Did you ever play the computer game known as “The Oregon Trail”?
If so, you’ll love this fun list I found…
Did you ever play the computer game known as “The Oregon Trail”?
If so, you’ll love this fun list I found…
Today’s Path to Publication story is by fellow Astraea Press author, Lucie Ulrich…
My jobs took me from airline agent, to stay-at-home mom, to home school mom, to substitute teacher, to performing arts director at a private Christian school. Somewhere in there, I joined my church’s drama team. I always loved drama, and performed in several middle school plays, but when I reached high school, my fears and insecurities took over, and I never tried out for a single production in four years.
Fast forward roughly 21 years after graduation, and I’d written my first skit for church. It wasn’t great, but it was rewarding. A few years later I headed the team, and wrote everything we performed. During those years, I felt the nudge to attempt a novel. My first thought was YA, seeing as I worked with a lot of youth on the drama team, and was, by then, subbing elementary to high school students. After several attempts, I realized YA wasn’t for me.
When my daughter asked me to accompany her to Holland, where she was participating in a dance/worship week, I brought along a half dozen large yellow legal pads. While my daughter danced, I wrote the beginnings of my first romance novel while sitting under a tree, listening to a small stream close by. I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful setting.
I based my first novel in my hometown, and it ran a whopping 150k words—way too long for a romance novel. Not having any formal writing training, I ran it by some friends who thought it was the best book ever. Needless to say, they knew less about writing than I did. Lol! Not long after that, I read M.K. Malone’s debut novel, Divided Loyalties. I loved it and emailed the author to tell him so. I soon learned he was a she, and we got to chatting via email. I asked to join her online critiquing group, which was very much out of character for me, and she agreed. Learning from her was amazing and much appreciated. We moved on to a much larger group, but I’m still friends with three of the main participants in the original group.
The people at The Critique Circle not only broadened my education, but helped me develop thick skin. My first book, Broken Vessels, was run through the site twice before I felt it was ready for publication. It didn’t take long to realize large publishing houses don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts—especially from first time authors, so I submitted my work on ECPA, a Christian publishing site that (for a reasonable fee) allows authors to post a query with sample chapters, which is then made available to a host of publishers for 6 months. It took two go-rounds, but my book was picked up, and soon released as an ebook.
Two years later, my second book was released by Astraea Press. I had all the information needed per their submission guidelines, when I was lucky enough to come across their FB pitch party, which made things really easy for me. When the party was over, I was asked for a full manuscript. My first, and hopefully not last, AP book The Rose Ring, was published in July.
With a will that reads like a piece of fiction, the return of his long-lost brother, and the possibility of losing the family ranch, Micah Cooper calls on high school friend, Sky Baxter, to bail him out of a bad situation.
Though her brain tells her no, Sky’s heart says yes. She accepts Micah’s in-name-only proposal, knowing it’s unlikely anything permanent will come of it. She’s been in love with him since the ninth grade, and if he hasn’t figured it out by now, there’s little chance he ever will.
When an unexpected kiss ignites a spark, giving Micah hope for a possible future with Sky, a tragic accident threatens to take it all away. Torn between following his heart, doing the right thing, and forgiving the past, Micah is lost in a whirlwind of pain and emotions. Will he make it through the next two years, or will a long-kept family secret be the undoing of them all?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lucie Ulrich took her time becoming a writer. Not much of a reader as a child, writing was of no interest to her–until she joined a church drama team. The desire to write a skit, and not simply act out someone else’s was so strong, that once she started, she couldn’t seem to stop. That first skit led to her becoming the drama team director, then eventually, the performing arts director at a small Christian school.
Lucie’s first novel was penned under a tree in a field in Holland. Though her first, second, and third attempts never saw the light of day, parts of each of them became the foundation for “Broken Vessels,” her first published work.
No longer involved with the performing arts, Lucie enjoys going on photo shoots with her husband, and taking long (or short) road trips. She hopes to find inspiration as she and her husband explore the four corners of the United States.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:
Today’s Path to Publication Story is from Brooke Williams.
Without further ado, here’s Brooke…
I have always loved to write, but for whatever reason, I went into radio instead. After my first year in the radio industry full time, I realized how much I missed the paper-writing aspect of college life. Anytime a professor assigned a paper, I was overjoyed! I wrote scripts in radio, but it just wasn’t the same.
When the prologue for “Someone Always Loved You” came to me, I had to write it down. And once that was down, I had to keep going. What resulted was a full novel and I was amazed that an actual book had come from my fingers.
I was excited about the book and I began to investigate how to get it published. I started sending letters to agents, which were met by rejection after rejection. A few agents asked for more details, but then rejected me later. After a year or so of trying, I stuck the manuscript in a drawer and gave up.
I’m sad to say that a little rejection (okay, so a lot!) was all it took for me to throw in the towel, but as any writer knows, it takes a toll. I didn’t write anything but scripts for the next decade. Then…my daughter was born, a blessing in my life for more than the obvious reasons.
I left my full time career in radio to stay home with my daughter and I’ve never made a better decision in my life. Eventually, I realized I was too wrapped up in her and I needed something of my own. So, when she napped, I began to look for freelance writing jobs. My career in freelance writing took off with clients actually paying me to write for them.
As much as I love writing blogs and articles and web content, fiction still called and eventually, I started to dabble again. I found a small publisher that paid for books outright, which means they paid me a small sum for the rights to my book and then I never get royalties etc from them again. They took “God in the Kitchen” and “Taxi Delivery” and published them online and eventually in paperback.
I self-published “Someone Always Loved You” simply because I wanted it to be available for people to read, even if that just meant family and friends. Somehow, the book started taking off, which I didn’t realize until I started getting small royalty payments from amazon! I put my thriller novel “Beyond the Bars” up as well.
But self-publishing, though a valid option, was not what I wanted. I wanted a publisher to do the work and make the books complete and as professional as possible. I attended the HACWN writing conference in 2012 and was inspired to write a clean romance novel. There was an agent there who said romance is a great way to get your foot in the door and once your name is known, you can write what you want.
Turns out, I like romance! And I’m decent at it! I wrote “Wrong Place, Right Time,” a romantic comedy and submitted it to a few places. The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publisher offered me a contract and I accept. The novella will come out December 9th.
Once I had one contract, I couldn’t stop. I wrote “Accept this Dandelion,” a romantic comedy inspired by The Bachelor TV show. It is under contract with Prism Book Group and slated for a February 2015 release. Then I wrote “Mamarazzi,” another romantic comedy due out August 2015 from Prism Book Group. I even have a children’s book under contract with Wee Creek Press in the line up for release in February 2016. All of this has happened with in the last two years.
My advice to writers is never to give up. It might feel like you are looking for a needle in a haystack, but unless you keep looking, you are NEVER going to find it! I admit that I gave up at one point. But I couldn’t be more grateful that eventually, I came around. My only regret from my career in radio is that I didn’t take a chance and leave sooner to pursue writing. Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else with me life.
Blurb for Someone Always Loved You
His first day on the job, ambulance driver Jay has a horrible accident. The victim of the crash is thrown into a coma and Jay keeps vigil by her side. As their lives, past and present intertwine; a story of love through time unfolds. An intricate drama including adoption, love, suspense, and plenty of questions, Someone Always Loved You is a novel that keeps the mind churning and the soul alive.
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Buy Link for Someone Always Loved You:
Brooke Williams Bio
Brooke Williams is an award-winning author and freelance writer. She began her career in radio, both on the air and behind the scenes. She did a brief stint in TV news and then took on her most challenging job as a stay at home mom. During the few quiet hours in her day, Brooke writes articles for a number of clients as well as fiction creations such as “Someone Always Loved You.” Brooke has also written “Beyond the Bars,” a thriller, “God in the Kitchen,” a Christian novel, and “Taxi Delivery,” a Christian Romance. Brooke looks forward to the December 9th release of “Wrong Place, Right Time,” a romantic comedy and the February 2015 release of “Accept this Dandelion” inspired by the Bachelor TV show. Brooke has been married to her husband Sean since 2002 and has two daughters, Kaelyn and Sadie.
Today I’m thrilled to announce fellow Astraea Press author Heather Gray has agreed to host today!
She’s one of the first authors I connected with upon joining Astraea and she is very supportive and kind, so I’m very excited to see her releasing yet another book!
Without further ado, here’s Heather’s latest release…
Back Cover Blurb:
When tragedy strikes, Juliana and her family must flee their home. Can they persuade a virtual stranger to help them? Juliana isn’t so sure, especially after their chaperone threatens to cane him. Even as Juliana struggles to trust him, she finds herself drawn to this mysterious man. Surely all she wants from him is refuge…
Rupert is a man whose life depends on his ability to remain unnoticed. What, then, is he supposed to do with this family he’s inherited? His life is overrun with an ancient chaperone who would terrify a lesser man, two spirited girls, and the secretive Juliana – someone he comes to think of as his own precious jewel.
With this new responsibility thrust upon him, Rupert will have to make sacrifices – but will God ask him to sacrifice everything?
A duke had been cut down in the prime of his life. According to the War Department, The Hunter was to blame.
Jackal had been put onto The Hunter’s scent and told to ferret him out at all cost. It was his job, his duty to the crown, and he treated it with the seriousness it demanded. Evil could not be allowed to go unpunished, and people who took pleasure in destroying the lives of others would not walk away with impunity, not on his watch.
Jackal met with his contacts in the Austrian government and found no gratification in revealing they had a traitor in their midst. It had been a necessary move, and now the problem would be dealt with. The Austrians would put The Hunter down, and England’s hands would remain clean of the mess, exactly as the minister wanted.
Grim foreboding furrowed his brow as he left the meeting with the Austrians. His lack of evidence mocked him. He’d done as ordered, and they’d believed him, but had it been his choice, he’d have gathered more proof first.
Jackal climbed into his carriage and slapped his hand against the roof, signaling the driver with his readiness to depart. A lengthy ride awaited him. He would leave the carriage and his current identity behind in Munich once he arrived there. New papers and fresh horses were waiting for him. The same would happen again when he crossed over into Stuttgart, and then again in Brussels. His task was clear: remain alive long enough to claim each of the new identities and return safely to his homeland.
Sitting back on the roughly cushioned seat, he accepted what he’d begun to suspect. This would be his last assignment for the crown. He was getting too old for the job. The time to retire was upon him. The younger bucks were willing – if not entirely ready – to take their place among the ranks of the unseen, unknown, and unnamed heroes of war. Jackal shook his head. Not too long ago, he’d been one of those young bucks. Ready for retirement at age thirty-two? The thought would be laughable in any other career. In his line of work, though, only those who retired young lived to be old and grey.
Lost in melancholy, Jackal barely noted the change from the raucous noise of a bustling merchant district to the quiet pastoral sounds that would accompany him on most of this journey. Europe was a large land with rich cities interspersed with vast emptiness dotted with small hamlets. Traveling by carriage would take weeks, but as long as he could report back that he’d done as ordered, it would be worth the time.
He settled into his seat. They were still days from their first sanctioned stop. As always, the best defense was to keep moving.
A change in the carriage’s soothing methodical movement woke Jackal from his doze and alerted him that something was amiss. Awareness coursed through his veins, pushing away the remnant of sleep. A quick glance at the curtained window told him it was late morning. They’d ridden through the night to put as much distance as possible between them and Vienna – the current hub of Austrian government.
The carriage was moving with a wildness he’d felt only one other time in his life. Dread snaked through his middle as he accepted the truth. There was no longer a driver in control of his conveyance. Jackal crouched low on the floor for balance as he prepared to throw open the door and jump. Perhaps he should have sought retirement one assignment sooner.
Before his hand could touch the door, a jarring force threw Jackal against the seat to his left, shooting pain up his arm. They’d been boarded, then, and his driver – an agent he’d worked with for years – had likely not been alive to sound the alarm. Emotion would come later. For now, Jackal needed to focus on one thing: Survival.
The carriage gained speed under the skillful hand of whoever now sat in the driver’s seat. I should have jumped when I had the chance. Jackal shook his head as he calculated the odds of survival.
Palming his gun, he pounded on the roof of the carriage, commanding the driver to stop. Surprise flared to life as his conveyance did indeed come to a standstill. Rather than slow to a gentle stop, the carriage halted its forward momentum in a skidding bone-shaking fashion. It was the kind of stop that guaranteed no beast would be able to walk away from it afterward.
Jackal jumped before the dust could settle. His best chance would be to go on the offence and catch the driver off-guard. Though he’d assumed the driver had a partner, nothing could have prepared him for the vicious attack awaiting him on the other side of the door.
Jackal no sooner touched the ground than he was trampled under the anxious feet of a high-stepping horse. He’d not even had a chance to gain his footing. As he lay on the ground, Jackal both heard and felt the breaking of bone in his left leg. A couple of his ribs surrendered to the heavy hooves as well. Rolling onto his side, he took aim at the perpetrator. The sun blinded him, and he could distinguish no features on the man whose gun dared him to move. In the split second it took for him to reassure himself he was not aiming at an innocent bystander – for they were indeed in one of the numerous modest hamlets that dotted the continent’s countryside – the rider pulled the trigger, and pain seared through Jackal’s already throbbing leg. It felt as if the lead had burrowed its way into his very bone.
He pulled the trigger of his flintlock pistol, and the man on the horse recoiled. Even as Jackal reached for the gun concealed at the ankle of his wounded leg, he knew it was futile. The rider had a second gun in-hand before his own fingers even brushed against the grip of his hidden weapon. Pain tore through his shoulder, immobilizing his shooting arm. Another ball of lead ripped into his middle. He felt his blood seeping out onto the street.
Accepting his fate, he asked only one thing. “At whose hand am I to die this day?”
Laughter vile enough to sour port met his question. “Today the Jackal shall meet his end at the hands of The Hunter.”
The Hunter? The Austrians were supposed to have him by now.
“Your plan failed, and I am free. Prepare to die.”
Blackness closing in around him, Jackal released the last thought held captive in his mind.
Cold claimed his body as he slipped into darkness. He neither heard nor felt the next shot.
Heather Gray is the author of the Ladies of Larkspur inspirational western romance series, including Mail Order man, Just Dessert, and Redemption. She also writes the Regency Refuge series with titles His Saving Grace, Jackal, and the soon-to-be-released Queen. But that’s not all! Interested in contemporary Christian romance? Take a look at Ten Million Reasons and Nowhere for Christmas.
Heather loves coffee, God, her family, and laughter – not necessarily in that order! She writes approachable and flawed characters who, through the highs and lows of life, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her. And, yeah, her books almost always have someone who’s a coffee addict. Some things just can’t be helped.
Where to Find Heather:
My Website – http://www.heathergraywriting.com
My Blog – http://www.heathergraywriting.com/blog
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/heathergraywriting
Twitter – http://twitter.com/LaughDreamWrite
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/LaughDreamWrite
Book Signing! I’ll be doing a book signing for my debut novel, Along the Way Home, in front of Third St Books, downtown Marysville WA at the following dates/times and would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see you there!
Friday, August 8th 1-5
Saturday, August 9th 11-3
Stop by, and we can chat about my current book, my next book, and best of all, Third Street Books will be doing hourly giveaways of free, signed books! Also, there will be several other authors doing signings too (not sure of their names or I’d post. I’ll update when I know).
Today’s Path to Publication story comes fellow Astraea Press author, Elizabeth Belyeu.
Without further ado, here’s Elizabeth…
I write at work, at my desk, on my bed, at the kitchen table – in my head before I go to sleep, on scraps of paper in my pocket, in emails sent to myself. Writing, the masochistic pursuit; how sad the cries of the writer trying to outline! How savage the tearing of hair when characters refuse to cooperate! And yet I would never want to stop. Something inside me would have to die before I could even consider stopping.
I published my first book in kindergarten, and by “published” I mean “stapled pages together and colored on them.” My first novel came at age 9, when I bought a blank journal with two cats on the cover and wrote their adventures on the inside. (Pitter and Patter, my first real characters. Ahhh, good times.) In grade school there was a collaboration with my best friend about two girls who find their way to a fantasy world; in junior high came the series (scribbled in notebooks during gym class) about the group of teens with psychic powers; through most of high school I labored over a novel that I never could figure out how to end. By then I definitely knew I wanted to Be A Writer.
I did my research. I learned about agents and editors, royalties and cover art and slush piles, and I’m glad I did. I’m glad that, by the time publication became any sort of option for me, I had no rose-colored glasses about how it works.
I read book after book after book on How To Write. I took a correspondence course in high school; in college, I took Creative Writing classes, even when I no longer got credit for them. Later I joined a local critique group. All of those things were helpful, and I recommend them. But I think now that the two most valuable things for building my writing skills were first, writing – writing all the time, figuring it out as I went – and second, reading. I read just as ceaselessly as I wrote, absorbing stories and storytelling, learning the tricks of the trade on a bone-deep subconscious level. I was the kid that mispronounced words because I’d read them a hundred times before I heard them spoken, and I think there’s no better way to master language than to let it just saturate your brain like that.
In 2008 I started a new story because I was bored and alone at my sister’s house. I took the first chapter to my Creative Writing class and learned it was crap. Writers have to be thick-skinned; you have to understand that a criticism of the work is not a criticism of the writer. The work can be fixed, and that fixing process is what makes you a better writer, however much it stings. That crappy chapter was nothing worse than a false start. I did it again, and did it better. I kept writing. The crappy chapter became Secondhand Shadow.
My older sister, Misty, has long been my First Reader, the one whose feedback leads to the second version that others see. Tired of investing herself in things I didn’t finish, she demanded a new chapter of Secondhand Shadow every week. That was exactly the nudge I needed, and inside of a year I had a finished novel manuscript for the first time since junior high.
Several rounds of revision later, I started searching for an agent. There are a lot of websites out there that can advise you on that subject; one I particularly recommend, even if some of its advice might be a touch dated now, is Miss Snark (http://misssnark.blogspot.com), an anonymous literary agent who blogged for several years about the querying and agenting process. I read her entire archive, and came out the other side able to piece together a decent query letter. I queried about 40 agents before my letter caught the eye of Lindsay Ribar at Greenburger Associates, and she requested some pretty intense revisions before she would take me on – but in the end I had a stronger book, and a real live agent!
Then came the awful part – waiting for the book to sell. I told Lindsay not to tell me about rejections, I didn’t see any reason to put myself through that. But as time ticks away, you know your agent is out there working and that means you’re getting rejected. It took two solid years for Lindsay to find a publisher for Secondhand Shadow, but the moment she told me about Astraea Press I knew it was going to be a good fit. They offered me a contract just a couple days before my 29th birthday, which was perfect timing – I’d been feeling very down about turning 29 (29! The last frontier of early adulthood! How is this possible!) still unpublished. Lindsay and Astraea gave me the best birthday present ever!
The work didn’t stop there; more revisions followed, mostly to make my book conform to Astraea’s exacting standards, and to fix some structural difficulties. I spent 12 solid hours at my desk, getting it done before the deadline. And after that came galley corrections. At this point I’m actually unsettled by the idea that I can’t change the book anymore. It’s out there. It’s published. It is set in stone, for good or ill.
It’s supposed to be a symbiotic relationship: the Shadow serves and protects the human Lumi, the Lumi feeds and cares for the Shadow. But when Damon’s Lumi died young and severed the bond between them, he declined to go with her like a good little Shadow. Yes, it hurts. Yes, he’s cold and hungry all the time. And yes, his own people call him an abomination. But for the first time, Damon’s life is his own, and he’s never going back.
Or so he thinks, until he meets Naomi, a pregnant college student… and bonds to her as his new Lumi. Which has never happened to a Shadow before.
Naomi has enough problems on her plate, juggling college and a crappy survival job, preparing for a baby, and getting over her cheating ex-husband. The last thing she needs is a dark, brooding fellow like Damon depending on her physically and emotionally, and hating her for it. But a vigilante among Damon’s people has his sights set on Naomi – and they both know Damon is her only chance for survival.
Elizabeth Belyeuis 29 years old and lives in Alabama, where she supports herself, her cat, and her steadily growing TBR pile as a library assistant. She graduated from Troy University in 2008 with a bachelorʹs in English (Creative Writing minor). This is her first novel, but she has been writing since she could hold a pencil, and plans to continue until she is too senile to type.
Connect with Elizabeth