Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Fate, Fortune Cookies, and Faith

I got what we writers like to say is "The Call." In my case it was an email. And I was sitting in my trusty Ford Escape getting ready to go to my morning Zumba class when it arrived on my iPhone. So what did I do after my new editor at Entangled Publishing sent me the email that stated my manuscript was approved?

Frankly, I trembled. It was unbelievable, surreal even, after all these years of seeking a home for my stories.

I emailed her back-thanked her so much and then I forwarded it to the Physicist and my critique partners, Sharon Wray, Karen Johnston, and Pam Mantovani. Sharon and Karen have worked with me since 2006 and they're talented writers whom I value beyond measure. Pam and I met through a contest that she was coordinating in 2009: the Maggies for the Georgia Romance Writers RWA Chapter. I finaled that year and the following year I wooed her to become my category romance writing partner. We haven't looked back. She's an incredible writer, a fantastic critique partner, and a dear friend.

I would not be the writer I am today if fate had not lead me to these women. Our relationship is special and I love them all.

Fate also lead me to a fantastic writing group. The Romance Writers of America. My first manuscript was requested by an editor at Harlequin and then rejected. Rightfully so. It was a hot mess and I needed to learn a lot. But in that rejection, the editor encouraged me to join RWA. So I did. Then I found Karen and Sharon and then I found more writing chapters with my subsequent move to Alabama. Southern Magic, Heart of Dixie, Music City Romance Writers and Georgia Romance Writers of America have given me so much support throughout these long years. Fate also led me to a fantastic group called GIAMx4 (Goal in a Month) after I emailed the loop's creator about a PRO post. Amy Atwell is a dynamo and I adore her for including me in this group. They are so good to me. Finally, fate also sent me a multi-published author who literally took me by the hand and said she'd read the first three chapters of the book I just sold because she knew how hard it is to get published. I finally plucked up the courage to send her this book and she fell in love with it. Though it didn't suit her publishing house's line, it lead me down an interesting pathway. And her faith in my writing kept me going when times got dark and I wanted to give up writing for a shopping vocation.

But I couldn't quit writing because then I would be--as Sharon so wisely and gently said--rejecting myself.

This brings me in no clear way to Fortune Cookies. For some reason I like saving certain fortunes that come in the cookies. I've kept two in my jewelry box for at least four years. I used one in my short bio because it suits me to a T. I kept the other one because it describes my internal motivation. Here they are:

Your ability to find the silly in the serious will take you far.
Your skills will accomplish what the force of many will not.

There were days when I'd open my jewelry box to get my hoop earrings and heart necklace and I'd read these fortunes just to jump start my day and keep my motivation going.

I came home and showed the College Kid the email who then promptly hugged me three times in a row (a record!) and said she was proud of me. I still get all weepy when I recall that moment. Then it was off to PF Changs because the day I sold to Entangled Publishing, the Physicist and I had already arranged a SWG with one of our favorite couples at the restaurant to catch up. SWG stands for Scotch Working Group. The servers there keep The Marine and The Physicist's  favorite scotch on hand and know them by name. So one minute I was signing a contract and the next I was off to eat Chinese and hang out with friends while the College Kid started fooling around with my Tumblr account to make it look better.

When the Marine and his wife learned the news they were very excited. But really? I was so dazed, I was almost overwhelmed. They insisted on me tooting my own horn a bit. So we had a big piece of cake on the house (because the server was happy for me after they told her I had sold a book). After we ate the cake (which was super yummy and completely sinful) the fortune cookies arrived. We each opened ours and I'm saving them all in my jewelry box. Here's what they said:

You will receive a surprising gift very soon.
You should have a talk with a friend today.
Treasure what you have.
A small gift can bring joy to the whole family.

Somehow, in the dim glow of the low lights at PF Changs these fortunes reflected my entire day. I loved that moment when each member of the table read their slip of paper, then handed me their fortune.

Their friendship leads me to Faith. I could not have gotten to this point without the company of faithful friends and without faith in something greater than me guiding my destiny. My family, my dearest and oldest friends (two who read the first ill-fated manuscript and encouraged me to go forth), my new friends, my Zumba Sisters, my writing friends, my awesome critique partners, the mentors and teachers who have guided me (Mary Buckham, Dianna Love, Margie Lawson, Michael Hauge to name a few), the published authors who have given me so much encouragement--all of them have filled my internal faith jar with hope for the future.

And I have a real faith jar. Years ago someone gave me a prayer jar. You write down your prayers on slips of paper and date them, then you put them in the jar and let them sit there. When things change, you check the jar and pull out the prayers that have been answered. OK, so now I'm crying as I write this because this weekend I pulled out two slips of paper. Here's what they said and the dates they were written:

I  pray that someone will publish my works 2005
I pray for strength to write strong even when I'm not published. 2012

The top of my jar is inscribed with the following words:

Faith is the substance of things hoped for... Hebrews 11:1

It's been a long journey from that first tiny slip of paper to today's new slip of paper. The journey's not over, it's just different. I'm making new connections and finding new friends who are in this extraordinary world that I've just entered. But I'm so glad that the companions I have known throughout my life will be cruising on this pathway beside me. They are why I have the courage to sit down to write stories which believe in the power of love binding two hearts together.


40 comments:

Paula said...

I'm so happy for you, Christine. I knew this day would come for you eventually, having read your work, but I know how hard waiting for The Call to happen can be.

You deserve it! Enjoy it!

Christine said...

Thank you so much Paula. Your encouragement truly helped me as a writer. I'm so blessed to have such an amazing support system :-)

Betty said...

So happy for you, Christine! You've worked hard to make this particular dream a reality. Thanks for sharing your Call story!

Wendy S. Marcus said...

You are such a hard worker Christine! I knew you'd do it! Congratulations!!! I can't wait to celebrate in person!

Kelsey Browning said...

Christine -

I'm so proud of and happy for you. Can't WAIT to read your first release!

Kelsey

Christine said...

Hi Betty: Thank you so much for your kind words. You are part of the journey and I appreciate you.

Christine said...

Hi Kelsey: I can't wait to read YOUR FIRST RELEASE, too. This has been an incredible journey and so glad you're one of my GIAMx4 Writing Sisters :-)

Beppie Harrison said...

I am -- we are all so thrilled for you. It's been a long and sometimes discouraging trail, but one of the things I've most admired is that you never gave up! So three cheers for hanging in there, and I'm one of the growing crowd eager for the book so I can read it!

Julie H said...

Lovely post! And I'm so happy that your stories found a good home. Can't wait to read them!

Angela N. Blount (RedPeril) said...

Congratulations, Christine! :D
Hard fought, and well won. Your committed persistence will forever be a source of inspiration for me. ^_^

I look forward to reading your work!

Gretchen Stull said...

Beautiful post, Christine, and inspirational for those of us following behind you on the road to publication. Many heartfelt congratulations! I'm so very happy for you, and look forward to reading your upcoming release! :)

Christine said...

Hi Beppie: Thanks so much for your support. GIAMx4 Rocks and I am so fortunate to have you all when I am low or need a lift up.

:-)

Christine said...

Hi Julie: Thanks so much!! I am excited that this book found a great home. :-)

Christine said...

Hi Angela: I still remember you leaning closer and closer and closer still all those years ago when I was at the Barnes & Noble brainstorming with friends. Look how far you've come since we invited you to join us at the table!!! Linda Howard AOE Finalist, winner of many contests and super volunteer for three organizations. I am so proud of you!!! I know you will succeed :-)

Christine said...

Hi Gretchen: I love your group at MCRWA and all the friends I've made. I especially love watching how you juggle your day job, being a new mom of an adorable little boy and creating stories. I know you will succeed because you also have what the astronauts say is The Right Stuff :-)

Jillian said...

so happy for you. Your perseverance is admirable and I think you're a superstar already!

Christine said...

Hi Jillian: You are one of my best friends on Facebook after meeting you at the Silken Sands Conference in 2012. I love your wit and your tales of Hobbes. I can't wait to see you at Nationals!! BTW, Tonks is the worst ever sick kitty. She won't even let me put eye drops into her eye--squeezes it shut very stubbornly.

Hugs!!!

Jean Hovey said...

Absolutely thrilled for you. Cannot wait to celebrate with you over lunch next week! You are proof of what I have always know. Hard work will beat the odds every time.

Amy Atwell said...

So very happy for this recognition of your talent and perseverance, Christine. May many more published books follow this first one!

Dana said...

Congratulations, Christine!

You've paid your dues and then some, so it's wonderful to see how paying those dues has really paid off :)

Thanks for sharing your story, including all of the hard work and steps you took along the way. It's also nice to read about the folks who helped you get there. Very inspiring!

Christine said...

Hi Jean: I am so glad we are friends and companions on this journey. You have always been so supportive of me. And you always make me laugh. Can't wait to see you and celebrate in person :-)

Christine said...

Hi Amy: I consider meeting you one of the most pivotal moments in my writing journey. You're an inspiration to me and I am honored to have you in my circle of friends. Can't wait to see you at Nationals!!

:-)

Christine said...

Hi Dana: Thank you so much for your kind words. Now a new journey begins. :-)

Christine said...

Hi Wendy :-) I found your comment in my spam box--you know I can't wait to see you and break out the bubbly! Thanks for all your support :-) RWA Nationals is looking like a celebration for sure.

:-)

Julie Johnstone said...

I'm so happy for you, Christine! I can't wait to read your book!

Christine said...

Thanks Julie!! I am excited about it. And I can't wait to host you on the Veranda on Monday, June 10th. So much to share :-)

Sharon Wray said...

Christine,
That was so beautiful it made me cry. I am so happy for you and wish you all the success in the world that I know you deserve. I love you!
XOXO
Sharon

Christine said...

Love you right back, Sharon. You are an incredible friend and an amazingly talented writer. I'm so blessed to have you in my world.

XXOO

:-)

Prisakiss said...

I tried leaving this comment before, but it hasn't shown up. So, I'm giving it a second go-around and hoping it doesn't show up twice! :-0

Huge, huge congrats on the sale,Christine! Your hard work, perseverance, and faith have paid off-- and you so deserve it!

Reading your story provides great motivation for me to keep on keeping on, even when things don't seem to be working out writing-wise.

I have to say, it's great to see good things happening to fabulous people. Hope to see you at RWA National to give you a HUGE congrats hug! :-)

Meda White said...

Love your fortunes and your faith jar. It's meant to be. Congratulations and best wishes for much success.

Gwen Hernandez said...

I'm so excited for you, Christine! I knew it would happen eventually because you are one talented lady and you work hard.

Can't wait to see your name on the cover! :-)

Christine said...

Hi Priscilla: I think you're an amazing writer and I know you will find a home for stories. I'm glad it took so long because I had so much to learn. I still have a lot to learn. And you will see me at Nationals. I can't wait to hug you in person. :)

Christine said...

Hi Meda: I love that jar. I have lots of slips of paper in it and they hold many other people's dreams and hopes. I know you will do great things because you are willing to do the work.

Can't wait to see you at the next Southern Magic meeting.

:-)

Christine said...

Hi Gwen, thanks so much for your support. I remember when we first met through Southern Magic. Since then you've gone on to do great things. The scrivener book for dummies,teaching and a Golden Heart finalist. You rock.

I hope I get to see you at finals. :-)

Crystal Lee said...

Congratulations, Christine! I'm so very happy for you. It always pays to keep the faith. Savor the essence of this moment and allow it to strengthen you for the next phase of your journey.

Christine said...

Hi Crystal: I love the phrase "savor the essence of this moment and allow it to strengthen you for the next phase of your journey." You inspire me! I hope I see you at the Heart of Dixie Readers Luncheon this weekend :-)

Carla Swafford said...

A beautiful post from a beautiful person. Congratulations! I know you're going to enjoy every moment of your new journey.

Now you've gotten me talking like fortune cookies. LOL!

Hugs! Can't wait to celebrate with you Friday night!!

Christine said...

Hi Carla, I think that thinking like a fortune cookie is a good thing. Hehe. And can't wait to see you so we can celebrate in person. :-)

Anne Gallagher said...

Congratulations. I'm so happy for you. Keep on keeping on. It's only going to get better from now on.

Christine said...

Hi Anne: Thank you so much! I am very happy and excited to write for Entangled Publishing. Dreams really do come true. We just have to keep working on them every day :-)