Monday, February 8, 2010

Guest Blog - Martha's Journey to Becoming an Author AND a Book Giveaway!

Iam so pleased to have Martha Rogers as my guest this month on Blissful Writing Thoughts. This remarkable lady has seen her dream come true with the publication of her first full-length novel, Becoming Lucy, through Realms, a division of Strang Publishing Group. Come read her story of faith and find out how to win a copy of her new book!

"My writing journey began when I realized how much I like to make up stories. My mother called it daydreaming, but I liked living in my fantasy world. I made up stories for my paper dolls and my dolls using them as the characters. I wrote short stories as a teenager and my first novel as a freshman in college. My love of writing continued, but I had no clue as to what it took to be published. A short story I sent to a magazine in 1959 was rejected with a form letter. I entered several contests after that but never won any awards.

Through the years I learned that perseverance was the only way to keep my sanity. Rejection after rejection disappointed me, I kept on writing. I met DiAnn Mills at a writing conference, and she took me under her wing and mentored me. She also convinced me that joining ACRW would really help me improve my writing. I took her advice and it’s the best thing I could have done. She formed a critique group with Myra Johnson, Kathleen Y’Barbo and me as members. Later Janice Thompson joined the group then Marcia Gruver and Linda Kozar.

Through ACRW and then ACFW, I met Brandilyn Collins, Lena Nelson Dooley, Deb Raney, Lynn Coleman, and Rebecca Germany as well as my agent, Tamela Hancock Murphey. The most important lesson I have learned from them is patience. Giving God time to work on His schedule and not mine was difficult for me to do because I’ve always been a “take charge” sort of person. It didn’t take long for me to realize that catching the eye of an editor was more than being in charge.

DiAnn, Kathleen, Janice and I collaborated on a novella anthology, Sugar and Grits and submitted it in 2001. Patience paid off as we waited and left it with Barbour until 2005 when we were offered a contract for it. When it was published in 2007, I thought now I would be on my way. Two years later I still didn’t have another contract, but I didn’t give up.

I had adopted Galatians 6:9 as my writing verse because I knew if I didn’t give up on what I believed God wanted me to do, I would reap a harvest. Then in 2009, Tamela called me with the news that Strang was interested in Becoming Lucy. They first sent an offer letter then a contract for one book with an option for three more. I started working on the manuscript and after I turned it in, a got another email from them saying they were ready to contract the next three in the series. In September of 2009 I signed the contract to finish out the Winds Across the Prairie series.

Since then I have signed for Christmas novella that will be released in September 2010. When God opened the door, He kicked it wide open with five books in one year. Unbelievable.

The road has not been easy, and the rejections hurt. But I learned from the rejections. I paid attention to what my critique partners and judges in contest said. Of course some of what they said made me a little angry, but then I settled down and began to think things through. The best way to further your writing is to attend conferences. There you will have an opportunity to attend workshops with great authors and learn from them. Books on improving your writing are usually available, and you have the opportunity to meet and network with others who are on the same journey you are as well as meet those who are well established and long down the road ahead of you. Detours, bad roads, hazardous conditions, stop signs and other road difficulties with pop up to distract and take you away from your writing. The key is to keep on with your writing. However, we sometimes have to put our writing aside for a season because what is happening in our lives is more important than a manuscript. Spend time with the Lord, and He will direct your paths in the right direction. Listen for His instructions and follow Him in all that you do. Be patient because our time tables are not God’s and seldom do they match. If it’s to be, it will be, when He ordains that it’s time."

Martha's book credits include the novella, Sugar and Grits, seven Bible studies, contributions to compilations by Wayne Holmes, Karen O’Conner, and Debbie White Smith. Martha has contributed devotionals to several anthologies including soon to be released Whispers of Wisdom for Step-Moms from Barbour. Martha served as editor of an eight page monthly newsletter for the writer’s organization, Inspirational Writers Alive! for six years and is the state President. She is also the director for the annual Texas Christian Writer’s Conference.

After her parents’ deaths , seventeen-year-old heiress Lucinda Bishop travels to Barton Creek, Oklahoma in 1897 as the ward of Amelia and Ben Haynes, her mother’s sister and brother-in-law. There she meets Jake Starnes, a drifter now employed by her uncle. With Jake, she faces emotions she’s never before experienced. When Jake must return to Texas to face murder charges and certain execution, Lucinda is forced to go on with life which includes Luke Anderson. When Jake is found innocent, he heads back to Oklahoma, but can he arrive in time to prevent Lucinda from marrying the wrong man?

Order this book

Martha's web site

To be entered into a drawing for a copy of this book, please leave a comment along with your e-mail address. If you are on Twitter and RT the announcement for this special guest blog, you will be entered a second time. Thanks for visiting!


Virginia C said...

Martha, thank you so much for sharing your story. What an inspiring reminder about the value of patient perseverance, also known as "hurry up and wait"! I am also a "take charge" person, and I sometimes need to be shown that the world doesn't always follow my personal schedule. The Lord has his own life plan for me!

Historical Western Romance is my favorite genre. I would love to win a copy of "Becoming Lucy"!

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

MJ said...

I haven't (won't) join the Twitter bandwagon, but I left a link on my facebook for you. I know I can't prove that, but just thought I'd let you know!

Please enter me in your drawing once though. :)

rmjagears AT gmail DOT com

Robin Bayne said...

Nice to meet you, Martha : )

A J Hawke said...

Martha , God bless you for your tenacity.
You’re an inspiration for those of us still
waiting for that letter of acceptance from a publisher.
I would love to read Becoming Lucy.
Please put my name in the drawing.
A J Hawke

Susan Hollaway said...

Martha, I enjoyed reading your story very much. It was very encouraging to me. Your book sounds fabulous!

shollaway2008 at gmail dot com