Tuesday, November 10, 2015

When God Closes a Door...

Writers are very familiar with the concept of closing doors. Maybe because we are always peeking through them while trying to sneak our foot inside. Queries. Proposals. Contests. Blogs. Everything we can to get the attention of reader, agent, or publisher. Some closing doors weren't very wide to begin with so it's not too painful. Query letters are a great example of this. You send out bunches and learn to expect a high rejection rate. Others, like a publisher you've been communicating with for months before they decide to turn down your work, carries a little more sting,  Every time these doors closed in the past, I convinced myself it was one of two things. Or a combination of both.
  1. I need to make my writing better.
  2. God has a better plan for this story.
But I've never seen His hand as clearly as I did this year:

At the end of March this year I gave birth to my third child. To beat baby blues I decided to enter into a writing contest. Namely, Love Inspired's Blurb-2-Book. (I've never had such an enjoyable recovery!)  I figured I had nothing to lose one way or another. And then I passed on to the second round. I must admit to being a little excited as I started in on a complete rewrite of a first draft I'd pounded out about eight years ago, which has been sitting as a file ever since. It went from being completely from the heroines POV to including the POV of on of the most complex, but easy to love (if I understand my critique partners and beta readers correctly) heroes I've written. The story came to life and I started getting hopeful.

Then the door closed.

I didn't make the third round in the contest. The editor enjoyed the story, but had a couple concerns about my poor, conflicted hero. She did leave the door unlocked for future submission of my work directly to her, but I was out of the contest.

I was disappointed, but that did mean I no longer had a tight deadline to have my story completed. Without the restraints on my time, I decided to enter a couple short story contests. I wrote two stories and entered them, and then went back to my novel, finishing it about the time the Blurb-2-Book judging was complete. At that same time I found out my short stories (which I wouldn't have even written if I'd continued in LI's contest) both won their contests and would be published.

And then the Lord swung yet another door open and shoved me through it.

A week or so after I won the short story contests, an author friend and critique partner said she felt a "God nudge" to mention me to her publisher, who wasn't accepting submissions unless you met them in person at a conference (hard to do with a new baby). They said I could submit my finished manuscript, and within a month offered me a contract!

It was difficult not to look back and not be amazed. Especially recognizing that if that LI editor had passed me on to the third round of the contest, I would have been scrambling to finish my manuscript (and it probably wouldn't have turned out nearly as well as it did), I wouldn't have entered any of the short story contests, and I wouldn't be working with my present editor who, from what I hear, will be excellent for me at this point in my career.

Most times we don't see the next doors open quite as wide or quickly as in this case, but looking back over the past ten years of writing I see how The Lord has prepared me, worked with me and steered me from closed doors to the ones that would bless my life. I am so grateful for such a faithful guide!

(As a side-note, last week I was offered a two book contract by another publisher on a manuscript -  and the premise of its sequel - that has had many a door shut in its face and and many a rewrite. I'm so grateful for the hands the Lord has placed it in!)

How have you seen doors open or close as the Lord guided you?

Angela K Couch is an award-winning author for her short stories, and a semi-finalist in ACFW’s 2015 Genesis Contest. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in there, as well. Angela lives in Alberta, Canada with her “hero” and three munchkins. 
Visit her at www.angelakcouch.com 
Follow on Twitter or Facebook!

9 comments:

  1. Congrats! So excited for your books to release!

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    1. Thank you! And thanks for stopping by! :)

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  2. Congratulations, Angela. Yay for you. God is good the way He works. What a year 2015 has been for you: new baby and all this success with your submissions. Hallelujah.

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  3. Hi Angela, Congrats on all the publishing doors that have opened for you :) It's a year this week since Harlequin announced they were closing the Heartsong line and a door closed in my writing journey. This year I've been blessed to have indie publishing opportunities in box sets that I wouldn't have had time to do if I was still writing for Heartsong. I've learned to embrace the swings and roundabouts of publishing, and look forward to God opening doors when I least expect it :)

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    1. It's funny to my how often doors open when least expected. :) Life, and writing, is full of ebbs and sways, but the Lord is always mindful of our path. Your box sets, from what I hear, have been doing wonderfully. Congrats!

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  4. Hi friend! Such good words of encouragement. I'm always amazed to look back & see the path God has taken me on so clearly though when I'm walking it, I'm hesitant to take the next step for fear of falling off the cliff! We must trust His leading and timing and not give up! So glad you persevered! I look forward to reading all those wonderful stories in print!

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  5. Thanks for your thoughts, Kelly. I have full confidence that you will continue to succeed! :)

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  6. Wow! Angela, I'm so happy for you. And feel encouraged too! More success in Jesus name.

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