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Beth Ann Ziarnik

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Author's Journey

 

[The Dream] [The Fear] [The Frustration][The Fog][The Shock] [The Snag][The Agent] [The Award][The Waiting]

Dear Reader, you will find my most recent post at the top of the page. The others are in order, starting with "The Dream." The links above will take you to any one of them, or you can read them in order starting with "The Dream."

~Beth

 

The Breakthrough

It was almost time to leave for my Monday night critique meeting. With minutes to spare, I quickly gathered the printouts of my next chapter. As I reached out to shut down my computer, I paused. Just a quick last peek at my e-mail.

I stared at the subject line of my agent's message. "Lighthouse of the Carolinas offer for Deadly Inheritance."

My heart skipped a beat. Was it true? A respected traditional publisher wanted to publish my novel? The "soon" the Lord promised had actually arrived?

I read on. "Hi Beth. Lighthouse has offered you a contract for Deadly Inheritance. I've attached it for you to look at . . . if you have any questions . . . Jim Hart."

Quickly printing the contract, I grabbed it and left for the meeting. Not to read, but to hold in my hands as I told them the news of the breakthrough. What excitement erupted as they congratulated me and cheered!

Two days later on December 11, 2014--with my questions answered and having prayed to know God's will--I signed three copies of the contract and mailed them to Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. A year from the date in 2013 when the Lord first indicated my novel would publish "soon."

Days later, still stunned and deeply grateful to the Lord, my agent, and the editor who brought me to this place, I began sharing the news.

God had kept his promise.

* * *

Dear Reader, one day you, too, will share the good news of your own breakthrough. You can count on it because our ever-faithful God always keeps his promises. Work hard and believe!

~ Beth

Copyright 2015 Beth Ann Ziarnik


 

The Dream

We all have dreams. My dad used to say, "You might as well dream big! It doesn't cost you anything."

True---when you're only dreaming. But venture out to achieve your dream, and "cost" soon reveals itself.

What does it cost to be an author of a Christian romantic suspense novel? Here's a small portion of what I've learned so far:

  • reading tons of the kind of novels you long to write

  • studying endless books, magazines, tapes and CDs on writing (which, by the way, cost $ too)

  • investing in the equipment (computer, software, etc.) to produce editor-friendly manuscripts

  • participating in local and/or on-line writers' groups to get and give the much-needed fellowship of shared information and encouragement with others who understand your writer's dream

  • spending months -- maybe years -- getting to know your novel's characters and learning how to capture them on the page through endless practice

  • long hours alone at your computer, crafting your stories

  • drinking deeply at the fountain of life's inevitable joys and sorrows, then praying for the words -- and the courage -- to pour out what you have learned for all the world to see

  • laboring over your manuscript, rewriting and rewriting until your words sing on the page

  • finding the courage to endure as you submit and resubmit your manuscript -- at writer's conferences, on-line, and through US mail -- until your story finds a home

Is it too high a price? Not when, finally, it all comes together. Your book is born. Your dream becomes a reality. There is nothing like holding that first copy of your new book in your hands . . . or so I'm told . . .

For I have yet to hold the first copy of Her Rightful Inheritance in my hands.

Though I'm well past the dreaming stage . . . and a great distance through the cost stage . . . I continue to labor.

At the present time I'm preparing the proposal for my first inspirational romantic suspense novel. Very soon I will launch its marketing campaign and enter the endurance stage . . .

Only our beloved God knows if and when Her Rightful Inheritance will take shape as a published novel.

In the meantime, with your permission, I will share my journey with you. Who knows? One day we may share a joyous cyber-shriek as I announce the arrival of Her Rightful Inheritance in the "Promised Land" of published novels!

***

Dear Reader, thank you for accompanying me on my journey this far. Until the next time . . . Dream big and go with God's blessing!

~ Beth

Copyright 2003 Beth Ann Ziarnik


The Fear

Fear gripped me in the pre-dawn dimness! Had I tackled a writhing anaconda? What made me think I could weave all the intriguing elements of fiction into flowing perfection? What made me think I could capture readers' attention . . . entertain them . . . inspire them . . . make them feel my characters' passions as they pursued their dreams?

I squeezed my eyelids shut and burrowed my head in my pillow. Even if -- by some fluke -- I managed to do all that, what made me think someone would publish my novel? The marketplace grew tighter every day . . . the competition greater. I was getting older!

I groaned. Was I out of my mind? O God, you gave me this dream. I'm doing my best, but I'm scared to death I can't pull it off.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.

Wha . . . ? The words from 2 Timothy 1:7 (NEB) wrapped me like a warm blanket -- words I had written on a note card and kept on my desk as a reminder that fear is not from God. His enemy uses it, pressing in to squeeze the life from my creative efforts . . . to stop me from accomplishing the good God gave me to do.

I threw back the covers and bolted out of bed, wielding the words like a sword. "God has not given me a spirit of fear!" I shouted, "but of power! Of love! And a sound mind!"

Fear slithered away.

I took a deep breath and marched into my home office, vowing to fight fear with the Word of God every time it showed its scaly head. For "I can do everything through him [Christ] who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13, NIV)" and "with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26, KJV)."

Sitting down before my computer, I prayed as I booted up. Time to get to work . . . with the Lord.

***

Thanks again, dear reader, for sharing in my journey---a writer's journey not unique to me. Until the next time . . . Fight fear and work with the Lord!

~ Beth

Copyright 2004 Beth Ann Ziarnik


The Frustration

I slumped at my desk and closed my eyes in an effort to trap the tears that threatened to escape. "I'm ready to give up, Lord! I've worked on this manuscript and worked on it some more. It's just not getting anywhere."

"I'm weary of the battle, Lord. I don't think I'll ever finish this novel." Tears traced wet paths down my face.

Oh, great! I palmed them away. "Please, Lord, if you have an idea to share, I could use it now."

Commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed.*

What? Surely God knew I had dedicated all my writing to him from the very beginning.

Commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed.*

A cold fist hit my heart. Obviously I was missing something behind those twelve short words. Something important.

Several hours later, I pushed my concordances, commentaries, and dictionaries aside and picked up what I had distilled from them. I stared at the pages. So that was the problem.

Committing my work to the Lord was more than offering a quick prayer before I barreled ahead with my writing plan. It was spreading everything before the Lord each morning -- my manuscript, plans, deadline schedules -- and most of all, myself. It was sharing my difficulties and delights with him, whether writing and otherwise. It was praying, "Lord, here am I. Use me. What do you want me to accomplish today?"

I knelt down to do that very thing.

Before long I saw significant progress in the novel's development. Excitement about the project returned! I couldn't wait to get to my desk each morning and boot up the computer.

How glad I am to have learned this valuable lesson: Being a Christian writer isn't a simple matter of being a Christian and writing. It's being a Christian who lays her writing gift at the feet of the Lord and obeys him. As I look back, every one of my published manuscripts was a fruit of God's plan, not mine. Painful as all the years of struggle have been, I am grateful that God continues to preserve that precious pattern.

* Proverbs 16:3 (NLT)

***

Dear Reader, this piece has been a long time coming, and now you know why. Until next time . . . look to the Lord. He will help you overcome your frustrations!

~ Beth

Copyright 2005 Beth Ann Ziarnik

______________________________________________

The Fog

But, Lord, I thought I was finished!

I vividly recalled the moment I wrote the final word of my novel. Heroine and hero had lived through danger and discovered love. Better yet, they surprised me with the unique manner in which they concluded their story. I had breathed such a sigh of satisfaction!

So, what's this? All the rewrites I'd labored on, perfecting their story were not enough? My novel required yet more work?

Not fair!

I won't do it. I don't want to do it. I . . . sputtered to a stop.

The truth was, I had no idea what to do next. Everything I'd learned had only taken me this far. What more was there?

Stunned . . . confused, I wandered in a fog for two months, doing my best to ignore that troublesome novel. Besides, I had plenty to keep me busy -- including my (yea!) new novel.

Yet that first novel refused to let go. It waited in silence until I could stand it no more.

Okay, I did want to do whatever it took to bring it to a publishable state, but . . . was I even capable of pulling it off?

I closed my eyes and sank back in my chair. Slowly breathing in and out, I willed myself into a calmer state.

Lord,What will it take? What must I do? Please show me the way through this unfamiliar territory, this terribly dark place.

Words I'd read earlier that morning flowed back to me.

"I will answer them before they even call on me. While they are still talking to me about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers" ~Isaiah 65: 24 (The Living Bible, Tyndale House Publishers).

I sat up, eyes wide open.

Did this mean the book I had ordered about revision and self-editing was God's answer?

Maybe. Maybe not.

But one thing was sure. Before I ever called out to him, God saw my need and had gone ahead to answer my prayer. Without a doubt, he would also show me the way out of this awful writer's fog. He would enable me to finish my novel.

***

Dear Reader, many challenges test a writer's resolve. Are you In a fog? Call out to God, and you'll find the answer already on its way.

~ Beth

Copyright 2009 Beth Ann Ziarnik

__________________________________________________

The Shock

Am I getting close, Lord?

Deciding to find out, I entered American Christian Fiction Writers' Genesis Contest for unpublished novelists.

Weeks later, my scores arrived. I didn't final but -- oh, joy! -- had missed by a mere fraction. One of the judges, a multi-published romantic suspense author, gave my entry an astounding "100" and assured me I had a publishable manuscript.

Lord, is it true?

A month later at the Write-To-Publish conference in June, the manuscript evaluations for the first chapters of my two novels came back running over with enthusiastic comments. The publicist who evaluated them surprised me by inviting me to use her name to contact a Guideposts editor she believed would consider the manuscripts.

I was stunned, but God wasn't done.

At the same conference during an evening critique session, a well-known author of romantic suspense listened as someone else read a portion of my manuscript. "Now that's great writing! " she said.

Really? I was overwhelmed.

Then in September at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, agents and editors and published authors shocked me with their enthusiasm about the novel I pitched. Not only that, but one agent told me the publishers at the conference all said they were looking for romantic suspense. Somehow I had slipped into writing publishable fiction just when Christian publishers were seeking my genre.

What happened, Lord?

God's answer was abundantly clear. "For the Lord is a just God. Happy are all who wait patiently for him" ~Isaiah 30: 18 (The Living Bible, Tyndale House Publishers).

After years of hard work and waiting on the Lord, my time had come.

***

Dear Reader, you may be hurting now. You may wonder if all your hard work will ever result in publishable fiction. Please don't give up. God is with you, working behind the scenes to bring you to that right moment.

Until then, believe in your growing ability and God's purpose and for your writing. Trust in his timing.

~ Beth

Copyright 2010 Beth Ann Ziarnik

_________________________________________________

The Snag

Lord, have I waited too long?

I finished my novel, this time with no niggling feeling that insisted something still needed fixing. I sent it to a published novelist who offered to read it, and she declared it ready for publication. I then sketched my plan and set out to find an agent . . .

. . . only to quickly hit the snag.

No replies to my query letters. A "pass" on the requested proposals. Times are hard, Lord, but what's this all about?

Fear barreled into the dark of my bedroom and hissed in my ear, "Why are you writing your next novel? No one's even interested in the first one. You don't have what it takes. What a waste of time! What a waste of the many years you've invested."

Tossing and turning, I finally abandoned my bed and turned on the light in my office. I prayed and read my Bible where God encouraged me to continue.

I looked up at my bookshelves. Grabbing a book from one of them, I devoured its chapter on finding and working with an agent. It advised writers not to feel too hurt if an agent isn't interested in that first novel. I sighed heavily and read further, my attention soon snagged by a suggestion that a new author might want to query a new agent.

It couldn't hurt to try. I did have such an agent in mind.

Working through the night, I tweaked and polished both the proposal and the query letter. Would this new agent be the answer?

I didn't know.

What I did know was that while "pressed on every side" as I attempted to market this novel, while "crushed or broken" by the current lack of response, the Lord wanted me to "get up again and keep going" ~2 Corinthians 4:8-9, (The Living Bible, Tyndale House Publishers).

He wanted me to trust in him completely (Proverbs 3:5) and work hard (Proverbs 22:29). He wanted me to keep going until I reach my goal.

New determination blossomed.

***

Dear Reader, have you hit the snag? Are you trying to find an agent without much success? God sent you on this journey for good purpose. Please push past each obstacle until you reach your goal.

Blessings to you!

~ Beth

Copyright 2011 Beth Ann Ziarnik

_________________________________________________________________

The Agent

This is how you designed it to happen, Lord? Really? It feels like some incredible dream!

I couldn't have been more surprised and delighted!

On Wednesday of the last week in June 2013, my left wrist--still recovering from being crushed--was trapped in a plaster cast. Not knowing what else to do as a writer, I decided to invite some people I knew in the industry to link with me on LinkedIn. Before I knew it, I was chatting online with a well-known and respected agent I had met at several Christian writers' conferences. At one point she wrote that she was bringing her son into her literary agency. Did I have any projects I could send her?

I blinked. Is this you, Lord?

I sent her a list of my eight projects, and she chose my first romantic suspense novel, now titled Deadly Inheritance. I spent four days polishing its proposal before e-mailing it to her. Ten days later, her son sent a message. He loved my sample chapters and wanted to see the full manuscript.

I blinked again. Was I dreaming?

During the previous eighteen months, two other agents had requested the novel's full manuscript but then passed on it. They were kind enough to include very encouraging words about the quality of my writing and my clear understanding of the romantic suspense genre. One told me to keep my chin up. I would find an agent who loved my novel. I did my best to follow her advice. Still, I failed to connect with that elusive agent who would believe in me and what I was writing. Someone who wanted to partner with me and see my novels published.

Would this be yet another round of encouragement, letting me know I was getting close? Or . . .

Well, whatever the Lord had in mind, I decided to move forward. Take that next step. I requested two weeks to go over the manuscript one last time and then e-mailed it to him by our agreed-upon deadline.

How merciful the Lord was! He kept me busy for the next two weeks on previously planned vacations with family. When I returned, an e-mail message from the agent waited. My heart almost stopped as I read his most welcome words. He loved my novel and offered me representation which would make me as one of their agency's clients.

I was in!

Hardly able to believe my eyes, I called in a lot of prayer from friends and tried to calm down. Then I sent him my phone number and told him I would love to talk with him. That afternoon as we chatted, he asked if he could send me a contract. I told him I'd be glad to look it over but that I had a lot of questions. He said he would call me the middle of the next week.

The next day as I prayed about this opportunity, I believed the Lord wanted me to sign that contract. A few days later when the agent called,
I let him know I intended to sign the contract and then ran my questions past him. That afternoon, I signed the contract and put it in the mail. My heart danced with joy!

God's Word says, "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps" (Proverbs 16:9, KJV). Without a doubt, the Lord had directed my steps, just as he does for each of his writers, no matter what pathway he works out.

***

Dear Reader, it may not feel like it now, but your day will come. Keep taking your next step forward as the Lord directs. The details of how you team with an agent may not be the same as mine, but one day the Lord will bring your agent partnership to pass.

God bless you on your journey.

~ Beth

Copyright 2013 Beth Ann Ziarnik


 

The Award

Only the Lord knew the wonderful surprise he had in store at the 2014 Write-To-Publish conference.

I was clueless.

Years of effort had taught me to do my best and take that next step. Exactly what I did as I prepared for the conference, hoping I might qualify to enter the Written World Communications Contest.

This contest was open only to those who (1) attended the conference, (2) made a one-on-one appointment with the publishing house rep, and (3) attended one of her evening critique sessions.

None of that would make a difference if I didn't first polish my novel.

Two weeks before the conference, I set a deadline of ten days to complete that work. I divided its 310 pages and 28 chapters into roughly equal parts and set to work. Nine days later, I finished. For the first time, I believed it was not only good--as others had tried to tell me--but the best I could make it at this time. No more niggling doubts.

With the manuscript for Deadly Inheritance copied to a USB drive, I arrived at the conference. During my one-on-one appointment with Chris Richards the first day, she approved my entering the contest and took my USB drive to download my novel to her device.

The third evening of the conference, I participated in her evening critique group along with six other hopeful writers. When it was over, I left knowing I had done all I could. The outcome was up to the Lord.

The next evening at the banquet, three other big awards were handed out before Chris Richards went to the microphone. She talked about the novel and mentioned something about "Beth" and believing she might slaughter the writer's last name of she tried to pronounce it.

The room fell silent as I waited for some other Beth to get up and accept the award. Then I realized Chris was looking at me. I mouthed, "Do you mean me?"

When she smiled and nodded, I froze in my chair. The dear writer next to me smiled, took my hand, and leaned over to whisper, "You have to go up and receive your award."

Still stunned, I joined Chris. I turned my back to the microphone and whispered, "Are you sure?"

She grinned and nodded.

It was true! God had gifted me with a mentor and editing coach, the two desires of my writer's heart. The award also carried the possibility of publication, once we completed the chapter-by-chapter editing.

God's Word says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." ~ Psalm 37:4 (NIV).

***

Dear Reader, do you sometimes wonder if God cares about the desires of your writer's heart? He does! Know that at the right time and in the right way, he will give you your desires. Until then . . . delight yourself in him and keep moving forward as he leads.

~ Beth

Copyright 2014 Beth Ann Ziarnik



The Waiting

Still waiting for that right publisher, I sighed. "How long will it take, Lord?" I whispered. Only he knew.

My agent kept me in the loop as my novel went out to publisher after publisher. I prayed. My prayer team prayed. Others prayed as months passed by. Then more than a year. Still we waited.

How promising it appeared when most publishing houses began asking for the full manuscript. But then, no contract offer.

"Don't worry," my agent said. He was absolutely certain the novel would sell.

I had to believe him because I felt as if the Lord were speaking that same message to my heart. Soon, I heard.

But what did this particular "soon" mean? Days? Weeks? Months? Years? Again, only the Lord knew.

In the meantime, my part was to walk in faith, continue to write and improve my skills, and wait expectantly. I was also to help other writers succeed and not lose heart about my own publishing possibilities.

I told myself, it would happen when the right time came. Ecclesiastes 3: 1 says: "To everything there is a season. A time for everything under heaven" (NKJV). Surely that included the promised sale of my novel, the beginning of my career as a novelist, the fruition of my longtime dream.

How long, O Lord?

***

Dear Reader, like me, are you waiting for your longtime dream to come true? A promise you feel the Lord has made to your heart? Wait patiently. God will not fail you. At the right time, your season will arrive. Mine, too. Let's believe this together.

~ Beth

Copyright 2014 Beth Ann Ziarnik


 

Copyright 2015 Beth Ann Ziarnik

 


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