In June of 2001, I was the featured author at the New Jersey Romance Writers' meeting. My first book, Sea Of Hope, had been published and I was granted my first five minutes of fame. Below is the text of that speech.
It took me twelve years from the time I joined NJRW to get the "call" or in my case the email. I believe one of the reasons it took me so long was because I started out writing in what was the wrong subgenre for me, romantic suspense.
Now one would think that I would inherently know it was wrong for me, but I didn't. My favorite book has always been Jane Eyre, along with anything by Grace Livingston Hill. I also enjoy Gothics and other mildly spooky stories. However, at the time I started getting serious about my writing, romantic suspense had become extremely popular.
But when I entered contests, I never did very well with my entries. So I finally switched over to paranormal romances. I had fun writing, I did much better in contests, and I finally got an agent. But at that point, the market for paranormal was very tight. It was my agent who suggested I try something else.
I do believe in miracles which is why it is surprising that it took me so long to write an inspirational romance. I'm a Catholic and I love my religion. I even considered becoming a nun, though that didn't last long once I got to high school and discovered pretty dresses, makeup, and young men.
I did some serious praying before I decided on inspirational romance. After all, I am not a theologian, and an inspirational has to have a lot more in it than just a lack of sexual activity. Nevertheless, I put my trust in God, said lots of prayers, and dove into Sea Of Hope.
I had a great time writing it. I love the sea. I grew up in Cliffwood Beach and looked out at Raritan Bay every day of my young life. So the idea of writing a story about fishermen always intrigued me, especially for a faith-based novel, because out on the water a tiny boat is truly in God's hands. Quick and deadly disasters occur on the water all the time, making fishing one of the most dangerous occupations.
I set Sea Of Hope in the fictional town of Port Harbor. While I know some commercial fishermen, I had no intention of spending a few weeks on a fishing boat to do research. Instead, I did a lot of reading.
As usual for me, I entered a few contests, hoping to get some useful feedback.
Then my agent died and when another agent took over her clients, she claimed she could not find my manuscript. When I told her that wasn't a problem because I could send her another copy, she told me she didn't want my book anyhow.
That was a rather cruel blow, but I took it in stride. I believe God endows writers with a particular kind of pigheadedness because otherwise they would never become authors.
One day I received a big brown envelope in the mail and assumed I had lost one of the contests I had entered. I carelessly ripped open the envelope and a glass medallion fell out onto the floor. Miraculously, it did not break. I found out I was the first place winner in the inspirational category of the Laurie contest. Obviously, I had done well writing my first inspirational.
I now had a winning manuscript but no agent. While an agent doesn't guarantee a book will be published, it will be looked at in a more timely manner. I sent the manuscript out to another agent who did not want it. I sent the manuscript to two publishing houses and waited for eons before discovering they didn't want it either.
I had not stopped praying. I kept up with, what I am sure, were very annoying petitions and it became evident to me that somebody was actually listening.
When several NJRW members were epublished, I decided to try that route. It did seem unusual that one of the few epublishers at that time accepting submissions was Awe-Struck--and that the only submissions they wanted to see were inspirational romances.
There are those who would think of that as a coincidence. I saw it as a miracle, especially when the editor at Awe-Struck emailed me after a month and said she loved the book and wanted to publish it.
Sea Of Hope is the story of two people whose lives have not gone along according to their plans. Doria, the heroine, is a prodigal daughter who has come home expecting to collect an inheritance, but instead finds that her father left his fishing trawler, which is all he had, to someone else.
That someone else is Murray, a doctor. Doria, desperate for cash, joins the crew on her father's old trawler where Murray is now the captain. It is not until they are far out from land that she learns about the murder Murray allegedly committed.
Doria and Murray begin to understand about trust on that boat under trying conditions. But it is not until they both put their faith in God, that their lives begin to turn around for the better.
I believe I had some heavenly help with the book because everything fell into place so easily. Even when it came time to get the cover done, by a fortunate set of circumstances, my daughter, a marine scientist, just happened to get a job at the Rutgers research station in Tuckerton for the summer. So when I needed photos depicting typical fishermen's gear all I had to do was ask my daughter to take a few snapshots of her crew. Then I emailed the pictures to the artist and he used the photos for his reference.
I believe in miracles. I enjoyed writing about the miracle of two people's hearts turning not only to each other but to God as well. I pray that for those who read it, Sea Of Hope will deepen their own faith and help them to see the miracles in their own lives.
Buy Sea Of Hope at Amazon