By Martha Rogers
This past week marked two important milestones in my life. Eighty years ago, on June 22, 1936 I was born to John and Dorothy Whiteman in Dallas, Texas.
The second one came on the same day as my seventy-third birthday in 2009. My agent called and said Strang Communications wanted to offer me a contract and would send the letter that day. Later that day, I did receive the letter and signed it. After years of struggling and waiting and writing and waiting some more, my full length novel had been accepted for publication.
Signing that first contract began a whole new world for me. I entered a world of contracts, advances, royalties, deadlines, and promotion. I am so thankful for my agent working through these things with me.
In my eighty years, I have learned to depend on four things with the Lord. Those are plans, prayers, perseverance, and patience. When God decides the time is right, He’ll open the doors of opportunity for you. Sometimes the waiting is hard, and like me, you may ask the Lord if He realizes how old you are, or how time is slipping away. Of course He knows. He knows every part of us and has plans for each of us.
Since the first contract with Strang, now Charisma Media, they have published thirteen of my novels with number fourteen to be released in October. I also have a novella with Barbour and one with B&H. Charisma is cutting back on their fiction line, so this will most likely be my last book with them.
Now I’m entering the world of independent publishing with Winged Publications. It’s an entirely different concept that I don’t have the time or space to go into at this point.
In these seven years since publication, I’ve come up with some tips I give my writing friends in our writing group. Some of the most important are following:
1. Write whenever you can whether it’s for fifteen minutes or several hours. Never pass up the opportunity to write something.
2. Have a place to write whether it’s in an office, in the den in the recliner, or on the patio or deck. The place should inspire you to write.
3. Surround yourself with great resources including a thesaurus or something similar and good writing books. We have many great ones written by our own ACFW members.
4. Give yourself time away from the computer to interact with others or to just be moving about.
5. Stay healthy as possible. Eating healthy and exercising are important for good health. Some chronic problems can be debilitating, so learn what is best for you in coping with these recurring health issues.
6. Self-doubt can be a killer. Be confident and willing to accept criticism.
7. Set deadlines for yourself and keep them.
8. Read, read, read. Fiction, non-fiction, newspapers or magazines. They can spark the imagination.
9. Pay attention to your hands, wrists, neck, and your eyes. Listen to what they tell you.
10. Attend conferences. If you can’t afford the large ones, find smaller ones that crop up all over the country and make an effort to attend.
11. Find a critique group with friends who live nearby or here on ACFW.
These tips will not guarantee a writing career, but they will set you in the right direction. Most, if not all, published writers are aware of the milestones in their writing careers. Seeing your name on a book cover for the first time and holding it in your hands is an experience you will never forget and becomes a milestone in your life as a writer.
Martha Rogers is a free-lance writer and frequent speaker for writing workshops and is a member of the Woodlands Chapter of ACFW. She is a retired teacher and lives in Houston with her husband, Rex. Their favorite pastime is spending time with their eleven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.