This week, we’re delighted to welcome new author Heidi McCahan to Love Inspired! In her own words:
Stories and the beauty of fictional characters coming to life on the page have always captivated me. My parents bought a lodge in Alaska when I was a baby, and my grandparents lived with us half the year. My grandmother was responsible for keeping me occupied and would often read to me. I wanted desperately to understand those words on the page. My older sister made a book at school, and when she brought it home, I was so jealous and begged her to teach me how to make one, too. When I was old enough to go to school, learning to read felt like my ticket to a whole new world.
In middle school, we were required to write and revise a short story or poem and submit it for publication. My teacher kept a wall of fame in his classroom of his many students who were published authors. I longed to have my name on that wall. My poem was horrendous, but I submitted it to Seventeen magazine anyway. I still have that rejection letter.
I continued to be a voracious reader throughout my teenage years, devouring the entire Sweet Valley High series, Louis L’Amour westerns, and of course, my first Harlequin paperbacks. I had dozens of ideas, with little knowledge how to craft a novel. I just knew that I loved the experience of getting swept away in a story. My best friend was the only person who knew about the manuscripts I started, then shoved under my bed, embarrassed and frustrated by my inability to finish. The summer I read Julie by Catherine Marshall, my dream of penning an epic saga was reinforced, only to be abandoned in favor of being a teenager: playing sports, hanging out with my friends, and reading all the inspirational romance novels I could get my hands on.
In college, my natural ability to write and the satisfaction achieved from completing a paper was outweighed by my misperception that I’d never succeed as a writer. My parents had sacrificed a lot to finance my liberal arts education, and I wanted to be able to support myself. Journalism or education didn’t feel like the right career paths for me, either. Instead, I fell back on my second love—sports—and earned a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in athletic training. A few months into my first job at a large university, I knew getting paid to watch sports and treat injuries wasn’t where I was supposed to be. It was a short-lived career. I got married, moved across the country for my husband’s job, and worked part-time for a real estate agent until our first son was born.
One night, I was rocking our baby when a fictional character strolled into my imagination. I typed one paragraph into a Word document, where it lived on our computer’s hard drive for five years, two more sons, and another cross-country move. By 2012, the desire to write couldn’t be ignored, so I wrote in fits and starts, five hundred words at a time, until I had a completed manuscript.
It took a while to muster my courage, but I finally entered my first Harlequin contest, Happily Editor After. I was both elated and terrified when Emily Rodmell requested a full manuscript. While it received a rejection, she mentioned she’d love to see something else that fit the Love Inspired line. I kept writing and in the spring of 2015, I entered the From Blurb to Book contest with a new story idea. Although I didn’t win, I did have another completed manuscript and Shana Asaro patiently coached me through two rounds of revisions for The Farmer’s Daughter.
In December of 2016, I was driving my oldest, now a seventh grader, home from school when I received The Call from my agent. Harlequin wanted to buy my manuscript! I was beyond thrilled and quickly shared the news with my family and friends. I’m very happy to be a part of the Harlequin community and excited to share this story with readers. I hope my journey as a writer inspires others to keep writing, improving their craft, and pursuing their dreams.
Look for Heidi McCahan’s debut Love Inspired in 2018!
Want to read more inspirational call stories from new authors? Check out our archive.