Launching a Career

Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion, received an Honorable Mention in the 2012 Selah Awards. Her latest novel, Love in Three-Quarter Time, is the launch title for the new Zondervan First imprint. Dina is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. She also serves as an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire Publishing. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at
If you faithfully follow Novel Rocket, you might have a vague
recollection of the tongue-in-cheek article I posted last year called “How to
Write the Unmarketable Novel.” Oh, you skipped that one. Who can blame you?
Truth is, I wrote my first novel before I knew anything
about the fiction market. I actually am NOT a glutton for punishment. But there
it was…written. And I loved that book. While many writers complete five to ten
manuscripts before getting published, I rewrote and rewrote and rewrote that story
for years until I got it right. Finally, despite the marketing hurdles, I found
WhiteFire Publishing, and although sales have been low, I have no regrets.
However, a year ago I began to feel a new sort of stirring. A
stirring to not only create novels that would impact lives, but also to earn a
living. What better way to earn a living than to actually turn my beloved
writing pursuit into a career. So last fall after “coincidentally” being stuck
at the airport with my agent for several hours thanks to plane delays and
discussing my career at length, I decided I would do my best to write a “marketable”
novel.” I would switch to a clear genre that was easy to sell and choose a
setting that would appeal to that audience. I had no idea if I could do it, but
I determined to try.
I prayed for several weeks for an idea. Finally, a title
dropped into my head, and a story began to unfold in my mind. As I sat down
during NaNoWriMo to pen my first “market-driven” novel, an amazing thing
happened. I worked on my hot genre, my popular setting, and even focused on
plot for once in my life. Each time I had a decision to make, I asked myself
what would be more entertaining. But as I did so, my voice and themes still
found their way into the novel with little effort, and I somehow managed to
turn out yet another book that I thoroughly loved. After a few rounds of revisions
with my critique partners and my agent, said agent sent the book to a number of
publishing houses in May.
Again I hit my knees in prayer, bringing before God not only
my desire that this book would find a publisher, but also that it would launch
my career. Then I prepared myself to wait, and wait, and as most of you know,
to wait some more.
But to my great surprise, magic happened. That serendipitous
moment when an author who has done the hard work meets a publisher who is
looking for exactly what they wrote. I could have never guessed that Zondervan
was about to open an imprint that would feature new authors. I didn’t realize
that would I end up teaching at the same Blue Ridge conference as editor Sue
Brower just a few weeks after my manuscript was sent to her. And I certainly
didn’t know that she’d be looking for a polished novel ready to launch the Zondervan
First imprint a few short months later.
So now, less than a year after I started writing this book,
my Virginia set historical romance, Love
In Three Quarter Time
, has released with Zondervan First. It still blows my
mind. I’m hardly earning the big bucks yet, but I’ve made significant strides
towards my goal of becoming a career author.
Although I’m not a big fan of formulas, let’s look at this
scenario for some keys to launching a writing career.
Learn the craft
Practice the craft
Find a support team
Listen to the experts
Consider the market
Network with professionals
Submit your career to God
Follow his leading
Pray diligently
And then pray some more
May the Lord bless your writing and guide you into his plan
for your future, whatever that might be! And to find out more about the
opportunities available with Zondervan First, visit them at
When the belle of the ball falls into genteel poverty,
Constance Cavendish must teach the dances she once loved to help her family
survive. The opportunity of a lifetime might await her in the frontier town of
Charlottesville, but the position will require her to instruct the sisters of
the plantation owner who jilted her when she needed him most. Can Constance
possibly face Robert Montgomery, her painful past, and the guilt that threatens
to destroy her in time to waltz her way to a fresh start.