Bethany Turner is the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. A former VP/operations manager of a commercial bank and a three-time cancer survivor (all before she turned 35), Bethany knows that when God has plans for your life, it doesn't matter what anyone else has to say. Because of that, she's chosen to follow his call to write. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight.
I always think it's so cute when we hear about J.K. Rowling and her twelve Harry Potter rejections. It's absolutely shocking to think that twelve book industry professionals held that manuscript in their hands and decided readers would never get behind the boy who lived, and it's positively inspiring, as a writer, to know that even she had to wait, but it's also...cute.
I self-published my first books after receiving 74 rejections.
But do you know what else is cute? The fact that as I received those 74 rejections, I felt dismayed. Indignant, even. I'd love to sit down with Jo Rowling sometime (yes, she lets me call her Jo) and ask her how she felt. Was she indignant? Or had she been more realistic from the beginning? The thing is, I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I had written a book which became a three-book series, all centered around a woman named Abigail Phelps. The story is Abigail's delusional memoir, tied together by commentary and investigation from her psychiatrist, and the books boast the unique characteristic that, apart from Abigail and her psychiatrist, almost all of the characters are actual, real-life celebrities. George Clooney is her best friend, JFK Jr. is her first love, Robert Redford is her mentor...and on and on. Many of the rejections I received stated that, basically, they were intrigued by the concept, but didn't know what to do with it.
Everybody seems to want something new and different, but not too new and different.
Like I said, I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I am pretty sure that in the writing of those books and in my attempts to get published, I broke every rule known to man. I sent agents and editors query letters packed with every line that I now know they hate, but at that point, I hadn't done my homework. I convinced myself that I would get by on a unique idea, a strong voice, and George Clooney. (There are certainly movies which have gotten by on less!)
My career was in banking, not publishing, and those books had been written for fun, as a creative outlet, while I tried to survive in a career which had sucked most of the life out of me. But the unexpected happened. In the midst of the rejections and the overinflated ego having some of the air released, I discovered that I loved to write. I discovered that I was a writer.
I sure hadn't seen that coming.
My next book was written in about six weeks, with the newfound freedom of having left behind my solid, stable (though stressful and somewhat soul-crushing) job in bank management. Of course, with that newfound freedom came newfound challenges including, perhaps most notably, no real feasible way to keep paying the bills for long.
Once again, I had no idea what I was doing, but for the first time, that was a good thing. It was adventure. It was scary. It was exhilarating. It was a journey.
It was faith.
So, like I said, in about six weeks I had what is now called The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, a Christian romantic comedy about a bestselling, rich, famous writer of steamy, provocative romance who must deal with the reality of who she has been and what she is known for when she decides to become a Christ-follower (and falls in love with her pastor). It's funny and features a relatable heroine and a swoon-worthy leading man, and more pop culture references than an issue of Tiger Beat magazine. (Do they still make Tiger Beat or did I just show my age?) I was fairly certain I was in for another long line of rejections, followed by eventual self-publishing. And that would have been okay. I was prepared for that. I was expecting that. I had learned so much, and I knew I wouldn't be crushed as I had been before. I had gained wisdom and experience and knowledge and...
I still didn't know anything.
I was accepted by a manuscript submission service, and thirteen days later, I was contacted by a major publishing house, requesting the full manuscript. The very next day after sending the manuscript, I was contacted again. My story had been read in one sitting, and it was going to the next step in the process. Over the next few months there were edits and revisions, proposals and pub boards. The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck will be published on October 3, 2017 by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
My contract was for the one book, and I have no idea if Revell or any other publisher will ever want anything else I ever write. I have one more manuscript complete, two others that are getting close, and finally I think I know better than to pretend I have any idea about what's going to happen with them. For me, it's all about faith. It's knowing that regardless of what happens (or doesn't), I am blessed. It's understanding that I can only do what I can do. And it's choosing to look back with fondness and learn as much as I can from the moments when I thought I was actually in control of any of it.
Wasn't that cute?
The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck
Becoming a Christian is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to Sarah Hollenbeck. Best because, well, that's obvious. Worst because, up to this point, she's made her very comfortable living as a well-known, bestselling author of steamy romance novels that would leave the members of her new church blushing. Now Sarah is trying to reconcile her past with the future she's chosen. She's still under contract with her publisher and on the hook with her enormous fan base for the kind of book she's not sure she can write anymore. She's beginning to think that the church might frown on her tithing on royalties from a "scandalous" book. And the fact that she's falling in love with her pastor doesn't make things any easier.
With a powerful voice, penetrating insight, and plenty of wit, Bethany Turner explodes onto the scene with a debut that isn't afraid to deal with the thorny realities of living the Christian life.
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I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.