Linda Windsor Claims She Failed Her Way into Being Published.  

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Often when I’m asked about how I got published or how I managed to get twenty-nine books to date in print, I laughingly tell the inquirer that I failed my way to where I am today. That someday, if I ever do a keynote speech, I Failed My Way to Success will be the title. I guess I’ve just been too stubborn—or too stupid—to give up.

I wrote my first romance on a cast iron Royola typewriter with my three and five year old toddling around me back in the seventies. I did everything wrong. I sent it off on erasable paper—smudge city—with hand corrected typos and received an interesting offer from a well-known literary agency. For $350, they would read the manuscript and consider handling it. So for $350 very hard-earned dollars, I received a six page letter. Three pages were glowing with my ability to tell a story. The other three were scathing commentaries on my writing and the romance genre in general for not being literary.

My first advice? Beware of any agent who charges to read your material unless they are hired specifically to edit it. I was told that even if someone were to publish the book, not to come back to said agency because some publishers would print anything. Ouch!

So I sent it to another well-known agency. All ten pounds of it. I’d never heard of queries. In fact, I got this one’s name from the back of a book I’d read and liked. I hadn’t even heard of the Writer’s Market!

This man’s offer and commentary were far more civil and encouraging...and free. First, I was told that if I condensed the first three chapters into one, they would consider marketing it. I was also told that my writing reminded the agent of “wearing a Dior original to a dinner party…with gravy stains on it.” Yikes! I had a Dior original. Gravy stains could come out! Unfortunately, my marriage ended that year and I began life as a single working mom. The two books I’d written went into the attic and would remain in storage for around 15 years.

I’d tossed them in the garbage when my new husband and I were moved into our home, but he found them and asked to read one. It was that dear man who told me, “Hey, this is pretty good and I don’t even read this stuff.” He encouraged me to try again. So I did. And totally rewrote both books, researching deeper and improving them immensely. Thank goodness they hadn’t been published as they were.

So, my very first book came out in 1990 with Zebra Books titled Pirate’s Wild Embrace. (I did not pick the title.) It was released exactly 13 months after the same publisher had rejected it, not a word changed. But the second time it was submitted after my purchasing a Writer’s Market and shot-gunning queries to ten agents and ten publishers, it was by an agent who’d responded to my literary barrage. Zebra had a slot and my completed manuscript filled it. I went on to do another fourteen historicals for Zebra/Kensington and a contemporary for Kismet Romances. I guess one could say they slammed the door on my foot, but I didn’t take my foot from the door.

It was only after I’d sold five books that I discovered there were organizations like Romance Writers of America that would have been so helpful earlier on in knowing the business side of writing. So I learned most of what I’d done wrong after the fact and discovered there was a method to my writing madness by joining writers’ organizations. I also greatly improved my craft through this association.

I could go on and on about the rejections that turned into published books…when the time was right. Every manuscript I’ve ever written has been published, but not when I first wrote it. What can I say? The ideas were good, but it wasn’t their time or my writing level wasn’t right yet. I say this to encourage those of you who hide old manuscripts under the bed not to give up on them.

I failed my way into the inspirational market as well. I didn’t want to write inspirational romance because I’d read a few mediocre ones and judged the genre by the few. But I was four years without a contract from Zebra during the major publisher consolidations of the nineties. And here is an interesting tidbit. Even though authors were getting contracts cancelled and books returned, God saw that I had a book come out every one of those dry years. I’d written so many ahead and Zebra published them all. He even made certain I received wonderful rejection letters about how this project wasn’t what they wanted, but please send something else. In hindsight, He was failing me into the inspirational market. I’d exhausted my secular avenues and that was the only door open.

I went through it kicking and screaming like Jonah going to Ninevah. I’d been happy where I was, successful even…if I didn’t count four years on hold with no contract. Besides, those Christian characters didn’t have hormones! And I wasn’t holy enough to write Christian fiction. I was still a relatively new Christian—actually a returned one from a college/twenty-something period where I’d been educated beyond my spiritual intelligence. Finally I agreed to try. Told God I’d take Hi Honey I’m Home, written for Harlequin American, clean it up and do the best I could, but the spiritual part was up to Him. And please, God, don’t make it preachy.

I have to tell you, as the spiritual parts “came” to me, I found myself crying, deeply moved by what God was doing through me, a total screw-up. When I sent it off with a prayer at the post office, I felt for the first time that maybe God and I were on the same page after all. Maybe He could use me, ex-sexy historical author and baby Christian. And He could use my characters, even if they had hormones.

The book was rejected by Steeple Hill. Hindsight gave me the reason. God knew I still had a foot in the secular door, if I stayed with Harlequin. He knew my weakness. Instead, Hi Honey I’m Home was picked up by Multnomah Publishers as the launch book for their new mass market line. It made the bestseller list for a couple of weeks. But it was the fan letters that bowled me over the most. Yes, this character was still hot, but in addition, that character’s struggle touched someone’s life. A pastor’s wife vowed to renew her efforts to make her marriage work on seeing how hard the hero worked for his family, even though it took him away from them. Another person told me the theme in Not Exactly Eden of rejection and being surrounded, but not despairing had lifted her, a missionary’s daughter whose husband had abandoned her after she was handicapped out of depression. She would not despair.

The books went on and on. My historical Irish series, Fires of Gleannmara, won numerous awards including a Christy, but it didn’t sell well. And I was without a publisher. Yet, the research for that series and for the one beginning with this month’s release HEALER, Book one of the Brides of Alba series, helped me effectively witness to my daughter. She’d been stalked and assaulted in college, abandoned God in anger, and turned to Wicca-white witchcraft. That process, like my career, was not an overnight success, but five or so years later, she came back to Christ on Mother’s Day, one I will never forget.

And I developed a passion for reaching out to New Age believers using the history of the early church and of druidism’s acceptance of it in Ireland to make an effective case for Christ. I call it fishing from the other side of the boat. When they won’t hear Scripture, use history and science to back up Scripture. It got my little girl back in the boat and I have sold my Gleannmara books to admitted Wiccans and New Agers at medieval fairs as a result. What a joy it has been to establish what we have in common and build on it toward Christ.

Today I found out RIONA, the second book of that series will not be re-released. Again, poor sales of that line led to the decision. How does one explain pages of awards, but poor sales? That has been my story with several publishers. Great reviews. Wonderful awards, but sorry, they just didn’t sell as well as we’d hoped.

Yet, I am here to tell you that each time one door closed, God opened another that somehow was even better than the previous one. He keeps moving me from one failure to the next. Actually, the last time it happened, I told my agent I couldn’t wait to see what God had in store.

So now I have HEALER, a book of my heart. The proposal was another one of those secular historicals that morphed over ten years in the back of my mind into a moving inspirational saga set in Arthurian Scotland. HEALER is book one of the Brides of Alba trilogy, Alba being an early name for Scotland. And this is Arthurian Scotland—and King Arthur, for that matter—as never seen before.

The series focuses on three brothers, their respective brides, and how love and faith grow to enable them to survive those trying times of the Saxon invasion and the church's desperate measures to ensure the survival of Christianity. These measures include matchmaking men and women from the Davidic bloodline passed on by royal Irish and the apostolic bloodlines established in Britain by the first century family and followers of Christ. The historic Arthur in HEALER, one of at least two arthurs (a title) and definitely the last one, is a product of such matchmaking. So is the merlin (another title) Merlin Emrys, who in this case is a documented Celtic Christian bishop and druidic scientist. In fact most of the Arthurian figures were bred and raised by the Grail Church to become warriors, kings and queens of Britain to ensure the Grail Church's survival. Brenna and Ronan's conflict is a result of that matchmaking gone wrong.

Forced to live most of her twenty years in hiding from both her own clan and the clan who murdered her family, Brenna of Gowys wonders how she can possibly fulfill her mother’s prophecy that the Gowys seed will divide the enemy O’Byrne’s house and bring about a peace beyond his wicked ken. Brenna’s clan remnant would have her lead them to certain death against the stronger O’Byrnes. But Brenna is a healer, not a warrior. Nor is she the shape-changing wolf-woman of the hills as she’s rumored to be by the superstitious clans; although she does have a gift with wild animals, including her pet wolf Faol.

So when Brenna witnesses the ambush and attempted murder of a warrior during the annual O’Byrne hunt to find the wolf-woman, she does what she’s called to do. She brings him into her mountain hideaway to heal him, even if he could be her enemy. All she knows is that he is not just wounded in body, but in spirit; that he’d been there as a frightened child when her family had been slain; and that she has seen a future with him. But is her faith strong enough to follow the vision, no matter where it leads?

Please stop by my website at and check out HEALER and sign up for my contest to give away a signed copy. It’s my first book trailer and I am over the moon with it and the cover. It so captures the essence of HEALER, my twenty-ninth book. Wow. I can’t believe it’s been twenty years since my mother gasped, “Linda, they put your real name on the cover!” of Pirate’s Wild Embrace. She just knew I’d get kicked off the church choir. Fortunately, my fellow Christians were full of grace toward this baby one.

I hope that the writers among you will be encouraged by the “failures” I’ve mentioned. I’ve often said that rejections are like footprints on the sand. If you don’t see them, you haven’t been moving at all toward your dream.

Basking in His love,
Linda Windsor

Laura Frantz Tells How Writer's Edge Helped Her Get a Contract  

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Thanks so much for hosting me today, Lynnette! It’s a joy and privilege to talk about my writing journey though to be honest, I’m still pinching myself. It all began in my childhood when I used to hang around the library and read all those little bios of historical figures. Being a Kentuckian, I was very enamored with Daniel Boone as my ancestors followed him into the area in the late 18th-century. Kentucky history forms the basis for my first 3 historical romance novels – The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, and The Colonel’s Lady.

I’ve been writing stories since age 7, all historical, as that’s my passion. I wrote a novella at age 12 and then the sequel to Gone With the Wind in high school, then Dances With Wolves II and an English mystery, among other things. All of them were just terrible - with a capital T! It only took 40 years for me to take my scribbling to a publishing contractJ. It’s truly a miracle that I am published. I had no computer skills and no computer until the last few years (always wrote manuscripts out longhand), no writing friends, no agent, no writing conferences or connections, no critique partner, was unaware of the writing community blogging, etc. To complicate matters, I was teaching fulltime and married and had my children late, beginning at age 35. After the birth of my second son, I felt the Lord telling me to put my writing aside so I did for 5 years. None of this was conducive to publication, let me tell you. I felt farther from my dream than ever before.

In 2007, after feeling free to write again, I finished The Frontiersman’s Daughter which I had worked on over a ten year period. My grandmother, parents, and brother gifted me with a manuscript evaluation/critique with a wonderful freelance editor, Arlene Robinson. She suggested I tweak a few things and then put her stamp of approval on the manuscript. At the same time, I submitted several chapters to Writer’s Edge, a Christian manuscript submission service, which brings unagented writers and publishers together. Almost immediately I was contacted by several CBA publishers, large and small. Within six months, my dream editor and publisher, Revell/Baker Publishing Group, asked for a full of The Frontiersman’s Daughter. Later I realize how rare this kind of an opportunity is. I’ve heard that only Kristen Heitzmann and I have been picked up through Writer’s Edge.

I’d already begun working on Courting Morrow Little when Revell offered me a 3 book contract. I’d hoped to simply sell one novel so was astonished when they asked for two more. I’d recently finished the sequel to The Frontiersman’s Daughter, which was set in Scotland, but my publisher wanted me to stay on the frontier. I was thrilled to oblige and am now finishing The Colonel’s Lady which is due August 1st.

I think, deep down, that the Lord gifted me to write from an early age. There’s no doubt that He opened the door when the time to publish came about (His timing, not mine). Circumstances were definitely not in my favor. The only things that kept me in the game was a love for writing and the knowledge/belief that if I was ever to be published, He would have to handle all the details. And He did. I’m truly living proof that you don’t need any superfluous writing stuff to get in the door. If publishing is His plan for you, all you really need is Him – and the book of your heart.

I do think being a part of the writing community is very valuable. Last year I joined ACFW and attended their annual conference in Denver. Wow! However, if the Lord had allowed me to become involved in the writing community and see the level of competition and the difficulty of becoming a part of the CBA prior to publication, I think I would have quit. In His mercy and grace He withheld the very things I longed for for my benefit in the long run. I would have always written for myself, of course, for the joy of writing, but I would not have attempted to become a published author. He knew this, of course, and planned accordinglyJ. He is a very wise and personal God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. ~Proverbs 3:5-6

I’d love to have readers visit me at!

Journey to the Seasons of the Tallgrass by Deborah Vogts  

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In April 2008, I received “the phone call” from my agent, Rachelle Gardner, that Zondervan had made an offer on the Seasons of the Tallgrass, a contemporary romance series set in the Flint Hills of Kansas—a place I dearly love. My long-held dream had finally arrived—my prayers had been answered. But the story didn’t begin there…it began many years ago when I attended Emporia State University and took a summer course called Flint Hills Folklore.

Along with classroom study, we took field trips into the heart of the Flint Hills and visited with old-time ranchers, schoolmarms and post-mistresses. It was such a delightful experience, especially our drives into the pastures. We would get on these back roads and drive over pasture guards into the open range. We would travel for miles without seeing another car or even an electric line—just pure, native prairie. That summer, I fell in love with the Flint Hills and it has stayed with me all this time, finally culminating in the contemporary romance series, the Seasons of the Tallgrass.

My first book, Snow Melts in Spring, begins when a horse is terribly injured. Right off, I had to know technical terminology and had to create a scene that was accurate and believable. To get it right, I contacted a handful of veterinarians, asked them a bunch of detailed questions all the way down to possible accident scenarios, which would create the type of injuries required for the story. I even shadowed one small animal vet for a day in order to get a feel for what a "day in the life" might look like for my character who was also a vet.

My hero in this book is an NFL quarterback, so I also had to know something about football. For this research, I went to the children's section of the library and checked out an armload of books. I also watched a lot of football games on television and asked my football-loving friends and family hundreds of questions--all so I could write two or three scenes with authenticity.

On one of my many road trips into the Flint Hills, my husband and I stayed at the Clover Cliff Ranch, a Bed & Breakfast owned by Jim & Joan Donahue. This place became the basis for the McCray's Lightning M Ranch.

For Seeds of Summer, which released the end of May, I learned about the Miss Rodeo America competition because my main character, Natalie Adams is a former Miss Rodeo Kansas and first runner up Miss Rodeo America. My research for this story included visiting with those at the Miss Rodeo America headquarters, as well as interviewing and questioning the current MRA at that time, Miss Amy Wilson, Miss Rodeo America 2008.

The highlight of this research occurred when I met and visited Amy at her home in Colby, KS. Amy was a joy to work with and is such a lovely person. My visit to her home was an unexpected blessing, as she shared some special moments from her time as Miss Rodeo Kansas and then as Miss Rodeo America.

I learned that Miss Rodeo America has a host of sponsors who shower their queen with lovely gifts, some of which include: a wardrobe of Wrangler Jeans, Justin Boots, Bailey Hats, fully tooled Court’s Saddle with custom Miss Rodeo America conchos and an official Miss Rodeo America trophy buckle from Montana Silversmiths. Accompanying the perpetual Miss Rodeo America tiara made by Landstrom’s Original Black Hills Gold Creations, Amy was given a wardrobe of matching jewelry. These items, along with other prizes were presented to her throughout her reign. To see some pictures of these items, please visit my blog post HERE:

Seeds of Summer Book Blurb: When opposites attract, sparks fly--like an electrical malfunction. That's what happens when former rodeo queen Natalie Adams meets the new pastor in Diamond Falls. A heart-warming contemporary romance set in the Flint Hills of Kansas where a former rodeo queen abandons her dreams in order to care for her deceased father’s ranch and her two half-siblings, only to realize with the help of a young new pastor that God can turn even the most dire circumstances into seeds of hope. Spanning the Seasons of the Tallgrass, each story in this series reveals the struggle of the people who live there and the dreams they have for the land until they come full-circle in a never-ending cycle, just as man comes full-circle in his understanding of God.

Author Bio: Deborah Vogts and her husband have three daughters and make their home in Southeast Kansas where they raise and train American Quarter Horses. As a student at Emporia State University studying English and journalism, Deborah developed a love for the Flint Hills that has never faded. In writing this series, she hopes to share her passion for one of the last tallgrass prairie regions in the world, showing that God’s great beauty rests on the prairie and in the hearts of those who live there.
Visit Deborah at her web site:
Or her Country at Heart blog: