the happy ending (beginning)

Bits and pieces (left some out so this post wouldn’t run on for ages) of my e-mail convos with Sunny in the next few weeks/months: (sorry about the wacko formatting)

January 26, 2005

Hello, friend Sunny! Wow. Thank you so much for your kind words about my book. You can’t imagine how thrilled I was when I got your e-mail.  Wow. I will definitely get you the rest of the manuscript ASAP…
I would like a few days to tweak some chapters and to make sure it’s the best it can be. Would that be okay? My grandpa died on Monday night, and we are currently in the middle of viewing and funeral arrangements, so I wouldn’t be able to get started on it until Monday. Could you give me a date that you would like everything sent to you by? Thank you so, so much. Again, wow.

Very, very warmly, Marla Taviano

January 26, 2005

Marla…. not the grandpa with the farm. I feel like I know your family a little bit now, after reading your wonderful stories about them. Please, take as much time as you need. As one writer to another, I completely understand about the need to tweak.

Take care, girl. You are appreciated!

Sunny

January 26, 2005

Yes, the grandpa with the farm. When I read that first sentence in your e-mail, my heart stopped. “How does she know my grandpa?” I thought. And then I kept reading. And then I started bawling. That means so much that you feel like you know my family after reading that chapter. I was asked to speak at the funeral, and I prayed that God would show me what to say. I know now. I’m going to use the excerpt from my book about the Yoder Family Softball game and “tweak” it just a little to make Grandpa the star of the story.

February 16th is perfect. Thank you for the extra time. I’m really thankful for you, Sunny. Whatever happens with my book, God has already used you to encourage my heart.

Thank you. Marla

January 26, 2005 (Sunny shared a personal story with me–I’ve copied the ending here)

Then, just a couple of weeks later, she was gone. I couldn’t believe it. All I had left of her was a hand-made Christmas card, and four years of bitter-sweet memories. I haven’t written a word of my book since. Until now. You’ve inspired me. How can God use a terrible thing to touch people for the good if we won’t do our part to share those things with courage. It’s the true-life experiences that dig the deepest inside people to bring healing and hope.

All that to say, Marla, you have an amazing gift of communication. The way you craft your sentences, and the words you choose… truly. I read about fifteen hundred proposals a year, and yours is a breath of fresh air. You have raw talent that can’t be taught. Never change that beautiful transparency–truth and accessibility are two things that take guts to practice as an author. But you’re a gutsy girl. And, oh, how it shows.
Hang in there, Marla. You’re doing good!
Sunny

January 27, 2005
I’m in awe of God right now. And at a loss for words. So much for that gift of communication. I just spent the last eight hours at a hospital waiting for my newest niece to be born–Reese Jacquelyn Faith Taviano. Gorgeous. Looks just like her daddy, only pretty. In two hours I leave for my grandpa’s viewing. Life and death all in one day–I feel overwhelmed, yet at peace.

I am still in shock over the fact that Harvest House publishers may want to publish my book. Your affirming comments are just beyond anything I could imagine… It doesn’t seem real. And I feel so humbled. Why would God give me this kind of talent? I don’t deserve it. Well, hello. Isn’t that the point of God being God and us being us? Undeserved riches.

I will pray for you as you work on your book. What an awesome opportunity–and responsibility–to share what God has brought you through. And you think I’m gutsy.

Gratefully and humbly His,
Marla

February was filled with lots of waiting. I’d wait as long as I could stand, then e-mail Sunny to see if there was any news. For the most part, my book was sitting in various stacks on people’s desks waiting patiently for its turn. Then on March 2, Sunny e-mailed me. Here’s my e-mail back:
Thank you, girl. You saved me from writing another “pestering” e-mail–I was this close! You have no idea… God sure is having fun testing my patience, and it’s not just the book thing. We’ve been trying for 10 months now for baby #3 (and last), and if I don’t start in the next couple days, I’ll take a test. Between the book and the baby, I’m going crazy. Not really–I keep giving them to God, but the waiting is still hard.

ANYWAY, so you’re sure it’s a good thing that he passed the book off? Did he look at it at all first or immediately know it wasn’t his area of expertise? Do you really think it has a chance? Oops, I wasn’t going to pester you! I need to just stop thinking about it. You said such wonderful things about it, but some days I just can’t believe that someone would want to publish it. Time to trust God’s will.

Thanks for being there for me in all this! I appreciate you writing today!

Waiting with a Smile,
Marla

March 9, 2005
Acquisitions Editor lady just told me that she is presenting your book to PubCo (Publisher’s Committee) for their review. (In lay terms, this is the equivalent of going from swimming in the kiddy pool at the water park to deep sea diving off the coast of Australia). Okay, so that was a really weird analogy. What I’m trying to say is… from Writer’s Edge to PubCo was worth the wait. VP’s of each department will decide whether or not the material will fit our program. They give the final word.

Just so you know, It is very difficult to get a proposal/manuscript to PubCo–but yours is on its way. They meet tomorrow, then each member takes the material and reads it in the coming week. Then, the next time they meet they discuss it. You should be very proud that your book merits going to PubCo. Whether they decide it is a fit for Harvest House or not, you done good, girl!    Now, bask in the glow and don’t email me for another two weeks. 🙂

March 9, 2005
Thank you for your e-mail. At any other time, I would be ecstatic, but I am bleeding and scared to death that I’m losing my baby. Please pray. I know that God is in complete control, but I’m just really hurting right now. If I e-mail you again, it will just be to let you know how I’m doing, not to ask about my book. In fact, the book seems completely irrelevant to me right now. Don’t tell the folks at PubCo. 🙂 I know you’ll pray–thank you!

March 11, 2005
Thanks for praying, Sunny. I lost the baby yesterday. Please keep praying, if you could. I’m hurting, but I’m okay. I have an awesome support system.

I’m so very sorry, Marla. I don’t have the words. My heart is hurting for you. But, knowing how much Jesus loves children, I can’t only imagine that He’s holding your baby right now.

On March 31, Sunny called me for the first time on the phone. We talked. I squealed. Later that day, I e-mailed her:
I’m just not really sure how to thank you. I know that words are supposed to be my forte, but they’re failing me at the moment. Thank you. You have no idea what an encouragement and inspiration you have been to me over these last two months. Thank you for believing in me and for your wonderful comments on my writing. You said that it was a breath of fresh air, but your compliments were equally as refreshing–if not more so! I’m looking forward to hearing how I need to chop/tame/change/delete/enhance my manuscript. I can’t believe it’s going to be a book next year!

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

The end. And my longest blog post to date, I believe. Give-away winner will be drawn Friday at noon and announced on Swirly Saturday. Happy Weekend, friends!


13 thoughts on “the happy ending (beginning)

  1. This is "Sunny"...

    Marla, I was just searching for your contact info when I came across this posting of our email trail… NICE! I knew I found a diamond in you. Easy find when knee deep in the slush pile of unsolicted submissions.

    Drop me an email when you can. I’d love to catch up with you.

    KS

  2. Jen L

    Wow….it’s so neat to see how God has worked in your life. It’s an encouragement that He will work in mine, too. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Sarah Jane

    What an example of how God works through our struggles. Thank you for sharing, this was encouraging to me. I have had two early miscarriages and am currently 6 weeks along in our third attempt. I can definitely relate to the craziness of waiting and wondering about the outcome. It is tough! But God is faithful!
    “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

  4. Sarah M.

    WOW! Tears in my eyes just reading what your mom wrote….. So so neat to see how God worked to make one of your dreams come true, even in the midst of loss and heartache.

  5. Chris Yoder

    I’m bawling my head off right now! Surprise! I was reading this to dad, and could barely get through it! There just aren’t words to express all that I’m feeling right now, and all the memories this brings back to me, so I won’t even try.:) Let me just say that God has answered my prayers for you beyond my highest dreams! I love you, Marla!

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