Journey to Publication by Lori Nelson Spielman…plus giveaway

lorinelsonspielmanMy dreams have come true—I have a published novel. So, why is it that the title author feels fraudulent? It happened again yesterday—a friend of a friend asked, “Aren’t you an author?” I laughed, opened my mouth to correct her, stopped myself, and finally stammered, “Well, sort of…I guess. Actually, I’m a teacher.”

A teacher. A speech pathologist. A guidance counselor. These are roles I freely claim. They feel genuine and unpretentious. Somehow, claiming to be an author feels as phony as the year I donned my husband’s lab coat on Halloween, pretending to be a scientist. I was disguised as someone bigger than myself, someone more accomplished. Authors write beautiful prose and deep literary pieces. Authors have MFA’s, or law degrees from Ivy League schools. Me? I’m just a storyteller who got lucky.

But was it just luck? Or am I just like millions of other women who never feel quite deserving? Why is it so difficult for us women to own our accomplishments, to acknowledge our hard work and tenacity?

My journey to publication began on my knees. I prayed—literally prayed—for an agent. With two previous manuscripts and over a hundred rejection letters under my belt, I began the query process. Five months later I had three offers of representation. My prayers had been answered! It was a miracle! That’s right, a miracle. Not talent, not a terrific book, but divine intervention. With God as my co-conspirer, I was convinced we’d outfoxed these wonderful agents.

Six months later, my agent pitched my book to publishers. I braced myself for rejection, knowing that agent representation did not always translate to a book contract. I was stunned when the novel went to auction. And foreign rights? Beyond imagination! Did I attribute this good fortune to my novel? Of course not. I credited my agent. I assumed she must have whipped everyone into a froth, and they all jumped on the bandwagon. We’d pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes. (See? Real writers would never use these clichés.)

Same thing happened when the movie rights sold. Brandy, the film agent, began the call by saying, “First, let me tell you, I loved your book.” Immediately, I panicked. She has me mixed up with another writer! She’s talking about a different book. I actually forced the title into the conversation within the first 60 seconds, fully expecting her to say, “The Life List? Oh, no. Not that silly book. I’m sorry, I thought I was calling so-and-so…a real author.”

It’s not false modesty or a case of low self-esteem. I’m incredibly grateful and proud. The Life List has exceeded my every expectation. And sometimes, like those days when I open an email from a reader, telling me that the story inspired them to go after their long-abandoned dreams, I allow myself a moment of unabashed glee. But then I remember that snarky review I received the day before, and the self-doubt creeps back in.
Today I received news that the book is an international bestseller. Honest! It’s number one in Israel and number three Germany! I shouted to my husband, forwarded the email to my mom and dad. I danced around my kitchen. Then I dropped to my knees, the pinnacle of my journey ending the same way it started—in prayer. In addition to thanks, I added a new request: Please let me write another book.
Because surely, that’s when I’ll feel like a real writer.



A former speech pathologist and guidance counselor, Lori Nelson Spielman currently works as a homebound teacher for inner-city students. Her debut novel, The Life List, was inspired when she discovered an abandoned life list she’d written as a teen. It has been translated into 16 languages, and Fox 2000 has purchased the film option. She and her husband live in Michigan. Please visit her website at

Giveaway! I have one three copies of THE LIFE LIST, so if you are in the US please leave a comment with your email address!


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21 Responses to Journey to Publication by Lori Nelson Spielman…plus giveaway

  1. jillhannahanderson says:

    Lori, you are not alone, as I think most of us second-guess any success we achieve, as if we didn’t quite work hard enough for it. It reminds me of my older brother teasing me that I couldn’t call myself a runner until I ran a full marathon (I only did half marathons). Initially, I believed him. Now I tell him what he can do with his full marathons! 😉
    I know of authors previously on the NY Times bestseller lists who now are trying to get a current book sold, and they question their “writing skills.” We so easily forget our past struggles and successes. You’ve listed your hard work to get to the success of TLL – it wasn’t an easy path. You worked for your success. Much more work than just donning that lab coat. Enjoy it! 😉

    • lorispielman says:

      Thank you so much, Jill. Funny, my brother is trying to talk me into a half marathon. I guess everything is relative, right?! So glad you chimed in here.

  2. jodi marinich (@jodim1970) says:

    great blog post…

  3. Connie Saunders says:

    Congratulations Lori! I especially appreciated your comment that The Life List started with you on your knees asking for guidance and you also went on your knees to praise Him for your success. I wish you continued success and I thanks you for this giveaway.

  4. griperang says:

    This book sounds very interesting and good to me. Thank you for the chance to win. griperang at embarqmail dot com

  5. Vivian Vereeke says:

    I love it that you let God lead you through that, whole process, and you are humble enough to say it. That makes me want to read your book all the more. May God bless you with success on your new book.

  6. hartfiction says:

    Beginning on your knees is the best way to start ANY journey! 😉 When we see ourselves as God’s tools, we can be assured of great things–not by our own doing–but by His.

    I wish you great success! I love the cover art – and look forward to reading the book. And possibly winning it. lol

    nicnac63 AT hotmail DOT com

  7. First of all, Lori, congratulations. Writing is a lot of hard work and luck alone wouldn’t have got you those wonderful contracts with your novel. So enjoy and yes…you are an author. 🙂

  8. Yay!!! Oh, how many times have i prayed for an agent–too many to count. Being a humble Canadian girl, I certainly understand your modest inclinations. I cannot wait to read your book! poetesskristin @ live . com

    • lorispielman says:

      Thank you, K.A.! Sending Michigan love and luck across the border to you! I hope all of your prayers are answered.

  9. Destiny says:

    What an inspiring story! Thanks for sharing it! djvandeput [at] gmail [dot] com

  10. pascale says:

    great post. Love to hear how this evolved.

  11. Joni Fontana says:

    After way too long, I have finally found the space to drive to Barnes and Noble and purchase The Life List! I simply cannot put it down.
    It has changed my perspective on life and love (the undenying tough love Brett’s mom had for her)
    and I’m still in the beginning chapters. I am so excited for every spare moment so that I can read more and more. Your impeccable writing style enables the reader to actually be in the story.
    Honestly, while reading, I really felt like I was at that table eating muffins and drinking lattes!!
    You deserve every ounce of notability.
    There is no bigger person disguised by you!
    YOU are it LORI!!!
    One fabulous, smart, connected soulful woman and I love you to pieces!!

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