who daily rejoices in the faithfulness of God."

Did anything strange or funny happen while researching or writing your book?

"While I was writing this book, I was commissioned to write and perform a comedic monologue for a women’s conference in Houston. Since this story was fresh on my mind, I used it to create the dramatized story of The Reinvention of Leona Harper. After the performance an audience member cornered me. “So, have the people in your church seen this?” she demanded. I smiled and said, “Well, no, and this story isn’t about people I really know. I made this all up.” She said, “Well, I still think you might consider getting some therapy.” That’s when I knew this story was capable of touching nerves, of exposing the secret struggles people of faith face when they encounter setbacks and tragedies. And that’s when I knew without a doubt, sharing God’s ability to reinvent us from the ruins was a story that had to be told."

Every novelist has a journey. How long was your road to publication? How did you find out and what went through your mind?

"I’m not one of those people who always dreamed of being a writer, but I have always been a storyteller. I thought my talents were better suited to the stage. The Lord slowly altered my course from the stage to the page when I married a pastor.

"Back before sermon skits were a dime a dozen, my husband thought it would be great to use drama as an additional sermon teaching tool. But, we had trouble finding dramas that fit his messages, so I started writing and directing them. That blossomed into full-blown musicals, video production, etc. Then a writer friend of mine, Lisa Harris, encouraged me to turn one of my musicals into a novel. Little did I know, it would take nearly eight years to finally sell one of my precious darlings.

"My husband and I were treating ourselves to a lovely birthday meal in a very nice restaurant when I got the call from my agent, Sandra Bishop. She asked, “Lynne, did you ever wonder where you’d be when you found out you sold your first book?” I think the huge smile on my face had the wait staff wondering what was in my tea. Or maybe it was the screaming and jumping up and down. I’m not sure which. But I remember being extremely grateful to God."

Do you have any parting words of advice?

"We are not stuck. According to Ezekiel 36:26, God can give us a new heart, a new spirit, and new purpose for our life. Don’t be afraid to let God reinvent you. It’s never too late to start over."

Thank you, Lynne, for sharing your fascinating story with us, and thank you, Tyndale, for publishing this intriguing novel. Reinventing Leona is a humorous, heartwarming story that deals with real-life issues familiar to most of us, and it's truly a page-turner. If you haven't read it already, make it your next read. You don't want to miss this one.

Please feel free to leave comments for Lynne below.

Learn more about Lynne at her website:

Monday, September 12, 2011

In Her Own Words: Sarah Sundin talks about her new release, Blue Skies Tomorrow, and her writing journey from its beginning to the present

When asked to tell us about her writing career from its earliest stages through the recent release of Blue Skies Tomorrow, the final book in her debut Wings of Glory Trilogy, Sarah had this to say:

"Although I grew up surrounded by books, I didn’t consider a writing career. Instead, I became a pharmacist and chose to work one day a week so I could stay home with our three children. On January 6, 2000, I had a dream with such intriguing characters that I felt compelled to write their story. The novel that came from that dream will never be published, nor should it, but it got me started. I set out to learn the craft of writing from books, a critique group, and writers’ conferences.

"In 2003 my critique partners said the first novel in my World War II trilogy was ready, so I submitted A Distant Melody at Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference. I received good feedback—and began accumulating a stack of “good” rejection letters. They liked my writing, my story, and my characters—however, historicals weren’t selling. I often felt discouraged, but the Lord made it obvious that He wanted me to finish the trilogy, so I kept plugging away. Then at Mount Hermon in 2008, I heard, “We need historicals.” And there I was with my trilogy close to complete. I submitted to Vicki Crumpton at Revell, and later they offered me a three-book contract.

"Since then it’s been an exciting roller coaster ride. Holding my first book in my hands was an amazing experience—I just sat there stunned with a lump in my throat. Then there was the shock of hearing from “real” readers, not just my mom. The greatest adjustment has been the shift from dedicated hobby writer to professional. This really is a full-time job—I spend 40-60 hours per week on writing and writing-related activities. Part of the transition was learning how to juggle. Right now I’m doing publicity for Blue Skies Tomorrow, editing the first book in my next series, and plotting the second book in the series. In addition, social networking, blogging, and publicity keep me hopping. And I love it."

If you've already finished one or both of Sarah's first two books, A Distant Melody and A Memory Between Us, I know you can't wait to read Blue Skies Tomorrow, or if you've haven't read either of them, Blue Skies Tomorrow is a great place to begin.

From cover to cover, Sundin's books keep you turning the pages as you travel back in time to World War II and visit interesting places along the way. Please hurry with that editing, Sarah. We're waiting impatiently for that first book in your next series!

If you're one of Sarah's many fans, please leave a comment for her below. I'm sure she would love to hear from you.

You may visit Sarah and learn more about her at:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dry as Rain -- Riveting New Release from Award-Winning Author Gina Holmes

Gina Holmes is the bestselling author of Crossing Oceans and the newly released novel, DRY AS RAIN. She's the founder of Novel Rocket, (formerly Novel Journey), a registered nurse,  wife and mother who makes her home in Southern Virginia. You can learn more about her at 

Your debut novel hit ECPA, Amazon, PW and CBA bestsellers list (some throughout the span of a year!) For several weeks Crossing Oceans was the #1 free kindle download and then stayed in the top hundred for a long time.

Beside the commercial success, your book was a finalist in every major Christian book award, including: Christy, ECPA, Retailer’s Choice, Carol Awards, and won RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice and an INSPY. Does having that kind of success put the pressure on for your second book?

I try not to think too much about it. I didn’t expect that kind of success but am very grateful for it. I had a lot of pressure on me on this releasing novel, not because of the success of the first book, but because, unlike the first, I didn’t have all the time in the world to write it. Some books flow smoothly, this one I had to yank out like a bad tooth. I faced multiple rewrites, some of them pretty major, all while trying to promote my all important first novel. I was still working full time, mothering, running Novel Journey (now Novel Rocket) and all of that, so this was a tough, tough book for me to produce.

Tell our readers about your latest release, Dry as Rain:

I'm a really bad pitchman so I'll just repeat the back of the book copy:

Behind every broken vow lies a broken heart.
When Eric and Kyra Yoshida first met, they thought their love would last forever. But like many marriages, theirs has gradually crumbled, one thoughtless comment and misunderstanding at a time, until the ultimate betrayal pushes them beyond reconciliation. Though Eric longs to reunite with Kyra, the only woman he has truly loved, he has no idea how to repair the damage that’s been done.

Then a car accident erases part of Kyra’s memory—including her separation from Eric—and a glimmer of hope rises from the wreckage. Is this a precious opportunity for the fresh start Eric has longed for? Does he even deserve the chance to find forgiveness and win back Kyra’s heart . . . or will the truth blow up in his face, shattering their last hope for happiness? A richly engaging story of betrayal and redemption, Dry as Rain illuminates with striking emotional intensity the surprising truth of what it means to forgive.

You can read the first chapter HERE. 

"Holmes grabs the reader with a unique storyline about infidelity and what it truly means to forgive after betrayal.  By looking at the situation from a different angle, the author provides a great deal of food for thought and contemplation." RT Book Reviews – September, 2011

Library Journal says, "Fans of emotionally packed domestic fiction will love it."

This novel feels so much different than Crossing Oceans. Why did you choose to take such a different path?

I didn’t intend to write something completely different and I think it feels that way because of the characters telling the story. In Crossing Oceans, Jenny was our narrator and she was a melancholy, all woman sort.

In Dry as Rain, we have Eric, who is a man’s man and doesn’t think in flowery language and descriptions so it would have been wrong to write him that way. While both books have a heavy subject matter, Crossing Oceans was much more so. You can’t get heavier than dying, so it was bound to be more emotional, no matter how I wrote the next book.

But, my genre seems to be relational drama which both are and I like to pepper in a quirky cast and that’s true of both books.

You took a lot of chances in this book. First writing first person from a male’s perspective, secondly to have the protagonist someone who does a lot of things that aren’t very Christianly, like cheating on his wife, drinking, lying, etc. Are you afraid this might hurt your sales in the Christian market?

Afraid? No. Concerned, sure. While I don’t personally have a problem with Eric drinking a beer, the rest I have a problem with too. The thing is Eric’s a nominal Christian at the beginning of the book, lukewarm about his faith like many who call themselves followers of Christ. This is his journey though, and he doesn’t end up where he begins. I wanted to tell the story as truthfully as I could and at the end of the day let the chips fall where they may.

What happened to your long time website, Novel Journey? is now You can get to it by either address but we decided on an overhaul because we wanted to drop the blogspot address and just have a dot com. The guy who owned Novel Journey didn’t return our emails to sell so we had to do something a little different. This turned out to be a good thing maybe because we’d been chewing on broadening the site for some time. We’ve got some exciting changes now, the most notable is the addition of “Rocket Pages” a sort of Craig’s List for writers to find the services they need to launch and sustain their career.

What’s going on with you personally?

Well, I’m blissfully married, mom to two, stepmom to three, and owner of 2 dogs and a fish. I bought a guitar and hope to start fiddling with that soon and just writing a lot. Nothing too exciting over here but that’s the way I like it. I’m the happiest I’ve been in my life. I’ve accomplished many of the dreams and goals I’d hoped to and I always tell my husband, if I died today, I’d feel I lived and full and rewarding life. Not that I’m looking to die just yet.

What are you working on now?

I can’t give the title yet as that’s a work in progress but it’s a story very close to my heart. I’m more excited about this one than anything I’ve ever written. Hopefully my publisher agrees and you see it on the stands in the next year or so. That’s really all I can say for now.

Tell us something we don’t know about you.

I’ll tell you a few. I thought I was afraid of heights until I bungee-jumped and loved it. I’d love to skydive for the first time in the next year, white water raft and get at least a little skill on the guitar. My husband is a talented songwriter. My kids are the sweetest in the world, (yes, the world!), and I love to get my hands dirty. That should do it. Thanks for having me!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Special Feature: Best Selling Author Jody Hedlund – Her Story

What a dream come true for any author! ... Your debut novel hits the CBA best seller list within months of publication. That's exactly what happened to Jody Hedlund after Bethany House Publishers released The Preacher’s Bride, an inspirational historical romance, in October 2010.

The Preacher’s Bride is set in 1650's England. A young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher–whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John’s protests of her aid. She’s even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family.

Yet Elizabeth’s new role as housekeeper takes a dangerous turn when John’s boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher’s enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she’s more determined than ever to save the child, and man, she’s come to love.

Jody is a busy mother-writer, who has the wonderful privilege of teaching her crew of five children at home. In between grading math papers and giving spelling tests, she occasionally does a load of laundry and washes dishes. When she's not busy being a mother, she's in front of her laptop. Sometimes her family thinks her fingers are super-glued to the keyboard, but in reality she usually finds her writing time in the wee hours of the morning and then for a couple of hours in the afternoon when she's finished with school.

Jody has spent the past sixteen years writing, although she took a break during the time she was busy having children. The Preacher’s Bride was the first book she wrote after she returned from that hiatus. (She had written five books previously that now gather dust in a closet!).

After completing The Preacher’s Bride, she began sending out queries and was rejected by all the agents on her list ... except one who liked her query and sample writing and asked her to submit the full manuscript.

"Of course I was excited," says Jody, "but little did I know at the time that my manuscript would languish in her slush pile for nine long months. During the wait I wrote another book and decided to enter both books into a contest for unpublished writers.

"Much to my surprise and delight, both of my entries made it to the finals. At that point, I followed up with the agent who still had my manuscript. I notified her of the contest finals. Within three days, she offered me representation.

"My agent and I worked hard at putting together a proposal. She sent it out to a publisher she believed was perfect for my books. Within the span of a few months, I signed a contract for a three-book deal with Bethany House Publishers.

"The Preacher’s Bride was the first book in that deal. The Doctor’s Lady is the second (releasing in September of 2011). And I’m currently working on writing book three in the contract. It will be released in 2012." Jody is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Word Serve Literary.

Congratulations, to you, Jody! Thank you for sharing your journey from finished book to publication with us. We're all pulling for you to have a second, and a third, CBA best seller.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Another Great Read from Best-Selling Author Loree Lough ...

Gifted storyteller and prolific writer Loree Lough has given us yet another must read in Beautiful Bandit, Book One in her Lone Star Legends series published by Whitaker House.

Set in 1888 Texas with an out-of-this-world gorgeous cover, Beautiful Bandit vividly brings to life two unforgettable characters, Joshua Neville and Kate Wellington, and weaves a tale of intrigue and romance loaded with unexpected twists and turns. The book's back cover hints at its heartwarming storyline:

"Joshua Neville is a quiet, even-keeled rancher who was just minding his own business when he witnessed a brazen bank robbery in San Antonio, Texas, that left three men dead. Even more shocking than the heist itself is that the ringleader looked like a woman!

"Having escaped a gang of robbers who forced her to participate in a bank heist, Kate Wellington adopts an alias and decides to flee to Mexico. Lost and hungry, she stumbles upon the camp of a man named Josh Neville who offers to escort her across the border. But when she injures her ankle, the kindly cowboy takes 'Dinah' home to his ranch to heal instead.

"As the two grow closer, Josh realizes he's fallen in love, even as he learns the truth about Dinah. But does he know the whole story? And, after the truth comes out, will he put his life at risk to keep her with him?"

Beautiful Bandit has received many accolades from its readers, including many award-winning authors including Michelle Sutton, Laurean Brooks, and Rita Gerlach. You, too, will find the book entertaining and uplifting. Be sure to visit Loree at to learn more about this talented author.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Exciting New Release: Catherine Leggitt's Payne & Misery

Cozy mysteries are a fun read, especially when written by talented author, Catherine Leggitt. Payne & Misery is the cleverly woven tale of Christine Sterling, a lonely, nosy, imaginative woman who envisions intrigue at every turn, and who ultimately stumbles into much more danger than she ever anticipated. The book's back cover gives us a hint about her escapade:

"Christine Sterling's loneliness reduces her to snooping on neighbors she's never seen. When her newly-retired husband, Jesse, becomes obsessed with a hobby requiring long weekends away, Christine inserts herself into the wrong place at the wrong time–a sure recipe for disaster. Add Christine's dubious "gift" of observation, a super-sized need to rescue, and a double dose of imagination. Sprinkle with peculiar circumstances lurking just down the hill and what do you get? Not the glittering paradise of togetherness Jesse promised their "Golden Years" would be. You get trouble. Big trouble.

"Christine has already demonstrated a severe propensity for jumping to wrong conclusions. When she discovers an injured neighbor named Lila Payne withering away in the house next door, friends and family turn a deaf ear. Something about crying wolf once too often. Until Lila and Christine's beloved border collie, Molly, both disappear the same night. Who's crying wolf now?"

You don't want to miss this one! Published by WestBow Press, Payne & Misery can be found online at,, or, and to learn more about Catherine, visit her at