Friday, August 30, 2013

Fabulous Friday Feature - Jody Hedlund

Today I welcome 
Jody Hedlund,
whose characters nagged her until she wrote their story.

Enter to win Jody's September 2013 release,
Rebellious Heart
Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.

I keep a close eye on books about to be published. When I saw Jody's book would be released in September I just had to invite her to visit with us. I am so deeply honored she said "Yes." I asked Jody to share with us the journey God has led her on for her writing career. Here is what she said:

I Knew I Was Getting Close!

Like many writers I was born with a pen in my hand. I filled notebooks with stories when I was growing up.

My passion for writing followed me into adulthood. I wanted to be an author. But like most aspiring writers, I struggled to know how I could use my gifts and abilities in a career. When my college years came, I knew I would need a career that could pay the bills while I worked on my novels. So I went to Taylor University in Indiana and then eventually to the University of Wisconsin in Madison where I got my Masters in Social Work.

I kept writing and learning about writing during the years when I worked as a social worker. And it was during those post-college years, when I was working and before I had kids, that I really studied the craft of writing. I read every how-to book about fiction techniques I could get my hands on.
During that pre-child time, I also wrote five books. The last of those five books garnered attention from an editor at a publishing house but was eventually rejected. So I knew I was getting close to being ready for publication.

While the rejection was discouraging, I also knew that most writers have to write numerous books before they’re finally good enough for publication. I never looked at those early books as wasted attempts. Instead I viewed them as preparation and training for growing into a skillful author.

But as life (and God) would have it, I ended up taking a long writing hiatus. Shortly after the birth of my twins, I set aside my writing completely for about seven years. As I now look back over those years, I can see how much the hiatus helped me grow personally, spiritually, and deepened my life experiences.

The first book I wrote after my seven year break was
The Preacher’s Bride. At the time I wrote the book, my youngest two children were still very little, so I had to sneak in writing during nap time and in the evenings after their bedtime. In all, the book took me about a year to complete, writing only about 500 words a day.

After my long break, I didn't know how I compared with other authors. And quite frankly, I wasn't sure if my writing skills were up to par. I hemmed and hawed and finally decided it wouldn’t hurt to send my manuscript out to publishers and see what happened. So I turned on my handy internet and began researching publishers.

Times had changed drastically since I’d queried and submitted years before. I quickly learned that most publishers didn’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, that I would likely need to get an agent if I had any hope of getting into a bigger traditional publisher. And so, I began to compile a list of agents who represented inspirational fiction and sent out the queries.

Slowly the rejections trickled back in. The Preacher’s Bride was rejected by every agent I sent it to . . .

Except one.

Only one agent showed an interest, a fairly new agent, who at that time was still building her client list. She told me she liked my query and asked me to send her the entire manuscript. So I did. But I was still very naïve and checked my email several times a day, excited and yet nervous all at the same time.

One week passed in to two. And then three. And then four. Months passed. And I didn’t hear one word from the agent.

In the meantime, I decided I would keep writing. So that year, as The Preacher’s Bride continued to languish in the agent’s slush pile, I put my heart and soul into writing another book.

So how did I finally get my big break?

I entered the
Genesis contest through ACFW in 2009. And The Preacher’s Bride and the other manuscript I had just completed finaled. Once I received the exciting phone call about my final, I contacted the agent that had The Preacher’s Bride in her slush pile and updated her on the status.

Fortunately the final perked her attention and she pulled my manuscript, read it, and three days later called and offered me representation. Three months later I signed a contract with Bethany House publishers. And they offered me a three book deal.

Now in 2013, after finishing two contracts, I've signed a third book contract with Bethany House Publishers.

Moral of the story?

Good things come in threes? *grin*

No seriously, the real moral is that my trip to publication didn't happen overnight. I had pit stops along the way, detours, and a long uphill climb. But through it all, I never gave up my passion for writing. And no matter what the future may bring, I know I'll always love writing.

I love hearing from readers! Make sure you stop by one of these places and say hello.

I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website:
Or you're welcome to email me at:

Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling books, The Preacher's Bride, Unending Devotion, and A Noble Groom. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. 

To enter the contest for an autographed copy of 
Jody Hedlund's book: "Rebellious Heart":
leave a comment (and email address)
and become a follower of this site if you aren't already.

Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Jody, for Joining us This Weekend!

Friend, what a fun spirit Jody conveys in her description of her writing journey led by God. Let's see here are a few she mentioned: 
She read every how to book about the topic
She took the rejection letter as a sign she was getting close to publication
She also viewed rejection as training
She made her children a priority, but used her free time to write
She entered a contest to get her break 

Choose one and add your comment.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My One Sheet - Made at an ACFW Chapter Meeting

I'm taking a deep breath as I reveal my one sheet for the ACFW conference only two weeks away.  The Michigan chapter of ACFW held a one day session in August to teach us how to make our one sheets. Many, many tweaks later, I had this product.

It's really important to connect with others in your field. We all seem to have a bit of knowledge about at least one topic. Going to classes, sessions, meetings, gatherings, whatever you want to call them, is a great opportunity to meet people with similar interests and have something to share with you. Of course, you, in turn, have an opportunity to share back.

At the Michigan ACFW One Sheet session, I also met people who previously only had a tiny icon photo on the Internet. I read their posts, but didn't know anything else about them. These men and women became real. I heard their voice, their laughter, and saw their personality. What a treasure.

Friend, what group has benefitted you? Where have you physically met people who have the same interest as you? Not allowed to say "church" that is too vague. But you can mention a specific group in the church if you want.

This time I will mention my mom's group. She absolutely loved going to the Winning Women's conferences because she loved to sing with and hear thousands of women sing Christian songs. She also enjoyed the speakers.

Your turn:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Choosing to Walk

There once was an older gentleman who sat alone in his wheelchair. From morning to evening he sat, waiting.

He lived in a lively nursing home where the activities directors loved to keep the residents engaged, laughing, and speaking. Often the gentleman sat in his room listening to men and women down the hall. He wished someone would think to take him there. 

Years before the gentleman had lost interest in physical activity for years, choosing to sit in his apartment and watch television alone. He watched several episodes of his favorite show and forgot to eat meals left for him in the kitchen. The apartment manager introduced him to other neighbors his age. He didn't feel like visiting any of their apartments, he might miss one of the shows. Periodically, the neighbors came for a visit, but after a while they stopped visiting. 

As the years went by, his legs could no longer support his weight when he attempted to stand. He wished someone would visit, maybe watch a show or two with him. If someone would only visit, he or she could bring his food to the sofa and sit with him.

Over time, his health and mental awareness diminished. He fell out of bed and required assistance around the clock. He was moved to the lively nursing home for his safety. The chatter and movement intrigued him, but he continued to watch his television which was brought from his apartment to his new room. Maybe if someone wheeled him down to where the fun took place he might leave the shows.

A few weeks passed. The activities director went to the gentleman's room several times to invite him to the fun. 

He decided to go and was surprised how happy he felt. The next day no one came to his room to wheel him to the activity. The laughter stirred his heart. He pressed his feet to the floor and nudged the wheelchair forward. It hurt a bit, but he pressed his feet and moved the chair again. It took a long time but, the chair soon entered the hall. The activities director looked his way and smiled. She pushed his chair to the activity room and helped him join the fun.

A few more weeks passed. The gentleman had been given a new wheelchair designed for the patient's mobility. He wheeled to other rooms visiting patients, he went to activities in another wing, he found he could gather his thoughts and speak whole sentences in conversation.

A few weeks more, the physical therapist approved the gentleman for training with a walker. He walked twenty feet within a few days. Visitors from his youth came and he recognized them. The man had not known such happiness in years.

This is based on a true story. Before we notice, special things get set aside and forgotten.  Things that fall in this category are Daily Devotions, nutritional eating, exercise, spending time with family, sharpening our skills, cleaning our home, etc.

Friend, can you make a goal for today to do something you have neglected?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Fabulous Friday Feature: Vickie McDonough

Today I welcome 
Vickie McDonough,
whose characters nagged her until she wrote their story.

Enter to win Vickie's July release,
Whispers on the Prairie
Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.

Vickie is quite an accomplished author. She has twenty-seven books/novellas published. I am pleased to introduce her to you. While we chatted, I asked her to share with us how God led her on this great writing journey. This is her answer:

The Story That Kept Me Awake at Night

Thank you, Mary, for inviting me to be your guest today. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved to read. When I was young, I read every book I could find that had a horse on the cover. Then I graduated to Nancy Drew books, and later, when I was the frazzled mom of four teenage sons, I discovered Christian romance novels, and fell in love with them.

As my boys got older, I started praying that God would help me to start a home business—something where I could work at home and be there for my sons but still bring in some badly needed extra income. Several years later, the idea for a story started running through my mind. It was like watching a movie in my brain. I would think about it off and on all day, but then it would keep me awake at night. I finally decided to write it down in hopes it would go away and let me sleep. I wrote a whole book, and as soon as I finished it, another story started forming. I wrote that one down too.

By the time I finished the second book, I began to wonder if God was trying to get my attention. I talked to my husband, who’d been watching me write with interest, and told him that I felt God might be leading me to become a writer. He encouraged me to do whatever I needed to learn the craft.

I started reading books on writing, taking classes locally and online, and attending writers’ conference. And I guess you could say the rest is history. I recently signed a contract for my 32nd book. It boggles my mind more than anyone that God could take a girl who hated English and history way back in school and turn her into a historical fiction writer.

When God calls you to do something, no matter how far-fetched it seems, if you yield to Him, He will enable you to do that task, and the effort will be highly rewarding.

Tulsa native, Vickie McDonough grew up wanting to marry a rancher, but instead, she married a computer geek who is scared of horses. She now lives out her dreams in her fictional stories about ranchers, cowboys, lawmen and others living in the West in the 1800s. Vickie is the award-winning author of 27 published books and novellas. Her books include the fun and feisty Texas Boardinghouse Brides series, and Whispers on the Prairie, Book 1 in a new series set at a stage stop in 1870s Kansas. Whispers on the Prairie was chosen by Romantic Times as one of their Recommended Inspirational Books for July.

Vickie is a wife of thirty-seven years, mother of four grown sons, one daughter-in-law, and grandma to a feisty seven-year-old girl. When she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading, antiquing, watching movies, and traveling. To learn more about Vickie’s books or to sign up for her newsletter, visit her website:

Where to buy Whispers on the Prairie: (released July, 2013)

Where to buy Pioneer Christmas: (will release September, 2013)

To enter the contest for an autographed copy of 
Vickie McDonough's book: "Whispers on the Prarie":
leave a comment (and email address)
and become a follower of this site if you aren't already.

Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Vickie, for Joining us This Weekend!

Friend, not everyone has such a fun-easy road story to share about their writing journey. But we all have the fun-easy road story about something in our lives. What has been really simple for you to learn to do?

I'll start. I find it really easy to explain concepts to children. I don't know where the ideas come from but funny and easy to understand examples pop in my head while I'm speaking. The children always laugh and when tested, know the concept.

You're turn. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Book Review: Blowing on Dandelions by Miralee Ferrell

I especially enjoy reading the longer books. My home library isn't crazy full of books like War and Peace, but I do have and read the full version of Gone With the Wind.

Blowing on Dandelions by Miralee Ferrell is a down-to-earth four hundred page book that sinks it's teeth into western pioneering community times. Just like Little House on the Prairie and Ann of Green Gables, this book addresses real life issues and doesn't hold back.

Katherine's strong spirit fueled her drive to keep up the boarding house she and her husband bought before he died. There were times when the work load and caring for her two daughters tested her strength, but she managed. 

Surprised to hear her mother would soon arrive for a visit, Katherine pushed away memories of their troublesome past. Her mother arrived announcing her trunks needed to be brought in and she needed to go to her room at once. One look at the number of trunks revealed the stressful truth, Momma came to stay.

The boarding house on the edge of town soon filled with other long term visitors including Micah and his son who arrived the night his livery and home burned down. The whole community gets involved with the mending of broken relationships. 

The strength of this book is the brightly woven voice of each character. We understand how tween Lucy and teen Zach view the guests in the house. Francine, Kathrerine's mother, presents her take on the inefficiencies of the boarding house and the way Katherine raises her daughters. Each guest's realistic view paints the canvas of this story into a three dimensional work. This said, parts of the story will be difficult to read, but that is only because they are accurately portrayed.

Tragedy,  triumphs, misunderstandings, and compassions weave the stories in this first book of a series about a western mining town located in Oregon. If you like stories that aren't afraid to paint a real picture, then you will enjoy Blowing on Dandelions by Miralee Ferrell

I received Blowing on Dandelions by Miralee Ferrell as a self purchase and received no monetary compensation for a favorable review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, August 19, 2013

E Books

I finished my first ebook. I absolutely loved the story, in fact I will be posting the review of this fantastic book on Wednesday. 

For today, though, I want to open a discussion about ebooks.

At first, I thought holding my mini iPad as I engaged in the exciting story was fun. It is smaller than a book, I can increase the font to match my tired read-before-going-to-bed-eyes, then decrease the font for the morning. I can dim or brighten the light and never lose my place because my iPad keeps track of details like that for me.

I could have been hired to be a spokesperson for ebooks . . . until . . .

As a rule stories have ups and downs in them but the climax is the big peak.

When I hold a paper book in my hand I know the climax is coming, not only from the context clues but also by the balance of the book in my hand. The left side is heavier than the right. I sometimes fumble while fully absorbed in the story and drop the book.

I read in anticipation, will the ending be what I think? What happens next? I flip pages faster and faster ignoring the clock. I know the ending is coming, this is the moment, the big climax, I can't wait to turn another page and read the results.

But, with an ebook, meh. For me, the story was powerful, but I didn't know the book was almost over. I sped through the well written pages asking the questions above but I missed a certain spark, the weight of the book clue that says, "Sorry sister, your fantastic read is about to end. Prepare yourself."

I must give credit where credit is due. My ebook tells me the percentage I am at, the page number . . . meh. Not enough. The physical touch of the book was missing. I didn't fully comprehend that the ultimate was happening right before my eyes. Yes, all the knots were tied, yes, the questions were answered, yes, they lived happily ever after, but I didn't have the book in my hand weighing heavy on the left side. 


I loved the story I read. 

I want to hold the book in my hand.

I want my wrists to get tired, and the font to be the wrong size, and the light too dim. I want to turn the last page and hug the book close to me, sighing at the end of a well written story.

Friends, it's your turn to speak out. The line has been drawn. Which side will you stand? Defend the poor ebook or hold up your paperback copy.

photo courtesy of

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fabulous Friday Feature-Shannon Taylor Vannatter

Today I welcome 
Shannon Taylor Vannatter,
who has witnessed God's blessings through family and friends

Enter to win Shannon's new release,
Rodeo Regrets
Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.

God Gave Me A Little Help From My Friends

For fifteen years I had a story in my head. In the summer of 1999, I realized this story was much more; it was a book. I purchased a computer and began writing my first manuscript.

In 2004, six unpublished books later, I sank into a writing crossroad. Two hundred rejection letters littered my desk. I thought I had done everything right—after all, I belonged to two local writing groups and did everything in my power to attend local conferences and workshops. My brain was on overload from learning, but I wasn’t learning anything specific to my genre.

I googled “Christian Romance Writers Conference” and stumbled upon the American Christian Romance Writers. What a dream. The conference was held in Denver, Colorado that year and sounded like a writer’s heaven. Unfortunately my stay-at-home mom life and budget didn’t agree.

Early the next year, my grandmother left all her grandchildren a savings bond. The very amount needed to pay for a conference registration. I checked on-line for the date of the next conference. By then the name had changed to the American Christian Fiction Writers and would be held in Nashville, Tennessee. Only six hours away! Fantastic. I only needed enough money for gas, food, and lodging.

I registered, chose my editor and agent appointments, and made travel plans. I even got an appointment with Tracy Peterson, the acquisition editor for Heartsong Presents, where I’d already sent my book proposal. Since I hadn’t heard whether my book was accepted, I figured I could just sell the book to Tracy in person. No biggie.

A month before conference, I received a rejection letter from Heartsong Presents. I nose-dived into anguish for two days, then picked myself up, and decided I would just have to convince Tracy in person.

That September I walked into the beautiful hotel lobby and saw her, Tracy Peterson. I didn’t know what to say. Feeling way out of my league the next morning, I found an empty table to sit at for breakfast. Friendly writers soon filled the empty seats around me. I met kind people like Margaret Daley.

After the first workshop session, I realized I barely knew the basics about writing. My brain tried to process all the new information and keep up with everything I’d learned. By my appointment time with Tracy, I was on overload.

I recapped my story for her and asking why she’d rejected it. She told me there wasn’t enough conflict and then brainstormed with me how to fix it. She even agreed to take another look after the changes.

After we got home, I upped the conflict in my book and sent it off, but it was rejected again. I realize now, my writing wasn’t ready to be published.

In 2006, I sat down at an empty breakfast table at the conference in Dallas. A lovely lady approached me and asked if anyone was sitting beside me. I said no. She offered her hand and said, “Hi, I’m LeNora Worth.” My jaw hit the floor. Lenora is my favorite Love Inspired author. I’d read countless books of hers.

In 2008, I joined ACFW, took advantage of joining a critique group, and trolled the course archives and learned the conference would be in Minneapolis that year. Way too far and expensive for me, but I heard about the local zone group meeting in Little Rock. I attended the meeting twice that summer and met Linda Fulkerson. A few months later, out of the blue, she e-mailed asking if I wanted a ride to Minneapolis.

A few weeks later, my critique partner who happened to live near Minneapolis e-mailed asking if I wanted to stay at her house and ride back and forth to the conference with her. So, I had a ride and a place to stay, but still no funds for the conference. A few weeks later, God blessed by sending money out of nowhere.

I met two of my critique partners, Brenda Anderson and Lorna Seilstad, at the confernce and made other close friends that year. For the first time, I attended the early bird session and took Marjorie Lawson’s EDITs class. The scales fell from my eyes showing me what went in a book and what didn’t. That class was the culmination of all the others and brought my writing to a publishable level.

By then, I’d added conflict to my story and scheduled a meeting with JoAnne Simmons, acquisition editor at Heartsong Presents. I’ll never forget the moment her eyes lit up over my story. She requested the full. I went home, used the techniques I’d learned in the EDITs class, and sent the manuscript to JoAnne. In January, I received an offer.

Without ACFW, it’s highly possible I wouldn’t be published. And without God providing the means, I never would have gone to the first conference or the pivotal one where I received the request for a full.

Lately, things have been coming full circle. A few years ago, I taught at ACFW. This month, my seventh book, Rodeo Regrets released and two more are in progress.

That story in my head since I was fifteen, it releases in November. 

Rodeo Regrets:
Natalie once dreamed of finding true love. Then Lane Gray broke her heart. After running wild to fill the emptiness inside her, she heads back to her hometown to heal. But when she sees the cowboy she once loved so much, she finds him hard to resist.
Lane Gray is a changed man. The handsome cowboy wants Natalie's forgiveness-and more. Natalie has made plenty of mistakes in her life, but so has Lane. Could falling for each other again be the worst one yet? Or the path to redemption?

Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom and pastor’s wife. Her debut novel won the 2011 Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. When not writing, she runs circles in the care and feeding of her husband, their son, and church congregation. Home is a central Arkansas zoo with two charcoal gray cats, a chocolate lab, and three dachshunds in weenie dog heaven. If given the chance to clean house or write, she’d rather write. 

To enter the contest for an autographed copy of 
Shannon Taylor Vannatter's book: "Rodeo Regrets":
leave a comment (and email address)
and become a follower of this site if you aren't already.

Good news...International readers may also enter!
Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Shannon, for Joining us This Weekend!

Friend, isn't it fun to look back at the times God has blessed us by arranging the very gift we wanted?  What blessing has God given you?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Recently two of my adult daughters went on a trip with me. For some silly reason, a GPS came up in our conversation. Could it be they didn't trust my driving?

Hah! We eventually made it back home.

What I wanted to share with you was their astute observations. The older one had borrowed a friend's GPS for a trip to Chicago. She attended her function and realized she didn't have a clue how to maneuver her way out of the city. She said, "I relied so completely on the GPS I didn't pay attention to anything. So basically I didn't learn anything about the city. I turned off the GPS since I wasn't in a hurry, and figured out the way home on my own."

Now there was an interesting take on the situation. A techy generation person chose to turn off the GPS.

The younger adult daughter told her story. Two people from a regular "Youtube show said they had used their GPS so much they didn't think they could find their way home, and they had only a five minute drive. They didn't know how to drive around their neighborhood. Can you believe that, Mom?"

Actually, no. 

I think I've used the contraption maybe twice in my life.

Hubby and I still prefer the discovery method when time allows. For fun, we'll drive the country roads playing a game. The destination is in _____ direction. Let's try to find it. We point the car in the given direction and drive. If the road dead ends we find the next road heading in that direction. As a result, we've found many great places to visit.

When time doesn't allow we pull out the map, use mapquest, or google directions.

The point?

The one the girls found on their own? 

Placing your dependence on things can lead to problems.

Great thought.

This doesn't mean using a GPS is bad. It is a great tool. But so is our mind.

There is a saying "We should learn something new every day." I was surprised my techy adult daughters felt GPS was more of a crutch than a need.

So, friend, what have you learned new recently? What would you like to learn?

I will start. My current interest is: marketing. If I could spend a weekend with Melissa Tagg or Edie Melson I think I will have learned enough to last me a whole year! (click on their name to go to their blogs.) These ladies are the cream of the top for marketing information for me, (you did not see that cliche).

How about you?

Monday, August 12, 2013

It's as Busy as Christmas Time

Who would have thought that any time could be busier than Christmas?

It is in our house.

My oldest daughter is about to move to Arizona for her Masters program in Choral Conducting, (praying for you sweetie).

Grandpa is coming for a visit to celebrate oldest daughter's achievement. He is a gardner. Gorgeous plants flourish all around his home. I on the other hand have a very brown thumb. Rather than cleaning the house spit polish, which Grandpa will not notice, I am spending lots of time trying to make those poor plants look good for his visit.

The ACFW conference is coming up. How many of you are going? Make sure to find me there, I want to say hi to you. I finished my one sheet, my elevator pitch, my manuscript, and need to complete the various length synopsis. I also need to buy the perfect dress at a good price.

As you read in my last post, hubby and I celebrated our anniversary last week. 

Relatives from Germany came for a visit. Fortunately they spoke English to me. Hubby blabbered something in German to them. No clue what they said but they had fun.

Younger daughter is shifting her goals this is keeping us busy as we offer her the support she desperately needs.

Son is finishing his summer semester.

I love when the house bustles with activity.  

I think God does too. Wouldn't it be nice to see all the activity in the world He sees? (let's restrict that to the good stuff)

Friend, how has your summer been? How is it winding up for you this year. Have you had fun? Ready for fall?

Don't forget to join us for Shannon Taylor Vannetter's visit this weekend. It'll be a blast.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fabulous Friday Feature: Ann Gabhart

Today I welcome a small town gal who persistently walked an up and down hill journey. God blessed her with twenty-five published books, and she continues to use the gifts He gave her: Ann Gabhart

Enter to win Ann's new release,
Small Town Girl 
Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.

Like many of my fantastic Friday guests, I met Ann through the Internet. I saw her sweet smile and the books she has written and immediately wanted to become friends. I asked Ann about the journey God has led her on, this is what she answered:

Writing isn't Just Magical...

At ten years old, a kid can imagine doing anything. That’s why I picked up a pen and began writing my first story–a mystery modeled after the Hardy Boys books I’d been reading. Of course, in my book I was the cute, smart kid who solved the mystery. Through the magic of imagination, I was no longer shy and awkward. I was the heroine. Right then, the dye was set. I discovered writing could not only be magic, it could be fun.

Fast forward a few years, and I was a very young mother and wife still dreaming that impossible dream of being a writer. How in the world I ever thought that would be possible, I don't know. Maybe I was still too young to know better. I just knew I wanted to write and I wanted to see that writing in print. That was way before I could see my words on the internet. Back then there was no internet, or computers in every home. 

Phones, the property of the phone company, were attached to a cord in the wall. The thought of phones that could take pictures or electronic books were something the Jetsons might have. But there were ink pens and wire bound notebooks. There were typewriters. Plenty of ways to write and in spite of how hard it was to find hours for writing in my busy life as a mother with a toddler and a baby, I was determined to chase down those hours. Those hours were very slippery and hard to grab for writing with so many other things demanding my attention.

Finally I began keeping a journal record of how much I wrote each day. That was my way of keeping my goal in front of me. Some days I couldn't enter any writing progress, and that made me more determined to carve out time to write the next day. I started out writing short pieces and managed to get a few published. Then I wrote my first novel.  I've never looked back. I loved coming up with a set a characters and staying with them through a whole book. I'd found my writing niche. Not that it was easy. I wrote three books before I managed to find a publisher.

That third book, a historical romance for the general market, was published in 1978. I thought I had it made. If I did it once, I could surely do it again. And so I did. Warner Books published my second book in 1980, but then my next novel didn't meet their needs. Once again, I was writing books that weren't finding a publisher. My historical stories were "too clean," the general market editors said.  

I re-invented myself as a writer and began writing for young people. I published eleven chapter books for middle readers and young adults. I really enjoyed writing those coming of age stories, but alas, once more, market trends changed. My books kept returning to me like boomerangs with little “sorry, but no thanks” rejections on them. For several years I wrote without any publishing success. I tried more young adult books. I tried my hand at a cozy mystery. I even tried a fantasy young adult novel. But none of them found a loving editor. One of the rejects said, "There's nothing wrong with this story, but nothing right about it either." What in the world did that mean? I had no idea.   

After an extended dry spell, I began to think I’d never see another book in print. I decided to write one more story. I quit worrying about the markets or what editors might want to see. I wasn’t going to think about anything except writing the story I wanted to write. Something I knew. What I knew was small towns and country churches. 

I loved the characters from the opening sentence, a preacher and his family in a small town during the 1960's.  Jocie was my kind of character and she had a lot of discoveries to make in her little town of Hollyhill, Kentucky. I prayed for that story. I prayed it would find readers. In my heart, I sang that old spiritual “It’s me, it’s me, it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” And the Lord answered my prayer. He sent my story, Scent of Lilacs, to an editor who happened to love lilacs and so was willing to give the book a read. That editor worked for Revell Books, a Christian publishing house.  I found my new writing home.

I wonder now if the Lord didn’t use my years of rejections to guide me into this market. The rejection filled years weren’t pleasant. I was often very discouraged, but I kept hanging on to hope. The next book. The next editor. The next idea. And I kept writing. The books I wrote during those rejection filled years might never see print, but they were great practice to hone my writing skills. 

Since the day in 2004 that I heard Revell Books wanted to publish Scent of Lilacs, I’ve published twelve more titles. The most recent release is Small Town Girl, published this summer, 2013. A Shaker Christmas novella, Christmas at Harmony Hill, will be out in September. 

I love writing for the Christian market. I’m ever thankful the Lord heard my prayer and gave me stories to share and readers willing to follow my characters on their fictional journeys.

Ann Gabhart is the author of several bestselling novels. She's published twenty-five novels and has more stories on the way. Ann keeps her keyboard warm out on a farm in Kentucky where she lives with her husband,Darrell. They have three children, three in-law children and nine grandchildren. She loves to walk on the farm with her grandkids, and her dog. She also enjoys reading and getting to know her readers. To find out more about Ann and her books visit:
Check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, 
or follow her on Facebook,

To enter the contest for an autographed copy of 
Ann Gabhart's book: "Small Town Girl":
leave a comment (and email address)
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Good news...International readers may also enter. Ebook will be sent if the winner is International, paperback copy will be sent if the winner is in the U.S.
Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Ann, for Joining us This Weekend!

Reader, talk about ups and downs, Ann certainly has experienced them. I love the way she tells of her persistence to find new ways to get the job done. God calls all of us to do a job, but sometimes it needs to be done differently than we expect.  What have you done for God that you never thought you would do?