Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Borrowed Book is very pleased to have Shannon McNear guest blogging today. Shannon recently received her FIRST contract at the 2012 ACFW Conference in Dallas, Texas. Here is her story.

About Shannon:

Shannon McNear’s publishing credits include former interview coordinator for Christian Fandom and several short stories in Christian Fiction Online Magazine. At the 2012 ACFW conference, she was awarded a first-time author contract from Barbour Publishing, for her historical romance novella "Defending Truth." It’s slated to appear in the 9-novella collection A Pioneer Christmas, releasing September 2013.

A resident of Charleston, South Carolina, for more than 20 years, she loves losing herself in local history, especially the colonial era. She’s a homeschooling mother of eight, military wife, and a member of ACFW. When not sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she finds joy in women’s ministry, children’s worship, and encouraging whoever God brings across her path.

About Defending Truth:

On the frontier of western North Carolina, which will someday become east Tennessee, Truth Bledsoe keeps her family fed and strikes terror into the hearts of the local boys while her father is away fighting the British. When she discovers a half-starved, fugitive Tory, she’s not above feeding him, but can she go past simple Christian charity to forgiveness, and possibly even love?

Micah Elliot has fled capture after the massacre at King’s Mountain, heartsick, battle weary, and ashamed of the cowardice that sent him westward over the mountains instead of eastward to home. Can he find his way through a crisis of faith to peace regarding where God has led him, and embrace what is worth laying down his life for?

On getting my first contract:

It happened. Finally.

Not how I would have envisioned years ago, perhaps, when writing fantasy was my only love, and the market was firmly closed to that genre. But God arranged for it to happen in such a way that I had three solid days—and then some—to savor it, with very little distraction. And He fulfilled His promise that when it happened, I would know beyond a doubt that it had been Him.

Opening day of the 2012 ACFW conference. I’d been up since before 4 AM, original flight canceled, on another flight by 6:30 AM. Arrived in Dallas at 8 AM and dragged into the adjacent hotel by 9. Got my room. Crashed for a bit, but only dozed. Came downstairs to walk around, get registered, and mingle. Had an encounter with a very kind agent that left me thinking, “Just shoot me now.” Fled to my room ... sat on the floor, weeping before the Lord, begging His mercy and for clear direction with my writing, for the umpteenth time. Oh God, how long do I keep beating myself bloody against the brick wall of the publishing industry if You aren’t going to open the door?

I took myself to two Scriptures that were pressing upon me: Exodus 14:14, “The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” And Joshua 1:8, “Have I not commanded you? Only be strong and very courageous.”

The phrase echoed through my head: Take courage. Take courage. Reach out and take it.

The weeping spent, I pulled myself together. Went through my conference schedule, planned which workshops to attend. Changed clothes, redid my makeup, and went back downstairs. As I walked down the hallway to the elevator, I reminded myself, I am a daughter of the Most High. I am here because He brought me here, and I can do this. Regardless of what happens.

The Lord is with me.

Met Colleen Scott, a friend from last year’s conference, and Beth Goddard, my writing partner and roommate, went to lunch with a small group. Sat down after with Colleen and another friend to compare WIP’s and talk about critiquing. By that time it was time to wander over to the opening session.

Colleen and I sat together, and our table slowly filled up. The announcements started. And I started fidgeting. It was close to time to find out whether they’d be doing the first-time author contracts ... and if so, who. I’d submitted a novella proposal back in July, so it was a possibility—and despite my sureness that someone else would be announced, I couldn’t help but hope it would be me.

Lord, just get me through this session, so I can move on and deal with the rest of conference ...

Becky Germany, the editor who traditionally gave out these contracts, had to stay home because of a family medical emergency, but the leadership at ACFW still wanted to keep the tradition. Margaret Daley, ACFW President, began to read the announcement that Becky had prepared.

“... I shared a meal with this writer,” the introduction went. I thought of last year’s gala, when I’d sat at Beth’s table with her and Becky, and talked about raising chickens and ducks and other farm things.

“... this writer sent her proposal on a published friend’s recommendation,” it went on. This was also true in my case.

Oh Lord, could it be ... ?

And then she read the title of the story ... MY story ... Defending Truth.

I covered my mouth with both hands. All the air went out of the room. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t move. “I can’t believe it,” I whispered, about the time my name was announced and the room erupted with whoops and cheering from those who had any idea just how long this journey has been.

Thirty-one years since I started writing my first novel. Ten years, on this end of writing with the intent of pursuing publication. Seven conferences, seven completed novel-length manuscripts, eight years since I’d joined ACFW ... nine babies, twenty-five years of marriage, nearly eighteen years of homeschooling.

At last I realized that yes, I was supposed to walk up there and receive my contract offer. People were rising to their feet and applauding—I could see Brandilyn Collins, in the front row, just beaming. The one who offered critique honesty to a 36-week pregnant mama—I’d needed that honesty. Margaret Daley hugged me and asked if I had anything to say. “I’m not sure I can,” I squeaked, but took the microphone.

Voice shaking, I explained how I’d come to conference because God told me to—but I didn’t know why. I’d felt this was a make-or-break year, and I begged Him for specific direction with my writing. I held up the paper and said, “I guess this is it!” Then I thanked those who have been on the journey with me.

Colleen Coble caught me in a hug as I got offstage. Roxanne Gray, a fellow writer-mom who’s also been through some deep water, met me halfway back to my seat, and all I could do was cry on her shoulder. (I was crying on her shoulder at last year’s conference for entirely different reasons.)

Back at my seat came the torrent of texting as I shared the news with husband, older kids, and critique partners. (Silly me—I should have just left the session! I finally did when my husband called ...) After the keynote speech, I went to call my mother and tell her—the one who believed in me and supported me back when it all began—and I could hardly speak for the tears, again.

Over the weekend, I lost count of how many people congratulated me, hugged me, shared the joy and sent it winging all over again. “Incandescently happy”—I kept thinking of that phrase, and indeed was teased by my friend Ronie Kendig for glowing so much she needed sunglasses.

Coming as it did, in the midst of incredible stress on half a dozen fronts, God surprised me with a gift so unexpected that the joy took on almost fairy-tale proportions. For that alone, the wait was worth it.

All of us here at The Borrowed Book look forward with anticipation to the release of Shannon's first book. A Pioneer Christmas will be available in September, 2013, from Barbour Publishing.


  1. Shannon, I was there at Dallas when you received your contract--congratulations. But after reading your story here, I am again encouraged that God's timing for me will be the right time! Thanks.

    And thanks, Elizabeth, for hosting Shannon.

  2. Why did you not give us a Kleenex alert?
    Your story is most encouraging!!!!
    Love the title, and reading the blurb made me love it even more!
    Looking forward to reading it...
    Thank you for sharing!

  3. Thank you both so much!! (and my deepest apologies for being SO very remiss in responding before now ...!) :-)

  4. And thank you again to Elizabeth, for inviting me to the blog! <3

  5. I am so excited for you. Shows that hanging in there pays off. Blessings, Connie Sue


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