When the time came for the Operation First Novel winner to be announced, Jerry asked the past winners attending to come up on the stage. Jennifer Erin Valent, Tom Pawlik & Jan Watson all did. Tyndale editors Karen Watson & Jan Stob followed. (The prize for winning is a contract with Tyndale House.)
(l-r: Karen Watson, C.J. Darlington & Jerry B. Jenkins. Photo by Cindi of Selah Studios.)
When he said my name, I was shocked! I can easily say this is one of the most exciting experiences of my life so far.
But one of the biggest thrills was seeing my book cover for the first time! They brought a poster of it out on stage, and I took one look and was instantly awed. It is beautiful! It perfectly captures the themes of the novel. I am so happy with it.
Here's a pic of me posing with the cover:
A Little Background
I was fifteen when I started the story that would become Thicker Than Blood. I finally finished the book when I was 23 and submitted it to the very first Operation First Novel contest in 2004. I was a semi-finalist that year. Then I began the process of submitting to editors---and I received rejection after rejection. Some editors were gracious enough to give me feedback, and over the next four years I tweaked and revised.
But I began to wonder if Thicker Than Blood was good enough to be published. I wrote a second novel and started a third. I was days away from giving up on it. But God always has a way of getting our attention. I was lying in bed and the thought hit me, "Wait a minute. I have a complete novel that's better than before. Why don't I submit it to the Christian Writers Guild contest again?" That was in September of 2008.
I hope my journey will encourage writers not to give up. After all, one of you might be next year's Operation First Novel winner! Visit the Christian Writers Guild website to find out how you can become a member.
And now, for the big unveiling... above is the official cover of Thicker Than Blood! Click to enlarge. The novel will be released in January 2010!
Working Summary of Thicker Than Blood:
Two sisters, estranged for 15 years. Their blood ties weren't enough. Only something stronger could bring them together again.
Christy Williams finally has her life on track. Her career as an antiquarian book buyer at the renowned used bookstore Dawson's Barn of Books is taking off. Hunter Dawson is teaching her the fine points of purchasing collectible books, and so far she's been able to keep her drinking problem from interfering. But when she discovers her ex-boyfriend, who also works at Dawsons, is stealing valuable books right off the store's shelves, she's unable to stop him for fear he'll expose the skeleton's in her closet.
Things begin to unravel when a stolen Hemingway first edition is found in her possession, framing her for a crime she didn't commit. With no one to turn to, she yearns for her estranged family, especially her younger sister May, who she abandoned in their childhood after their parents' untimely deaths. Now the owner of a failing cattle ranch, May couldn't possibly want a relationship with her, the big sister who didn't even say goodbye all those years ago. Could she?
Soon Christy's fleeing from her shattered dreams, her ex-boyfriend, and God. Could the Triple Cross ranch be the safe haven she's searching for, or will May's new-found faith give her sister even more reason to reject Christy? Will they realize before it's too late that each possesses what the other desperately needs?
Writing for the Soul photos by Cindi of Selah Studios