From Dream to Reality: The Story of My Heart

by | Uncategorized | 54 comments

Over a decade ago, I decided to get serious about becoming a published author. Always a supporter of my dream, my hubby bought me a Brother Word Processor. I started a novel about a woman who broke off her engagement to her police officer fiance after her father was killed in the line of duty.

I toiled over that novel, breaking every writing rule new writers aren’t supposed to break. I shelved the book several times and started something new, but those characters continued to stay with me. They weren’t willing to be shelved. The story title changed several times as I tweaked the plot, deepened the characters, and shelved it again.

I shared with several critique groups through the years and used their feedback to make it as good as I could. But there still seemed to be something missing.

I emailed the My Book Therapy dynamic duo, Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck, and requested brainstorming therapy. Our one-hour phone conversation became a two-hour brainstorming conversation as the three of us talked over each other in raised decibels. I left that conversation with a fully plotted novel.

With a deep breath, I entered Draw Me Close in the 2009 ACFW Genesis contest, hoping for feedback to help strengthen the writing. Jim Rubart called to let me know my entry had finaled. I cried in his ear, but he was a great sport.

At the ACFW banquet, Draw Me Close took second place in the contemporary romance category!

Additionally, I had pitched it to Tina James of Love Inspired and Rachelle Gardner of Wordserve Literary. Both requested the full manuscript, but Rachelle asked me to send it to her first. After getting feedback from several Ponderer friends, I submitted the requested full manuscript to Rachelle in March 2010.

A week later, I received an email that left me speechless and in tears. Rachelle offered representation. I kept thinking I received someone else’s email by mistake. Even after I spoke with her on the phone for almost an hour, I still floated in “pinch me” world.

She submitted it to Tina James in April, but the pesky manuscript disappeared into cyberspace. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize this until speaking with Tina at the 2010 ACFW conference. Rachelle re-submitted it in October, so I waited again.

On January 7, 2010, Rachelle called and said, “Lisa, today is your day!” I cried. I sobbed. My poor husband thought something terrible had happened. I finally managed to squeak out, “I sold my book.”

Love Inspired editor Melissa Endlich had an opening in her schedule. She asked the other LI editors if they had something she could read. Tina gave her my manuscript on that Monday. She read it Tuesday and Wednesday, wanted to buy it on Thursday, and Rachelle called me on Friday with a book offer.

After more than a decade, Lindsey and Stephen of Draw Me Close will have their happily ever after. 

Later, after my day job ended, and the house quieted, I called Rachelle back and listened to the terms and book details. I teared up again when I learned my novel will be out in November 2011.

Over the next week, I received a welcome letter from Melissa, along with my first set of revisions–8 small items to change. We discussed title changes and cover art. After emailing a couple of times, Draw Me Close has been retitled Lakeside Reunion. It’s a story of forgiveness, trust, and second chances.

Is there really such a thing as a second chance?

Lindsey Porter escaped her hometown of Shelby Lake with a broken heart, and said good-bye to her relationship with God at the same time. But family obligation calls her back home, and the former fiancΓ© who dumped her is the first person she sees after crossing the county line. Is there room in her heart for forgiveness? Lindsey hopes for a second chance at love, but the obstacles in her way might just be too great to overcome.

This is the story of my heart because Lindsey’s fears about her former fiance’s job keep her from finding her second chance at love. When Hubby and I were married, he was a military policeman in the United States Marine Corp (OO RAH!) and dreamed of becoming a police officer like his dad. I was so afraid of losing him in the line of duty that I begged him to give up his dream. And he did. At the time, I wasn’t a Christian and didn’t have God to carry my anxieties. 

In Lakeside Reunion, Lindsey has an opportunity to have her second chance at love with Stephen, but will she allow her fears to keep them apart? 

Today I received my contract for Lakeside Reunion. After printing out all three copies, initialing each page, and signing them, I mailed them back to Harlequin for processing. So now it’s real. It’s official. I’m a published author.

To help celebrate my exciting first sale news, I’m giving away signed copies of Susan May Warren’s Love Inspired Suspense novels: Point of No Return and Mission: Out of Control and Rachel Hauck’s new release with Sara Evans, Softly and Tenderly. If these two wonderful friends hadn’t brainstormed and mentored me, this post wouldn’t be written. To win, leave a comment, along with your email address!

Thanks for sharing in my long-winded story of how the story of my heart has gone from dream to reality!

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  1. Keli Gwyn

    Mega congratulations, Lisa! I'm thrilled for you.

    How exciting that the story of your heart will be blessing your reader's hearts in less than an year.

    So, how did you celebrate the BIG news of your First Sale?

  2. Pattie

    Fabulous story! Gives me hope. πŸ™‚
    pattie (at)

  3. twigal0513

    Oh, yay!!! I get to be the first commenter!! I'm so very proud of you, my friend. There are no words. I know what you've put into your journey and you deserve all of the blessings that are coming your way. Congratulations!! πŸ™‚

  4. Christine

    Congratulations! This is an epoch day for you!

  5. twigal0513

    *sigh*…okay, I ended up third. Still proud, tho… πŸ™‚

  6. Rachelle

    Congrats, Lisa! It's a wonderful day!

  7. dtopliff

    Lisa, I'm truly so happy for you. Seeing part of your journey first hand and now reading more details on your blog, I once again think real llife is often more wonderful than fiction. I am so happy God has allowed the story of your heart to be your first contract, but I also know you have manhy more stories to write. Congratulations!!!

  8. Katie Ganshert

    Woohoo!!! So happy for you Lisa!

  9. Julie Jarnagin

    Congrats! What a wonderful story! So happy for you.

  10. Carla Gade

    Lisa, I so thrilled for you! I feel your longing and your joy! I will join you in the ranks of a published author in 2012. And I see Katie is here too who is also soon to be published. So glad that your dreams are coming true!!!!

  11. Sherrinda

    Congratulations! What an amazing journey you've had, and how fulfilling it must be to persevere, work hard and see your dream come true! Celebrate big!

  12. jenness

    YAYYYYYYY!! πŸ™‚ Can't wait to read it. So very very happy for you!

  13. Erica Vetsch

    Congratulations! This is wonderful news!!!

  14. Reba J. Hoffman

    Woooooo Hooooooo!!!!!! Gongratulations my friend! What a wonderful day! I'm HaPpY dAnGiNg with the rest of your sisters in Ponder!!!

  15. Melissa Tagg

    Yaaaayyyyy, Lisa. Wow. My ACFW roomie, I couldn't possibly be happier for you. I'm proud of you…and proud to be called your friend! Yay for YOU and all your hard work. And yay for God and his perfect timing!

  16. Patricia

    Congratulations, Lisa!!! No wonder you've been so heads down. Can't wait to read your book in the fall. Grinning…

  17. Patricia

    That last comment was from me, Lisa. Not sure why it didn't post my pic.

    PatriciaW (from MBT Voices)

  18. Patty

    Congratulations, Lisa!

  19. Pat

    I am so proud and happy for you, Lisa. Yours is a dream come true and what an awesome story. Wooo-Hooo

  20. Terry W. Ervin II

    Great news! Very very excited for you. November 2011 will be here before you know it!

  21. Catherine West

    GIRL!!! I am just coming up for air out of hours of editing proofs – you will know the joy soon enough- that is SO AWESOME!!!!! YAY FOR YOU!!!!!

  22. Rosslyn Elliott

    Oh, Lisa, CONGRATS! I am so, so happy to hear this. What a great story. And I love it that your tender heart shows through in how you reacted to your moments of good news. I'm sure Jim Rubart and Rachelle were both very touched to see how meaningful it was to you when you finalled in Genesis amd then SOLD YOUR BOOK. (Smiles thinking about it.)

  23. MaryC

    What a terrific story of perseverance and faith. Congratulations! I'm looking forward to your book.

  24. Jessica R. Patch

    Woot! This made me cry happy tears! I am so excited for you. Congrats. Congrats. Congrats!!!!!!!!! πŸ™‚

  25. Beth K. Vogt

    I am so, so happy for you, LJ!!! I've read snatches of the WIP. Now I plan on buying out all the copies I can find in Colorado Springs!

  26. Teri Dawn Smith

    Lisa, I'm so excited for you!!! I will be so happy to buy it and spread the word!!!

  27. Jill Kemerer

    Wow!! Congratulations, Lisa!! This post gave me chills–in a good way. I'm soooo happy for you! I read Love Inspired's all the time and can't wait to read yours! (I'd love to feature you on my blog when your book comes out!)

  28. Donna Alward

    Lisa, I came via Jill's retweet and I LOVE your call story!

    And welcome to the Harlequin family. It's a great place to be.

    Can you e-mail me at donna at donnaalward dot com? I have a quick proposition for you.

    Congrats of the sale! Hooray!

  29. Wendy Paine Miller


    What a moving story! Such an inspiration not to give up, to hang on and keep on keepin' on!

    Way to go!
    ~ Wendy

  30. Michelle Styles

    Welcome to the Harlequin Family. Congrats.Really enjoy the moment! I saw Donna's retweet!

  31. Cheryl Ricker


    Exciting story, Lisa!

    I've watched you press on through the years!

    You're truly an inspiration!



  32. patti.mallett_pp

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  33. Terri Tiffany

    I cried reading this story!! I am SOOOO happy for you–we haven't ever met before but I feel your heart in this. CELEBRATE!!!!!

  34. Julie Gillies

    Hi Lisa! What a wonderful story–congratulations! You've worked SO hard…the book sounds fantastic-may God grant you great favor and success beyond your wildest dreams.

    Celebrating with you! πŸ™‚

  35. Tamika:

    Congratulations Lisa! I love hearing this kind of fabulous news! Your story pricks my heart and reminds that this journey has BIG rewards.

    God bless you:)

  36. Maria I. Morgan

    A BIG Congratulations to you, Lisa!! So happy for you and looking forward to your book! Have a beautiful week. God bless!

  37. Gigi Murfitt

    Congratulations on your contract and for not giving up on your dream. I am friends with Jim Rubart too. It will be fun to read your book and share your story with our Seattle Northwest Christian Writer's Association. God bless.

  38. Tana Adams

    Oh Lisa! This is SOOOO wonderful! I savored every word of this post. How exciting to have your dreams come true and next November will be here before you know it! I'm so thrilled for you. I hope you keep us posted on the next leg of your journey. I can't wait to hear more. =)

  39. Deborah Raney

    Lisa, I am jumping up and down for joy!! I am so thrilled for you! Woohoo!

  40. Carrie Padgett

    Congratulations, Lisa!! I'm thrilled for you!

  41. patti.mallett_pp

    Lisa, I'm new to your site but very happy and excited for you! (I cried as I read this blog post.) You are an example of the belief and persistence we all need! Also loved what you said @MBT! God is faithful, it is us who are not. Your faith and commitment are helping to strengthen my own legs. I look forward to reading your BOOK (that's story between TWO COVERS)!!!!

  42. Ane Mulligan

    Lisa, I'm so proud of you and so thrilled for you! I cried with you as I read this. The Penwrights are all Snoopy dancing with you!

  43. Carrie Turansky

    So happy for you, Lisa!!!

  44. Winter Peck

    Lisa, Huge congratulations! This is wonderful news and I'm glad it came through for you. Can't wait to see the book when it comes out.

    Hugs, Winter

  45. Jeanne T

    Lisa! I am sooooo very happy for you! As I read your story, tears of joy filled my eyes for you. I love rejoicing with those who rejoice in a situation like this! πŸ™‚ so glad you're "out of the waiting room" now. πŸ™‚ I can't wait to read it! And tell Beth she has to save one copy for me in C-Springs. πŸ™‚

  46. amysorrells

    Lisa–WOW and backwards WOW! Ever since meeting you at the ACFW I knew you sparkled, and I have been jumping up and down for you all day. Singing, "Oh happy day!!!" for you, too! Here's to celebrating TODAY and to an OVER-abundance of writing mercies and blessings you you always!!!

  47. Miss Fitz

    hearing stories like yours always inspires me to push myself further. thanks.

  48. Missy Tippens

    Woo hoo!!!! Congrats!!! πŸ™‚

  49. John

    Congrats, Limosuine! I'm very happy for you and proud!

  50. Barbara

    Oh, Lisa! Congratulations! What a wonderful blessing!
    Barbara Curtis

  51. Tina Radcliffe

    Congratulations NCIS GIRL!!!

    I am sure the entire team, INCLUDING GIBBS is as thrilled as I am for you.

  52. Rhonda Gibson

    Congratulations Lisa! It couldn't have happened to a more wonderful lady! Way to Go!!!!

  53. Alena

    LJ, I'm so very happy for you. What a blessing to read and see your journey. You inspire and encourage me. I can't wait to read your book and the many others you have to show the world. Blessings!
    Alena T.