This is the true story of how writing my first Manuscript/book, “To Know Her Calling.” all started. One that I hope encourages you to write or put down the fear of reaching for your dream to become a writer or anything else in life you wish to be.
It begins in my parlor where there sits an oversized comfy chair. This is the place I would sit with my notebook and write, after tucking my three children in for the night. With my husband relaxing in another chair reading a book or on the computer, I sought a place where a story would pull me in and capture something deep inside.
Stories would come to me during the day and at night, my mind never seemed to stop. So, one day I just decided to start writing them down. This was the beginning. Each night for almost a year I would sit in my comfy chair and write stories. This included life experiences, day-to-day events, along with fiction. The pages started coming alive as I wrote.
With the fire ablaze in the winter and the windows open in the summer letting in a cool evening breeze, I would write. I did this for me, never wanting at the time to have anything published. It was a release and a place I could disappear into. Creating stories with familiar characters, (my immediate and extended family being the inspiration for quite a few) hurts, pains, love and real-life. That is what I wanted in my stories, along with the happily ever after found in every girl or women’s heart.
I enjoyed every part of writing. With my cup of warm milk and golden turmeric, quietness and my notebook, I found my sanctuary. Here is where I didn’t have to worry about grammar, punctuations, sentence structure and a complete sentence. I just wrote.
Fast forward to the fall of 2015. This is when I started to feel a burning desire for something untold. I felt and knew I was supposed to be doing something more in my life. Notice I didn’t say something different with my life. The reason being I was and am extremely happy, my family also (don’t worry I asked them:). We have a beautiful farmstead, comfy home and I was tempted to push away whatever this feeling was because I didn’t want to change any part of my life.
It was almost maddening at times though having this burn and not knowing what it was for. That was until I heard our pastor talk about using your gifts, not for yourself, but to serve others and stepping outside your comfort zone to accomplish it if need be. Things started to fall into place after that. I would read my Bible and the same message just seemed to be coming across.
One day at the pool a friend asked me what I was writing? She had seen my notebook which I carried with me everywhere, so I told her about some of the stories. She thought they were great and asked if I was going to get them published. I told her no because I truly didn’t think I would. But another seed was planted.
Next, my childhood friend asked if I wanted to read a self-motivational book that would help you improve your life and strive to obtain your full potential. We decided to read a chapter then discuss it each week. I agreed and was excited. Little did I know the true impact that book would have on my life. My burning desire, coupled with a sermon on using your gifts, a seed planted and then an offer from a friend changed me. For the first time, I now thought, what if I had the opportunity to impact other people’s lives by sharing my stories and also my passion for people to have a healthier lifestyle? What if it could change and inspire someone to fulfill their dreams in telling my story? What if this was what God was giving me a desire for, to use my gifts and share them with the world? My what ifs were all I needed.
I had no idea how to get a book published and English being my worst subject, but I did not let that stop me. Opening up the computer I searched for publishers and clicked on one. Entering my information on their page a consultant called me the next day to talk with me about the process and answer any questions I had. I prayed and felt this is what I was supposed to be doing, so I set a date where I would sign the contract and pick a package. Meanwhile, I wrote. Setting a goal, I averaged out how many pages I would have to type a night and did whatever it took to reach that goal and date I had set. Guess what? With determination and desire, it was met. I finished my manuscript and had it typed on the computer when the deadline came.
After having more questions answered, reading the contract, signing it, and paying for my package the process had just begun. Immediately I was sent an email by my new coordinator (we will call him Bob) who would help me in the process of turning in my finished manuscript. This included acknowledgments, dedications, correct grammar, punctuations. The entire complete book but in manuscript form.
Also, there was a sixteen-page welcome letter sent to me through email stating the correct way to write a manuscript. Meaning proper indentions, no hard returns, footers, headers etc. There was also a check list and submission form. The submission form was where you pick the size of book, page color, cover idea, snippet of book or teaser to put on the back and or one you will use for online sales, the audience you are trying to reach, how many scripture passages you had used if any and in what version. I will not list them all, but would like you to have an idea of what the submission form all entails.
Soon I found out that writing was the easiest and most enjoyable part of the process (so far). With the check list crossed off and the forms all filled out I sent them off to my coordinator, Bob, through email.
Now came time for a content evaluation of the manuscript. This is where the publishing company makes sure there are no copyright issues, unwanted content like swearing, gore, no witchcraft, and the romance scenes were not taken to far. Different publishing companies will have different rules. These are a few of Westbow’s that I am thankful for and appreciate.
Although the manuscript was sent off I have had a few questions for my coordinator and he has been very prompt in returning my emails. He has also had questions these being mostly about the book cover. What pictures, fonts, placement, the color of pages to name a few. Also finding out how important it is to have a release of pictures beforehand! This can be in writing a scanned document or sent through email. Even if a friend takes a picture the publishing company wants them to write and sign a release of the photo being used. A useful tidbit to keep in mind for those of you who are first-time authors like myself.
The next step, the one I am currently in, is where Westbow is editing the first 1,700 words and at the conclusion will send me the results with an estimate of what it will cost for their editors to finish the entire manuscript or they will send it back with the corrections and my helpers and I can complete it on our own. Editing is not part of the package as it states in the contract, so this was expected. I have two wonderful people, one a family member and one a friend that has helped me through this entire editing process. Remember, this is my worst subject. I started to feel anxious when I needed to first edit my manuscript. I prayed knowing I was supposed to do this and God provided these two wonderful ladies just when I needed them.
Along with the 1,700 words, editing the book cover is also being designed. I sent a couple of my own pictures in a then was able to pick one from Thinkstock. With the package I chose you can have up the 10 pictures. This includes scrolling under chapters or paragraphs, the cover of the book, an authors picture, and any others you would like in the content of your book.
All this being said, I learned quickly in the beginning if I would have tried to plan this whole thing I never would have started. It seems so overwhelming when you look at the big picture, but when you just start and act, a plan will form. Not the whole plan, but enough to keep you going if you are on the right course. Look at how this all came together. You can see there is no way I just sat down and came up with the pastor’s sermon, a friend at the pool asking me just the right question, another friend asking me to read a book and two editing helpers who were just as excited as I am. Seems to good to be real, but we are talking about a big God and a deep desire for something he intended. We are talking about “With him all things are possible.”
Well, this is the first part of my story. When the book cover is finished I will send another update. My hope is when “To Know Her Calling” is published you will be starting and sharing your dream! The one God has lined out for you. I ask that you share your story with me through email or on the comments section so everyone can be encouraged. To the dreamers and the believers, to the young and old, to the adventures and the steadfast I tell my story.
I love reading your writings Heather! I hope to find out when this is published. I only get what Rocky shares on Facebook.
Lisa, I will announce when the book is finished on my site, Facebook page Heather Earles and or in my news letter you can sign up for on my website. I am so glad you are enjoying the posts and I will be sure to let you know personally when the book is finished!! Hope you are doing well!
Heather,you’re such an inspiration to me…Keep on motivating and enouraging others like myself.May God bless you and I will start to follow my calling too.Thank you.
Naledi, To inspire is to be inspired:). I do hope you follow your calling. There is no greater joy than the ability to help others while doing what you are passionate about. You are wonderful and I look forward to seeing what you have in-store for the world!!!