My (very short) Road to Publication – and a Book Giveaway!

Right now, as we speak, the first (and so far, ONLY) story I’ve ever written is in bookstores. In an actual book. It’s a little hard to believe.

Since I’ve already received my ten author’s copies, I am giving one away here – and all you have to do, to enter the drawing, is leave a comment at the bottom of this post!

Here’s the story behind the story. (And here’s the cover of the book.)

Last June, as I was fiddling around with ideas to start up this blog, a friend asked me for the email information for a story contest – the winners would attend a prestigious Writer’s Workshop in New York.

This was on a Thursday. The submission deadline was that Sunday. I hadn’t thought about submitting anything myself because I had only started writing the previous Fall, and the only things I’d written so far were: three essays that I’d posted on Facebook, part of a fictional short story, a handful of poems (mostly about my boys), and a couple of posts to use on my future blog.

I knew I had a long way to go, so I was planning to “practice” writing for a year or so before trying to submit my work anywhere. And then only if I thought it was good enough.

But after I gave my friend the information, I thought (in an uncharacteristic burst of pluckiness) Well, why not write something yourself? And on Friday, I sketched out a story.

The next day, my husband took our boys fishing and I started writing. As a newbie writer, the biggest puzzler for me was: How on earth do you know what to put in and what to leave out? There are, after all, at least a quarter of a million words in the English language.

It’s no wonder so many writers are a little nutty. That’s too many options.

So I wrote and rambled, and rambled and wrote, and I didn’t even realize I’d worked clear through lunch until I started feeling a little woozy, at which point I ate some peanut butter on toast, and kept right on going.

Writing non-stop for hours was simply more fun than a human being should have. I would do it every day, if I could.

By that evening I had my 2000 words. I had not, obviously, had enough time to edit the story properly. I knew it was a little bloated, but I sent it off, with a rather long-winded cover letter, wherein I ran on for an entire page about – well, about how I had no writing experience.

I never heard back from the Writer’s Workshop. (I’ll take “Things That Surprise No One” for $500, Alex.)

But a publisher friend had told me I should try submitting to Chicken Soup for the Soul, and when I’d looked at their website, I saw that their next book was for “New Moms.”

And it so happened that the story I’d just written was about how, during 17 years of marriage and through several miscarriages, I’d fretted over whether I could ever even be a good mother, since I had no idea what a good mother looked like – my own mom had been mentally ill and abusive. I wrote about my internal struggles after my first son was born, and how I finally realized (after an agonizing year) that yes, I was a good mom.

Chicken Soup’s deadline was a few weeks out, so I had time to edit and polish the story – and whittle it down. Way down.

The word limit for the Workshop had been 2000. Chicken Soup’s was 1200. I had to cut my story almost in half. (My fellow writers will probably shiver in appreciation at that.) But it was excellent practice; and, of course, it made the story tighter and better.

Months later, Chicken Soup notified me that they were very kindly buying my story for their book. And on a rainy day in February, the postman delivered a box full of my “author’s copies” of Chicken Soup for the Soul: New Moms.

What a thrill to pull open the cardboard flaps and see those pretty, shiny books inside! Even if my name was nowhere on the cover. Even if my real name was actually nowhere in the book.

The publisher had asked me to use a pen name, because of sensitive content in the story. So my story appears under the name Lynn Juniper, and is titled “A Good Mother.”

And I’m giving away one of the copies! If you are a new mom, or if you know a new mom (which covers just about everyone, right?), you (or they) will enjoy this very cute book containing 101 stories from empathetic Mommies who were once in the newborn trenches.

All you have to do is leave a comment below, and I will put your name in a hat. Next Wednesday, my husband will draw out a name, and I will send your copy out by mail.

Here is a question to answer: Have you ever accomplished something you really didn’t think you’d be able to do?

And if you don’t like that question, you can simply write anything at all.

I like “Howdy’s” just fine.

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62 thoughts on “My (very short) Road to Publication – and a Book Giveaway!

  1. I’m not a new mom. I’m an old dad (well, 9 years, anyway). But I have a great friend who, after years of waiting, a husband who left her, a miscarriage, and turning 40, is expecting a baby. I’m extremely happy for her. She’s been a great “aunt” to my kids for their entire lives, and I would love to have a copy of this book for her as she enters this exciting chapter of her life.

  2. I’m definitely not a new mom either (I’m an even older dad), but is it wrong of me to want a copy — I do enjoy your writing! Actually, I do have a few new mom friends that I could pass the book to — AFTER I read your story!

  3. I love this! I am so proud of you! I guess I wouldn’t be considered a new Mom since I have a 2 year old, but I feel like I’ve started all over with the second! I would have to say one thing I’ve accomplished that I thought I wouldn’t is having two kids! I know it sounds silly, but since we didn’t even think we could have one, two is amazing. And I feel totally inadequate to be a Mom of two and am slowly learning every day. Love you friend!

  4. Yes! I never thought I’d be able to handle ten years of rejections on my novels. But I know God’s timing is perfect. I learned so much from the rejections and now, have an literary agent who is interested. Fingers crossed. 🙂
    Congrats on your story. There is nothing more exciting, except maybe a new baby, they’re actually quite close.

  5. my newly prego friend would love this! =) kudos to you, my writer friend.

    don’t forget me when you’re doing book tours.

  6. I’ll put my name in the hat for a copy to give my friend’s Tirzah & Trevor, who are expecting their first. In answer to “Have you ever accomplished something you really didn’t think you’d be able to do?” I’d have to say that pretty much anything I’ve accomplished falls into that category, lol.

  7. I know someone who recently found out they were pregnant. I would love to be able to give her this book along with one of my hand-made, crocheted afghans.

  8. As you know, I’m not a Mom to a newborn, toddler, or even (thank heavens) a teenager. I probably won’t ever be unless God decides to strike another rock and make it gush water and then rename me Sarah….not holding my breath on that.
    But I have had that wonderful experience of gaining a mother/daughter relationship (with my adult step-daughter) that came in a most peculiar way. And although it doesn’t include those moments of pure cuddly bliss, or laughter at something only a child could say, I really wouldn’t trade it for anything; including the poopy diapers, sleepless nights, pokes in the eye or curfew fights.
    I’m so proud of you and happy for you! You earned this!

  9. This is awesome! Yay! 🙂

    When does a Mama cease being a ‘New Mama’, I wonder? Cuz I feel new most everyday. Mostly tired, but new nonetheless. 🙂

    Have I ever accomplished something I didn’t ever think I’d be able to do? There are so many things, but the most present thing…I’m in the process of doing now – launching myself out there into the world of writing. God knows where it will go, but I’m just following His lead.

    Congrats! 🙂

    • Thanks so much! And yes…I still feel like a new Mom, some days! Especially cause they’re always reaching new stages…which are TOTALLY new to me. And which require new parenting skills. 🙂

      I love how joyfully you are pursuing your dreams! You go, girl!

  10. Well, I am not a mom but I would love to read your story!! 🙂
    So proud of you. Love reading all your posts!

  11. So happy for you! It is so delightful to see God work hard life together for good. Accomplishments? I dream big. Most of the time I am way off but I give myself the consolation that life isn’t over yet! Walking among the beautiful people in rural Africa was really amazing. More of a testament to God working in and through me than an accomplishment I suppose. Still brainstorming: maybe being able to love and be loved.

  12. Can I just tell you again how proud I am of you! In so many ways, Cathy, you just glow with the love of Jesus and mommy-love for your boys.
    Something I’ve accomplished? Well, living, raising a boy with special needs (although not even close to accomplished on that point), and getting anything published at all! Working on getting published again (with the help of my amazing writer’s groupies).
    Can’t wait to read your story!

  13. Okay!! I am so excited for you and wish I could’ve been there when that box of shiny books was delivered!! Promise me that if Dan draws my name, that you won’t re-draw for fear that one would think you are showing me favoritism – being family (still, sort of) and your biggest fan (absolutely)! Ha!!

    Love you and am so proud!!

  14. Cathy I am so excited for you–I can say–I knew you when–especially your growing up days and was there when you married! Love you girl–it is only the beginning of great things for you, my dear sweet Cathy!

  15. Wow. SO very inspiring and a great story WITHIN the story! I’d love to have copy of this, as part of the incredible Campaign For Life In America initiative. I’m a Board member and spokesperson for this amazing outreach to women. God bless you!

  16. Too late…Lisa already has this on her kindle. And I actually read it. You know thats pretty remarkable for me.

  17. Cathy-
    Just wanted to let you know that I am so proud of you!
    You went through so much growing up, so I understand why you would doubt your ability to be a good mom. But…. don’t you doubt it for a minute. Be reassured every time your little boys give you their precious hugs and kisses.
    Laura

  18. AS you know, I know a lot of new moms, and would love to have a copy of the book to share inspirational thought with them. But enough about me. Way to go girl!!! I’m really proud of you. I love your writing and your sharing about writing. I’m especially fond of the Church Lady posts. Yours rock.

  19. Wow Cathy! That is great…God is opening up so many doors for you to minister to others through writing (and blogging!). Congrats!

  20. I’m so proud for you and ofyou. I can understand your feelings. Growing up in a home were children were not valued Ican relate to your fears. I never thought I would marry or have a child. When God blessed me with a husband and a beautiful son I was afraud that I could not do a good job. Thankfully God isfaithful and daily teaches me how to be a good mom and wife.
    I don’t want to be included in the drawing but I wanted to tell you how wonderful I think your writing is. I look forward to seeing were God will grow you next.

    • Thank you SO much, Lori! I so enjoy keeping up with you on FB, and seeing how well you take care of your little family! God is good to give us more than we could ask or think.

      Thank you for your faithful encouragement and support. It really means so much. XOXO

  21. I grew up in a home, where I was not wanted. I spent my teenage years living in a Childrens home. For many that I lived with, that sort of life led you to drugs, alcoholism, prison, etc.. For me, it defined who I am today. It made me stronger, as a person and gave me insight into what NOT to do when I had a child. And it helped me fight Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, with strength, humor and a positive attitude, which I am now writing a blog-to-be book about. These are accomplishments that I never said I could NOT do, but spent most of my life doubting I COULD do. I now know, I can do anything.

    • That is so fantastic Jennifer…you inspire me so!

      What a great testimony. And yes, I do believe you can do anything. 🙂

      Thanks for coming by and sharing a little of your story. If you are on Twitter and we are not already friends…please look me up!

  22. I absolutely LOVE the Chicken Soup Books!! I have been reading them for years. I would love to win a copy—–and I am anxious to read your story as well! Thanks for the chance.

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  23. Yes, with Gods grace and healing, He has accomplished much in me so i can reach out and touch others. I am by no means a new mother. my oldest is 24 and expecting her first. my youngest is 7 and a medical miracle. Many years ago (1989) my second was born, shortly after i got real sick, i mean real sick. after numerous dr. visits and miss diagnosis i ended up in the hospital with what they thought was an ovarian cyst. during surgery they quickly realized i had a burst appendix and had been burst for 2 weeks. life was on the limb, i was gain green from the lungs down and horribly scarred ovaries and a hole in my intestine. i left the hospital with a colostomy and the words i would never have children. God healed me. My biggest healing was that i was able to move on and raise my oldest two beautiful children and many years later (2002,2004) have two more children. My motherhood is not taken for granted. i would love to bless my oldest with book that this book to read while she is raising her chid(ren). Only with Gods grace and healing can any of us do this job .

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