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Closer To Within My Grasp

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I got an e-mail about two weeks ago from the Great Expectations contest, saying that I was a finalist in the inspirational category.


I think I’m still in the stage of not believing it happened.

I had a week to review judges’ comment, make changes to my submission, and then send it back for the final round. I got it in a day early, as I’m always concerned about unforeseen items like having power knocked out by snow. Of course, when I woke up the following morning, I thought of a change I wished I’d made and tried to ignore the thought. I wrote my thank you notes to my judges and went back to editing the rest of the manuscript.

It’s not my first contest final. I have a few final placements, and was blessed to have a couple of wins, with two other manuscripts. However, this new manuscript is only in its second contest. I was not expecting it to make it to the finals.

Particularly as it has nothing to do with Japan.

Publishing a novel set in medieval Japan has been my focus for several years. I love the history of that time period, particularly the time known as “The Christian Century.” Historicals set in Japan have worked well in numerous genres, but it’s untried in inspirationals. For years, I’ve been determined to make it happen.

People have told me that I need to find something else to get published in first, then push my Japan stories when the opportunity arises. I’ve tried working on other projects, but they don’t propel me as much as my Japan projects. It made me wonder if I really put my writing soul into my non-Japan projects.

My final in Great Expectations, written for the genre of Biblical fiction, suggests that maybe I do put a lot of my soul into my writing.

And maybe I’m a little closer to getting that contract for a full-length novel.

How about those of you reading? What signs did you have that led you to feel that you were closer to being published? One lucky commenter will receive a $10 Amazon gift card.




Marilyn Baron - February 18, 2014 - 5:13 am

Congratulations on your final and wins. I think you should stick with what you love, which is writing inspirational about Japan because that is your niche and no one can do it better. I know you will suceed. Like you, I felt like I was getting closer when I won a Maggie and first place in another RWA chapter writing contest. And I did go on to get publishing contracts. This is your time! Great post.

Sandy Elzie - February 18, 2014 - 6:57 am

First, Walt, congrats on getting the vote for your new novel. It’s an honor (not to mention a huge encouragement)to final in a contest.

I felt I was getting close to publishing when I got a letter back rejecting my story…but telling me what worked and what didn’t. That gave me what I needed to edit and send it out to get a nod from an editor. Keep plugging…your day will definitely get here.

Pam Asberry - February 18, 2014 - 8:55 am

Congratulations, Walt! That is wonderful news! I agree with Marilyn that you should ultimately stick with what you love, but I don’t think it hurts to experiment with other genres. It helps build your “writing chops” and might appeal to a wider audience of agents and editors. I have no doubt that you are getting closer to that contract. Continued success!

Connie Gillam - February 18, 2014 - 9:19 am

Congratulations on the contest win!

I agree with the ladies, write what you love. The love shows in the words on the page.

I knew I was getting closer when I finaled in the Golden Heart.

Pamela Varnado - February 18, 2014 - 9:28 am

Walt, congratulations on your final. And don’t be shocked. When you infuse your characters with your soul, they become real to readers. You add a level of truth to your characters that only writing can reveal.

Walt Mussell - February 18, 2014 - 10:35 am

Marilyn, the dream will always be to get Japan out there someday. At some point, I may have to take matters into my own hands.

Sandy, thank you. I still remember my one revise and resubmit letter. I did. It wasn’t picked up. Still, it made me feel closer to the goal.

Walt Mussell - February 18, 2014 - 10:39 am

Pam, thank you. Biblical is not the only genre I’m experimenting with, but it’s the first one where I have a completed draft. I will coninute to work at it.

Connie, I submitted my Japan manuscript for this year’s GH. I haven’t given up there.

Pamela, thank you. I’m doing my best to do just that.

Walt Mussell - February 18, 2014 - 11:02 am

I tried to make just the names bold so I could split them out. Apparently, I didn’t quite get it right.

Sia Huff - February 18, 2014 - 9:40 pm

Yeah, Walt! Congrats on the final. Do what’s close to your heart. As for me, I almost quit, then as a last ditch effort I entered the Maggie… and won. I’m hoping I’m close. :)Good luck in the finals.

Walt Mussell - February 18, 2014 - 10:52 pm

Thanks, Sia. I know you’ll be there someday, too.

Debbie Kaufman - February 19, 2014 - 9:45 am

Yeah, Walt! I’m really not surprised you finaled with a non-Japan story. The quality of your writing has never been the issue. Perhaps this story will be the one to propel you and then the Japanese historicals might be able to finally find their place in publication.

Anonymous - February 19, 2014 - 5:57 pm

Walt, I am pulling for you! Good luck!.

Anonymous - February 19, 2014 - 7:22 pm

Debbie and Anonymous, thank you both!

Walt Mussell - February 19, 2014 - 7:33 pm

Debbie and Anonymous, thank you both!!!

Susan Carlisle - February 21, 2014 - 6:48 pm

That is great about you final. Getting any book published is about believing in it. Part of that comes from liking the subjust matter and that shows in the writing which inturn makes the book good. You are so close.

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