Since this will be the last week that the e-book version of The Light of Eidon is being offered for free through various vendors, I thought I’d do a few posts relating to it.
This one is another from my newsletter of almost ten years ago, telling the story of how Eidon got into print, not the specific moments of that day my editor called me to ask what I had lying around, but the long years before that time. The back story, if you will, of my relatively long journey into the world of the published novelist.
The Light of Eidon — The Impossible is Possible
I’ve been promising to tell the story of how The Light of Eidon got into print for a couple of newsletters now, so here it is. The book began with the advent of the first Star Wars movie which happened to coincide with my reading of a Bible study book called The Christian Warrior by Col R. B. Thieme, Jr.
The two came together in my mind in a welter of metaphorical possibilities and I began writing a science fiction allegorical adventure. Within a year that had turned into the fantasy series that The Light of Eidon begins.
I worked on that for some years, during which time I met Kathy Tyers through a snail mail critique group. She’d just written Firebird and we became critique partners.
Not long after that, she sold Firebird to Bantam Books, and I got an agent for Eidon (then called The Shadow of Ghel). My [first] agent sent it all around to general market houses and NAL (New American Library) almost bought it, holding it a year before changing their minds. I’d written Book Two in the series by then, but my agent didn’t know what to do anymore, having sent Ghel to all the houses, so we decided to go our separate ways.
I rewrote Ghel from start to finish, renamed it The Star of Life and got another agent, who was far more enthusiastic about it than the first agent. Or at least more expressive. She got a very positive response on the book from Tor (another general market publisher), and though they thought it was too long and the loose ends not tied up, they said they’d be happy to look at it again if I reworked it. My agent advised against that, but shortly thereafter decided not to be an agent any more.
I then queried a third agent who was very positive about the work, but suggested I write something entirely unrelated since by then the market had become saturated with that type of fantasy. So I wrote Arena.
During that time I was homeschooling so it took quite a few years to finish it. Then I had lots of trouble getting it critiqued. Two critiquers’ responses were lost in the mail. Others suddenly had no time to get to it. Even more disconcerting, when I finally did get all my reader responses, every critique was different from the other.
“I love the Epilogue” vs “I hate the Epilogue.”
“You write wonderfully vivid descriptions” vs “Your descriptions are weak and need to be more vivid.”
“I don’t like Callie–she’s selfish and whiny” vs “I love Callie and can really relate to her.”
Eventually, though, the book was the best I could make it and I started submitting. It bounced off desks in the general market. By then Kathy had entered the Christian market with her rewritten Firebird. I was still trying to figure out which market I was supposed to be in. Though I’d come to realize that my primary interest was in edifying the Body of Christ rather than evangelizing the lost, my stuff had long been too edgy for the CBA.
Uncertain, I sent a proposal to Kathy’s new publisher, Bethany House in Oct 1998. It was returned within a month with a form letter. So I thought, “Okay, forget that,” and went back to bouncing the manuscript off desks in New York.
Two months later, Jan 1999, I read Penelope Stokes’ book on writing Christian fiction and began to think my work belonged in CBA after all. I decided to try to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in California that March. I had no money, there was an airlines strike and I was a late registrant in danger of being excluded for lack of room, but I knew if the Lord wanted me to go, He’d take care of the details. He did, and I went.
At Mt. Hermon Kathy introduced me to Steve Laube, her new editor at Bethany House. Because of the rejection from BHP the previous October, I had not submitted a proposal of Arena to him, assuming he’d already seen it. He hadn’t. I ended up having a long meeting with him the very first day of the conference and he told me to try to cut 20,000 words from the manuscript and send it to him, which I did.
Because SF was a genre still in the process of gaining acceptance in the industry (a phenomenon I experienced first hand in my trips to Mt. Hermon), Steve waited a year and a half before he judged the timing right to present it to his editorial board, and they bought it in Feb 2001.
During that time I’d attended another Mt. Hermon conference, where I’d talked to him about my fantasy but, though he loves the genre himself, he wasn’t interested. If SF was difficult to sell in the Christian market, fantasy was all but impossible. He told me the very word “fantasy” was death in the industry “because you are automatically compared with Tolkien or Eddings and no one can survive that.”
Even so in winter of 2002, several months before Arena was to release, and despite all advice to the contrary, I decided to go ahead with trying to sell my fantasy, which had been rewritten for a third time and was now entitled The Light of Eidon. Nothing else I was working on was even close to being finished and Eidon was really the book of my heart.
Plus, I knew the Lord was the one who promoted and He was not limited by industry trends. I prepared a synopsis and chapters to submit at my third Mt. Hermon conference—only to decide I should give Steve the chance to see it first. Since the book still needed some polishing before I showed it in entirety to anyone I changed my mind about submitting anything for Mt. Hermon.
The conference that year was about marketing, all aspects of which are challenging for me and something I was dreading. But I decided to give it my best shot, hoping that if Arena did really well, maybe Bethany House would be interested in looking at Eidon the next year. I went home and started working, setting up the website, getting bookmarks made, going into bookstores to introduce myself, making all sorts of plans…
Well I’d barely begun and Arena hadn’t even come out when I received that fateful call from Steve asking if I had any more novels lying about the house.
As I said in my previous post, within two weeks I had a four book contract for the series. Arena hadn’t even released yet, I hadn’t done any marketing to speak of, and there I was with Eidon finally sold, and a go ahead to write the next three books!
Talk about a whoosh. Talk about making it Very Clear WHO was doing the promoting and whose work mattered!
Just in case I missed the point, when the Bethany House catalog arrived the next fall with The Light of Eidon’s entry, I found it positioned on the left page opposite a non fiction book called The Impossible is Possible by John Mason. Across the bottom of the two-page spread were the titles of both books, laid out to read
“The Light of Eidon ~ The Impossible IS Possible!”
Ah Lord God! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee. With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ~ Jeremiah 32:17; Matthew 19:26
If you’d like to take advantage of the free e-book offer from Bethany House, please click here.