The way I found my agent, and ultimately my US publisher, was through entering writing contests. Lots and lots of writing contests. And eventually, after applying the feedback given, it led to my writing improving, which ultimately led to becoming a contest finalist. So, then I started finaling, in lots and lots of contests (but never winning). It got to a point when I said to God that this would be the last contest I entered, because I didn’t have the heart to continue spending money on contest entry fees only to meet with yet more rejection. So, I entered one last contest. Then, in the new year, discovered I’d won.
That win led to an agent’s interest, but then the process began anew. This publisher was interested, then they weren’t. Another publisher was interested, but never responded to my agent. It got to a point where I kept writing, with close to ten books stashed in my computer, both historical and contemporary, wondering if a publisher would ever take the leap of faith one day on an unknown author from Australia. I completed a NaNoWriMo challenge, and as part of my win had the opportunity to self-publish my book. I loaded it up, all ready to go, when I felt this internal nudge say “don’t.” It was the last day I could take advantage of this great offer, but I heeded the internal hesitation and refrained. The next day I got an amazing offer from a publisher who took that first single book and soon offered me a three-book series. That series did so well they offered another series. Then another. These books have gone throughout the world, been translated and more, reaching people I never would have expected when that story idea first bloomed here in my little town in Australia.
I look back now and wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t said listened to that nudge (I think it was God). I’m so grateful that I did heed that warning, and for the opportunities I’ve had since then. It’s given me the confidence to step into other genres and to see some of those initial books released to the world at long last.
I think we shouldn’t be scared to investigate opportunities when they arise. After nine historicals I stepped into writing contemporaries (which is where I’d originally begun), and now have a readership of both. I couldn’t have done that at the start of my writing career, so I’m grateful for the advice to stay focused on one genre. But now I’ve had more experience, I’m glad I don’t need to limit myself to one style of writing, that the stories I feel God imprinted on my heart can be shared with others around the world.
Sometimes an author writes by faith, not by sight. We don’t know what opportunities await us, but if we keep writing, keep learning and improving our craft, keep trying, we’ll be ready when those opportunities pass our way.
One of the very first books I ever wrote was a contemporary romance called Love on Ice, after the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, when I saw an Aussie female athlete holding hands with a US male athlete and wondered what their story was. I finally saw a much rewritten and edited version of this book published just in time for the Winter Olympics this year. It might’ve taken twelve years but writing and publishing experience and a LOT of hard work over the years finally saw this dream come true.
My recent Gothic-flavored historical Midnight’s Budding Morrow has a heroine who steps into a new role when opportunity presents itself. It proves very challenging for her, but Sarah is not afraid of hard work, and her new role sees her ultimately blessing many others, something that wouldn’t have happened if she’d stayed content with the status quo and hadn’t obeyed that God-prompted internal nudge. Who knows who will be blessed on the other side of our obedience?
We don’t know what the future holds, but seeing our lives are but a short dash between our birth and death it makes sense to set ourselves up to be ready for when opportunity arises. So maybe that means writing the story of your heart. Maybe that means saying yes to something new or different, that doesn’t fit the status quo or what other people expect of you. Maybe that means working hard now so you can take that dream vacation and switch off for ten days on a tropical island. Whatever it is, I pray that we won’t be people who shrink back, but press on, into all that God has for us, so we can experience the ‘life to the full’ that Jesus offers his followers.
So, keep trying, keep hoping, keep believing that your ‘one day’ will happen. Keep trusting God has good plans for you and take a step believing for the exceedingly abundant life of more. That’s living by faith, and this life is for living, no matter where we are in the world.
Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years and worked as a public high school English teacher. A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and LM Montgomery, Carolyn loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her contemporary romance series includes the Original Six hockey romance series, and the Independence Islands series, and her historical series include the Regency Brides and Regency Wallflowers series.
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