Thursday, December 13, 2018

Who’s Flying This Plane? by Linda Thompson

You could almost class it as a trope or archetype—the writer with hundreds of rejections. Every time I tell someone I’m a writer, the question seems to follow: “Have you experienced a lot of rejections, then?”

Yes, is the answer. It’s part of the game. And if you have a manuscript you’re shopping, you know the drill. The critique groups and classes and conferences and paid editors—and the learning process isn’t cheap, by the way! The query piles and hopeful meetings. The emailing of book proposals and samples and “fulls.” The waiting, waiting… waiting. And then, of course, another email conveying a polite rejection. 

It isn’t personal, although it’s wrenchingly hard not to take it that way.

Lord, aren’t you calling me to write? Don’t you want people to read this story?

If you’re reading this, I can guess the answer to that is a “yes.” But, here’s something I know. First and foremost, the Lord is using the ups and downs of your journey to call you into a deeper relationship with Himself. What an amazing honor! But being clay worked by the potter’s fingers doesn’t always feel good!

“Count it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. For the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1:2-3) Hardships come to prove—and in many cases, improve—the quality of our faith. That’s the outcome that actually matters.

The Lord has spoken to me on a few occasions via “Mount Moriah moments.” Moments of deep discouragement where I questioned the calling. If my manuscript was my “child of promise,” if I picked it up because He had called me to it, was I ready to surrender it on His command as well?

If you’re a Christian writer, you’re probably familiar with Allen Arnold and his book, The Story of With. It’s an extended allegory of a creative who seeks self-actualization and worldly success, but without a deep partnership with her Heavenly Father. She ultimately learns that the endpoint is not the point. The real point is the journey—with God. 

My most discouraging “Mount Moriah moment” came a couple of years ago, when my first agent dropped me. I didn’t even know that was a thing! This person had been so generous to coach and mentor me through several revisions. Only a few months earlier my manuscript had garnered a significant industry award, which I know would not have happened without that agent’s guidance.

Award ceremony photo goes here. Caption: Me in 2016, at a big glam awards ceremony, the evening I was blessed to see my manuscript win the ACFW Genesis contest. Pinch me! But… still no path to publication.

I couldn’t fathom going through the querying process again. Lord, what are you telling me?

He was telling me what He tells us all. At the end of the day, it’s not about any earthly outcome. It’s about our relationship with Him. About relying on Him through the journey.

Today, my saga appears to have ended in what the world would call success. A respected agent (Wordserve Literary) and a three-book contract with a quality publisher. My debut novel, a World War II story inspired by true events from the Doolittle Raid of April, 1942, was released on December 1. And it’s a beautiful “book baby,” if I do say so myself! Thank you, Mountain Brook Ink! Plus, my street team has been wonderful, and the feedback from early readers and reviewers has been very heartening.

But! I have to tell you that the battle over who owns this book doesn’t go away, because it’s a battle between flesh and spirit. Each open door just moves the conflict to a new field. Two years ago, the wrestling with the Lord was over whether anyone would publish my—oops, His!—story. Now the question is whether anyone (or, rather, enough “anyones”) will read it. How does my one little book get attention amidst Amazon’s eight million titles?

As my husband likes to annoyingly point out: if it’s really His, won’t He bring the audience?

I’ll offer you a note of encouragement I often come back to. Naturally, during my lengthy journey to publication I meditated on scriptures on waiting. “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (Is 40:31), right? I noticed for the first time that the word for “wait” in this passage has a sense of being intertwined.

From the Complete Word Study Bible:

קָוָה qāwāh: A verb meaning to wait for, to look for, to hope for. The root meaning is that of twisting or winding a strand of cord or rope….

I should be so intertwined with my Lord that my will disappears into His! Didn’t Jesus also say something like this—something about abiding? “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4)

At the end of the day, I’m not after book sales. Not really. I’m after spiritual fruit, right? I want the story to impact lives. That will only come through abiding in Jesus. Not through my own fleshly efforts to drive the book-marketing flywheel.

There’s no question that it’s the Lord who brought me this far. I’m waiting and praying to see what He will do through this novel, and future writing ventures. And if He should call me to put my WIP in a virtual drawer and my writing career on the altar (again)? Well, I think I’m ready for that too.

GIVEAWAY

I’m hosting my Grand Launch Giveaway until 12/31—still plenty of time to get in on the action! Click here for details on the prizes—including two beautiful coffee mugs, a hand-painted vintage silk scarf from Japan, and a copy of Unbroken: The Path to Redemption on DVD—and how to enter.

THE PLUM BLOOMS IN WINTER

“A taut, crisp debut achievement that colorfully evokes the Pacific theater of WWII. Start this one forewarned: it's a stay-up-all-night read."
- Jerry B. Jenkins, 21-time New York Times bestselling author (Left Behind, et al)

A Prostitute Seeks Her Revenge—In 1942, Miyako Matsuura cradled her little brother as he died on the sidewalk, a victim of the first U.S. bombing raid on Japan. By 1948, the war has reduced her to a street-hardened prostitute consumed by her shame.

A WWII Hero Finds His True Mission—Dave Delham makes military aviation history piloting a B-25 in the audacious Doolittle Raid. Forced to bail out over occupied China, he and his crew are captured by the Japanese and survive a harrowing P.O.W. ordeal. In 1948, he returns to Japan as a Christian missionary, determined to showcase Christ's forgiveness.

Convinced that Delham was responsible for the bomb that snuffed out her brother's life, Miyako resolves to restore her honor by avenging him--even if it costs her own life. But the huntress soon becomes hunted in Osaka's treacherous underworld. Miyako must outmaneuver a ruthless brothel owner, outwit gangs with competing plans to profit by her, and overcome betrayal by family and friends--only to confront a decision that will change everything.


Linda Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves–stories where reckless faith meets relentless redemption. Her recently launched debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, is an A.C.F.W. Genesis award winner. Linda writes from the sun-drenched Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, a third-generation airline pilot who doubles as her Chief Military Research Officer, two mostly-grown-up kids, and a small platoon of housecats. When Linda isn't writing, you'll find her rollerblading–yes, that does make her a throwback–taking in a majestic desert moonrise, or dreaming of an upcoming trip. She and her husband recently returned from a tour of Israel and Jordan and a visit to Wales.

Linda loves to connect with readers! Linda’s website: http://lthompsonbooks.com. Follow Linda on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or Bookbub.

12 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for hosting my post today! It's truly a privilege. :)

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    1. Linda, I'm happy to have you visit Seriously Write. Your post is so inspiring.

      I'm at the stage where I should be querying agents and have been avoiding it because of fear of rejection.

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    2. Thank you for the kind words, Terri! Honestly, I had no luck with the email queries at all! Both of my agents resulted when I came in with a reference from one of their current authors. Also, if you can do the quick pitches at conferences, in my experience that works better than an email pitch, too. At least in person you will get some feedback. Is there a market for your story idea? Does your sample look appealing?

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  2. Linda, your story...of both the writing journey and your book...touch my heart.

    A Doolittle hero, “Skinny” Spatz, was a high school friend of my parents in a small town in Kansas. He died while a prisoner, but I grew up knowing the sacrifice of the brave Doolittle Raiders.

    Thank you for your post which encourages my writer’s heart. You mention one of my favorite verses. I didn’t know the root meaning of wait, so you have enlightened me about the deeper meaning of that Scripture. Your thoughts blessed me today. Thank you!

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    1. Oh yes! Harold Spatz--I didn't know his nickname! He's in my novel, actually, sort of. He got fictionalized into a character named "Braxton." So tragic that half those young men didn't get to come home. :(
      I'm so glad the insight about "wait" blessed you! It did me, too. The challenge, now, is to live that out!
      Thanks for the encouraging comment. :) Blessings back!
      In His love, Linda

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  3. Hi Linda - I really enjoyed your post and your book sounds very interesting! Good luck and blessings!

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement! I'm thrilled my meanderings blessed you. :)
      In His love, Linda

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  4. Linda, after reading your book and now reading your post I was brought to tears. You have done a wonderful job - in Him! This is a book I highly recommend.

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    1. Awww! Thank you so much, Michelle! I'm truly humbled by your wonderful feedback. God bless!

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  5. Amen, Linda! Thank you for sharing about your journey to publication - it was an encouragement to me.

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    1. I'm so glad this encouraged you, Cindy! Thanks so much for stopping by. God has a plan for each of us, and for our writing skills and talents. <3

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  6. Linda, you've been a delightful guest and you're welcome back anytime.

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