At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How We Met

In his autobiography, former President Ronald Reagan consistently said he was amazed at how the little twists and turns of life could turn out to make the largest impact.

Today I heartily affirm that truth.

On August 23rd of last year, we were barely a week into the first quarter of school. It was the evening of Westminster Christian Academy's Upper School IGNite (an acronym for "Information Gathering Night"), our version of back-to-school night. The essence of the evening would be a large-scale gathering in the arena with greetings from the administration, and then parents would shuttle through a mini-school day following their children's schedule (with "class periods" shortened from fifty minutes to eight minutes of each teacher giving an intro to the class).

It adds up to a long day at school for teachers, but it's great to see parents. From my vantage point, it's beneficial to reconnect with parents of past students. It was on August 23rd that I was passing through the mass of humanity in the Grand Entry of the school before the arena gathering. As an introvert, these moments can be very painful and normally I try to say as little as possible. But I happened to run into Kitty Scott, whose son Mike I taught the previous two years. Kitty has always been one of my most vocal supporters who was very helpful during a difficult issue in our Ethics classes last year. Even my introvert shell couldn't stop me from wanting to chat with her and catch up.

It wasn't far into our conversation that she asked me, "So have you found a publisher for your book?"

Kitty had always been interested in my writing. I was at the point where I really felt that Litany of Secrets, let alone the entire Cameron Ballack mystery series, would never see the light of day. I had just had a contentious meeting with a local publisher who was interested in the book but said it would be the spring of 2015 before its release. Not to mention I wasn't a fan of that company's inchoate, controlling fifteen-page contract. So I told them to take a hike. Thus, when Kitty asked me about a publisher, I was at my low point and told her that was the case.

And then came the words that would change everything.

Kitty said, "Well, you ought to contact a friend of ours. Mark. Mark Sutherland. He runs his own company and has published a few books."

Excuse me? Did that just happen?

Turns out Mark and his wife Amy go to the same church as Kitty, and Amy is involved in the same Bible study that Kitty leads.

According to Kitty, my story "might be the type of thing Mark would be interested in."

It turns out Mark was. Kitty gave me his contact info and Mark asked me to send him the manuscript for Litany of Secrets. We hacked a bunch of stuff out of it and smoothed a few areas out, but Mark liked what he saw. I still remember meeting with him at Einstein Bros. Bagels at Clayton Road and Hwy 141 and talking through the particulars of how the publishing process would look.

I gained an honest, energetic publisher who backs up his promises with actions and tells it like it is and encourages writers well.

And I have a seemingly chance encounter with Kitty Scott from ten months ago to thank for this journey.

Yes, the small things are often the most meaningful ones in life.

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