Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The River Hideaway

On a day when my best friend, Jack and I were at home watching the movie 'A Time to Kill' an idea came to me. I asked, "Jack, what if this rich white guy and black guy meet and become friends back in the 60's when racial tension was so high?"

He looked at me strangely and said, "Where do you get this stuff?"

I took that as he thought I was crazy and at that time there was probably substantial evidence to support that theory. But later when I voiced this he immediately said, "No, I think it is great. I really  meant where do you get this stuff?"

That was 1998 and before I had a computer I began to write a fictional story starting from two young men meeting on a basketball court. My son, Micah reminded me yesterday of all the times we went back to the Park when the office was closed so I could write. I also remember a stretch where the ideas were flowing and sometimes I would wake at four and go to work early and write until my shift began at seven.

The second publisher that I submitted this story too gave me great hope. I received a very personal letter from Anne, the lady that read it. She loved it, however she was unable to convince the board to choose it as the one piece of fiction they published yearly. Still, with her glowing recommendation and five contacts she furnished I thought it was only a matter of time. Despite her recommendation three responded, no new fiction and no new authors. One publisher had decided to publish only children books. The other called and told me how interested he was and that he knew all about it from Anne, who personally had sought him out at a conference. But his company kept me on the hook for two years and despite how much they liked it in the end they decided to pass.

It seemed to play out that way often. I equated it to trying out for the varsity basketball team and making cut after cut but not making that final cut. That is not to say I did not have outright rejections I certainly did. The past few years I rarely tried as the process and life in general was wearing me out.

Some of you reading this may have ventured down the road of trying to get published. The realization sinking in quickly that it is very difficult to even get a publisher to agree to read your entire manuscript. Each company that I dealt with for the most part wanted only the one page query where you try to describe a manuscript that might be five hundred pages long. All in one nice tight page.

Right away you find out you have to rule out publishers of size because you have to have an agent. That is probably more difficult than getting published.

One small publisher in New York wrote something I never forgot. They received 7,000 manuscripts yearly from which they published seven books. Throw in being an unpublished writer and maybe less than half of the seven derived from that category. You do the math.

I can't recall in the past five years if I even tried more than two or three times. I was in a bad place for a long time where I thought I was good enough but that this God that was suppose to love me so much would never allow the desires of my heart to happen.

Many times I have shared the two great desires of my heart that were just for me. One was the right woman and Julie entered my life for good almost one year ago to the day. Today I am minutes away from signing a contract for 'The River Hideaway' and mailing it to a publisher in California.

I wasted so much of my life doing it my way because I thought my plan was better than God's. If you learn anything from my blogs I hope you learn to not be the fool I was. I turned the wheel over and God has so richly blessed me. I have a wife that loves me in ways I can't even comprehend.

Pastor Steve shared something this past Sunday that nailed my life before I turned the wheel over to God. He referenced a book and the following quote.

"The Christian life is so difficult because we seek God's blessings while we live in our own will! We would be glad to live the Christian life according to our own liking."

Absolute Surrender  by Andrew Murrey.

That was me. I was always asking the blessings of Jesus while I lived my way. Walking the path that I desired. Steve said it just doesn't work that way. I concur.

So now I have a writing break. I don't know what will come from it. The biggest dream is that it does well enough that I can get the other manuscripts already written published. But if this is it and this one little book sells 1,000 copies and that is all that ever comes from it I will say, "Thank You, God for your favor."

The publishing agreement came several weeks ago but the contract arrival took until this week. It gave me every opportunity to doubt and I did. I was extremely frustrated yesterday afternoon but even in my frustration as I was inclined to venture down that old path of anger toward God, I refrained. He has been far too generous to me.

I kept the news of this publishing agreement confined because I did not trust that it would not blow up again. I had been disappointed so many times. But it is okay because I have learned to trust God's timing better than mine.

Obviously, I shared the news with Julie who called me as I was reading the initial publishing offer and I was unable to speak. I called my son and he had to read the email to really hear clearly because I could not stop crying. That is my God. He reduces me to tears.

I don't want to leave anyone out and people close to me were all thrilled and your support means so much to me. Still, how can I not mention my adopted sister Katie's reaction? I placed the letter on a shelf under her water bottle one morning as she lifted weights with Julie and I. I told her she needed to drink some water. She did not understand but she picked the bottle up and read the letter. She got as far as the first paragraph before sprinting across the garage and leaping into my arms with tears already flowing. How blessed am I to have the people I have in my life. I am beyond humbled.

My sister Kay shared something when I called her and shared the news. First she was very happy and very proud of her little brother. Next she said, "Who knows Billy? Maybe Mom nudged Jesus and said, Lord, you know how long he has wanted this. Do this for my boy."

I like that. Thanks Mom. I love you and I think Kay was right.


  1. Billy my Dad Terry called to tell me your news. Congrats!!! I know the publishing world is incredibly hard to break into, so your book must be amazing to make it through the thousands of manuscripts received by publishers! Your blog looks wonderful, by the way. All our best to you from California! ~ Christy (Hardison) Ward

  2. Thank you so much Christy. i know you have some knowledge in this field I have dreamed about for so long. I am a simple man & my dream has always been to walk down the beach one day & see someone enjoying being moved by something I wrote just as countless writers, actors, musicians have done for me.

  3. Billie, you and Julie are such a rich treasure to many people! "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man The things God has prepared for those who love Him." But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit! I Cor. 2:9-10 Multiplied Blessings! Pastor Steve

  4. Billy...what an amazing year you are having! God is good. I look forward to a very special "grown-up" read in the not to distant future. With your witness, you are changing lives without even knowing about it. Keep writing :-) Jayne

    1. Thank you Jayne. You told me on New Year's Eve that this would be my year. :)

  5. Billy, twenty years ago I found myself unemployed. I had worked since I was 18 and here I was at 54 out of work and a wife to support. These past 20 years have not been easy but I was able to take stock of my life; see what was really important; learn to know when to put one's pride aside & accept help from friends you didn't even know you had. God's plan for your life and mine is on a different time span than we are able to comprehend. He does work in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. I learned to let go and let God. It was a hard lesson I only learned late in life. God has a plan for each of us if we will surrender to His will and not ours.