A flood of emotions engulfed me when I heard my name called on Friday night, February 27, 2015 in a packed conference room of aspiring writers, published authors, industry executives, and world-changers. I stood up. My knees buckled. Screams. Applause. My friend Jason, sitting next to me, was flat-out losing his mind! As I approached the stage it felt as if I was wading through a swimming pool. Twenty minutes later (not really, but it sure felt like it) I found myself on the stage receiving this plaque.
This is more than a cool, shiny plaque. I won a freaking publishing contract (for my book concept #41WillCome) with Tyndale House Publishers (Tyndale Momentum) and representation from the best literary agent in the business – Esther Federokevich (The Fedd Agency).
Perhaps you’re thinking, “You won a book deal. No need to get all crazy on me!”
This is so much more than a book deal. This is God’s stamp of approval on a concept He deposited in me more than fifteen years ago. For at least the last 5,475 days I have talked about it, preached it, prayed over it, and dreamt about it…without writing it. Why? Busyness. Procrastination. Life. Excuses.
Thank God for His grace. Now looking back I can see Divine appointments, key-moments, and God’s fingerprints all over these specific happenings.
- There was the time my good friend Dave Mudd gave me a bracelet to serve as a reminder to “write the dang book!”
- There was the time my friend and mentor Jim Powell invited me to a writer’s conference (Re:Write Conference) in 2013 because he believed in my concept. That conference just so happened to take place on my 17th wedding anniversary. I will be honest, I was nervous to even bring it up to my wife. Of course she said, “You have to go! This is a huge opportunity!”
- There was the time when New York Times Bestselling Author Mark Batterson kicked me in the face when informing those in attendance (2013 Re:Write Conference) that if we felt called by God to write but weren’t writing then we were living in disobedience. Dang. Repentance followed. Writing commence.
- There was the time I approached (with shaky knees) the one and only Esther Fedorkevich at that same conference in 2013 to request one minute to share my concept and hopefully receive an honest assessment. Her response: “I love the idea but I don’t know if you can write. Do you have a proposal?” Crap. More writing commence.
- There was the time I was scrolling through my Twitter feed during the summer of 2014 only to find creativity coach Chad Allen (featured speaker at that same conference in 2013) advertising something called Book Proposal Academy. I signed up on the deadline. Little did I know then that the ten-week course would educate, instruct, inspire, and inject confidence in me to follow-through with actually writing my proposal.
- There was the time I requested prayer from my RockChurch congregation (I’m a pastor) in 2014 because I was entering my proposal into a national writing contest to take a crack at winning a book deal (so I could finally publish the book they have been waiting on just as long as me). I almost backed out of entering but because I had already announced it I felt obligated to keep my word. Ah, accountability is such a good thing.
- There was the time I was traveling with my family and some close friends to Wisconsin Dells in December 2014 for a five-day getaway…on the very deadline of the writing contest. My wife drove. I typed. We arrived at our cabin. I typed. All the kids played in another room. I typed. The ladies went grocery shopping for the week. I typed. The ladies returned and unloaded. I typed. My kids went to bed. I typed. My wife watched me from a distance. I typed. As the midnight deadline fast approached I was unhappy with my finished product. Too bad. 11:59 PM. Time to send. Uh-oh. I didn’t have the email address. “NO!!!” I screamed! “God, I need another hour.” I frantically searched the website for the the email address while realizing I was about to miss the cut. Wait a minute. The website said 12:00 AM Pacific. “Hallelujah!” I heard angels singing…or God chuckling. I asked God for one hour. He gave me two. Again, thank God for His grace. One hour and fifty-five minutes later I submitted my official book proposal with five minutes to spare. Sigh of relief.
- There was the day on January 1, 2015 that I checked the Re:Write Conference website every two minutes to see if I made the “Top 10″ only to find out that the official announcement would be delayed because of so many great submissions. Tyndale needed more time to deliberate. Ugh. “This is killing me!”
- There was the time I was driving home from Kroger and I received a Twitter notification from @ReWriteConf that the votes were in. I knew I wasn’t supposed to look at my phone while driving but in that moment I justified risking a $300 ticket. I scrolled the attached photo looking for one name. Chuck Tate. Tears.
Back to Friday, February 27, 2015 at approximately 8:05 PM. “The winner of the 2015 Tyndale Momentum / Re:Write & The Ragged Edge Writing Contest is…
That time I won a book deal.
*My friend Jason just happened to capture this life-changing moment on video with his phone. Here’s the raw footage.