Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A year in the life of a newly agented requested by Lori Benton and Kiersti Plog. *edits and more thank yous.

ACFW 2013 

How I got home alive from that conference, I'll never know.
Yes, I do, God carried me on clouds of joy!!

Speaking of that conference...

Here I am sitting next to Sarah Sundin, and Vicki McCollum. And there's my agent, Mary Keeley, sorta lopped off to the left, talking to Michelle Ule.

SARAH SUNDIN?? Yeah, umm, the famed WW2 historical fiction writer?? 
Yeah, HER.
I was TAH-RY-ING to take in the fact that THEE Sarah Sundin is speaking to me.
It worked. Sorta. The poor glamour-girl had no clue I was utterly beyond it. Or maybe she did and thought, "Mmm hmm, she's one of us. Time to help her take it all in."

I sent the left-over cheesecake home with Sarah Thomas, and was happy to hear that her hubby enjoyed dealing with the problem of too much dessert.

So, I floated home, Indy to Toronto, Toronto to Fredericton and my plan was to take a cab home. I think I did. Well, any way...I got home!

I know, right? Amazing attention to detail!

It took a few days to come down, and get the jet lag/time change sorted. That's what we'll call it, yeah....

A few days after I got home, my husband treated the family to a steak and seafood dinner, which was rather impromptu, to celebrate. That man can grill my steak JUST the way I like it!

The weeks following the conference were a heady mix of adding umm, a hundred or so new writer peeps to my Facebook friends, and marvelling in the fact that I could actually, legally and stuff, add the Books and Such logo, and the "represented by Mary Keeley..." sentence to my blog wall.

I think I cried through that!

When I got the actual agency contracts in the mail, I was terrified to open them. But it was a good terrified, kind of like seeing that diamond ring from the man you love, or getting on the airplane to fly to a place you'd dreamt of for decades, or the moment you hear God whisper "this is from Me, I'm right here, you're ready..."

I remember walking home from the mailbox and holding the envelope in my hand. It had my name on it, so...this was for real. It wasn't just a dream. And yes, later that month, we'd have the cell phone bill to prove it!!

But as I stared at that envelope, I wondered just what God had in store for me, because I knew the story was good enough for Books and Such, but was I
Yes, that fear was real. As was the worry that somebody would find out I was an imposter. It's taken almost an entire year to shake that!!

Another God-thing transpired that floored me into maybe believing this was more than just "I wrote a story"...the chance to accept a standing invitation to New Mexico and do some more research. 

So, off I went to Denver, and thanks to Jeanne Takenaka, I got to Colorado Springs. And from there, Amy Drown took me on an EPIC AND AWESOME road trip to Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and Belen. Dinner with Andrew and Barbara, then the next day, I said goodbye to Amy (Oh yeah, not hard at ALL) and Ted and evie Charles took up the tour guide duties. After a few hours of driving and chatting, we made it to Bosque Redondo/Fort Sumner and just about fainted.

The museum was closed. 

Umm, what?

I'd flown and driven for days, and it was CLOSED???

Now, this is where you think I'm crushed, right?


God is SO good! 

I wanted and needed to get beyond the museum grounds , down to the river, to where the people lived and died. And so the fact that the museum was closed? Meant we could, umm, explore. 

On the grounds, where the people would have eeked out an existance.

Ted Charles, the grandson of a seven year old prisoner named Tsi'tnaginnie. 

 Yeah, it was QUITE a day...utterly exhausting and truly breath-taking, at the same time. It fueled me in ways I cannot begin to express.

Oy, I'm still dealing with the emotions from that trip and that place. And a place called Canyon de Chelly. Look behind Evie Charles, see those trees? Those are trees, 1000 feet down on the floor of the canyon. Ohhh, what a place! Such beauty and misery. That's where hundreds and thousands of Navajo people lived, and were forced to surrender to the army in the early 1860's.

 That trip shaped the second book, and when I got home, I went into a bit of a frenzy, getting as much feeling down as I could. I wanted to put the suffering on paper, and weave the hope into the words.

And writers know this, but it is impossoble to improve without the feedback from non-writer friends!!  Friends like Monique and Francois Levert, Merry-Lynne Inman, Yvonne Nye, Siva Stephens, Ted Charles, and Rel Mollet, just to name a few. 
These are not in order and I KNOW I've left out a LOT of people.

Annnnnnnnnnnd I forgot to mention my husband! John Major! Sigh, what a guy!

One thing I had not expected, as a writer, was the overwhelming support of fellow writers, whether published yet or not. Women like sarah Thomas, Lori Benton, Laura Frantz, Tamara Leigh, Kiersti Plog, Amber Perry, Cathy West, Amy Drown, Beth Vogt, Bonnie Grove, Jill Buteyn, Jeanne Takenaka, Gwen Gage, Ronie Kendig, and a certain group of women who shall remain nameless.

And as of Monday? Scott Smith, a monuments ranger with New Mexico State Parks.


So...where are we now? I HAD TO put my work on the altar set before God. This was not my story, it was His. I am merely the keeper.

Over the winter I dealt with waaaay more snow that normal, busy kids and their schedules, and then a fall on some ice that gave me a concussion and wrecked my shoulders, neck, jaw and voice. I struggled with losing my singing voice and wondered if God had not taken a string of pearls away so that His gift of turquoise and silver had room to shine. 

The Navajo are renowned for their beautiful turquoise and silver jewelry.

But, I kept on writing, editing, working, editing, and then doing it all again. On more than one occasion, Mary has sweetly reminded me that this is my very first book. As in, I've never done this before. So I need to chill and stop putting deadlines on myself, as well as lofty expectations.

The biggest, hardest lesson in the last year?


Patience with myself, because I am a complete newb. Patience with my agent, because she represents who knows how many people, and actually has a family and a life beyond her job. Patience with the process, with learning what I need to learn to take me from 'meh' to amazing. And patience with building my 'platform' and all the other things expected of a writer that didn't used to be issues.
Brock and Bodie Theone never had to worry about Twitter, just sayin. 

And patience with God's plan. Because I don't know it all yet. And frankly, this last 12 months has been a roller coaster because life gets in the way of our best laid plans.

God's will for us is never what is good enough, what will do for now.

His will is perfect.

I need to work on patiently waiting for that.


  1. I'm so glad we met last year at ACFW, Jennifer! I, too, am a major fan-girl of Sarah Sundin, so I laughed at your paragraph! Wish I could see you again this year. Happy writing and revising!!

    1. I'm so glad we met , too. (You have the most beautiful eyes!!) And I will miss going this year, most definitely. Are you going to Monterey? I sure hope so!

  2. Well, this is a good way to wake up in the morning, cracking up seeing the words "THE" and "famed" in the same sentence as my name! 'Cause I'm neither. And 'cause five years ago, I was the newbie hoping for an agent and/or a contract. And 'cause I was having a fangirl moment meeting THE Jennifer Major who makes the FUNNIEST comments on the Books & Such blog. But most of all because we're all just women trying to write, trying to obey God, and trying to keep our families from killing each other.

    1. I'm so glad I woke you up nicely!
      And yes, you are Just, shh.
      Me? Fangirling over me? Oh wow! Thank you! (Kneel and kiss the ring)

      Amen to that. we are women trying to write, to obey God and YESSSS, trying to keep our families from beating on each other to get the remote.

    2. Sarah, I love your wrap up sentence. I also appreciate how 'normal' you are, as well as the many times you've shared your talents and passion with our ACFW group.

    3. I like normal, I just do it. And I love when pubbed authors give back! Well done, Sarah.

  3. Love this, Jennifer--love your story, and reading it written in your style. Whether blogging or novel-writing, you have such a way with words! It's such a joy to see your journey with this story (stories!) unfold and be part of it in some small way. Thanks so much for writing this post!

    Oh, and I have to add--when I saw the picture at the top, my first thought was, "Oh, it's Jennifer at the ACFW Gala" and my second was, "Ooh, she's sitting next to and talking to Sarah Sundin!" Yes, I still get a bit star-struck by my favorite authors too. :) Even though I've learned you're a also just a lovely normal lady, Sarah!

    1. Thank you, Miss Genesis 2013 winner!! Let's not forget YOU are very gifted with words!

      Isn't Sarah lovely? Inside and out! So sweet and kind.

  4. Beautiful, Jennifer. Tears. Beautiful. Tears.

    I can so relate in so many ways. Imposter? Check. Fall? Check. I still believe that's how I lost my appendix. Contract? I would have signed on the wrong line. Uh, can you resend that? :)

    That canyon is something else.

    Backless dresses ... I don't do. Heels ... I don't like. Not sure how I'll find a dress I'll feel comfortable in for an event like that ... Lord willing, if I make it this next year. But you know what? God will provide if I'm to be there. He always does.

    I love your story.

    1. Honey, I have a feeling you'll be right there in Dallas, with the rest of us. Maybe you can translate, too? Since I don't speak Texan. Although, if there's a Famous Dave's near the hotel, ohhhh, we are going!!
      I wore comfortable wedge sandals, and the dress had a high back, and I wore a wrap. And you could wear a beach blanket and look stunning.

    2. Translation ... would be an honor!! :)

  5. I love this reflection, Jenn! One day, one day, I will make it to the conference myself, and we will literally bring the house down! Lol. Have a great time, you know you have my prayers with you. Hugs!

    1. Thank you, Gwen. And yes, you'd better come to one, upon which we'll behave poorly and raise a few eyebrows.
      My prayers are with you two. ;)

  6. Replies
    1. Thanks! And once again, thank you for Famous Dave's. But, ohhhh, not Chik-Fil-A.
      Have fun without me!!

  7. Congrats all over again, Jennifer! Meeting, and cracking up with you next month will be a highlight of my year.

    I remember getting my B&S contract, and holding my breath as I caressed the pages. Okay, that was a little OTT, but you get my drift.
    Also, when I got an email from the agency that stated at the bottom, "You are receiving this email because you are a client of Books & Such", I cried an ugly cry.

    1. Oh, Jenni, I'm counting the days til Monterey and carrot shopping with you!

      Wasn't that the BEST? Opening an email with that phrase? AHHHH!!

  8. HA!! I'm there I'm there, I got a mention!!! WOO HOO!!!!
    You know…it's all good. I'm still wondering how I got here. And when they're gonna wise up and kick me out…

    1. Duh, of course you're here!

      Me too, Cathy. But let's keep that on the down-low. No sense alerting anyone.

  9. Jennifer, you are a gem beyond compare. In the very best of ways. I loved reading about your past year, and I'm privileged I got to be a small part of it! :) YOU are a blessing, sweet friend!

    1. Small part? Ohhhh, Jeanne! You played a huge part! And, other than that moment on the highway and dealing with that bacon cheeseburger? My visit with you was awesome!

      You are a blessing, too, Mrs. T!

  10. Jennifer, I love your way with words. :) I love your excitement and passion for writing (and everything else!). I also love your heart for the Navajo. It's been fun getting a sneak peek into your year. Praying for this coming year! Hope it's even better. :)

    1. Thank you, Gabe!
      It was fun going through my Facebook and blog posts, so many memories came back, it was a blast to write this.
      And I think this coming year should prove interesting for the both of us.