Wednesday, January 31, 2007

When There is Strong Desire, There is a Way

NOTICE: We've Moved! Please click here to be taken to the new location!!

I know it's been ages since I last updated this blog (Nov 06) but I haven't forgotten you. I guess you could call it a case of writer's block or perhaps I just ran out of stories to share? It doesn't matter....I'm B-A-C-K!

Before I go any further with a new story, I'd like to share with you my newly overhauled website that now has a couple of videos on it. This gives everyone a chance to see and hear me in action. Here is the website: www.sjhopson.com

Okay, now let's get on with my latest story, shall we? Most of you already know I am an inspirational speaker and that this is how I make my living. Well, since I am still in the process of building my speaking career, I am occasionally called to give a free speech here and there in an effort to get my name out there and sharpen my presentation skills. I always go to these freebies with the attitude that you never know what will occur because the most amazing and unexpected miracles do and can happen.

The Zonta International Group in Akron, Ohio invited me to give a presentation to their club earlier this month. The topic that night was "The Jordan Factor," one of my favorite stories about the impact my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Jordan, made on my life so many years ago. You can see a description of the speech here: http://www.sjhopson.com/speaking-titles.htm

At one point during the speech, I mentioned how everyone comes together for a specific and divine purpose to help one another at just the right time. I related to them that was what my fifth grade teacher did for me so many years ago. A lot of heads were bobbing up and down - they seemed to understand.

Then came time for questions and answers. A lady in the far corner of the room raised her hand and asked that I tell them about my writing endeavors. I had no idea who she was but apparently she had read my biography from my website and I was grateful for the reminder.

So I proceeded to tell them about some of my short stories that were published in books like "Chicken Soup for the College Soul" and others. Then I shared the experience of how I finally landed a prominent literary agent in 2000 after many rejections (he once represented Mother Teresa). We ended up signing a contract and together we worked diligently for several months on a proposal for my first manuscript. After he and I were satisfied with our work, he went shopping among the nation's top publishers.

Despite all the hard work that went into the book proposal, all of them turned us down!

The agent eventually suggested that perhaps the timing was off and that we part ways. Crestfallen but not crushed, I shelved the book project. I was operating under the assumption that it was just a matter of timing, having patience and faith - lots of it.

"That was 7 years ago," I told the attentive audience. "Even though the project with that literary agent didn't work out, I firmly believe it wasn't an accident. Perhaps the universe was preparing me for something down the road through that experience."

I ended the speech with, "everything happens for a reason."

Little did I know this would trigger a series of amazing events that has taken place since that moment.

The same lady in the far corner immediately raised her hand again and said she would be happy to help in any way she could with my publishing aspirations. I thought that was sweet and thought nothing more of it.

I still had no idea who she was. She didn't look familiar nor did I recognize her name when we business exchanged cards. Her parting word were, "I can't promise anything but I'd be happy to help if I can." I thought to myself, "Okay cool. Whatever happens, happens."

As soon as I got home, I looked her up on the Internet and what I saw shocked me beyond comprehension.

Would you believe that this humble lady whose face and name I never recognized, is the author of twenty five books?!?!?! What's more, she is also represented by one of the most successful literary agencies in New York City - an agency that represents celebrities like Brittany Spears, Kareem Abudl-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Terry Bradshaw, Donna Karan (famous designer), Ed McMahon (Johnny Carson's sidekick), Michael Reagan, etc.!

Who knew such a miraculous encounter would ever happen in a small sleepy town of Akron, Ohio? Discovering someone like her is like finding a needle in a haystack that you could never expect find unless you happened upon it by chance!

I later learned that when she was just getting started, she had no money, no prospect for self-publishing (because she couldn't afford it) but someone came into her life and helped her get started. She was put in touch with a well established literary agent (the same one she is affliated with now) and the rest was history. She is now letting the circle complete itself by reaching out to someone like me.

She is helping me whip in shape a book proposal for my newly revised and updated manuscript aptly entitled "That's Right Stephen!" She thinks some pretty powerful people in the literary and entertainment world just might be interested in doing something with my story and my manuscript.

Think about it. If I hadn't accepted that freebie speech, none of this would have transpired. I'll tell you one thing - I never fail to be in awe of the incredible power of the universe! And the funny thing is, we're just getting started on this new adventure!

Food for Thought: There is always hope. When there is a strong desire, there is always a way.
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