Yesterday was like most of the 19190+ days that preceded it in my life. The big difference was the call that came at 1647 Central Daylight Savings Time. I was just sitting down to dinner with my wife and a friend when my cellular phone rang. I hate people who sit at the table in a restaurant and talk. I got up and walked out to take the call.
It was “The Agent.” A person whom I respect greatly who had been looking at my work for quite some time. I’d sent an email a few days before asking if they’d finished the revised novel. I’m now less than a month out from the ACFW conference in Dallas and I wanted to know if I had an agent and a book to shill, or if I needed to move on to “Plan B.”
As is always the case, he was pleasant and in this case apologetic for not getting back to me sooner. But after long reflection and consultation with his fellow agents at his place of employment he regretted to inform me that he was not going to be able to represent me in my career as a writer at this point.
The reason? Simply stated I’m out on the edge of the cliff with my book. It isn’t a historical romance, nobody in the book is Amish (that I’m aware of, anyway,) and it’s more like Vince Flynn than Norman Vincent Peale. Mitch Rapp would feel right at home with some of my characters.
And that’s cool with me. I want to thank him (he shall remain nameless) for his mentoring words and kind assurance that I actually have something to contribute to the world as a writer. But not in the current marketplace of Christian Fiction. And, given that he’s an expert in the field, I’m going to take him at his word. He was/is a great fellow, fun to talk to, full of insight and inspiration to a fledgling like me. And I don’t regret a moment of the wait for his verdict.
The reason for no regrets is that I’m starting the revisions on the novel tomorrow. I know some things that I didn’t know 4 months ago when I sent him the book. I have some very good ideas on how to tighten the plot, cut some fat, and make it even more readable. And I’m not giving up. I plan on being in that picture above in the near future. (It’s where I fit on the shelf when they get the thing in print – Alphabet, dontcha know?)
Maybe it is time that the Christian Publishing world opened a new division for gritty thrillers with a Christian message. I’m volunteering to lead the way. The simple fact is that Satan is alive and well in this world and there are a great number of people under his influence. The Bible is replete with heroes who fight against evil and great odds. It’s almost always bloody and it’s always a test of wills.
That’s essentially who my characters are: Biblical heroes and villains set in the 20th and 21st century. Each of them has a place. And there’s a message to my fellow Christians as well as non-believers: you can have a darned good story with real life events that brings the Gospel to the masses. It’s not the cup of tea that many seek when they go to LifeWay Bookstores, it may not be on the list at most Christian presses, but there’s a place for it in the literary world.
So, what’s the plan? I’m going to keep writing, keep editing, keep working on the first two books I have completed. Book #3 is getting set aside for a brief time but it’s over 25% complete and it’s a good time to let it simmer a while. If there is no agent (and I’m not done with that avenue yet, one more agent is interested,) and if there is no publisher on the horizon, there is always direct to E-Book. I’ve got enough positive feedback on the manuscript to think that it’s worth a whirl taking that route. Maybe not with the opus I just finished, but with the first book. That one is worth rolling the dice on an E-Book platform.
No matter what happens, I’m just tickled that “The Agent” was so darned nice to me and had so many positive things to say about my writing. I’m thankful for his guiding hand. And when the books eventually sit on the shelves at Barnes & Noble, I’m autographing one of the first dozen copies and sending it to him in thanks for his friendship.
I’m not demoralized, I’m renewed. And I plan on pursuing my writing as the strongest evangelistic tool in my arsenal. God gave me this gift to use and I plan on doing just that for him.