My Journey to Publication
by Shawn Grady
by Shawn Grady
I remember thinking in high school that I’d write a novel someday. Like it was a foregone conclusion. Of course. Doesn’t everyone think that? Funny thing is, I didn’t really consider it then as a career choice. I didn’t consider myself an author yet. But I did know one thing, if I personally was going to write a book someday, I first needed some more life experience.
It wasn’t until I found myself working as a paramedic for a private ambulance company for dismal wages that I began to consider writing seriously as an additional career. I was at a point then where I felt I had stories to tell. And so, on an Awana date with my wife (if you have kids, you know what I’m talking about) in a coffee shop nine years ago, I scribbled onto a napkin the beginnings of a novel. I continued writing in the ambulance between calls, and back at the helicopter base between flights, hammering out what eventually worked itself into the novel, Tomorrow We Die.
To provide a time context, Tomorrow We Die is my second book and just released this month with Bethany House Publishers.
So how did I get from there, to here?
The most crucial step for me was attending writing conferences, especially Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. It was there that I was able to be a part of mentoring groups proctored by experienced and established writers like James Scott Bell. I gained mentors and made friends with other unpublished writers. I formed a critique group with two in particular. One of whom, Kathryn Cushman, has already gone on to build a successful writing career.
In addition to sharpening and honing my craft, the writing conference enabled me to learn the industry and how to navigate the channels of proposal submission. It provided opportunities to sit down with editors and agents face to face and to get my work seen.
I received a good deal of interest in my writing my first year at Mount Hermon— 2005. I signed with an agent and it appeared that contract offers were eminent. When, in the ensuing months, my novel ultimately died on pub board tables and no offers came, it was a tremendous let down. My agent and I differed in our vision for where my writing needed to go and so we eventually parted ways amicably. I soon found myself three Mount Hermons later, beyond the rush of initial excitement in my work and now agentless with much dimmer prospects for publication.
While away for our anniversary that year, my wife and I did a lot of talking and praying and resolved that the Lord had made me a writer, and regardless of whether I ever got published or not, it was my calling to write. We committed to penning a book a year. We’d always have one being shopped around by proposals and another in process. We gave it to God, and with that came peace.
The very next day I received an email from Senior Acquisitions Editor Dave Long at Bethany House. He wanted to talk with me further about a firefighter story I had submitted after speaking with him at Mount Hermon that spring. He felt there was strong potential for me as an author in their fiction line. Seven months later they offered a three-book deal, the first of which hit shelves last summer in Through the Fire.
Breaking through the publication barrier felt like making it to the big leagues. It is wonderful. But as the excitement of arriving began to wane, I realized that I was now playing with the big leaguers. A whole new set of challenges and aspirations came into play. Praise God for the blessed burden.
Yet you in your manifold mercies forsook them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way wherein they should go.
I pray you Godspeed and God’s blessing in all your writing endeavors.
Learn more about Shawn Grady and his books on his Web site.