Jo's new book,That Summer, a Southern historical, will be released Dec. 8.
MY WRITING JOURNEY
By JO HUDDLESTON
Author of forthcoming Southern historical, That Summer
Book Launch December 8, 2012
Offering spiritual tonic and hope
When deciding to write for publication all I had was aspiration and hope. I had not studied the craft of writing but I had loved books and reading all my life. So I sent my first stories to Good Housekeeping and Ladies Home Journal. Those form rejection letters came back immediately. It didn’t take me long to learn that I needed help.
I scoured the magazines in the mall bookstore and found some about writing. I discovered names of books about all aspects of writing and lists of writing conferences to attend and gain knowledge.
I decided my first conference would be the Professionalism in Writing School conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’d read in my new magazines that I should take samples of my writing and business cards to identify myself when I made an appointment with an editor or agent. I didn’t have business cards and was relieved when I read that I could put my information on a 3x5 card and share that with people.
My husband let me out at the front of the large hotel where the conference was held while he parked the car. I stepped into the area between the outer entrance doors and the doors into the lobby. A young lady came inside pulling a carrier stacked with books and paper materials. At the threshold of the first doors when she pulled her carrier into the space where I stood, everything tilted and scattered around us. I timidly helped her stack things back as best as I could. Didn’t introduce myself, didn’t recognize her.
I’d learned in my teen years when I was in an unfamiliar situation it would serve me well to keep my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open. So from the outset of the conference that’s what I did. The attendees appeared to know what they were doing so I watched and followed their lead. But among these seasoned writers’ conference-goers I was so invisible I didn’t even realize I was invisible.
I got in line to register and received my folder and name tag. I noticed that many folks were getting in another line before entering the auditorium, so I again followed. When my turn at the front of the line came I realized they were putting their names on sheets for 15-minute appointments, each sheet having a name at the top. The instructions indicated these sheets were for time with editors and agents. I signed up on an editor’s sheet and made myself a note of my allotted time and the room number.
As others filed into the auditorium so did I. Alone among groups, I found a seat with nobody on either side. I sat, ramrod straight, eyes and ears open. Someone from the left got my attention by asking if the seat beside me was taken. I shook my head. A woman with a beautiful Texas drawl introduced herself, forcing me to speak my first words at my first writers’ conference as I in turn introduced myself.
I browsed the book room and it was like finding delightful presents on Christmas morning. When the editor’s appointment time came I made my way toward the designated room and waited my turn outside the door.
I went in the room, sat across the table from a perky young lady and pushed my 3x5 card toward her without a word. She picked up my card, looked at it and said, “I’m Karen Ball.” She asked me what I wrote, a question I couldn’t answer. I just wrote whatever came out of my head, but I didn’t say that to her. She was gracious to recognize that I was out of my depth and prodded me along by asking what I had brought for her to look at. I had been writing short prayers for women in circumstances they might find themselves and I’d brought five prayers with me.
I didn’t know that Karen Ball was a fiction editor and she probably could have told me so and to go sign up with a nonfiction editor. No—kind, sweet, and professional Karen Ball read each of my five prayers. She wanted to take my pages back to Tyndale House with her and I agreed. I did not know the significance of her doing so. I did know I hadn’t made any copies of them but they were in my computer, so not to worry.
Before too long Karen phoned me that Tyndale would like me to write more prayers. The result was Tyndale published two prayer books by me: Amen and Good Night, God and Amen and Good Morning, God. Later, another company published my devotional book His Awesome Majesty. As I learned the craft and used a writers’ market guide, I began submitting short stories and articles—and getting them published.
That Professionalism in Writing School conference was good for me and I attended several years. Oh, and by the way, that young lady who spilled her books in the hotel entrance was Bodie Thoene. She and her husband Brock were the keynote speakers for the conference. And that woman with the beautiful Texas drawl who sat beside me in the auditorium was Vickie Phelps and is now a close writer-friend. We’ve coauthored three e-books and our husbands also get along well.
I now have a 3-book publishing contract for my first novels. I’ve finished Book 1, That Summer, which released in December 2012. Book 2 is scheduled to release in April 2013 and book 3 in September 2013.
Perhaps one of the hardest things about writing for publication is having patience. My patience muscles have grown much stronger over the years. This writing journey is never-ending. How could I not write? What writing ability I have comes from God and I must be the best steward of that gift that I can be.
TO PURCHASE JO HUDDLESTON'S BOOKS:
On December 8 the book will be available in paperback and eBook on
My publisher's website: www.swordofspirit.net
Christian Book Distributors: cbd.com