Cue the confetti and pop the bubbly…I have a traditional publishing contract!
I cried last week at the local Chinese restaurant.
I was there alone. My computer perched aside my plate. Writing. When an email popped into my inbox. It was my agent Blythe heralding the exciting news that MY contract was ready to be signed.
Yes! The contract! For the book I’ve been telling you I’ve been writing for the past three years.
(I’m pretty sure you’ve given up on me by now).
I burst into tears at the gravity of the situation. Three years ago, after much prayer about the direction of my life, God whispered that I should use my writing and qualitative research skills to craft a book for women to help them feel less alone after pregnancy loss.
Actually, I had been praying really hard about the subject of spiritual gifts and my devotion of the day in my pink Bible for Moms said, “So you just got your PHD. How can you use your gifts to glorify God?”
Hmmmm, that was weird.
I had just received my PHD, but I knew that going back into the classroom wasn’t the path I felt led to travel. But how could qualitative research serve the Lord?
So I looked at the scripture reading of the day. Tears. Poured. Down. My. Eyes. It was 1 Samuel and the story of Hannah and how she poured out her heart for a baby.
I knew the feeling of crying like crazy for a baby. I’d had two miscarriages and also been told I’d never probably have children again.
I also knew how comforted I felt by reading a blog post my sister-in-law Mary sent me about her friend’s experience with loss. Reading other stories was powerful and healing.
Maybe I was supposed to write about pregnancy loss from a Christian perspective? Interview other women. Tell our stories so others would feel less isolated.
Nah. It seemed like such hard work.
I thought he (as in God) was crazy. Perhaps I had misunderstood my purpose. So I brushed it all aside. But then he kept whispering. In big ways. Ways that chilled my very core because I was quite certain the Holy Spirit was speaking to me.
Those that know me best know these stories. Know this testimony. It’s just too much to write right now.
But I finally listened. And started taking steps forward. Blind faith.
I started talking to brave women from across the United States who vulnerably shared their stories of pain and redemption with me. Who talked about the fear, the jealousy, the crushing hurt, the sheer terror, the anger, and the physical and emotional pain.
(Thank you all for unloading your hearts with me!)
I cried for them. I cried with them. We prayed for each other as we faced future pregnancies, future miscarriages, and futures knowing that child bearing was over.
I started scribbling down the story.
I was willing to indie publish (which I’ll do with other books) Loved Baby, but God wanted me to think differently on this one. “Did I believe in him?” He asked.
Yeah right, God…my book is never going to land in Barnes & Noble or LifeWay.
But he kept whispering and I decided to just trust.
I found out that for the price of admission to a writer’s conference I could get my proposal into the hands of editors and agents. But the cost was steep and the chance of actually being traditionally published is very slim. Like way less than 5% of people get traditionally published.
I deliberated with my husband about chasing this far-fetched dream while checking our mail. I opened up an envelope and gasped when I saw the amount. It was the same amount I needed to attend the conference. Where did I get the check? One of the ladies who had shared her story for the potential book had bought a Black Angus for freezer beef.
My husband handed me the check and told me to get on the plane.
So armed with tips from my extroverted husband about making small-talk and luggage containing big earrings, cowboy boots, and cute dresses I flew south and traveled to my first writer’s conference. A place where people love picking out new pens and talk about point of view for fun. I was in heaven. And met some of my newest best friends. My kindred spirits (love you Bethany and Jennifer).
It was exhilarating and exhausting. I felt like I was on Shark Tank or the Voice.
Stevie Nicks sings in Gypsy,
“And it all comes down to you
Well, you know that it does
Well, lightning strikes, maybe once, maybe twice”
So I fought for this book. I fought for women. I wanted our stories to be contained in a book that was worthy. In the best bookstores. The 1 in 4 deserved to be noticed.
By the time I boarded the plane home I had a contract with my dream agent.
Fast forward almost two years. My heart is still strong for women who’ve experienced loss.
I want them to know they are not alone. I want them to be able to sit in their bed and read the words of other women who’ve had a similar experience. I want them to read how these women leaned into the grief and thereby learned how to lean on God. I want women to mourn in hope.
But I want it to be real. To talk about the grit of the pregnancy loss. Because it’s painful.
But publishers wanted me to have this big platform. With tons of twitter followers and facebook fans. But I’m not Jen Hatmaker.
They said, “Come back in a year. After you have more followers. Keep building. We love your book and your heart but you need more fans.”
I’m just a girl, who lives on a farm, who writes from the soul to try to help other women feel less alone. Building “fans” felt icky. So I didn’t try to hard.
But God kept whispering and I kept following. “Just trust me” he said. So I did. I learned patience and humility.
And then Broadstreet Publishing read my proposal. They said, “We want to make the difference in the lives of women. We believe in you.”
So y’all, they offered me a traditional book contract. But it’s not just any book. It’s a devotional. With a place to journal. And illustrations.
It’s going to be a reflection of the love God has for us all.
And I’m giddy. Pleased as punch. And truly humbled because I’m realizing what happens when you walk in blind faith.
And when you have a team of people who have cheered you on.
So this October (yippee, yippee, yippee) Loved Baby will be released by BroadStreet publishing.
It will coincide with Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month.
I’m not sure the exact process because this is all new and exciting for me, but I can officially say that I’m an author and I get to tell the story of brave women who have learned how to stay rooted in hope.
So will you keep traveling this journey with me? If so.. go ahead and sign up with your email address. I’ll keep you notified of the steps along the way.
And pray for me. I’m seriously meeting this deadline by writing from 11 pm to 2am each night. And my 6 month old doesn’t sleep through the night. And my three year old doesn’t nap. So I’m really running on about three hours of sleep each day. And I love sleep. And I’m reading more grief books than any one person should ever read. Good grief…I took a grief recovery handbook with me to Disney World earlier this year!
Will you also pray for the women who run the Loved Baby support group. They (Brittnie, Kayla, Rosemary, Jennifer, Kayla, Lynda, & Cayci) are an amazing tribe of women who devote themselves to helping others.
But most of all pray for the millions of women each year who face pregnancy loss. You might be one of them. Please accept my heartfelt sorrow. You are loved.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)