MLP 5th Anniversary – How I Became a Marcher Lord

 

Happy Anniversary, Marcher Lord Press!

Today is the fifth anniversary of my publisher, hurray! To celebrate, there are giveaways here (ends tonight) and here! (hosted by MLP author, Morgan L. Busse.) Not to mention a 25% discount on the entire MLP library (except the newly released Amish Vampires in Space, by Kerry Nietz) AND a giveaway of every single Marcher Lord Press book .

I thought it fitting, on this day, to share my Marcher Lord Press (MLP) story—how I discovered MLP, why I’m passionate about it, and how I ultimately became a marcher lord.

The Marcher Lord

Graphic credits: Jeff Gerke

I first heard of Marcher Lord Press (2015 update: it is now Enclave Publishing) as a recommendation from a freelance editor after she went through my first book (which shall remain shelved and unmentioned for the rest of my life.) [grin] This was in 2009.

I explored MLP a bit and grew to admire  the vision behind the publishing company. May 2010, I attended the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference with my mom and sister (which later became a yearly tradition) where I first met Jeff Gerke, the founder of MLP. My sister—also a writer—and I took one of his continuing sessions and I  had a one-on-one appointment with him. He gave me some good feedback, pointers, and encouragement, but this was still with that horrid first novel of mine, mind you.

What left a big impression, was when I picked up my first MLP book at the conference–Jill Williamson’s first two books in The Blood of Kings series. I read them back to back in the first three days after the conference and realized what an enormous difference Christian fantasy makes. I saw the newness and vision behind MLP through different glasses, and I wanted to be a part of it.

That started my venture into Marcher Lord Press—I studied the vision behind the publishing house, I started reading and re-reading every MLP book I could get my hands on. More and more, I wanted to be a part of it—what it stood for, the vision, and the goals behind affecting the world of Christian speculative-fiction.

In October 2010, God doused me with a new story that needed to be written—A Time to Die. It overwhelmed my imagination so much, I set aside my other writings, grad school classes, and all other activities to simply get it out of my head and onto paper. The Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference came up again and I had just under 30,000 words  written.

Typewriter Announcement 2

I didn’t want to rush anything, so I planned not to pitch any of my writing to anyone during this conference. To keep myself from being tempted, I didn’t print out a scrap of material to present (not a good idea, by the way) and I didn’t schedule a one-on-one with Jeff Gerke—my top choice if I had planned to pitch my novel. I was only there for advice and classes.

As an act of God’s unending humor and sovereignty, all of my appointments were misplaced when I arrived. *panic* In fact, not one had been reserved for me. I had to re-choose who to meet with, but this time all my other choices were now taken. And, coincidentally, Jeff Gerke had an opening. (Can you see where this is going?)

Okay, I thought. I’ll just have him read my first few pages and give me feedback on the hook. In a panicked frenzy, I found someone gracious enough who would allow me to print out a few pages.

I started the meeting with, “I’m not here to pitch my book.”

“Okay,” he said. “What else can I do for you?”

“Well, I’m not sure if my novel falls under MLP’s genres,” I said. “It’s a futuristic dystopian novel.”

“Anyone who knows the word dystopian gets a thumbs-up in my book.”

He read for about 10 seconds and stopped. I thought, This is bad news if he’s stopping so soon, but I steeled myself. I admired his constructive criticism. I wanted it, right?

“This opening line is amazing,” he said.

I could have fainted right there, but we still had at least 10 minutes left to our session and there was no way I’d miss that.

“It breaks all sorts of rules and I almost said something, but it’s great.”

I didn’t realize it broke any rules other than having the evil word was in there. I liked that it broke rules. And I liked that he liked it.

Okay, enough of the reminiscing. Ultimately, he asked when it’d be finished and I guessed a year (much much too ambitious, I’ll tell you right now.) He then asked me to send me what I had so far. More dazed conversation took place, I couldn’t think straight, but I think I remained professional. I threw my little sis (who was trying to eavesdrop a few rows up) a thumbs-up, then went outside and called my husband (at that time, my boyfriend.)

Two and a half years and another conference later, A Time to Die was finished and fully submitted to Jeff Gerke. His acquisition editors had given it approval and good feedback. Now it was time for him to read it. I checked my e-mail at least 10 times a day, waiting (and fearing) to see what he’d say.

Then, on the most perfect July 15th ever, I habitually checked my e-mail on my phone while at my sister’s house. There it was. It had been sitting in my inbox an entire hour already. It started:

Nadine, I’m 123 pages into A Time to Die and I already know I want to publish this book.

I cried.

Then I sucked it up so my sis wouldn’t notice (she did anyway) and went home to tell my husband before anyone else. One look at my face and he shouted, “You heard from Gerke!”

And that’s how I became a marcher lord, not just through my efforts or Jeff’s generosity, but because God knew this was where I belonged and I trusted Him with my writing pursuits.  Marcher Lord Press has always been my first choice for a publisher. Sure, I maybe could have pursued bigger publishing houses—there’s no telling what would have happened—but I’ve only ever wanted to be a marcher lord…because of the vision upon which it was built.

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About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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