Friday, October 8, 2010

Publication: goal or blessing? by Kristen Heitzmann

One of the things I appreciate about Kristen Heitzmann’s novels is the fresh prose used throughout her stories. (Dawn here.) I’ve even taken notes to keep on hand for inspiration. I’m very happy that she’s with us today, sharing her journey to publication. Welcome, Kristen!

Publication: goal or blessing?

Writers dream of being published, of having their work accepted by a publisher, transformed into a book with a knockout cover, sold into stores, and put into the hands of readers. The point of a story is to be heard, read, received by another, and being published is the most far reaching method available.

But do we write in order to be published, or do we write because we’ve been given the ability to create, because, frankly, we can’t stop ourselves? A friend once told me she would write her book when she had a contract. At the time, I hadn’t the faintest idea how to get published. I only knew there were stories bursting from me that wanted out whether anyone ever paid a cent for them or not.

We’re all encouraged to pursue goals, but publication isn’t the end in itself, but a reward for pursuing the gift, the art, the craft of writing. It can’t be the only validation of the writer’s purpose, because not all will be published. But God gives us joy in the process. We create because we are in the image and likeness of our Creator. He gives us joy in the process when we surrender the outcome to his perfect will.

I started writing novels in 1996 as a home school mother of four. People say, “How did you do it?” but believe me, not doing it was way harder. I need a bumper sticker that says Story Happens.

Seriously, for two years my women’s group prayed the stories would quit so I could concentrate on what I was supposed to be doing. Finally one sister said, “You know, maybe that’s what you’re supposed to be doing.” Don’t you love it when the light bulb goes on and you can hear God laughing?

So I took him at his word and started writing. I could tell the stories if he handled the business stuff. Publication would have to be a partnership because I had no knowledge or interest in marketing and promoting myself. If God wanted the books out there, I thought he was the perfect one for the job. Have you ever found someone who so completely exceeded your expectations?

There’s a lot of rejection in publishing, so I entered the waters expecting an undertow, maybe a riptide or two. I went to a conference and pitched my first novel to acquisitions editors from two houses. They asked for chapters, etc. The first wrote back to say they liked my work but were cutting back for two years. They’d look at it then if it hadn’t sold. The second, Bethany House Publishers, contracted a three book series, and I’ve been writing for the Christian market ever since.

The promise I made was to tell what stories I’m given to tell—and leave the rest to God who knows exactly what he intends for me and desires to accomplish it. I wish you all joy in the journey.

Kristen Heitzmann is the author of eight historical novels and ten contemporary romantic and psychological suspense novels including The Still of Night, nominated for the Colorado Book Award, The Tender Vine, a Christy Award Finalist, and Christy Award winning Secrets. She lives in Colorado with her husband Jim and sundry family members and pets.

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