13 years ago today I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. That might have made March 26th a dark day on my calendar. It didn’t though. That very day I began to see the hand of God at work in the details of that journey. That very day I began to experience what scripture calls the peace that passes understanding.

Every year since 1999, when the cancer went into remission, has been a year to celebrate, and I mark that year on the 26th. In the same way, every novel I’ve written since that time feels like a gift (more about my writing/cancer journey here).

As of today I have another reason to count March 26th a special day. Today I signed my first book contract. A contract for two books, in fact, each a historical novel set in the 18th century. One takes place on the New York frontier, 1784, the second on what was then the western boundary of North Carolina, 1787. Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group (a division of Random House, Inc.), has agreed to publish them, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Of course, the offer came via my wonderful agent several months ago–December 14, 2011 to be exact. I’ve had to sit on the news all these months and let me tell you, it hasn’t been easy! I did a bit of journaling on that day so I wouldn’t forget how I was feeling, what I was thinking, and what my agent and I talked about. If you’d like to read some of that, I’ve included it below. Otherwise, I hope you’ll rejoice with me and celebrate this writing journey that began in December of 1991.

I look forward to sharing more about my experiences as this new journey unfolds. No released dates are set in stone yet, nor book titles, but it looks as though my debut novel will release sometime in the middle of 2013.

Journal entries: 

December 14th, 2011: I know it will be a little while before I can post this, because a writer can’t go blurting this sort of news all over creation before the proper time, even if it’s taking every scrap of self-control she possesses to keep her fingers still. There’s this official stuff called ink, and it has to dry and all. So I’m telling you (but not really telling you), that today, December 14th, 2011, exactly twenty years and a cross country move and a bout with cancer and a lot of set-backs and rejections since I first sat down to write a novel and see if I could get it published, I got The Call.

My agent, Wendy Lawton, was on the other end of the line. “Are you sitting down?” she asked. I was sitting down, working away on the edit of my current historical novel. “We have an offer,” she said.

A two book offer, as it turns out. For one of my finished 18th century historicals, and for the one I had been working on seconds before the phone rang. The offer comes from Waterbrook, a publishing house I’ve long admired for its historical fiction. Liz Curtis Higgs! Jane Kirkpatrick! Susan Meissner!

“You’re so quiet,” Wendy said.

I was bestunned. I had no words. Or not a lot of them. “But I’m shaking,” I said.

I still am.

I’m pretty sure I said Wow once or three times too. How articulate!

In the hours since I’ve laughed and cried, prayed and rejoiced, gulped down mouthfuls of giddy nerves and had about a hundred questions crash across my dazzled brain.

December 15th, the day after The Call: This morning I’m reminded that early in the year I chose One Word to be a theme for me for the coming months of 2011. I blogged about it here.

That one word? PATIENCE

Think I got that one right? πŸ™‚

I’ve printed off what’s called the Offer Letter. I’m staring at it. It’s addressed to me, but surely it’s a mistake. It isn’t a rejection. It has words in it like contract, publishing relationship, release schedule, sub-rights, due date. I can’t quite connect these words to me, to my writing. Net yet. Maybe tomorrow?

December 16th: My One Word for 2012, I’m nearly certain now, is TRUST. Not trust in myself, or what-all lies behind this letter propped on my desk. Trust in God, who is behind what’s behind it. Trust in His timing and purpose for the unfolding path I’ll soon be walking. One step at a time. Trust for the stretching to come. The moments of joy, and those of terror. I’ve already had several of both.

Trust in His goodness, and His good plan.

March 26, 1783. War with Great Britain Ends! Preliminary Peace Articles penned in Paris!! Lady Authoress Signs Book Deal!!!

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