5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Writing

Dear younger me
Where do I start
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far
Then you could be
One step ahead
Of all the painful memories still running thru my head
I wonder how much different things would be         ~MercyMe

I’ve been writing for a long time, about fifteen years. And like the song Dear Younger Me, there are some things I wish I could tell my younger self, so I’d be better prepared.

  1. Don’t stop writing—ever. That condescending editor? I should’ve brushed off the criticism. The days when I didn’t have to write? I should’ve put my butt in the chair and written anyway. When things got hard and the criticism stung, I shouldn’t have slowed down, but instead pushed harder.
  2. Develop a thick skin. This one I’m still working on. I know words are only words. But whether it’s a bit of untrue gossip or a scathing review, these are the things downloaded unto the hard drive of my memory.
  3. It’s a hard industry to break into. Much, much harder than I thought. In fact, I’ve heard the professional advice: if you can do anything else, do it. And I would… except the characters and plots keep coming. I don’t only write because I like to, but because I can’t not write.
  4. Feedback is essential… Whether it’s beta readers or a critique group, listen to the advice. (If they’re all saying the same thing, it’d be wise to take notes and then edit.)
  5. …But it’s also just someone else’ opinion. These opinions are not commandments from God. They’re just someone else’s viewpoint. You’re the one who gets to decide how the story unfolds.

I’ve got five more tips that I wished I knew when I started. I’ll share those in my next personal post. Next week, Sarah Addison-Fox will be stopping by to share more about her new book Disowned! See you then!

 

My Most Anticipated Films of 2018

Happy New Year! After covering the most anticipated books of 2018 in my quarterly newsletter, True North Tales, I wanted to share an overview of the films I’m most excited about this year. There’s so many movies, more than what I have room for here, but this is a list of films and trailers that caught my eye.

A Wrinkle In Time: releases March 9     There’s been a lot of hype about this, and I’ve already seen the trailer which is full of beautiful special effects and thrilling action. My biggest fear? That it won’t be as good as the book. I LOVE A Wrinkle In Time, and I hope the production company does this film well. (XX fingers crossed…)

Solo: A Star Wars Story: releases May 25     This movie intrigues me, and I’ll probably go to see it, if early reviews are good. Despite my love of Star Wars, I refused to see Rogue One because of the ending. Let’s hope Ron Howard gives Solo a better finish.

The Incredibles II: releases June 15        Can I just say I’m thrilled about this film? The Incredibles is/was my favorite animated Pixar movie, so the news of a sequel is just fantastic. It focuses on Elastagirl (aka Helen Parr) and the emerging power of their little boy, Jack-Jack. Check out the adorable teaser trailer here.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: releases June 22     For those of you who didn’t get enough dinos from the last film, I present this one. The characters head back to the island to save the remaining dinosaurs, but find far more. I like the idea, but I’ll be honest–although I enjoyed it, the original Jurassic World scared me. I don’t know if I’ll spend money at the theater for this one.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: releases Nov. 16     I loved the first FB film. Did you know there are five films planned? The producer, David Heyman, plans to release one film every two years. I can’t wait to see Johnny Depp’s performance as Grindelwald.

Ralph Breaks the Internet: releases November 21     This sequel to Wreck-it Ralph finds Ralph and Vanellope searching for a spare part to fix an arcade game. Their hunt leads them to new worlds and new characters, such as the Disney princesses.

As I said, there are so many more movies to be excited about, but these are the ones I’ll be watching. If you have any others on your “To Watch” list, please share them in the comments. I’d love to know about them!

And have a wonderful New Year!

Cover Reveal for Common by Laurie Lucking

Happy Friday! It’s a great day, not only because it’s the start of a weekend (I always start relaxing on Friday afternoon), but also because my friend and fellow author Laurie Lucking just released her beautiful cover for Common!

I can’t even begin to tell you how great this story is — and unfortunately, you have to wait a couple months to get it. But we can revel in its gorgeous cover.

Which we will.

In a minute.

First, let me share with you the back cover copy:

One person knows of the plot against the royal family and cares enough to try to stop it — the servant girl they banished.

Leah spends her days scrubbing floors, polishing silver, and meekly curtsying to nobility. Nothing distinguishes her from the other commoners serving at the palace, except her red hair.

And her secret friendship with Rafe, the Crown Prince of Imperia.

But Leah’s safe, ordinary world begins to splinter. Unexpected feelings for Rafe surface just as his parents announce his betrothal to a foreign princess. Then she unearths a plot to overthrow the royal family. Her life shatters completely when the queen banishes her for treason.

Harbored by a mysterious group of nuns, Leah must secure Rafe’s safety before it’s to late. But her quest reveals a villain far more sinister than an ambitious nobleman with his eye on the throne.

Can a common maidservant summon the courage to fight for her dearest friend?

 

 

So exciting! Thank you for being patient. So without any further fuss, here’s the cover for Common!

Sara Helwe did the art for this, and it’s breathtaking.

Here’s a little about the about the author Laurie Lucking.

An avid reader since birth (her parents claim she often kept them up late begging to hear just one more story), Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as an attorney to become a stay-at-home mom. She writes young adult fantasy with a strong thread of romance, and her debut novel, Common, releases in 2018 from Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing. Laurie is the secretary of her local ACFW chapter and a co-founder of www.landsuncharted.com, a blog for fans of clean young adult speculative fiction. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and two young sons. Find out more about Laurie and her writing by visiting www.laurielucking.com.

 

Black Friday-Cyber Monday Sale!

For those of you who are diehard Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday shoppers, there is a promotional going on! Over 20+ authors are offering their books, many at fantastic sale prices — and the books are perfect for many of the readers on your Christmas list.

Check out the covers below — have you ever seen such beautiful books?

         

So, don’t delay — go check out these amazing stories! Buy one (or several!) for the special people on your list.

 

 

Interview with T.J. Akers, Author of The Final Paladin

Welcome to Jilligan’s Island! Today we’re interviewing T.J. Akers, who stopped by on his blog tour  to talk about  The Final Paladin, which releases on November 14th. At the end of this interview, I’ll include the book blurb and some interesting information about T.J., as well as the Facebook party link. You’ll want to get your hands on this story. I started reading it last night and was immediately intrigued!

Hi, T.J.!  We’re so excited to find out more about your new release, The Final Paladin. So, let’s jump right into the questions! Why do you write fiction?

TJ: I love creating stories, always have. My son was eight and an avid reader, and he should be, because I read to him every day until he turned seven. Then I read with him. He was losing interest in reading, and it concerned me. He complained about not having anything fun to read, so I got active in helping him find things. I introduced him to audio books and started pointing him to the good stuff. Then for his eighth birthday, I wrote him a novel. Of course, I also got him some cool presents, too. That was when I rediscovered writing, story creation, and everything else that goes with it. So I write because I love it. I also write so my readers will have fun, and in doing so, learn to love reading. If a reader did not have fun reading any fiction I wrote, I’ve failed.

JI: The Final Paladin starts in late 19th century, New York City. Why did you pick that time and place?

TJ: I’m a serious history geek, and as much as I enjoy science fiction and fantasy, I love history even more. Anyone that loves a good story understands the biggest and juiciest stories happened in real life. So why not incorporate the things I love the most in my stories? My favorite period of U.S. History takes place from the Civil War to the early twentieth century. Five Points, New York, is one of the most intriguing places to me in that time.

JI: Your book also incorporates urban fantasy and medieval lore. Do you love those things, too?

TJ: The short answer is yes, but there’s more to it. I went back to college in my 40s and discovered early British Literature. Thanks to a couple of very fine instructors, I discovered resources that went into greater detail about that period, the myths, and the tension of a quickly growing Catholic church and the existing pagan beliefs. Those tensions show up in the early literature (stories) of that time. I’ve read modern authors that use the same trope, but they’re inappropriate for younger readers. After reading Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin and Jim Butcher’s Dresden series, I thought it was a shame that younger readers couldn’t have something fun along those same lines of urban fantasy.

JI: So you use the Paladin legend for your story. Why not King Arthur, or Templars, or Teutonic Knights?

TJ: I only use the legend as the basis, I don’t really use the original chivalric code because no one wrote it down in Charlemagne’s time. Historically, Charlemagne has the most evidence of the foundation of the concept of Chivalry and the Knightly Ideal. Again, the closest this got to being written is a story called The Song of Roland. Historically, chivalry is a French word from the 11th century, and it originally meant horsemanship. The church promoted chivalry as code because armed thugs rode around the country, killing people. The Catholic Church promoted the concept to try to bring peace and preserve human life. Chivalry, as we understand it, is technically a Christian ideal. So rather than use Templars, Teutons, or Arthur, I went back to the earliest of the European knights, Paladins.

JI: All that said, why even make it a part of The Final Paladin?

TJ: Originally, I wanted to start the series in ninth century Europe in Charlemagne’s empire with my character Godfrey, a Saxon whose village was swallowed up by Charlemagne’s conquests. I did my research, but I also wanted to enter the story in a contest offered by the American Christian Fiction Writers. Most of the judges are women and not speculative fiction fans. So in order to do better in the contest, I chose a female character and events that happened later in history.

JI: You wrote The Final Paladin to win a contest where the judges were predominantly female and probably non-speculative readers?

TJ: That’s essentially correct.

JI: Did your strategy pay off?

TJ: Yes and no, but what’s really cool is I got my fair share of male judges, and they scored my entry high. My manuscript made it to the final three, so it worked to a point.

JI: You didn’t win?

TJ: No.

JI: Well, we’re glad L2L2 picked it up! The story begins in Five Points, New York. But it doesn’t stay in New York City, does it?

TJ: That would be boring at this point, so the story goes to a place called Fairy, or the land of Fairies, elves, trolls, pixies, the White Stag, and everything else. I go back to all the legends and myths of western and central Europe, or at least the ones I could fit in.

JI: Is it a fairy tale retelling?

TJ: No, not exactly. I just mixed my mythologies: history and fairies. I also borrowed from the book of Revelation. There’s mention of a character named Apollyon, or in Hebrew, Abaddon, The Angel of Death. So I mixed in some Bible, knightly legends, and fairies and got a modern-day story in the tradition of Gawain and the Green Knight, or Beowulf.

JI: Is your novel written for adults?

TJ: I like to write for Young Adults and Middle Graders, but I’ve written for New Adults, too. I like those groups because you can still reclaim them as readers. I really write for speculative audiences. The one quality I love about speculative fiction readers is they’re reading for the story. You can make the protagonist eight, twenty, or ninety, and if the story is interesting, the reader won’t usually care.

JI: Are you planning on a whole series?

TJ: Yes. Michele Harper, my publisher wouldn’t have published me if I weren’t. I have in mind at least ten in the series, and that doesn’t even include the three or four prequels about Godfrey and how we even got to the 1870s with things in the state they are. All of that is going to depend on the novel’s popularity.

JI: Wow, that’s a big series!

TJ: Yeah, I have an overactive imagination.

JI: That’s a good thing for a writer to have. Do you write anything other than speculative fiction?

TJ: I have a contemporary YA novel that’s completed and edited. I nearly managed to get it published by Zondervan back in 2014. I also have ideas for historical fiction, too. There are four completed novel manuscripts on my computer: two are science fiction fantasy, a thriller, and a contemporary comedy. All that could easily be turned into a series. I have no shortage of stories tell.

JI: Is L2L2 interested in those?

TJ: Sure, but I have to run them by my publisher. They have to be good stories or she won’t publish them. I’m excited because my science fiction projects have male protagonists, and no one really publishes for boys anymore.

JI: Anything you want to add?

TJ: I’ve learned a lot since I started writing in 2004. Now I can go back to all the projects I’ve kept very shiny.

JI: Thanks so much, T.J., for joining us on the island!

Here’s a little more about The Final Paladin:

Life for Peg Bowman is rough in the infamous slums of Five Points, New York, but her brother’s murder changes everything.

Thrust into incredible worlds beyond any story she’s ever heard, Peg meets Sir Godfrey, an eleven-hundred-year-old knight from Charlemagne’s court, trainer of Paladins. He reveals to Peg her family’s ancient obligation to protect the Key of Apollyon, a relic of immense power. She is the last descendant of the Paladins and his only hope for keeping it safe.

When Godfrey confides her brother was murdered because of the Key, Peg rejects her calling and demands revenge, a luxury she can ill afford as otherworldly creatures seek her death to claim the Key’s power for themselves.

Can Godfrey and his faithful retinue—Chim the Hobgoblin, Rebecca the Jewish Maven and healer, and Jack the sometimes human and sometimes seven-foot Black Dog—keep her safe and convince her that her calling is worth pursuing? Or will she succumb to the Key’s lure and wield it for revenge?

And here’s a little more about T.J. :

T.J. Akers desires to be a multimillionaire when he grows up and give his wealth to his favorite causes: churches, schools, and animal shelters. Since the millions have been slow in coming, he’s settled for working as a computer technician for a state university and volunteering at his church and local animal shelter. Whenever possible, he indulges his love of writing stories to entertain people, especially younger readers.

Akers holds a Masters of English from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and can often be found roaming the university’s library, especially the children’s and young adult sections. Librarians have always been his heroes.

He lives with his beloved wife of thirty years, his dog, and two cats. The dog is an excellent writing companion, but the cats have proven to be rather critical. Learn more at www.tjakers.com

You can find him at the following social media sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tj.akers.35

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TJAkers1

Google+: https://plus.google.com/101156763458205540263

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/16679486-tj-akers

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/akers0778/boards/

Don’t forget to stop by the Facebook Party on November 16!

 

Six Crucial Steps for the Beginning Writer

At the doctor’s office recently, I met another writer. We shared the what-do-you-write pleasantries before she shook her head. “I’ve been doing this for three years. How long did your first novel take?”

I grinned. “You don’t want to know.” (It took five years. That doesn’t count the eight years previously spent on writing short pieces while raising children, or the five years before that penning novels in another genre.)

God willing, I have years left to share more stories. But the conversation reminded me of my frustrations when I started out. I eventually completed all six of the following steps, even though it took a long time. I’m a slow learner.

  1. Settle in for the long haul. This isn’t an easy profession. You have to love it, and you can’t expect instant success. The “overnight success authors” spent days, months, and sometimes years pounding away on their computer keyboards. Expect the same of yourself.
  2. Locate a tribe. Local writers’ groups exist everywhere. Find one you can join. If one doesn’t exist in your area, and you don’t want to drive, look for a group on-line. It will keep your sanity. There’s nothing quite like chatting with other authors who are facing the same struggles you are.
  3. Learn the craft. Invest time (and money, if possible) in this venture you’ve undertaken. Libraries have books on writing and sometimes hold author events or workshops. Bookstores do this, as well. Set up a Conference Fund to attend a writer’s workshop or conference, where you can take classes, learn from established writers, and meet publishers, agents, and editors.
  4. Remember you’re not a special snowflake. This isn’t a derogatory statement. Everyone has a story to tell and a unique voice. But that doesn’t mean you get a pass at everything else. You’ll have to pay your dues. You’ll have to keep your day job (at least for a while). You’ll have to learn to balance writing, family, your day job, personal health, spiritual health, and any messes that pop up. I’m still learning how to deal with the balance issue.
  5. Allow others to see your work. I know—it’s hard. But everyone starts somewhere. If the group you’re critiquing with seems a bit too harsh, take another objective look. Are you sensitive because this story is your baby? Learn to take critiques with a thick skin, grace, and open ears. If you have to explain a part of your manuscript, it’s not working. Keep your mouth closed and take notes. (Keeping my mouth closed has been an especially difficult lesson for me. Just sayin.’)
  6. If you don’t have a religion, you should find one. This is an optional rule, but I’ve found it necessary to often ask God for help. Since I’m still learning, I’ve found the prayer please help to be especially necessary and humbling. If you desire to do it all yourself, go ahead. But I prefer to have Someone bigger lead my writing career and support group.

Tuck these steps in your pocket, and you’ll be well-equipped for the fantastic writing journey awaiting you!

A Beautiful New Cover

As some of you may know, I love to participate in book cover reveals. There’s a new book called The Final Paladin being released on November 14 of this year and the cover…well, you guys, it’s awesome.  Before I show you the awesomeness, here’s a little more information.

THe Final Paladin

Life for Peg Bowman is rough in the infamous slums of Five Points, New York, but her brother’s murder changes everything.

Thrust into  incredible worlds beyond any story she’s ever heard, Peg meets Sir Godfrey, an eleven-hundred-year-old knight from Charlemagne’s court, trainer of Paladins. He reveals to Peg her family’s ancient obligation to protect the Key of Apollyon, a relic of immense power. She is the last descendant of the Paladins and his only hope for keeping it safe.

When Godfrey confides her brother was murdered because of the Key, Peg rejects her calling and demands revenge, a luxury she can ill afford as otherworldly creatures seek her death to claim the Key’s power for themselves.

Can Godfrey and his faithful retinue–Chim the Hobgoblin, Rebecca the Jewish Maven and healer, and Jack the sometimes human and sometimes seven-foot Black Dog–keep her safe and convince her that her calling is worth pursuing? Or will she succumb to the Key’s lure and wield it for revenge?

So without further ado, here’s the gorgeous cover!

So amazing! Looks like I have another book to add to my TBR pile *(furiously scribbles another title on her list)*

In case you want to know more, here’s a little more about the author, T.J. Akers.

T.J. Akers desires to be a multimillionaire when he grows up and give his wealth to his favorite causes: churches, schools, and animal shelters. Since the millions have been slow in coming, he’s settled for working as a computer technician for a state university and volunteering at his church and local animal shelter. Whenever possible, he indulges his love of writing stories to entertain people, especially younger readers.

Akers holds a Masters of English from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and can often be found roaming the university’s library, especially the children’s and young adult sections. Librarians have always been his heroes.

He lives with his beloved wife of thirty years, his dog, and his two cats. The dog is an excellent writing companion, but the cats have proven to be rather critical. Learn more at www.tjackers.com.

 

Back to School Giveaway!

The weather will be turning cold soon (if it hasn’t already where you are). Cold weather always makes me want to cuddle up with a fuzzy throw, my hot beverage of choice, and a great book.  I can’t think of anything I like more than great books (except for maybe dark chocolate — just sayin’.) So, I’m excited to share this giveaway with you. And it’s really easy to enter!

The Back to School Book Giveaway runs from Sept 26 – October 15 and has FIVE winners! Each winner will receive 10 YA fantasy  novels each — Spark will be in one of those bundles.  Click the Rafflecopter link below, and then follow the link to sign up for my newsletter, True North Tales (I’m number 38 on the list.) That’s it!

If you want more chances to win you can Like some other authors on Facebook or sign up for their newsletters, as well.  Good luck!

Enter here!

 

 

Interview with Kristen Stieffel

Today on Jilligan’s Island, we (that’s the royal “we”) are interviewing author Kristen Stieffel. We’re talking writing and books, but most specifically her novel, Alara’s Call which releases this Tuesday (the 19th). It’s a fantastic read.

JI: Welcome, Kristen! I really enjoyed Alara’s Call. Where did you get the idea for it?

KS: Years ago—longer than I care to admit—I had a sort of vision of soldiers and flags, and I started writing to figure out why they were there and what they were doing. The soldiers and flags are still in the story, but no longer in the same scene.

JI: What’s the theme of this story? Why did you choose it?

KS: The theme of this book is from 1 Peter 4:10—“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (NIV). That plays out in multiple ways, but primarily in Alara receiving the gift of prophecy and pursuing it despite opposition.

JI: I loved reading about Alara’s struggle as she learns to use her gift. What did you edit out of this book?

KS: A looooong interlude in the first third of the book that I convinced myself was necessary to the character development and to establish the romantic subplot. Jeff Gerke was my book doctor, and he was brutally honest about how much it slowed the story down and told me to take it out. So I did. But … bwa ha ha … I have plans to repurpose it. So we’ll see how that goes.

JI: Good for you for saving that scene! So, what’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned while writing this story?

KS: That the heroine’s fatal flaws—pride and performance anxiety—are my own. Who knew?

JI: It’s amazing how those issues show up in our writing. What was the hardest scene to write?

KS: The fight scene in which those soldiers capture Alara. Sorry, that’s kind of a spoiler, but it’s early in the book, so maybe not too much of one? In the version of the book Jeff read, this scene was like half a page. I skimmed over it. He said “that’s not acceptable” and told me to rewrite it, blow by blow. I did. It took a whole day and several pots of tea, but I did it.

JI: That scene was intense!  Speaking of the fight scene, how did you get in touch with your “inner villain” to write the antagonist ?

KS: I’m a firm believer that the best villains think they’re the good guys. Given the culture I’d created for the villains, I put myself in the place of the lead villain and tried to make him a “good soldier,” at least as his culture would define those terms.

JI: You did a great job with the villain — I hated him! Have you always liked to write? When did you start writing?

KS: I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. My mother tells me my cousin and I used to make up stories together when we were 3-4 years old.

JI: Aw, that’s cute. 🙂 What are you reading now?

KS: Oh, man. I don’t want to name names. But I picked up a historical romance because it was on a Kindle promo and I tell you—the characters are charming, but the book is so loaded with typos it’s hard to read. It pains me, because there’s nothing wrong with this book that a copyeditor couldn’t fix. But the author clearly didn’t take the time and expense to hire one, at least not one who knew what she was doing. So this lovely story is marred by all these easily fixable mistakes. It’s a shame.

JI: I bet your inner editor was going nuts! Aside from “keep writing,” what’s your best advice for aspiring writers?

KS: Focus on the big-picture things first. Character. Plot. Structure. If you write a great story with engaging characters, a copyeditor can fix your grammar. But if the story’s lacking, it won’t matter how elegant your sentences are. Needless to say, I learned this lesson the hard way.

JI: You did a great job with the characters in Alara’s Call — they pulled me right in. What does your writing space look like?

KS: Here’s a picture, since you caught me before I dismantled the computer to put it away for Hurricane Irma.

JI: Much neater than my writing area! Do you do any other creative activities other than writing?

KS: I’m a knitter. My ex used to give me grief about this because we live in Florida, but seriously, most of our sweaters are worn indoors because the air conditioning is so cold!

JI: Too funny! Does writing energize you or exhaust you?

KS: It energizes me! Once I get going, I can go—and have gone—all night long. My counselor recently gave me “permission” to work until three in the morning if that’s when I’m at my best. So I often do!

JI: Wow — I’m usually asleep after midnight. So, what’s your favorite part of writing?

KS: Reading something I forgot I wrote and saying “That’s really good!”

JI: Lol –that’s always a nice surprise when that happens. If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

KS: Focus on the big-picture things first. Character. Plot. Structure.

JI: Thanks so much for stopping by Jilligan’s Island, Kristen!

 

Want more information on Alara’s Call: The Prophet’s Chronicle, One?

Tales are often told of heroes who fulfill ancient prophecies. Alara’s Call is the tale of a woman who gives new ones.

Alara sees visions of other’s futures, but never her own. A young clergywoman with a fiery passion for her Telshan faith, she has been assigned to a mission abroad but longs to lead a congregation in her homeland. Her father, the prime minister, jeopardizes her dream and her safety when he coerces her into what he calls a diplomatic mission.
But it’s a ruse.
The trip is meant to end with her marriage to the crown prince of a foreign nation, where members of Alara’s faith are persecuted and women oppressed. All for a trade agreement her father is desperate to enact.
But her mentor intervenes and takes Alara to Dorrel, the suitor she left behind. They believe they are safe, but foreign soldiers are under orders to bring Alara to the king’s
palace…by any means necessary.

 So who is Kristen Stieffel?

Kristen Stieffel is a freelance editor and writer who specializes in speculative fiction.
Although she edits projects in varied genres for both the general market and the Christian submarket, she is a novelist at heart. Member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and Christian Editor Connection, mentor with Word Weavers International, and on the planning committee for Realm Makers, Kristen stays busy doing what she loves most. She is also the associate editor of Havok, a flash-fiction magazine focused on science fiction and fantasy. Visit www.KristenStieffel.com to learn more about this many-faceted author.

Still can’t wait? (Sorry, you’ll have to — just a few more days.)

Alara’s Call (ISBN: 978-1-943788-19-4) will be available on September 19 at http://www.love2readlove2writepublishing.com/books/alaras-call/
Stop by the Facebook Launch Party on September 21, 2017, for fun, laughter, and some cool prizes! (https://www.facebook.com/events/1045774898890338/)

A Late Bloomer

I’ve been away from my blog for too long. So, I felt perhaps this post might be a good way to say hello, and to tell you what I’ve been doing lately.

I went for a walk today. The warm sun, the cool breeze, puffy clouds in the sky which brought rain later on—it was the perfect fall morning. We don’t see too many of them like that here in central Pennsylvania.

On my way back home, I cut through a wooded area. It’s been cleaned up, so there’s no underbrush, just spongy moss, some early fallen leaves, and wild chicory underfoot. A flash of white caught my eye. It was a daisy, petal perfect with a sunny yellow center. It was alone among the toadstools that show up every fall. I couldn’t resist picking it, then looking for its brothers or sisters. Finally, I saw a handful clustered around a big tree. These few daisies were late bloomers. Like me.

Usually, the term “late bloomer” refers to puberty, but I’m referring to my “blooming” in another area — the publishing arena. I began writing in 1995, right after I married my husband. The following years produced three Christian romance novels (unpublished), two children, and one jewelry design business. After my last child was born, I began to write more widely—poems, essays, and a YA portal fantasy. When I tally up my writing time, it took seventeen years to become a published novelist. I don’t regret any part of my journey because God put me where I needed to be, when I needed to be there.

So if you’re struggling and wondering if you should give it all up, ask yourself a few important questions:

  • How much do you enjoy your writing? Could you stop at any time and be happy? Because if you could, you probably should. This profession is difficult, and you have to love it.
  • Are you writing to become rich and famous? If that’s your goal, you need to rethink your career path. Most writers don’t get paid much. J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan are the exception, rather than the rule.
  • How long are you willing to work at your craft? If you feel you should be published a year or two after starting, you’ll be disappointed. You can never stop learning, and it takes time to learn the rules. Most of us have “paid our dues,” a period of time which may last for years. There’s no room for entitlement in this career.

Those questions didn’t scare you off? You’re still here? Great! I pray God blesses your journey. Early, mid-, or late bloomers, we all have a story to tell. I can’t wait to read yours.