Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pushing Through by Faith by Ruth Axtell

After fourteen years of writing but not landing a contract, I was blessed with a three-book contract! Steeple Hill Books was looking to expand its inspirational line back in 2002, and my proposal grabbed their attention.

But I’m not going to talk about that today. Fast forward to 2009. Seven years of back-to-back contracts with Steeple Hill, at times two multiple contracts (when they wanted me to write Love Inspired Historicals in addition to my single title historicals with them). But then they switched gears, deciding to end their line of single title books and focus on their Love Inspired lines. They offered me contracts, but suddenly I couldn’t seem to write what they wanted. The format was more rigid; my ideas didn’t seem to fly with my editors, who used to love my writing. The more I tried to revise something to fit their ideas, the less confident I’d become with my abilities—and the less inspired I became when I did receive a contract. The last books I wrote for them were painful experiences, eking out the words. Through this, though, I learned that I could write, whether inspired or not.

But I didn’t enjoy the experience and was at the point of throwing in the towel: if this was what a writing career meant, then I’d rather find a new career, even at fifty.

I decided to take a break and write something else: something I was inspired and motivated to write. With no safety net under me (i.e. no contract), and lots of financial pressures, I spent the summer of 2009 working in solitude on my manuscript. I also searched for a new agent. My previous agent, though good, really only knew the ABA New York publishing world. I needed to branch out into the CBA market. By the fall, I had a new agent. A month or so later, he called me with an offer for my book.

The downside: the book wouldn’t appear until spring of 2013—almost four years later! I would have long eaten up my advance before then. Although I was amazed and awed at how the Lord had opened the door to a CBA publisher, writing single titles again—what was I going to live on in the meantime?

I sat down to work on another book with the hopes my agent would be able to find me another publisher. This proved not so easy, since publishers like to invest in an author. If they know an author is already contracted with another house, they might think twice about taking her on.

But God gave me a story—very different from my first one—and when it was almost finished (again with no safety net of a contract), my agent managed to find a home for it. I had caught a brief mention of a new line of fiction being started at Moody Publishers, and mentioned it to my agent, Chip MacGregor. A few months later, we had an offer. That book would be out less than a year later!

So, now I am looking at two books less than a year apart, one in August of this year, one next March. But if I hadn’t taken that step of faith …?

My times are in thine hand … Psalm 31:15

Ruth Axtell has loved stories set in the 19th century ever since she read Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and other 19th century classics in junior and senior high school. Like many romance writers, Ruth decided to write her own in order to read the kind of story she liked best.

It was a long road to publishing, a journey as much spiritual as dependent on learning the craft of writing. Ruth studied comparative literature at Smith College with a concentration in French and English literature, and spent her junior year in Paris. After college, she spent a year in the Canary Islands as an au pair. Shortly after coming back to the U.S., she committed her life to Christ. Fourteen years later, she committed her writing to Him. Since then she has lived in the Netherlands and on the coast of Maine.

Ruth has published 13 historical romances under the name Ruth Axtell Morren. She was a Golden Heart finalist in 1994. Her second published book, Wild Rose, was a Booklist “Top Ten Christian Fiction” selection in 2005. Her books have been translated into Dutch, Italian, Polish, Czech and Afrikaans. She is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), RWA (Romance Writers of America) and its local Maine chapter.

Currently, Ruth lives on the downeast coast of Maine with her three children and two cats. She enjoys the challenge of vegetable and flower gardening in a cool, foggy climate, long walks, reading, watching British period dramas like Downton Abbey, and doing historical research for her novels.

Her Good Name, a historical romance set on the 1890s Maine coast, from River North/Moody Publishers will be her first book under Ruth Axtell. In March 2013, Moonlight Masquerade, a regency romance set in London, will be out with Baker/Revell Books.

About Her Good Name
In the 1890 thriving coastal town of Holliston, Maine, the leading lumber baron's son, Warren Brentwood, III, returns from his years away at college and traveling to take up his position as heir apparent to his father's business empire.

Esperanza Estrada, daughter of a Portuguese immigrant fisherman and a local woman, lives on the wrong side of town, surrounded by a brood of brothers and sisters and a careworn mother. She is unable to pretend she is anything but "one of those Estradas." When she overhears of a position to clean house at a local high school teacher's home on Elm Street, she jumps at the opportunity--to be able to run into Warren Brentwood now and again, but also to imbibe of the culture and intellectual atmosphere of the Stocktons.

When rumors about Espy and her respected employer begin to circulate, the entire church congregation and then the community pronounce judgment on her behavior. Warren believes the lie and his loss of faith in her causes Espy to give up without a fight. She leaves her family and hometown for the nearest city with little money and no acquaintances and is forced to spend the night on the street.  A man who heads a mission for the homeless finds Espy and offers her shelter. Espy finds the true love of God while working at the mission. Will she be able to forgive the townspeople and return home?


  1. Replies
    1. So glad you enjoyed it, Carrie! Thanks so much for commenting. :)

  2. Ruth, how encouraging to read how God made things fall into place for you! Thank you for sharing! Good interview, Angie, thanks for this.

    1. I love her story, too. Isn't it amazing how God gives us just what we need WHEN we need it? Thanks so much, Margo!


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