How Big Are Your Dreams?

Behind every plan is a dream. What’s yours?

For many writers, a First Sale would top the list. Other dreams might include securing agent representation or winning a contest.

Maybe you dream of making a best seller list, getting rich, and giving up the day job.

Dreams are great. They motivate us. They empower us. They push us to do more than we ever imagined was possible.

When coupled with a plan, our dreams can come to pass.

In my previous post, Going Places: Planning Pays Off, I said one step in devising a workable plan is to make sure our goals are realistic. My goal wasn’t to drench your dreams in ice water. My intention was to point out that while it’s wonderful to reach for the stars, it’s important to realize that some things are out of our control.

Lest I come across as gloomy as Eeyore, let me clearly state that I believe in the power of dreams. We all have them. My agent, Rachelle Gardner, blogged about the dream of having our book turned into a movie in her posts Hoping for a Movie Deal, Part One and Hoping for a Movie Deal, Part Two. I gotta admit, it would be cool to see my story on the big screen, even if it was a screenwriter’s take on it.

Some of our dreams are focused on other people. We want our stories to impact our readers in positive ways. I’m an inspirational writer, so I want mine to glorify God and impart spiritual truths that can enhance readers’ lives.

One of my dreams as a fiction writer is simply to offer my readers an enjoyable story. If that story were to earn me a place on Oprah’s couch, I’d gladly accept the invitation. 🙂

Two Writers Whose Dreams Came True in a Big Way

This week I learned of two debut authors who landed the kind of deals dreams are made of. I offer their stories as encouragement.

Simon & Schuster Editor Sells Debut Novel to Random House

In this Galley Cat post (title above is link), I learned that Karen Thompson Walker sold her first novel to the Random House Publishing Group division in a pre-empt. The Publishers Marketplace announcement of her deal included the fact that this was “a major deal, said to be low seven-figures.” It also noted that the book sold to publishers in Canada and Spain in pre-empts and went to auction in Holland and the UK.

According to the Random House release quoted by Galley Cat, “Thompson Walker wrote the book before work every morning for the last three years.” The same release included this blurb: “The novel centers on an eleven-year-old girl and her family who wake one morning in their modest suburban home in California, to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. Set against this mysterious looming global disaster, The Age of Miracles unfolds a suspenseful family drama, a moving story of the lows and highs of a girl’s adolescence, and a poignant story of first love, beautifully mapping the effects of catastrophes big and small on the lives of ordinary people.”


Tahereh Mafi‘s post (title above is link) includes the press release from her publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books, dated March 2, in which they announced that they acquired North American rights to Shatter Me, her debut novel , in a major pre-empt.

Here’s the blurb from the press release: “Shatter Me is the first book in a riveting trilogy about a girl named Juliette who has the ability to kill people with a single touch—and the power to save her shattered world. Combining a crumbling dystopian world with a compelling heroine who has inexplicable powers, Shatter Me is a mesmerizingly romantic thriller with major teen appeal.”

And it gets better. Mafi is a twenty-three year old recent college graduate. Per the press release, her debut novel not only sold to Harper Teen, but “foreign rights to Shatter Me have already been sold in thirteen countries after a series of unprecedented pre-emptive offers were received within days of submission.” According to Publishers Weekly, which Mafi quoted in her post, “. . . it’s also rumored that the book has already been optioned in Hollywood.”

Why I Find This News Encouraging

  1. Publishers are still making deals, even BIG ones.
  2. Both titles are YA, which means publishers believe young people are reading.
  3. Both titles include strong romantic elements, which means romances are doing well. As a romance writer myself, that is good news.
  4. Both authors had a dream, formed a plan, and did the work. When they were writing their stories, Walker Thompson was going to her day job and Mafi was in college. Because of their efforts, they reaped success. We can, too. It’s naïve to think we’ll meet with the kind of success they did, but such stories prove that anything is possible.

* * *

How big are your dreams?

Do you find First Sale stories like these encouraging?

Image by Stephen Trepreneur via Wikimedia Commons

About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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37 Responses to How Big Are Your Dreams?

  1. I do find these first sales stories encouraging, and sometimes a bit discouraging. But I hang in there and write, hoping against hope I can turn my words into a sale.

    Great post. I love reading your blog! Have a great day Keli!

    Oh, and dreams are great if you make the plans to accomplish them.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Bonnie, thanks for your kind words.

      Ah, but you did turn your words into a sale. 🙂 It won’t be long until Whispers of Me comes out. Are you getting excited?

  2. I think all success stories, big and small, are encouraging to me. My dreams are like most writers dreams who pen inspirational fiction–write books that touch lives and bring hope to dark places. I’d also like to use some of that money, when it comes, to build more facilities for the women and children who are rescued out of the brothels in India.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Jesse, I’m sure your stories will “touch lives and bring hope to dark places.” That’s a wonderful dream, as is your desire to help those Indian woman and children. May the Lord use you and your writing to do just that.

    • Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

      May these wonderful dreams of you come true, Jessica! 🙂

  3. I love first sale stories! So exciting!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Julie, I’m a huge fan of First Sale stories. These two moved me because I can imagine how excited the writers must be. One can’t really prepare for that kind of success, I don’t think. They must be floating on Cloud 999.

  4. Wendy says:

    Encouraging, absolutely!

    And my dreams are so enormous I doubt sometimes I can fit inside them or they can fit inside me. It switches, depending on the day.
    ~ Wendy

    • Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

      All dreams can come true, even the biggest ones, amnd I am sure so will yours. 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Wendy, I can’t imagine you having anything but enormous dreams. That suits you. And I hope, hope, hope enormously wonderful, mind-blowingly awesome things are coming your way very soon, my friend. 🙂

  5. Jessica says:

    WOW. Yes, I find it encouraging and both of those premises are amazingly intriguing! I’d definitely pick up those books to read!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Jessie, I was impressed by the stories, too. Talk about high concept. Wow! I can see why the publishing pros got dollar signs in their eyes. The writing must be exceptional, too.

  6. Gina Conroy says:

    I always dream big! I can’t help it. But on this journey to publication I’ve learned that even though life doesn’t take you down the road you mapped out you still need to keep journeying. There just might be something bigger on the path ahead. And btw, I got a first sale this January! It was NOT a big sale. Didn’t line up with my BIG dreams. But my God is big and if this is his plan for my writing, who am I to disagree! 😉

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Gina, you sold? Wowzers!! That’s awesome. And it’s BIG! It’s cause for some cyber celebrating. I’ll start the party with some sparkling cider and a tray of chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and sprinkles.

      Tell us more about your First Sale. What kind of story is it? Which publishing house snapped you up? When is your book coming out?

      • Thanks Keli! My first sale was definitely unexpected, but a lesson in patience and God’s timing. To make a long story short, I sold a novella to Barbour. My anthology group pitched this a year ago, but at the time Barbour was only buying Christmas, so I added 30,000 words to it and my agent tried to sell it. It never sold. I moved on to another WIP, then heard Barbour was “open” again to other anthologies, we submitted and in less than a week, I had a contract.

        It’s a romantic mystery about an archaeologist and security guard that dig up love at Mt. Vernon. Only main problem is I have to CUT 30,000 words which is no easy task since the story is different from the first novella I wrote. But I cut 15,000 already! Just another 15,000 to go!!

        Guess it wasn’t such a short story after all. It comes out in Jan 2012 and I’d loved to be interviewed!

        • Keli Gwyn says:

          Gina, we’re Barbour buddies, which is way cool. Your story sounds great. I wish you well on the cutting. That can be painful, but at the same time, it can be rewarding to watch a story improve as a result. Even so, 30K words is a lot to remove. Kudos on being halfway there.

          I’ll be in touch regarding an interview.

      • Gina Conroy says:

        Just check my email and SAW my cover!!! Very exciting!

  7. Hilary Clark says:

    First sale news is VERY encouraging! It gives me hope and I firmly believe that deep reserves of hope are a life requirement.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Hilary, hope is vital. I don’t know how any writer can live without it. We have to believe that good things can come our way. And I hope good things are in store for YOU.

  8. Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

    Of course hearing about writers having success in publishing their book (s) is very inspiring and motivating for oneself and encourages to try to go public. Even more if it is the success story of a great woman like you, Keli.

    One of my dreams is having one of my stories published, too. I still work on that…lol. By now I have more success with my painting and music that with the writing..haha.

    The other dream I always had when I was writing was that some things I wrote about would come true in my own life: being happy and finding the love of my life. And this dream has finally come true now 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Martina, you are a woman of many talents: writing, painting, music to name but a few. You’re also a first class friend, one with the gift of encouraging others. Thanks for sending some of your personal sunshine my way. 🙂

  9. Absolutely! I love hearing about big sales like this. It’s hopeful for the rest of us. If it can happen to them, it can also happen to someone else. And that someone else could be you!

  10. WOW!!! 🙂 Great post, Keli! I was especially encouraged reading this post as I glance out my window at our pouring rain here in Georgia this morning. 😉 It’s always fun and encouraging to read “Cinderella” stories about ordinary folks who reach major success. ~ For me personally, my biggest dream as a Christian writer is to touch even one life with a hopeful message of Christ’s love for us. And it would be wonderful to have a first sale too, Lord willing. 🙂 But in the meantime, I can truthfully say I am enjoying this writing journey, and it certainly helps me handle my “empty nest” and no longer having a teaching career *sigh*. And the friends I’ve made have been awesome too! 🙂 ~ Have a wonderful Wednesday! ~ Hugs, Patti Jo 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Patti Jo, like you I’m an Empty Nester who embraced my longtime dream of being a writer. I think it’s great that you’re doing all you can to enjoy each aspect of the writing journey. That’s what I’ve endeavored to do as well. I’ve been blessed beyond measure by the many wonderful people I’ve met, such as YOU.

  11. Tana Adams says:

    Wow, that WAS encouraging! I’m thrilled for the new authors and cannot wait to follow in their footsteps. I tend to dream big. 😉

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Tana, for some reason I’m not surprised that you dream big. I have a feeling some of those big dreams will come to pass because you’re taking all the right steps and have an abundance of talent, energy, and enthusiasm. You rock, my friend!

  12. candidkerry says:

    I love hearing these stories! It’s such an encouragement.

    I’m not sure if I dream big, but it seems big enough for this busy life of mine. 🙂 It’s always been my dream to walk into a store – doesn’t matter which store 🙂 – go to the book section and see MY published book sitting on the shelf, beautiful cover, filled with romance and emotions that touch the readers.

    At some point I realized my dream was empty unless God was part of it, and that realization brought focus to my writing and purpose to my life. I’m learning to trust God with my dream, and maybe someday I’ll see my book on that shelf! 🙂

    Thanks again for your encouraging stories and helpful posts!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Kerry, I’m with you. The Lord is my writing partner. What works for me is leaving the timing in His hands. I concentrate on the writing, editing, learning, researching . . . Of course, I say lots of prayers regarding those pesky doubts that try to sneak in.

      I look forward to the day when you announce your First Sale and I can join in your happy dance.

  13. erin says:

    Wow…those stories just make me giddy for those authors!! How cool! For me, my dream is to write another book (or three) and for my current book to sell. BUT, most of all, I keep reminding myself that if God uses my words to touch ONE pregnant mom, then all the work was worth it…

  14. Tamika says:

    I needed this today. Sometimes we needed to reminded to dream BIG. A dash of hope can jostle anyone’s motivation to hang in there.
    I try to hold onto God’s truths too- nothing is impossible with God!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Tamika, I firmly believe God likes it when we dream BIG dreams. He wants the best for us, after all. But what’s way cool is when we think we’ve dreamed big and what He gives us is even bigger.

      When I first began writing, I spent two years in isolation. I craved fellowship with other writers and asked Him to provide some. When I finaled in a contest and was invited to guest blog about my experience, I met some wonderful writers, and then some more, and . . . These days I have hundreds of awesome writer pals–like YOU. Talk about being blessed! 🙂

  15. Julie Nilson says:

    I think those stories are encouraging, because they tell us that publishers are still willing to take chances on new writers if the stories are good. It’s all about the stories.

    My “big” dream is to make enough at fiction writing to be able to quit writing corporate stuff. My little eagle puppet is now on the shelf over my desk, watching over me and reminding me to get some fiction or blog writing done every day.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Julie, I’m glad you’re dreaming big and hope you are able to “retire” and write full-time one day in the near future. In the meantime, I applaud your for carving out time each day to work on your own stories.

  16. Success stories are always a source of encouragement, although the magnitude of these two is a little overwhelming. Wow! How exciting! I dream of representation and publication, but daren’t imagine possibilities beyond that.

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