My Operation First Novel Story

Operation First Novel winner Snow Out of Season

My Operation First Novel Story

Have you ever had an impossible dream?

Ever since I won a Butterball turkey in a short story contest in sixth grade, I’ve dreamed of penning novels. But first I met other adventures.

I earned a degree in English and writing then moved to China to study Mandarin and teach at a university.

Two years later, I returned to the States where I attended seminary, taught music and drama, and fell in love with a zany youth pastor.

After I got married, I considered the unique gift God had given me and how different my life would be if Mark wasn’t in it. A story grew in my heart, one I felt compelled to share.

However, 98 percent of books submitted to publishers get rejected. And only 16 percent of traditionally-published writers were able to debut with their first book. Most wrote at least one novel before finally being able to get the second, third, or fourth published. Did this story even have a chance?

Birthing Two Babies

Two-year-old Michaela Brunke with baby sister Angelina BrunkeDespite the odds, I decided to pursue that long-delayed dream, knowing the faithful One who had called me was the God of the impossible. To learn how to write fiction, I took classes, attended conferences, and joined critique groups.

Last year, my second daughter was born on June 10th, but the deadline for the Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest was September 10th. Between round-the-clock diaper changes, plus caring for my two-year-old, I finished my story and submitted it.

The next month, I was shocked to learn the Christian Writers Guild had closed. Was the Operation First Novel contest cancelled too?

A Desire Fulfilled

The following month, New York Times bestselling author Jerry Jenkins decided to continue the contest under his own name.

Jerry B. Jenkins Clarice G. James Christy Brunke

Me and Clarice James with New York Times bestselling author Jerry Jenkins.

That December, I discovered I was one of eleven semifinalists. The next month, at the Writer to Writer conference, Jerry announced I won third place. Snow Out of Season—that original story that wouldn’t let go—would be published!

From March to May, in-between moving, starting a new ministry, and trying to sell our house as well as buy another, I revised my story. Then I worked with Carol Kurtz Darlington from Mountainview Books to hone it more. Finally, my novel was off to the copyeditors and typesetters!

In October, Sandra Byrd, the bestselling author of To Die For and Mist of Midnight, read an advance review copy and said, “The story caught me with characters so real I feel I might see them on the street, and it held me with breathtakingly clever story telling.”

when Christy Brunke decided to become a writerIn November, Library Journal gave Snow Out of Season a starred review, calling it an “astonishing tale with a gratifying ending,” and named it their Christian Fiction Debut of the Month.

The book releases December 1, but I received my author copies yesterday. Words can’t express the feeling of finally holding my published book, the result of six years of prayer, perseverance, and birth pains.

What has God called you to? Put your little hand in His, and He’ll lead you on the adventure He has chosen, impossible or not.


7 thoughts on “My Operation First Novel Story

  1. When I told your Mom that I had finished reading your novel, the first question she asked me was “Did you cry?” – I did. She had read it before me – she cried too. “I never cry when I read novels! ‘ she said. “Do you think it was the book, or because it was written by our daughter” she asked, not sure in her own mind what the reason was. “Its the book” I said without hesitation. It’s artfully written. You let us into the characters souls in a way that makes it nearly impossible not to empathize. Some of the events that unfold and emotional scenes vary from heart-wrenching to profoundly touching. But beyond all that, its the way you have delicately woven gentle reminders of some of life’s sweetest truths and blessings through its pages that touches one to tears. Good job Chris!

  2. I have not read your book yet.

    Your father/dad’s review almost brought me to tears. Michael, your review is very well written and articulate. Christy, if your writing skills are anything like your dad’s, then we are all in for a treat. Michael’s review urges me to buy and read your book even more than I had planned.

    Bravo, hats off to you Christy.

    Can’t wait to get my copy.

    One of the ladies that I care for are anxious to read ‘Snow out of Season’.

    Much love

  3. Pingback: A Fear Realized, a Dream Come True - Never Alone

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