Monday, October 8, 2012

Pepper's Agent Story - Who Believes in You?

I've had a lot of people ask me to tell my agent story.

At first I felt weird about sharing it on The Alley since self-promotion is NOT my forte, but the longer I thought and prayed about it, I realized that this story is all about what God does.

Because it’s a pretty cool story.

And it really wouldn't have happened unless God was seriously involved.

I've been told by several authors that you aren't a REAL writer until you have rejections under your writing belt. I don’t know if the same rule applies for agent rejections, but I've definitely had those too. About nine specific rejection letters and over ten “no responses” – and those all happened over the past two years.
Let’s not even start calculating my manuscript rejections J

At ACFW 2011, I had a chance to have dinner with an editor. I didn't really pitch. She didn't really ask. We just talked. It was a nice conversation, followed by a few other conversations throughout the remainder of the conference. Just before leaving the conference she said, “Hey, when you get an agent, I want to read your work. Okay?”



So I queried 5 agents after the conference. FIVE. And I’d actually met 4 of the 5 in person at the conference. AND I was a Genesis double-finalist. That had to count for something, right?

Nothin’. Nada. Zilch.

For nine months this ‘baby’ didn't go anywhere. 

I assumed it was because my stories didn't really ‘fit’ with what was selling in CBA. Rom Com wasn't the top genre. Self-doubt reared its ugly head on many occasions. I carried insecurities around like a pack of gum. Was I just dreaming too big? Missing the mark? Living on stardust and daydreams?
After all, I'd been seriously writing for over six years with no 'happily-ever-after' in sight :-)

BUT, like the obedient flunky I was, I kept doing what Ruth Logan Herne and Mary Connealy told me to do. I kept writing.

In July I finished another novel and posted my excitement on Facebook. Low and behold, the editor saw my comment and replied, “Hey, when are you going to send me something to read?”

To which I replied. “You told me not to send anything until I had an agent. I still don’t’ have one, so I haven’t sent anything.”

Then the most amazing thing happened! She asked me to compose a cover letter and she would send it out to agents for me. Agents she thought would be a good match for me.

I was overwhelmed. Floored. Humbled.

And did exactly what she said.

When two agents emailed me, I sent my proposals. They both responded quickly and favorably.

Then at ACFW, I had the opportunity to meet Nicole – one of the agents recommended to me. She seemed as excited about my stories as I was. She was funny, sweet, and savvy – plus she had a great sense of style. There was an immediate match. (Look at that GREAT smile!)

And she told me she would like to represent me.

I told her that I thought we had a great connection, but I wanted to think and pray about it first.

So I did. And consulted close writing friends. And prayed some more.

And I knew it was right.

When I heard her beautiful acceptance speech as Agent of the Year, it just confirmed what a special lady she was.

End of story?
Not quite.

It was the last day of conference before I had the chance to talk to the editor who set this up. We’d missed each other throughout the conference, but in God’s good time, we were both in the lobby waiting to leave for the airport at the same time. I went up to her and told her about what happened with Nicole and she smiled. “I’m so proud of you.”

To which I replied. “I can’t thank you enough. You didn't have to do that. It’s not your job to find me an agent.”

She answered, “I believe in you.”

And I said, “ You've never even read my writing before. How can you believe in me?”

(I will NEVER forget her answer. EVER. I still get tears in my eyes thinking about it) She said, “Pepper, I didn't say I believed in your writing. I said, I believe in you.”

It was as if the voice of God sliced through all the chaos of the moment, all the emotional baggage of my past rejections, all the doubts in my heart, all the questions and insecurities, and used this editor to speak directly to my spirit.

“I believe in you.”


And it’s true – for ALL His kids.

He may give us great and amazing talents. He may bring us fame and recognition. He may shower us with opportunities to spread His word through our writing.

But at the heart of it all, He’s doing a  whole lot more than those things.
He’s letting His kids know that He believes in them.
Enough to take on the Devil, Death, and Hell.

Our writing is just an extension of what’s happening inside of us. Who we are in Him.
And with His faith in us spurring us forward, we are equipped to do great and marvelous things…whether those “great and marvelous” things are meant to minister to a small number of 1 or a great number of MORE.

He believes in you.
He believes in me.
We are His.
Pepper Basham writes Blue Ridge romance sprinkled with grace and humor. In her contemporary romances she doubles-up on the humor. She is a mom of five, speech-language pathologist, lover of all things AlleyCat, and chocolate addict. You can check out her website at to discover more.


Heidi Chiavaroli said...

What an awesome story, Pepper. Thanks so much for this encouragement today!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

Pepper, WOW, so beautiful!!!!!!! Goosebumps! God is so good - and you deserve this SO MUCH! You've worked so hard for it. And this is just the beginning, my friend. :)

Beth K. Vogt said...

Love this.
Love you.

Unknown said...

Oh my, I love this story, Pepper. And especially this: Our writing is just an extension of what’s happening inside of us. Who we are in Him.

Love it! Yay for God having such awesome plans for you and your story and your agent!

Mary Curry said...

Pepper, I'm sitting here with tears rolling down my cheeks. What an amazing, uplifting, wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing it.

Please don't feel that this is self-promotional. Your story is praise and acceptance and joyful sharing. Thank you!

Unknown said...

I appreciate this. I don't think I've suffered enough rejection to call myself an author. This in itself is discouraging, because, well... I don't want to write the junky first draft just to be rejected. Perservance I guess is the lower door knob key. The higher dead bolt key is knowing God believes in me. God Bless.

Ralene said...

You're not supposed to make me cry first thing on Monday morning! lol... A great story, Pepper, with an important lesson for all of us. Thank you for sharing...and good luck with your new agent!

Pepper said...

I'm so glad this could be an encouragement. I know a lot of people who feel discouraged after trying and trying...


Pepper said...

Oh Karen,
Thank you my SWEET friend.

Pepper said...

Ditto back atcha, Beth :-)

Pepper said...

Thanks, Melissa.
You are SUCH an encourager!
Bless you!

Pepper said...

Aww, Mary!
I'm so glad it was an encouragement to you! I think we all need the nudge of assurance God believes in our stories even more than we do :-)

More importantly, He believes in us!

Pepper said...

Not every writer suffers rejection - just the majority. If you talked to Dan Walsh, you'd get a very different story.

But for most of us it's a toughening of our 'spines' to get us ready for the BIG fleshing out as an author.

Pepper said...

Oh Ralene,
Sorry for the good cry this morning :-) BUT I am glad to send encouragement your way!

Carol Moncado said...

I'd already heard this story!!!! And you still made me cry!!!!!

Good thing I love ya so much alligator or I might be annoyed.

So happy for you. And so proud.

Don't let Ruthy push you around though. She'll start thinking she can do that to all of us ;).

Erynn said...

Yay! And what Beth said.

Angie Dicken said...

What fabulous wisdom bestowed on an already wise friend! You have always encouraged me and given me the God perspective I lack. I am so THRILLED for you, Pepper, and excited to see God's glory explode from your writing!
Love ya!

Krista Phillips said...

I LOVE THIS and I LOVE KNOWING you, sweet Lady!!! You are SUCH an encourager and a fabulous writer and I am just beyond excited for you.

There is just so much truth in this post... well done, my friend, well done!

Nancy Kimball said...

Pepper, thank you for sharing. This was great. Congratulations~

Joanne Sher said...

Oh, Pepper. That is SO amazing - and such a God thing. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for sharing. Just wowzers.

Lindsay Harrel said...

SO happy for you, Pepper!! Seriously. I love how God is in the details and orchestrated so many divine appts for you.

And I love how your story shows that we aren't defined by our writing. We are defined by who we are, and especially who we are in Christ. I tend to get so caught up in what I do and what I achieve, and I link that to my worth.

But my worth comes from HIM.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Such a wonderful and encouraging post, Pepper! Thank you so much for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Hi Pepper! What a great story. :) Def a'God thing' :) All the best as you write for His glory.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Thank you for sharing. One of the greatest moments in the world is when we find some people who believe in us, writer or no. But I will say that having an agent who enjoys and wants to promote your writing is a blessing that keeps me going many times when I'm teetering on the "I'm quitting" brink.

Tessa Emily Hall said...

Wow! What an amazing story. I love this especially:

"Our writing is just an extension of what’s happening inside of us. Who we are in Him."

So true. We write because of God and for God.

Thanks for your encouraging words, Pepper!

Julia M. Reffner said...

Wow, Pepper, this story still brings a tear to my eyes. I LOVE your heart for Him. Don't feel like you are self-promoting, you are blessing others by sharing your journey to encourage him. So PROUD, Pepper and love how God used it all for His glory!!

Lisa Jordan said...

Pepper, thanks so much for sharing your story! I love how God uses others to be our Voices of Truth. Congratulations on your new agent. This is just the beginning of wonderful things to come, my friend!

Anonymous said...

Pepper! I'm fanning happy tears away from my eyes right now! I am so happy for you, my new friend! I love hearing how God brought you to this point, and I'm so thankful for the message you gleaned from this part of your writing journey. God believes in us. We find our identity in Jesus, being one of God's kids. We are more than our writing, right?

Congrats! I am looking forward to hearing about the release of your first book!!! (When it happens--not if) :)

Susan Anne Mason said...

Amazing story, Pepper! How awesome to have an editor believe in you that strongly!!

You are one lucky, blessed lady and I am so happy for you!


Julie Jarnagin said...

What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing it!

Case said...

What? Your not published? : )

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Squuueeee! I love your awesome news and I love the message God gave share with us. I have always said God has big plans for you! I'm proud to know you!!!

Keli Gwyn said...

Thanks for sharing your agent story. I love hearing how the Lord worked things our in such a special way. I look forward to hearing more good news from you in the near future.

Pepper said...

As if I need to tell you...
Ruthy does EXACTLY what Ruthy wants to do :-)

Pepper said...

Thanks, Erynn! :-)

Pepper said...

Angie and KRista,
I love you guys! So much!
Thank you!!!

Pepper said...

Thanks, Nancy and Joanne.
It's really all about what God does when we least expect it.
Wowzers is RIGHT

Pepper said...

Amen, Lindsay

Pepper said...

thanks for that encouragement, Cindy.
You are such a blessing!

Pepper said...

DEF a "God thing" No doubt!! :-)

Mary Vee Storyteller said...

Awesome Pepper.
If this doesn't stir every heart who's eyes have read this post, I don't know what will.
I am soooooo glad for you.
Love yah, sis.

julia kovach said...

A wonderful and inspiration post that gives the rest of us agent-less new writers some much needed hope. Well done, girl. And congratulations! xoxo