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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

How I Got Published (and Autographed Book Giveaway!)


I’m often asked to tell the story of how I got to be a published novelist. Like lots of writer-types I’m fuzzy with dates and some of the details. I’ll try my best to recount it as accurately as I can though.

I was sixteen when  I won my first Pulitzer. Seventeen when I hit the NYT best-seller list for the third time… oh wait, that’s not me.

The truth isn’t quite so dramatic. In 1997, I was a nurse and a mom but I desperately wanted to stay home and raise my children so I was trying to figure out what I could do to work from home. I had always known I could write. While other kids were freaking out in highschool because of the dreaded essay at the bottom of the test, I was thinking “What’s wrong with these people? That’s the easiest part!”

So, I started writing really stupid greeting cards and rhyming fruit books with obnoxiously blatant morals and a few nonfiction articles—one of which actually got published. Fast forward a few years to 2003--I decided since I had very little success in getting anything small published that it just made good sense to try to get a novel published.

Six weeks later, I had a book that killed off the antagonist about 2/3rd of the way through the book. I took what was sure to be a best-seller to my first writers conference. The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers conference. There I met some folks that are still very much apart of my writing journey. I’ll never forget pitching an agent my book in one of those one on one meetings. He squinted at me and said something like, “No offense, but I’m with (big name agency).  We represent the biggest names in the CBA and you’re just starting out….”

If you would have told me then that that first novel would never be published, I’d have given up in despair. However, by the time my first four novels had been rejected and I was pitching number five, I had lost my desperateness to get published. It was replaced with a new mantra “let it all tumble” and a desire to write the best novel I was capable of, even if no one ever read it but me and my two critique partners.

When an agent and I decided to work together, I was pitching novel three I think, and pretty much everyone had turned it down. 

My first novels were suspense and since I’d grown up reading Stephen King, I naturally figured that’s what I should be writing. So I was working on another suspense when I began to change what I read. I went back and caught up on some classics and discovered really excellent books like Peace Like a River and Memoirs of a Geisha, etc, and I decided to try something a little different. I presented my agent with two different novel proposals a couple years back, one a medical mystery, and the other was Crossing Oceans. My agent didn’t hesitate when he told me Crossing Oceans was more my true voice.

When I went to ACFW in 2007, it was the first time I had a publisher set up a meeting with me instead of me trying to chase them down. It was quite different for me.

Karen Watson with Tyndale House made it clear she was interested in my novel and before I knew it I was getting a phone call from my agent while I was at work (I’m a registered nurse by day), telling me “It’s okay to scream, Gina. They want to publish Crossing Oceans.”


I had to sit down. After years and years and years of rejection, just like that, everything changed.

How long did it take you? Would you have continued to write if you would have known just how long and how many rejections it would ultimately take?

Leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of Driftwood Tides



Holmes weaves a superb story of discovering how to forgive." Romantic Times

"[Driftwood Tides] moves like a serene sea: gentle,persuasive, and transformative. Much in the same way time and the elements turn driftwood into something beautiful, Libby and Holton learn that they, too, can change for the better. Readers will delight in this story of redemption and growth." Booklist

24 comments:

Ane Mulligan said...

And I will never forget the day when you called me and told me. I've got tears in my eyes now, as I look back on our journey. How I thank God for bringing us together to do those years together. Now I'm chuckling, remembering our other mantra: This is the year! It kept us going as we learned and grew in the craft. :-)

Samantha said...

I'm not a writer (at least not yet), but a reader who loved Wings of Glass and Chapel Springs Revival by Ane Mulligan!

Sincerely, I don't know if I would have kept at it even after all this rejection. It must not be easy and I have a hard time handling failure... Maybe I would have just released my book as an indie author (although I know it wasn't that popular in 2003).

But one thing is for sure: I'm glad you kept at it, because you are a very talented writer. I'm sure this whole experience taught you a lot and helped you grow as an author and a person. God most certainly wanted you to bring Him glory through your books and He worked on you through it all :)

Ann Ellison said...

Enjoyed reading about your journey as a writer. I loved Driftwood Tides. I read it in e-book and would love an autographed copy for my library.

Tammi said...

I have Driftwood Tides in Kindle version, but I still need to read it! What is wrong with me?? Lol ... so much to read, so little time. If I win the copy, I know just who I would gift it to. So, this is not a pity comment :)

Dawn Applegate said...

I love your books.

Anonymous said...

Would love autographed book. Loved reading your biography!!!! Can't wait to read your book!!!! Andrea Wright

Anonymous said...

So proud of my childhood friend. Keep up the good work. Love ya Debbie Henry campbell

River said...

I always remember that book, Crossing Oceans - I was hesitant to read it because I thought it was a girly book. But once I started on it I couldn't put it down, and when I had finished reading it I couldn't stop telling others about it! What a terrific book, and what a wonderful tearjerker!

Michael Ehret said...

I may never read a book that moves me as much as Crossing Oceans moved me. The strangest things make me think about it and some things that aren't so strange. For instance, saw a video on Facebook the other day that had a little girl, couple years old, listening to a recording of her mother's voice singing a song. Mom had died a year or so earlier. Swept me right back to that book. The naked, raw emotions on that little girls face...

Gina Holmes said...

Thank you everyone. Ane, it's hard to believe how long we've been at this sometimes. Mike, you've been such a great supporter of that book. Dawn, I'm proud of you too. You've done good! Thank you everyone for your very kind and generous comments.

Cindi A said...

The first book that I read by you was Wings of Glass. It was amazing. I have since read all of your books and look forward to whatever you have in store for us next.
I'm so happy that your health has improved and pray that it continues in a positive direction.

You are truly one of my all-time favorite authors. Your books have blessed me more than you will ever know.

~Cindi Altman

Retha Cameron said...

I am glad you kept writing and didn't give up! Can't wait to read Driftwood Tides

Gina Holmes said...

Thanks Retha!

Gina Holmes said...

Proud of you too, Debbie.

petite said...

Your books are captivating and wonderful. Driftwood Tides sounds memorable. Thanks.

traveler said...

Thanks for this fascinating post and wonderful feature. I would enjoy Driftwood Tides very much since it is profound and unforgettable. Wishing you happiness and continued success.

Gina Holmes said...

Cindi, that was so sweet. Thank you for that. River, I miss you!!

flipflopprincess said...

loved reading about your journey! I'm so glad you didn't give up. Can't wait to read Driftwood Tides!

Keep up the great work!
~Lea

Paula Rose said...

You have an amazing story, and I'm thrilled that you didn't stop writing! Yes, I would and will continue on even when....

trosado said...

I'm not sure I would have had the determination and stamina you had, Gina, but I am inspired by those who do. Obviously, you had a story to tell and the Lord wanted it out there. It's crazy, but i have had Driftwood Tides and Crossing Oceans on my Amazon wishlist for some time not knowing much about the author or its origins. I was especially drawn to Driftwood Tides, but the comments on Crossing Oceans are motivating. I'm happy they were brought to my attention, again and that I got to know the author behind the novels. I wish you the best and continued success.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a good read.kamundsen44ATyahooDOTcom. Kim

Amanda Geaney said...

When your agent told you that Crossings Oceans was more your true voice did you feel the same?
Are you ever tempted to step back into suspense?

I'm happy that your continued to pursue your dreams. Thank you for sharing your story.

Amanda Geaney
geaneymail at gmail dot com

Morgan said...

I'm sure that getting rejections is so hard! That would be very discouraging to me. But I'm glad that you persevered and got published! Thanks for the interview and giveaway! Mdp94 (at) bellsouth (dot) net

Lori Kennedy-Stewart said...

Loved reading this and gives me hope on writing my first book!