Monday, February 16, 2009

From Secular to Inspirational Romance

THE MARSHAL TAKES A BRIDE is a special book for me. It marks my first foray into the world of Inspirational fiction. To understand why that is so huge, I have go back a bit. I have one of the best first sale stories I’ve ever heard, but I also have one of the longest dry spells between a first and second sale as well.

In 2001, I entered a manuscript in the inaugural Romantic Times/Dorchester Publishing New Historical Voice Contest. There were over 300 entries so I didn’t think I had a prayer of making the finals. Besides, I was in the midst of a cross country move and didn’t have time to fret over it. Three days in my new home, and still living out of boxes, I received a “forwarded” letter from Dorchester that said the editors liked my entry but couldn’t make any promises of a sale. If I was still interested in being considered for the contest, could I send the full manuscript for further consideration?

I panicked. The letter was two weeks old. Surely, I was out of time. I dug out my computer (it was under countless other boxes) and quickly printed the entire manuscript on a rickety old printer. I mailed the full manuscript that same day by over night delivery.

Less than a week later, the manuscript was named as one of three finalists in the contest. The first fifty pages were posted on the Romantic Times Web site for readers to vote on their favorite. Booksellers made up the other half of the voting pool. I found out I had won the contest at the Romantic Times Convention when the editors from Dorchester Publishing revealed my book cover in full poster size on stage in front of all the conference attendees.

I thought I’d really made it. I had just sold a book to a New York publishing house in a very public manner. I was going to get national exposure in the Romantic Times magazine. I was on my way. Er, right? Nope.

EXTREME MEASURES was my first and last book with Dorchester. I never sold another secular romance. In fact, for five years I couldn’t buy attention for any of my manuscripts! I had hit the big time only to fizzle out as a one-book-wonder.

I knew it was time to rethink my career path and decide what I wanted to do with my life. Did I want to keep writing or do something else entirely? I had a son starting his senior year in high school and a daughter starting her first year in middle school. I decided to focus on my family. I knew I would never get that time back.

I also began attending intense Bible studies, mostly Beth Moore studies. Her words convicted this shaky Christian to re-evaluate her daily faith walk. I realized that it was time to reconsider what types of books I was writing and why I was writing them. From that point forward, I decided to honor God with all of my efforts. I immediately stopped calling my writing a career and started referring to it as a ministry.

God has blessed my ministry ever since. Luck? No way. It’s all God! Like Paul says, I boast only in the Lord.


Missy Tippens said...

Woo hoo, Renee! I'm so excited and can't wait to read it!


Renee Ryan said...

Hi Missy,

THANKS so much. Er, bet you've already heard this story, huh? Can you see my sheepish grin? LOL


Missy Tippens said...

I always love hearing an inspiring, encouraging story!! :)

Marta Perry said...

What a great story, Renee! You really show the power of persevering and following God's leading in your life.

Marta Perry

Renee Ryan said...

Marta! You are so right. Submitting our plans to the Lord is always the best way to go. It took me a while to learn that lesson. ;-)


Pamela Tracy said...

Wow, I had no idea. Your post made me want to go see the cover of your first! Guess I'll go check out your website.

Victoria Bylin said...

Hi Renee! Isn't it amazing to look back and see God at work? I like Beth Moore, too. I'm reading "The Marshal Takes a Bride" now and am loving it!