A Novel Idea

Okay, so it’s a cheesy title.

It’s a long story.

Last year, I realized that I was 35 years old, soon to be 36. I also realized that if I lived to be 70 years old, my life was indeed literally half over.

I know. It gives you pause.

I have a wonderful life, a beautiful family, children I adore. I have lived out many of my dreams and God has abundantly blessed my life. I’m happy. If I died today, I have lived a good life, a happy life, a life I’m proud to call my own.

However, if indeed my life was half over, what kinds of things did I still want to accomplish that I hadn’t already?

I had always dreamed of writing a novel. Since I was just a girl. I used to spend hours every single day writing stories with dreams of one day walking into a bookstore and seeing my story on the shelf. So, last year, after campmeeting, I came home, sat down and wrote a book.

I think it took me 25 days to write 83,000 words. That was the easy part. I believed with all of my heart I had a good story. I was completely in love with my characters stories, their personalities, everything.

I started editing. I learned things I never knew before.  Things like:

1. Editors do not like adverbs.
2. Don’t use passive verbs very often.
3. Tighten your words.
4. Proofread, proofread, proofread, and then proofread again!

I think I’ve read my book two dozen times if not more. After editing for a couple of months, I realized I needed to set it aside so I could get a fresh perspective. I mean, after you’ve written a book and then read it over and over and over again… it gets old. So I set it aside for a few months.

In January I picked it up again, edited two or three more times all the way through and then I felt like I was ready to query an agent.

I decided to search for an agent before searching for a publisher. So many publishers only want to work with agents! I wanted the best chance possible to get published.

I agonized over the synopsis! Really, taking a 340 page manuscript and telling the whole story in just one or two pages is a killer! I agonized over my pitch line and then over the query letter.

I had a list of agents I was interested in querying. I emailed my query letter to the first agent. And then I waited. About six hours. She emailed me back soooo fast! I expected to wait a few weeks. She said she wanted to see the synopsis and the first 50 pages. The next day I had my husband run off the synopsis and first 50 pages at Office Depot on good quality paper and we sent it off in the mail.

I was so anxious to hear back. I knew we would be leaving in two weeks for 3ABN for a week, followed immediately by two weeks at Campmeeting!

A week and a half later, there it was, my self-addressed stamped envelope in the mail box, stamped with a New York post mark.

My heart flip flopped. My daughter Sarah offered to read it for me.

The agent had written on my cover letter these words: “May send complete manuscript with synopsis… will consider this on an exclusive basis.”

Talk about jumping for joy!! If you aren’t a writer, perhaps you haven’t heard the stories about how hard it is to get an agent. But I have read lots of horror stories.

Anyway… we were leaving the next day for 3ABN. So, while we were at 3ABN we drove over to Carbondale, IL to the Staples and had my complete manuscript printed along with the synopsis and cover letter. $40.00! My husband could have fallen over at the cost. Not to mention the $13.85 to ship it! Here it is, in all its beauty sitting on our bed in the little apartment we stayed in at 3ABN.

Has she accepted my manuscript? I don’t know. The suspense is nerve wracking!

P.S. I have about 7 more days of writing to finish my next novel and I have the plot outlined for the next!

About Melissa

Melissa Ringstaff is a pastor's wife, serving with her husband in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of Southeastern Kentucky. She is a homeschooling mother of five plus four and Grandarlin' to 13 (so far) grandchildren. Melissa is the Founding Editor of A Virtuous Woman since 2001. She has written several titles including Spring Cleaning for the Heart and Home, The Homemaker's Journal: Keeping House, and Christian ADVENTures in Prophecy. You are invited to visit Melissa at A Virtuous Woman.
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