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editor : I deal in hope

I deal in hope : Carolyn R Scheidies

Blog Bio Becoming an author not easy, but you can do it

Recently I participated in the multi-author book signing hosted by Sequel Bookshop. I hadn’t done one since my bad fall in 2014, though I continue to write. It was great to touch base with writer friends, meet other authors and buy books from these authors. It was so much fun. It made me remember how my love of books and writing began.

Before I started school, I learned my alphabet and rhymed words with “at” –bat, cat, etc. By third grade I wanted to be an author. I told stories. By fifth grade, I wrote them down. I was learning my craft by reading and writing. Once my parents read some of my writing, they encouraged me. In high school, I entered a few contests and received some honorable mentions and positive feedback.

When my family moved to Iowa for my dad to serve a country church, I met a published author who was part of our congregation. She taught me about formatting, writing for the market, and how to submit. Under her guidance, I not only submitted my first pieces but also received payment for my work. I began writing for Sunday School papers as well as program pieces used in churches for their programs—and received regular paychecks.

I also wrote features but the effort to market was exhausting and the mountain of rejections for every sale—discouraging. Still, I continued to write, even getting a comprehensive degree in journalism from UNK (then KSC).

Now a resident of Kearney, I focused on short stories and nonfiction. A few years later, my friend Gloria gave me a novel for my birthday. She said, “You can do better than that.” I took up her challenge. I wrote and rewrote. Others, including Gloria, critiqued my writing. My transitions were rough. My character names didn’t always work.

Writers are told, “Write what you know.” What I knew was disabilities and how that changes the equation. Some feedback was, “Like your work, but we’re no longer doing fiction.”; “Has possibilities, but we just went into receivership.” This one floored me. “Nice story, but readers aren’t interested in heroines with disabilities.”

I wrote and rewrote a mystery novel over a ten-year period. (I am thankful my husband encouraged my writing.) Finally, an editor from a traditional publishing house took notice. She promised to get back to me. I waited. Before a decision was made, another editor took her place and I had to start all over again. Eventually the book was accepted, and I received a contract. Six months later, I held my first book in my hands. It had taken ten years of writing and over two years of marketing. With my very nice check, I purchased my first PC computer and went on to sell several more books for the Barbour Publishing Heartsong Presents line—two of which won awards.

Since then, I have worked with small presses all the way up to Harlequin Books—those romances you purchase in Walmart and Target and large bookstores. I have written both fiction and nonfiction and even a few books for children. I didn’t leave my journalism behind as I continued to write features and news articles. For many years now I’ve written a column for the Kearney Hub.

Though there have been huge changes in traditional publishing, it still takes effort, knowing the business and a solid manuscript, time, and frustration to receive notice from an editor and a contract

I still write my column, I do a newsletter each month for Kearney Christian Women’s Connection (KCWC) and I usually publish a book a year while promoting older books. I have come a long way from the little girl who worked so hard to rhyme her words down the ABCs. Most of all, I am thankful for the editors, writer friends and my many friends and fans who’ve encouraged me over the years. As I slow down, I look back, thankful for the gift God gave and that I seek to use to share truth, faith—and hope.

Over the years I lectured to writer’s organizations, at writer’s conferences, and assisted writers who wished to learn their craft and be published. Eventually, I redrafted my lectures into the well-received book for writers Especially for the Christian Writer — How-to’s, tips, information, and inspiration. It was one way I could give back for all the assistance I’d received along the way.

Every one of us at the signing were once want-to-be authors. Some had published only one book, others more. But we were invited to the signing because we persevered from idea to the finished book. You, too, can reach others with your writing? It takes good ideas, patience, and learning the basics of writing and marketing. It takes perseverance, writing, and rewriting until the material shines and a willingness to listen to constructive criticism. Most of all, it means sitting down and writing. Have an idea, think, research…and write. Maybe I’ll see you at an upcoming book signing.

© 2021 Carolyn R Scheidies
Published my column Kearney Hub 7/12/21
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Especially For the Christian Writer  Especially for the Christian Writer

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