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When the Answer Is No—For Now


by Mary Alford


Writing can be such a rewarding endeavor. When you see your creation—the story that you’ve poured so much of yourself into—becoming a printed book, it is an amazing feeling.


But getting to this achievement can be a long road paved with tears and heartache.


When I first decided to take my dream of writing seriously, it was in 2002. I read everything I could about the craft and the genres that I loved to read. I thought I was ready. So, I submitted my first proposal and already imagined getting a yes from the editor. Only it wasn’t that easy. Not by a long shot.


My first rejection was discouraging, but I’d heard from other authors, and I knew this happened most of the time. It was part of the process. I didn’t let it get me down for long. I began entering multiple contests online for lots of different genres, and I received some interest from editors. One editor requested to see the full manuscript. I was on cloud nine. I was so sure this was the one that would sell even though the genre wasn’t Christian.


And so, I waited. For anyone who has ever gone through this process, it can take months if not longer to hear back on a manuscript. The longer I waited, the more confident I became that the editor loved it and would offer me a contract. Only that wasn’t the case. When the rejection finally came, I was devastated. I didn’t understand. I cried and asked God why? And through this time of frustration, one verse kept coming to mind.


Psalms 27:14 says, “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”


I knew He had called me to write—I never doubted this—but it had been a hard ten years, and I kept getting the same answer. . .“no.”


I asked God to help me understand why this was happening when I was following His will for my life.


The answer came quickly. I wasn’t. This was not what He’d called me to write.


And so, I prayed and asked God to guide me every step of the way and stopped trying to do it on my own.


That’s when things changed dramatically.


In mid-2012, I entered a contest hosted by Love Inspired Suspense. It allowed a certain number of writers to pitch their stories to one of the Love Inspired editors. I couldn’t believe it when I was selected to give my pitch. Only I didn’t realize at the time that my husband and I would be in the middle of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado without internet service during the time of the pitch.


But this time felt different.


Once more, I prayed and asked God to show me what to do, and He did. My husband and I drove into the town of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, where I was able to find service in front of the Ace Hardware Store. I sat in the car and typed my pitch on my laptop. To this day, I can’t tell you what I said because I was so nervous. But the editor requested first the synopsis, then the partial, and later the full manuscript. In December of 2012, I got “the call.” I’d sold my first book to Love Inspired Suspense. That was 12 books ago, and I’m now working on a four-book contract to write more stories for them.


But God had more in store. Two years ago, I submitted a partial to Revell and a few months later, I received the news that I had sold my first book to them. Among the Innocent was born.


It has been a rollercoaster journey filled with bad decisions on my part and gentle guidance from God. Yet through it all, I put my trust in Him, and once I let Him take control of my path, I realized God’s plans for my life were far greater than anything I could ever have imagined.


Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”


And He does!



Mary Alford is a USA Today bestselling author who lives with her husband in the heart of Texas on the middle of 70 acres with two very spoiled cats and one sweet rescue dog. Learn more at www.maryalford.net.

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