Friday, March 30, 2018

My Journey to Publication—and Why Yours Will Look Nothing Like It - by Lindsay Harrel

Lindsay Harrel

Fridays at Seriously Write are devoted to chatting about personal roads taken to publication and offering encouragement to writers at any point in their own journeys. Lindsay Harrel shares her story with us today. ~ Dawn

My Journey to Publication—
and Why Yours Will
Look Nothing Like It

Like many of you, I’ve dreamed of being a published author ever since I was young. But in high school, I decided that being an author was too competitive. So I pursued a degree in journalism and become an editor.

Fast forward to 2009—I was working full time and getting my MA in English. There was only one online course that happened to be available when I registered, and that was Fiction Writing. I needed an elective, so I took the course. If ever something was “ordained” and not a coincidence in my writing journey, I believe it was this moment for me. My love of writing fiction was reborn during this eight-week course. I started thinking seriously again about pursing publication.

A month after I graduated, I dove into writing my first novel. I finished drafting it within four months and boy, did I think it was good. (All of you can relate, I’m sure!)

When I realized that most certainly was NOT the case, I settled into learning craft hardcore. I was married and worked full time, but didn’t have kids yet, so I had the luxury of learning craft and writing during my lunch breaks and in the evenings and all day on Saturdays. In the course of my pursuit of publication, I also attended several retreats/conferences (totally recommend My Book Therapy and American Christian Fiction Writers for this).

After writing my second book, I finaled in a contest and landed my agent, who asked me to rewrite the book because the premise was “flawed.” Double groan! But I did it, and I learned a lot in the process.

Then, I wrote another book (One More Song to Sing) and it was contracted and published by a small press in 2016. While I was thrilled to be published, a part of me was bummed I wasn’t the “raving success story” I’d always dreamed of being—you know, one of those rare people who gets a huge multi-book contract out the gate (a bit unrealistic, right?). But I had a WONDERFUL experience with that book. I also found that starting with a smaller press for my first book was exactly what I needed to feel more confident in the whole process. I love how God knows what we need even when we don’t.

After publishing my first book, it began to look like I might not ever be able to break into one of the larger publishing houses (I loved my smaller house experience, but was looking for a house that could help more with marketing, etc.). I even took a break from writing for several months and prayed about whether to set aside my writing for a season, since I had a toddler and was pregnant with my second son. But God had other ideas.

In late 2016, I was offered a two-book contract with HarperCollins Christian Publishing, my dream publisher, and my second book (The Heart Between Us) just released on March 13. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work with such a well-known publisher and to improve my craft with the help of the amazing team of editors there.

You may be reading this and thinking, “Well, good for her. But I’ve been writing for x number of years and nothing is happening.” I would just encourage you to keep going. Keep writing one book. And another. And another. You learn by doing.

One of my mentors says that if this writing thing doesn’t change you, then what’s it all for? Your journey WON’T look like mine. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, different ways that God will choose to stretch us. Instead of worrying about the destination, let yourself lean into the journey and be changed by it. Write on, friends. Write on.

Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide in her small Minnesota hometown and living with her parents, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd who lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. She’s held a variety of writing and editing jobs over the years, and now juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with writing novels. When she’s not writing or chasing after her children, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time. Connect with at the following places:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Lindsay, first let me say that I love reading people’s journeies to publication. And you are so right - no two are alike.

    I published my first book with a small house and loved every minute of it. I would be happy to publish with them anytime. But, I would love to publish with a larger company as well.

    Long way to say you inspired me with your story. Thanks for sharing.


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