I'm more than thrilled to host author George Cargill on here. Having worked with him at Hartline Literary, I can't wait to hear from him and about his latest release from Brimstone Fiction. George is going to walk us through his writing journey. If you're an author who wants to have a book published in the future, I'm so excited for you to dive into his journey. He'll walk you through the process of idea to publication for In the Grip of God.
A Late Start with Grit
My mother always said, “Buddy, (my nickname) you do everything like you are killing snakes.” I guess that held true even when I approached seventy years of age. Pedal to the metal, all the way to the floor on the gas or the brake. Retired pastors who refuse to give up ministry can be very annoying.
(Guilty.) I have written many things over the years in the course of my work, sermons, Bible studies, commentaries and curriculum. I did not attempt to publish anything but used them in the course of ministry.
But while studying the Acts of the Apostles I became fascinated by Paul’s entry into Corinth related in the eighteenth chapter. He came into a huge pagan metropolis alone, broke, and beaten down. Paul later wrote to the Corinthians, “I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling” (1 Corinthians 2:3, ESV). How did Paul accomplish all of the wonderful things that happened in Corinth? I decided to write a novel about it.
I guess many people have thought, “I ought to write a book.”
Perhaps they have a story or a message in mind. But the desire is stillborn when they realize the enormous effort involved in writing a novel and actually getting it in print by a traditional publishing house or even self-publishing.
I hit the wall after the first chapter. The book lay tucked in a digital file on my laptop for a year.
Then I began waking up every morning hearing in my mind, “Write the book! Write the book! Write the book.”
To get some peace of mind, I took an author friend of mine out to lunch and asked him the read the first chapter and tell me if I was wasting my time. He encouraged me to take up the effort once more. It became a blessed agony of trial and error over the next eighteen months.
I had a story, but I did not have knowledge of the craft. I just knew what I liked. I understood intuitively about point of view and staying in my voice but could not define those concepts. Sensing something wrong with a paragraph, I would write and rewrite until it seemed right. My wife served me as a faithful reader and never shied to let me know when something needed correction. I had another friend who edited the manuscript for grammar and consistency.
At last I had a “polished” 83,000-word manuscript. But no one in the publishing realm even wanted to look at it.
No progress was made for several months as I queried agents and publishers. One day, I saw an ad on an agent’s website for the Write-to-Publish Christian Writers Conference in Wheaton, Illinois.
In desperation, I registered for the conference. It turned out to be a great conference for me because I learned a lot about writing from the speakers, seminars and critique groups. I bought several helpful books about the craft of writing. But interviews with publishers and agents became the best part of the deal. Rowena Kuo at Brimstone Fiction saw the value in my manuscript.
I had an agent and a contract within a week.
That’s when the real work began. Rowena is the Senior Editor at Brimstone. She immediately cut 4,000 words out of the book. “Back-story” she called it. I thought it was good, but I have learned it is best to be compliant. She made me rewrite almost an entire chapter. I had to go back and find every instance of “was” and “were” and try to write actively. I am embarrassed when I think of how many changes I made to active verbs.
I owe a lot to Rowena. In the Grip of God: Journey into Corinth is my baby.
Conceived in my mind, I wrote it. All of it. But it would have never been born a novel without a publisher willing to invest in me, or an agent to help with the contract, or beta readers, or an editor, or a terrific artist, or proof-readers, or those involved in marketing the book. I am grateful to each of them.
Whether an aspiring writer gets a late start like I did or is young and can look forward to many productive years, grit is what we need. Pure determination to produce a work even if it may never be anything but a dusty family heirloom. Learn the craft of writing, join a tough critique group and write. Do not stop until the work is complete. Whether we can sell the manuscript or not, writing to completion becomes a joy unto itself.
Just write and have grit.
In the Grip of God: Journey into Corinth by George Cargill
Alone, beaten down, out of money, and pursued by his enemies, Paul leaves wealth, power, and love to bring the gospel to the great pagan city of Corinth.
Facing danger and death, he must find a way to survive the laws of both the Jews and the Roman Empire itself. Soon, Paul finds himself no longer seeking God’s will but being inexorably carried along by Divine purpose.
George Cargill is a fourth-generation pastor.
His first novel, In the Grip of God: Journey into Corinth, chronicles the trials of the early Corinthian church through the eyes of the Apostle Paul.
You can read more from Pastor George on his blog at georgecargill.com.
Visit his ministry at https://followingthebook.org.