Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Critique/Review (for writers) (05/06/10)
TITLE: The Choice
By Lisha Hunnicutt
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"At what cost?" whispered a voice.
Pushing aside the question, he raced to share his good news. "The editor loved it! I'm going to be published! A book with my name on the cover!" He grabbed his wife, swinging her in circles.
His exuberance at the good news of an accepted piece overcame his senses. "It says here they want me to make a few changes, but a book! Can you believe it babe?"
"Congratulations!" she laughed. "I knew you could do it." He gave her an affectionate kiss and headed off to call his editor.
"Good afternoon. Hardwick Publishing, Nancy speaking."
"Yes, I'm Jake Simpson calling for Mr. Walting."
"One moment please." His heart pounded nervously as elevator music filled his ear.
"Breathe," he told himself. His shoulders relaxed as Mr. Walting came on the line.
"Congratulations Mr. Simpson! I've been waiting for your call."
"Thank you sir, but please call me Jake."
"Okay Jake. Let's go over those changes."
"First of all, we like your main character, but feel that he needs more dimension or shall we say color."
"Color? What do you mean?"
"Well, he's too churchy. He needs a more rugged edge that will appeal to a wider audience."
"Okay," Jake hesitated. "What do you suggest?"
"Roughen up his personality. When he meets the new secretary, have him flirt a bit. Tell his buddy how hot she is. Throw in an expletive or two."
"An expletive? Flirting? He's a family man who loves his wife."
"I know Jake, but what man doesn't enjoy a little fire now and then? Come on. I’m not asking him to sleep with her, just some harmless flirting. It'll widen the audience. Let's move on to the daughter."
"Beth? What about her?"
"Add some teen rebellion. She could smoke some weed, sneak out a few times."
"Weed? Sneaking out? With all due respect sir, I'm a Christian author and want to stay true to the facts. This book is based on a true story. Changes like that would paint a different picture of who this family really was."
"Based is the key word here Jake. It's based on a real story, not the real story itself. Readers expect a little embellishment here and there."
"I don't know Mr. Walting. The integrity of this story is important to me."
"Well, Jake. Why don't you sleep on it and give me a call tomorrow. This is Hardwick. We can sell thousands of copies."
"Ok sir. I'll talk to you tomorrow." Jake hung up the phone with a sigh.
All night he tossed and turned, wrestling with his thoughts. "A mild expletive can't hurt can it? After all, the book does need to be real. Real people swear sometimes."
"Ephesians 4:29? Where did that come from?" He tip-toed into his office. Flipping on the light he reached for his Bible. "Ephesians 4:29. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful…" his voice trailed off. He sighed, "Okay God."
He fell to his knees, seeking God's direction until the first rays of sunlight warmed his back. He knew what he had to do. He waited until 8:00 and gave Hardwick a call.
"Mr. Walting, thank you for selecting my book for publication, but I can't make those changes you asked for. I hope that you will still take it to publishing. I believe this story needs to be told."
"Sorry to hear that Jake. Without those changes, we just can't publish."
"I understand sir."
"This is Hardwick, Jake. You do realize what you're giving up here? If you walk out on us, you won't get another offer."
"I know. Your review is important, but there is another one that matters more sir."
"More than Hardwick? Who's more important than the top publisher in the nation?" he squawked.
"God sir. His word gives me clear direction on how to live my life, and even though it means sacrificing one of the best book deals ever, I can't compromise my faith."
Jake wrapped up the disappointing phone call and went for his afternoon jog. He needed to clear his head. As his feet slapped against the pavement, he pondered what God's review would say, and he smiled, knowing it would be one he could be proud of.
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