My path to a national contest win

When you hear God’s voice say, “Trust me,” listen and obey. He’s serious.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been grumbling that the three publishers to whom I’d submitted The Demons Among Us haven’t replied. I’d been told it would be six to eight weeks before I heard anything . . . if I heard anything. Sometimes publishers don’t bother to reply to those whose submissions are horrendous. The eight-week mark loomed.

I prayed, and several times I heard God speak through the Holy Spirit inside me. “Trust me.”

I’d sigh, grind out “okay,” and grit my teeth. After all, Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Last weekend, I attended another virtual conference—the American Christian Fiction Writers. I logged into four classes on Friday and soaked up the knowledge gleaned from the amazing speakers and panelists. Between the first and second classes, I interviewed with a potential agent. She and I had a lively discussion about the publishing industry, but she wasn’t interested in representing me. Evidently, speculative young adult novels are hard for agents to sell to publishers.

God again said, “Trust me.”

Between my third and fourth classes, an emailed rejection letter plummeted into my inbox. I groaned. This publisher would have been so perfect for The Demons.

“Trust me,” He whispered.


The next day, I attended four more classes. Between the second and third classes, I pitched to another publisher. Though gracious, she wasn’t willing to take a chance on me.

“Trust me.”

I swallowed hard and logged into my next class. Halfway through, another rejection letter landed in my inbox. What are the odds? After waiting almost eight weeks, two rejections had arrived within 24 hours.

My finger hovered over the Leave Meeting button. My husband and son clattered in the kitchen, prepping dinner. I could go help.

“Trust me.”

So hard. So, so hard. I finished the class with my lower lip jutted out.

After a 30-minute break, the virtual awards ceremony would begin. ACFW had notified me in June that I was a finalist in the Genesis Contest-Young Adult category for unpublished writers. Should I even bother to attend? I didn’t think my fragile heart could handle a fifth rejection.

“Trust me.”

Then I remembered that my friend, Hope Welborn, was a finalist in the Romantic Suspense category. I needed to watch to see if she won. I could take a screen shot of her winning slide. So, I watched. And she won! And I took multiple screens shots.

As I edited her photos and sent her a congratulatory message, the slide of the three Young Adult finalists flashed on my screen. I snapped a quick shot for posterity. The slide changed to text only, “The winner of the Genesis Contest-Young Adult Category is…”

Five agonizing second dragged by.

Swish. My name and photo lit up the next slide!

Squee! Thank you, Father!

He is so good and faithful. What a glorious surprise! He’s given me hope again. I have yet to hear from one more publisher. The agent with whom I spoke on Friday gave me some great leads. In addition, the contest judges provided helpful feedback, which can be used to polish agent and publisher queries.

I’ve been so blessed by the ACFW and recommend that all Christian writers join this association. I’d like to thank the Storyteller Squad members for critiquing separate chapters and Allyson Lewis for proofing the entire manuscript. I’d also like to thank my dearest friend, Miriam Romain, for all her hard edits. Twice. Along with her keen eye, she has the patience of a saint. And last, I’d like to thank my husband and children for their constant encouragement and support. My son has done a phenomenal job tweaking the teen speak.

Has God ever surprised you in a special way? If so, could you please share?

10 thoughts on “My path to a national contest win”

  1. God is good! I’m so glad to hear of this wonderful win to outshine the earlier heartbreaks. I can’t wait to hear what God has in store for you next! Congratulations!

  2. Jill,
    You were well rewarded by achieving the Genesis Young Adult 2020 author award for your terrific novel, “The Demons Among Us!” I’m so excited for you. What an amazing journey you chronicled from the depths of rejection to winning a National Award!
    Thank you for sharing your heart with us as we cheer you on to what our Heavenly Father has waiting for you!
    Congratulations again, my dear friend! Well done!

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