by Blossom Turner
I first attended the Mount Hermon Writers Conference in 2009 with high hopes, dreams too large for my skill set, and aspirations aplenty. I did not know—as of yet—what I did not know. By the time the action packed four-day marathon was complete, I felt like I had gone to boot camp, not book camp. I learned about POV, show don’t tell, voice, and how to tighten and brighten with word choice. I grappled with grammar, played with poetry, puzzled over punctuation, and struggled to spit-polish my manuscript.
One could look at this experience as a failure, for I did not obtain an agent. No one was clamouring around me as the latest and greatest new talent. No publisher asked for a proposal. And I certainly did not win the award for the best new writer. Instead, I went home with my tail between my legs (having learnd that I should not use clichés as I just did) and ruminated over Steve Laube’s session on “Rejection: Turning Pain into Pleasure.” Overwhelmed and dejected I had two choices—smash my computer into a thousand unrecognizable pieces or hunker down and apply what I had learned.
I attended the following three conferences with a more realistic viewpoint and only one objective in mind, to glean as much knowledge as I could. If any other blessing came out of the process, it would be a bonus. At the 2011 writers conference an opportunity to submit a short story into a book called Kernels of Hope, by Bob and Gail Kaku was presented. I submitted two and to my amazement they accepted both.
Thereafter, financial pressures dictated I work long days beside my husband in our business and place writing into the category of a hobby. I journaled, scribbled short stories, and wrote copious amount of boring company polices, manuals, and emails. I put my novels aside, too exhausted at the end of a twelve-hour work day to think creatively. Oh, and I lamented to God. Thankfully he was faithful even when I was less than pleased with my circumstances. He used me to lead an employee to Christ just before he passed away with cancer and gave me numerous opportunities to share my love and faith with employees and customers alike.
November 2017 God gave the opportunity to return to writing. I reread a book I had started five years earlier and scratched my head. Where was I going with this? As a seat-of-the-pants writer only God knew. With a cup of tea and prayer, my imagination took flight. I finished the book in the next couple of weeks. (I use the word finish lightly, because all writers know that the first draft is horrific, the second, a marginal improvement, and the tenth draft a possibility.)
In spring of 2018 I was given the blessing of attending Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference once again. I looked forward to a reunion with two ladies I had met in 2009. (The connections and friends made at Mount Hermon are a lifetime gift.) Previous failure and gained knowledge led the way. I had my manuscript completed, a pitch perfected, and a one-sheet ready to share. I surrendered all to Jesus, but had also done the hard work of preparing to the best of my ability.
A God appointment followed. I had not intended to meet with the lovely Susan Stewart, senior nonfiction editor from Elk Lake Publishing, as the information had stated they were looking primarily for nonfiction. In conversation she asked me what I wrote with genuine interest. I happily shared my pitch and she asked for a meeting. That meeting, along with others, lead to four requests for a proposal.
The hard work of writing a proposal, more edits, beta readers’ input, and critiques ensued. Finally, in June, I sent the proposal off—and waited. In August that request for the full manuscript felt amazing—more waiting.
What a joy to hear in September that my long-time dream of becoming a published author was about to happen thanks to Susan for her gift of time, to Nick Harrison for becoming my agent, and to God for giving this opportunity. I also include my thanks to the many incredibly talented writer/teachers who helped me, and to Mount Hermon for providing a Christian environment in which an everyday person like me, can fail, can learn, can succeed, and make great friends along the way.
Blossom Turner is a freelance writer who has completed one nonfiction book and three romance novels with the first one, Anna’s Secret, due out this year. She is an avid blogger bringing faith and hope to the world. Currently blogging weekly on how to pray using the many names of God. Check out her website at https://blossomturner.com.