The Very Beginning:
One day as I was reading a biography about John Bunyan, I ran across a reference to his second wife, Elizabeth. I loved the brave way she defended John during one of his trials when he was under arrest for his “unlicensed” preaching.
Elizabeth’s strength to face a court of persecutors and her determination to faithfully support her husband touched me so deeply, I decided her little-known story needed to be told to the world.
The Research & Planning Phase:
I spent about 6 weeks reading biographies and any other time-period books I could find. I sifted through plot ideas, wanting to stick as closely to the facts as possible but also knowing I would need to dramatize the story to bring it to life.
A large part of my planning involves the process of getting to know my characters. I use an extensive character worksheet (available on my blog for free). I tried to use what history knows about the real characters, but then fill in the rest and make them larger than life.
I started writing The Preacher’s Bride in September 2007 and finished in May2008—so altogether it took me nine months, writing mostly in the evenings after the kids were in bed and occasionally in the afternoons or on weekends. (Since then, I’ve been able to work out a writing schedule that allows me more regular time.)
I spent a summer self-editing the book, and eventually I hired a freelance editor to read through it. Her suggestions helped me polish my first chapter so that I was able to final in the ACFW Genesis contest in May of 2009.
The Querying Stage:
During the months before I finaled in the contest, I had started querying The Preacher’s Bride to agents. I received rejections from all of them except one—Rachelle Gardner. She requested a full manuscript within days of the query, but then my book sat in her slush pile for months.
My contest final perked her attention and not long after that she offered me representation.
The Proposal Shopping Phase:
Rachelle immediately went to work shopping my book. She pitched the idea to a Bethany House acquisitions editor at a conference she was attending. When she got home, she called me, told me Bethany House was interested, and we got busy writing a proposal to send to them.
We talked back and forth with Bethany House for two to three months before we finally settled upon a 3 book contract. They bought The Preacher’s Bride and also asked me to write two additional books, which I’m currently working on.
The Preacher’s Bride is currently available for order on Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, and other internet sites. It’s also for sale in most bookstores.
You can connect with me in LOTS of ways. Please stop by and say hi!
Question For Readers:
Did anything about the start-to-finish writing journey of my book surprise you? If you’d like to sign up to win a free copy of The Preacher’s Bride, please tell us your favorite candy bar (because don’t you know, a writer’s favorite food is always chocolate?!) And don’t forget to leave your email address. The drawing will be held on Monday the 4th of October, 2010.
Bio: Jody Hedlund is a debut historical romance novelist who was a double finalist in the 2009 ACFW Genesis Contest. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and five busy children.