Author of numerous NY Times best-selling books, his latest: Unwritten, (2013)
MA, Journalism, Regent University
Wife: Christy; 3 sons
Best-selling Author Guided by Faith
86 REJECTION LETTERS
Charles was born and raised in in Jacksonville, FL. He met his wife Christy in high school and went to college at Georgia Tech then transferred to Florida State. After he and Christy were married, they moved to Virginia Beach in 1993 where Charles attended Regent University. Charles had been writing stories since he was 15. “I was dealing with girls, grades, sports and hormones,” says Charles. “I didn’t know what to do with all that.” One night, he started writing a short story. “It had nothing to do with what I was dealing with but it was a release,” he says. While attending college, Charles put his hopes for writing on hold. Then in 1997, the desire to write bubbled to the surface.
After graduation, Charles’ brother-in-law gave him a job selling insurance which he did for 3 years while writing Dead Don’t Dance. His manuscript was rejected 86 times. “It was painful,” says Charles. “It shredded me.” While he was waiting to be published, the insurance company made Charles an offer he couldn’t refuse. It was a 6 figure income with a 6 figure bonus. “I didn’t want anything to do with the job,” says Charles. “I needed the money, but I had this manuscript.” At the time, money was tight. When Christy and Charles talked about the offer, Christy was thinking security. Charles said, “I really want to try and be a writer but I can’t do this alone. I need your permission.” That Sunday in church, Charles watched Christy break down during communion. “I know she gave it to the Lord,” he says. Charles resigned himself to the fact that he would take the job. “I didn’t want to live the rest of my life trying to persuade my wife [that writing was the way to go] and I needed to support my family,” he says. That night, Christy told Charles, “Ok we are gonna do this one time and do it all out.” The next day, Charles took a step of faith and resigned from his job. Then he started building decks and docks and drove around with a pressure washer for the next 14 months.
During those 14 months, Christy walked in with his 86th rejection letter. Charles was sitting at the desk with the bills sitting in front of him, which they couldn’t pay. Christy gave him the letter, kissed him and said, “You are not a reject to me.” That was the lowest point for Charles and a turning point, too. The Lord began opening doors. Three weeks later, Charles got a contract from a publishing company that had previously rejected him. Soon he won awards and later got picked up by New York House. “And that’s where the story changes,” says Charles.
Today his books are in 20 countries and printed in 17 different languages. The rights to one of his novels, The Mountain Between Us has been purchased and is currently under development for a motion picture.
Charles gives God the credit. “I don’t have a conversion story,” says Charles. “No Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus story. I was raised in a Christian home where we grew up knowing Jesus is Lord.” When Charles was struggling with his writing career, he prayed, “Lord, is this You? Where are You calling me?” He knew writing wasn’t the way to make the most money, but knew God called him to do something else other than selling insurance.
Charles loved his experience at Regent University. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” says Charles. His novel, Unwritten, is a story about an actress, Katie, running from her past finds escape with a man hiding from his future. Katie’s fame has driven her to self-destruction and only one man may be able to save her from herself.
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