It was 2002 when I was inspired to write a series of novels following Christian church history through the centuries. Attending Bible studies at my church, I always wondered what it would be like to live in the first century and be a part of the growth of the Christian church. I was fascinated by its history – from its humble beginnings with 12 disciples and a commission from Jesus to what it is today.
As I researched the Roman Empire and the early church the story fell into place. I also studied the publishing industry and how to write historical fiction. I joined a local writers’ guild and attended workshops, critique groups and seminars.
In June 2004, I took two weeks vacation from my job to finish the novel. I’m a night owl – my creative juices don’t start flowing till the afternoon. I easily worked till 2 a.m.
Mid July, I pronounced it finished. I sent out query letters to agents and publishers and the most popular rejection reason was that it was too short. It was about 40,000 words and they wanted closer to 80,000. I couldn’t see how to double its size!
That summer, hurricanes Frances and Jeanne hit the Florida Space Coast, two weeks apart, and I decided that there had to be a better place to live – Phoenix, Arizona. February, 2005, I drove cross-country with my two cats putting my life in God’s hands.
At a writers’ conference, I pitched the novel to an agent and heard the same thing – story sounds good, but it’s too short.
I persevered. I kept sending out query letters and wrote the screenplay.
September 2008, I lost my full-time job and was rather depressed when a Christian agent contacted me that she was interested in representing me. It was a rainbow in the midst of my storm.
But she also said, “It’s too short.”
I prayed for a solution and God sent me “Ten Years Later” – I took the characters to the time of Vesuvius’ eruption which made for a rather dramatic ending. I got the word count to 56,000 which was more acceptable.
With the economy the way it was, she had trouble selling it and I kept thinking that as soon as I got a job, I’d look into self-publishing.
October 2010, a friend invited me to the Women of Faith Conference in Phoenix. In the program was an ad for the Women of Faith Writing Contest sponsored by WestBow Press. It was free to enter. I had nothing to lose so I submitted it. A few weeks later, I got a job!
I forgot about the contest till I received an email saying that I was one of 30 finalists and winners would be announced on March 1. I had all my church friends praying for me.
The morning of March 1, I went online to see the results and I stared at my name and novel’s title next to “Second Place Winner” trying to fathom what this meant. My boss walked by my desk, I grabbed his arm and said, “Look! I won second prize!”
“Congratulations! What did you win?” he asked.
“I’m not sure.” I answered.
I contacted WestBow and found out I won a self-publishing package which included cover design and getting the title listed with book distributors (which is the hardest thing for a self-published author to do) – everything but marketing – what I did for a living.
Wow – after nine years I was finally published! I felt so blessed and grateful.
My mom said, “You’ve been lucky.”
I corrected her, “Luck had nothing to do with it! It was all God’s doing! My novel won the contest because it was good, not because it won a lottery.”
It was inspired by God. I was just His secretary. I give all the Glory to God.
As I opened the package with my first author’s copy, I thought – 9 years in incubation – my dream of becoming a published author came true!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Giselle lives in Phoenix where she works as a freelance social media expert, blogger and is writing the second book in the series, “Follow Me: Love in the Second Century” – an epic adventure of two brothers, descendants of the first novel’s characters, who leave their home in Alexandria, Egypt to help a fledgling church in Spain.