I've been writing romance novels since my sixteen year-old was a toddler and sat in a high-chair by my desk, watching me work. I wrote my first book in six weeks - a 100,000 word romantic suspense that turned out to have an amazing story line. I was surprised because I had no idea this passionate writing lived inside of me. After I finished it and researched the market, I thought my next step was to write a book tailored to a romance publisher's specific line and attempt to get it published so that I could go to an agent and say, "I'm a legitimate author, I have an entire series plotted out and I need an agent." So, I pulled up the guidelines for that line and wrote a romantic suspense novel using said guidelines like a checklist.
I edited it over and over again, wrote a brilliant cover letter praising them for all of their brilliance in publishing, and mailed off my synopsis. They wrote back asking for the full manuscript. To say I jumped for joy is putting it mildly. After several weeks of sweating and nail-biting, they sent me a one page revision letter. I was so green to the writing world at the time I had no idea how unusual and how lucky such a letter was. A one-page revision letter? Unheard of! I had only a single element to change. But, it was an element crucial to the plot, and me in all my naive arrogance told them thank you, but they could keep my plot point as is, or not publish my book. I'm sure you can guess their response.
That was the last time I submitted anything for publication, but I didn't stop writing. Within a few years, I cranked out ten books while both working full-time and raising a family . All of them were fast-moving, often suspenseful stories, completely secular, filled with sex, drinking, smoking, and cussing.
Post 9-11, life took on a different focus. My national guard/government contractor husband spent more time than either of us would prefer in the Middle East, and in between distances of 8,000 miles, our two sons were born. I started blogging, and Hallee the Homemaker was born.
In 2009, our family went through a deeply spiritual renewal. We looked at our life and realized that we'd fallen into a world view trap. While we loved God, we did not love Him with all of our hearts, minds, strength, or souls. We loved Him on our terms, and that wasn't going to work for us anymore. So, we changed, and made our world fit into our worship of God rather than making God fit into our world. Part of that change meant cleaning out our entertainment -- books, television, movies -- we became very selective in what we allowed into our homes and into our minds.
When our youngest son was 2, I decided to refocus on my writing. I pulled up the old files and started looking through them. I settled on my Jewel Trilogy as the first one I'd refresh, because those stories are timeless, and world events wouldn't necessarily change the plot. I re-wrote, edited, edited, edited, wrote another brilliant cover letter, an even more brilliant synopsis, and mailed book 1, Sapphire Ice, off to a secular romance publisher.
The second it was out of my hands, I felt conviction. We'd cleared out our home and entertainment but never thought about my books. They were as secular as could be and glorified all sorts of sinful behavior. I spent the next three weeks completely "redeeming" the first book, knowing, without having to be told, that they would want the book. I knew the temptation to publish would be placed in front of me despite my convictions otherwise.
When that heavy, letterhead envelope came to my mailbox, I knew without opening it that they were asking for the full manuscript - and they were. I wrote them back a deeply appreciative letter explaining that I'd been convicted to change my genre to inspirational, enclosed the full manuscript, and asked them to forward it to their inspirational line.
I didn't think they actually would - but they did. A few weeks later, I received a hand-written note from an editor, explaining to me how much she personally loved my story and wished she could publish it, but that doing so would be too risky, because my book was too risqué, too edgy, for their readers.
I began heavily researching the inspirational market and realized most of the mainstream books published were what I'd call "safe stories". I think the appeal of "Amish" and "pioneer" is because there are social mores that work within an inspirational worldview and don't really push any of those boundaries. My books are modern, current, and the Jewel Trilogy deals with three half-sisters who grow up in the worst imaginable environment and how they are able to find peace, healing, and grace through Christ. There is nothing "safe" in my books. They teeter on the edge of dark and tackle topics like abuse, rape, adultery, death, starvation, and even desperation.
Once they were published, I discovered that there IS a whole "edgy" market. Readers don't want safe. They want life...real life with issues and lessons and redemption and love and God working through it all. The reviews have been amazing and yet again affirm that God has plans for my writing. I'm glad I listened to the convictions from the Holy Spirit and pray God continues to work through me to pass it on to others via the written word.
Submitted by Hallee Bridgeman
Hallee Bridgeman has generously offered her Jewel Trilogy for giveaway here at EIR. Since it's a trilogy, I've decided to do a 3 post entry process! To enter, do this:
1. Leave a comment below THIS POST with your spam-free email address (jane dot doe at jmail dot com)
2. Come back tomorrow to read the blurbs about the first two books of Hallee's Jewel Trilogy and leave the message "I came back!" in the comments section of that post
3. Finally, come back Wednesday to read about the final book in the Jewel Trilogy and leave the message: "Three for three!" in the comments section.
The fine print: To win the trilogy, you must leave a "trilogy" of your own -- a comment including required text -- following each post. Thanks for stopping by! Giveaway winner must have entered the required text (quotation marks not necessary!) at appropriate posts by Sunday, March 3, 2013. Qualified entrants will be chosen using www.random.org and contacted via the email address provided on day 1.
And, just to make it easier, I will leave the first comment of the day each day as an example! Good luck!