Monday evening was the official launch of Anticipation. I was overwhelmed with the attendance and responses I received. And humbled at everyone's support, encouragement and love. For those that couldn't attend, I've have attached the speech I gave (we did a Facebook Live, however, there was no volume for the speech, until (8:40) I got to reading the dedication, acknowledgments and excerpt.
A few things to note: Michael is my publisher, and was my presenter/MC for the evening. (He's been fabulous to work with.) I met many new friends that evening, and had much support from my friends, family and coworkers leading up to and during the night. It couldn't have been possible without them!
"Thanks Michael and thanks to all of you for coming out this evening to help me celebrate the release of my debut novel Anticipation. I’m humbled that you took time out of your busy schedules to be here, and it means the world to me to have your support and encouragement.
While I am excited to introduce you to Mark and Cassie, I am also extremely nervous. I wrestle with sharing them with you as they have become a part of me. I have listened to, “argued” with, lived with and fallen in love with these characters over the past five years.
Five years. Five long, grueling, exhausting, emotional years, filled with doubt, frustration, tears, and if I’m being honest, probably more than a few words that I’m not proud of. That’s how long it took for the story of Mark and Cassie to come to fruition today. Five. Years.
And with all of the emotions that raged through me these past five years, nothing can compare to the grace from God I have felt throughout this process, so it’s no surprise that the Biblical symbolism of the number five is God’s grace. Whatever comes of and from Anticipation is beyond what I deserve, and all glory goes to Him.
This story began after I ignored a calling from the Lord to start a monthly church newsletter recapping the sermons. I argued with the Lord about my lack of writing skills and the time that I didn’t have to do a monthly newsletter. I thought I won that argument, for a little while.
A few weeks later I started having bizarre dreams that were derived from characters in a popular young adult series I had recently read. Only the characters morphed into Mark and Cassie—or as I unlovingly began to refer to as ‘THEM’. Their conversations captivated my thoughts. For a short period of time, I literally thought I was going insane, because, well, you know, hearing voices in your head just isn’t ‘normal’. I finally realized (probably a little divine intervention) that I needed to get ‘Them’ on paper (and out of my head). For weeks I spent every chance I had, writing. I ignored my responsibilities—my house was in shambles. I ignored my friends and family, my husband and my dog. There were nights I barely got any sleep and days where there didn’t seem to be enough coffee. Until that last night it was complete. Mind you, not ‘Them’ in the entirety, but the basic story line and main characters were done. I felt invigorated and victorious. But then the next morning as I was getting ready for work I heard another voice in my head. A very knowing, commanding Voice that simply stated: “You found the time and skill to write this story; tell me again why you can’t do a church newsletter?” I quite literally felt defeated. And I contacted my Pastor that day with a proposition. On a side note—listen when God calls you to do something. Because with a humor that only God would find funny, that monthly newsletter I fought writing? It became a weekly one, with a monthly recap. That’s five newsletters a month, verses His original plan of one.
Once I finally got the newsletter rolling, ‘They’ started back in my head. ‘They’ had taken a hiatus for months, but came back with a vengeance. And so the writing began again. A friend of mine read the story to help me decide if it was worth continuing. And while she had it, I prayed. A lot. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure which outcome I was praying for—to say good-bye to ‘Them’, or to say good-bye to the normalcy of life if I was going to have to keep writing. I can promise you that I did not pray for what her recommendation was—to not only continue with the story of Mark and Cassie, but to turn it into a trilogy.
And so the real work began. Arduous writing, editing and rewriting, often painful and discouraging at times. Upon Anticipation’s original completion, I was at almost 130,000 words. I submitted it to multiple agencies for representation. I exhausted the agent list that accepted unsolicited young adult Christian romance fiction. It was a short list, as this specific genre is eclectic to say the least. Finally, in the sea of rejections came a ‘maybe’. A Christian agency responded that if I cut the manuscript down to “about 90,000 words” they’d gladly take a look. So even more editing and rewriting took place. It took about two months to cut it down to size, and I sent it back to that agency. After a two-week review, they sent me a very nicely worded rejection letter commending the storyline and characters, but claiming their publisher would contend it was “too preachy”. (Spoiler alert: there’s a lot of Scripture and biblical messages and themes in this book). Once again I was completely defeated. I couldn’t understand why, if this story truly was from God, He wasn’t doing something with it? I didn’t know what else to do, so I sat on it for another couple of months. Then one day my husband pushed me towards self-publishing. Maybe it was because of my moping around, or maybe it was a prodding from God, or maybe he was just tired of hearing about it, but his encouragement felt like an answer to prayer. I let go of the desire to be ‘picked up’ by a traditional publishing source and pursued self-publishing. For those of you who don’t know what it entails—it’s quite overwhelming. I spent hours upon hours upon hours in Google searches. Is it best to publish a physical book, or just an eBook? How many ISBN numbers do I need? What tool is best for conversion and uploading? I was completely overwhelmed and extremely frustrated. And then I found Michael. Within two and a half months of meeting Michael, my literal dreams came to fruition. It’s a better version of Anticipation, and I’m a better version as a writer.
So thanks again Michael. And all of you. And thanks be to God, for His magnificent grace over these past five years. Ephesians 2:8-10: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do"."
You can check out the photos from the evening here. I will add to them as they come in. Again, thank you for your support, encouragement, love and above all, prayers. I have felt God's grace through this whole process, and am humbled that He is using me to share Mark's and Cassie's story.