Friday, January 29, 2010

Encouraging Story of My Journey by Christina Berry

Last year, I met Christina at the ACFW writer's conference. (Come to think of it, Dawn was standing right beside me when we greeted her.) We'd discussed my reviewing her fantastic book The Familiar Stranger. This Fortifying Friday she shares her journey to publication story with us. Enjoy!

Encouraging Story of My Journey
by Christina Berry

More than a decade ago, my mother (Sherrie Ashcraft) said, “Let’s write a book together.” For years we’d talked about wanting to be writers; her from second grade on, me from ninth grade. I’m a slow bloomer, I guess. But she knew that without the accountability of working as a team, we would never get started.

So we spent two years writing THE BEST BOOK EVER. We did have to find out little things like how long a book should be and how to submit to publishers, but once we finished our precious little baby, we knew that editors would be knocking on our door.

We heard of a contest called The Noble Theme (now the Genesis) sponsored by American Christian Romance Writers (now American Christian Fiction Writers/ACFW). One thing about writers is that they let the power of being able to name characters and books and their children go to their heads, and randomly start renaming contests and organizations. Anyway, we sent in our submission and sat back, planning our acceptance speech. Months later we received out feedback sheets with a score equivalent to a D. What, a D???

Turns out we had no clue how to write a book: how to stay in one POV(Point of View) a scene, how to plot or pace or describe, how to write conversation. In short, we had a heap of learning to do. Enter OCW(Oregon Christian Writers) and ACFW. The one-day seminars and days-long coaching conferences taught us an incredible amount. Funny though … only after we went home and put our seats in chairs and hands on keyboards, forcing words out of our brains, did we actually learn to write.

The rejections became requests for proposals, then full book requests, yet editors stopped just shy of contracting the book. Time passed; we kept working.

My mother spent the summer of 2006 with her dying mother-in-law and couldn’t concentrate much on writing.

Two stories appeared in the newspapers that summer and would not get out of my head. I wondered, “If they had a baby, what would that little tale look like?” The plot of a novel fell into my lap, working title of Undiscovered and tagline of, “An accident that isn’t; secrets that won’t be.” I took four months to write it, sent it to a freelance editor, bled over her edits, placed second in the 2008 Genesis Contemporary category (redemption!), and had two offers within weeks of hearing the results. Me, the person who had logged more hard rejections than years on earth, had two offers. My favorite rejection was one I received AFTER selling the book!

I chose the house that best fit my style of fiction and never looked back. Being with Moody Publishers has been an incredible experience. They’ve spoiled me for working with any other house, I do believe. The Familiar Stranger released in September ’09, hopefully launching a long, fruitful career. I’d love to have enough clout to rename an organization sometime.

Here's a bit about her book, The Familiar Stranger.

Craig Littleton's decision to end his marriage would shock his wife, Denise . . . if she knew what he was up to. When an accident lands Craig in the ICU, with fuzzy memories of his own life and plans, Denise rushes to his side, ready to care for him.

They embark on a quest to help Craig remember who he is and, in the process, they discover dark secrets. An affair? An emptied bank account? A hidden identity? An illegitimate child?

But what will she do when she realizes he's not the man she thought he was? Is this trauma a blessing in disguise, a chance for a fresh start? Or will his secrets destroy the life they built together?

(Read Annette's review at Net's Book Notes.)

As a single mom and foster parent, Christina Berry carves time out of her busy schedule to write about the heart and soul of life. She’s one of those crazies who enjoys Math and Literature, majoring in both with a minor in French. All that confusion must have influenced her decision to be team captain of a winning team on Family Feud. Get to know her better at or Sign up for her infrequent, humorous newsletter at either site and you might win free, autographed books for life or a 4GB iPod Shuffle! Purchase your copy of The Familiar Stranger here.