Part 5: A Very Important Edit, Some Offers and My First Contract!
Bless your hearts if you’ve followed along with me all the way to the fifth installment of my journey! Thanks for joining me.
So, we’re coming to the end now, and everything went pretty fast.
I had that big decision to make…By my calculations, By Proxy was 15% inspirational and 85% contemporary, and it needed to go one way or the other to comply with industry guidelines. So, yes. After much thought, I secularized the book into a small-town contemporary romance with traditional values. I compromised a little, but I was very happy and comfortable with the final draft.
(What’s that? You’d like to read a scene from the ORIGINAL By Proxy when Paul Johansson wasn’t Principal Paul, but PASTOR Paul? Why sure! I’ll attach one below for your continued amusement.)
I re-queried six more publishers and I got my first offer two weeks later from a small press. I leveraged that offer and ended up with a grand total of four offers: three from small boutique publishers (Astraea, Boroughs and Turquoise Morning), and one conditional offer from Harlequin Heartwarming.
So, I launched into research. Harlequin was the biggest fish, of course, but their conditions were for more re-writes and I wasn’t confident that I would be able to deliver exactly what they were looking for. I would be a very little (tiny, miniscule) fish in an enormous pond. Not to mention, at that point I was almost finished with By Proxy‘s sequel which had one violent scene with a stalker ex-boyfriend and another with implied s-e-x. The Heartwarming line wouldn’t be able to accept the sequel for publication, which meant splitting the series. That just wasn’t something I was willing to do.
I considered the other three offers carefully, finally signing with Boroughs Publishing Group, a newer publisher out of California whose Editor-in-Chief, Chris Keeslar, had worked for Dorchester, and whose other Editor, Jill Limber, had been the President of the RWA. I figured that between Chris and Jill, I couldn’t go wrong.
I signed with Boroughs on March 9th 2013 and I am daily grateful to Jill Limber for giving By Proxy – an unknown book by an unknown author – a chance.
So, there it is, folks…how I became a published author in five parts.
To complete the journey, stop by Amazon and pick up a copy of By Proxy. It’s now joined by three sequels (The Christmas Wish, Midsummer Sweetheart and See Jane Fall) with two more coming out this summer. Click here to buy By Proxy on Amazon.
And lastly, as promised…an excerpt from the original draft of By Proxy by Katy Regnery…before I succumbed to my heathen ways and secularized it:
Sam looked around, trying to remember the last time he was in church – probably Easter with his parents and sisters. His gaze landed on Jenny.
She was watching him with kind, interested eyes. It was like she could read his mind. “And your parish in Chicago?”
“I’d be lying if I said I had one, Jen.” He turned his gaze back to the altar, putting his hands on the back of the pew in front of them.
“It’s never too late, Sam.” She paused, which made him look over at her. She was smiling straight ahead in thought. “My favorite Christian author is C.S. Lewis. Do you want to hear something he wrote?”
Sam shrugged. “Sure.”
“He wrote: ‘We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.’ The world is crowded with him. He’s everywhere. Don’t you just love that?”
Sam didn’t know if he loved it or not. It had been a long time since he had considered God and God’s role in his life, other than taking Him for granted after an ingrained Christian childhood. Work had dominated his post-college life, carousing and dating, of course. It’s not that he had anything against church, really, but it was inconveniently scheduled at the very time of day he was generally sleeping off indulgences from the night before. Sleep in, attend church; sleep in, attend church – sleeping always won the draw, unless his parents were in town or he was visiting them.
But after a childhood spent running along the corridors of his hometown church with his sisters and church friends, attending Sunday School, playing the role of shepherd or wise man in the Christmas pageants, stealing cookies from the kitchen adjacent to Fellowship Hall, he thought of church as a given, as a place to which he would someday return in time to raise his own kids.
“I really only go when I’m visiting with my folks. Holidays and the occasional weekend. But, it always feel familiar. It always feels welcoming. Does it matter that I’m comfortable in church when I go?”
“Yes,” she smiled gently. “It will make it easier when you decide to start going regularly again. I’ll pray for your path, Sam.”
“I’ll pray for Sam’s path too!” A booming, cheerful voice disturbed the quiet of their conversation. A good-looking young man approached them from a side door. Sam guessed his age at about 30. Tall and blond, with an athletic, well-built body and an engaging smile totally directed at Jenny, he was dressed sharply in light khakis and a crisp blue and white gingham dress shirt, which was rolled up casually mid-forearm to reveal a light smattering of blond hair on a corded arm. His eyes met Jenny’s easily and held them, before he turned to Sam and put out his hand. “Are you the Sam in question?”
Sam stood up, giving the other man a reserved smile. This must be Nils, he thought, and his jaw tightened. He took the proffered hand and shook it a touch too strongly. “I am.”
Jenny jumped up, “Sam, this is Pastor Paul. Pastor Paul, this is Sam.”
Pastor Paul returned the strength of Sam’s grip easily and pumped his hand twice, before dropping it and turning to Jenny with a full-faced grin. He had his hands braced on the front of their pew and leaned forward toward her. “How’re you today, Jenny? Always good to see my favorite parishioner!”
His favorite parishioner? Come on. Are Pastors even supposed to have favorites? A sick feeling started fanning out from Sam’s gut. It got incrementally worse when he turned to Jenny who was smiling at the attractive, young pastor with an easy grin.
“Oh, you!” She said, shaking her finger at the pastor, but her smile wasn’t going anywhere and Sam felt a sheen of sweat break out on his forehead.
“Warm in here, right?” he asked.
Jenny turned to him. “N-Not really.”
Pastor Paul pushed his preppy tortoise-shell glasses up on his nose to stare at Sam intently. He looks like a J. Crew model, Sam thought with derision. What pastor is 30-years-old and looks like a J. Crew model? And what’s he doing in Gartner, Montana, when he should be sailing regattas in Connecticut? “So, Sam…what are we praying for here? Jenny’s got the biggest heart in my whole congregation and she’s liable to be up at night worrying for your eternal soul. I sure wouldn’t want that. Let me share the burden of her prayers. I promise you…we’re quite a team!”
Oh, I just bet you are. Pastor or not, Sam wanted to punch him in the face. His nostrils flared, but he smiled smoothly instead. “Oh, well. Jenny was just encouraging me to get to church more often.”
The young pastor nodded gravely with a deeply wrinkled brow and breathed in deeply, as if Sam had just confessed to a multiple homicide. He looked at Jenny conspiratorially, like they were the Dynamic Duo of Soul Saving, and then exhaled with gravity. “A tough case, eh, Jen? But I bet we’ve seen worse!”
Jenny looked concerned and hopeful at once. She nodded. “Sam’s just fallen away, Paul. I know he’s going to find his way back.”
Pastor Paul nodded sagely. “Jenny, your faith in the goodness of people is an inspiration. Is he Lutheran?”
I’m right here! “Uh, yes, I am.”
“And is Gartner your new home, Sam? May we offer you a church-home here at Grace?”
“Oh, no, Pastor Paul,” Jenny interjected, “Sam’s just visiting from Chicago. You remember my friend Ingrid? She came to visit during her leave last Summer? Sam’s kin to Ingrid’s fiancé, Kristian. He’s just helping his cousin with some legal work. He’s leaving on Monday.”
Sam was pretty sure Paul hadn’t heard a word after Chicago, because Sam noticed his shoulders relax perceptibly once Jenny confirmed Sam’s hometown, and the next smile he offered Sam was genuine. That’s when Sam knew for sure. Pastor Paul’s interest in Jenny was not just spiritual.