“Mommy, tell me a story.”
Some things never change. When I was a child myself, the neighborhood kids gathered around in a circle and pressed me for the stories which sprang to mind with the ease of thought.
I peeked at my small daughter in the rearview mirror. Truth to tell, I was tired and didn’t really want to entertain her, but the hopeful look on her face brought a smile to my lips. “All right. Let me see.…Once upon a time there was a girl named…” I cast about for a name and thought of Cinda, the battered rag doll my daughter clutched… “Syl Marinda.”
I wove a story about a young girl of mixed blood who must rise above racial prejudice to unite a kingdom. My father was a half-breed Native American, and I’m sure I drew from his experiences in telling the tale. The story lodged in my soul and wouldn’t let go. Long after my daughter forgot about Syl Marinda, she haunted my thoughts. I could not rest until I gave her life.
I was a young writer still finding my way and my voice then. I watched the story of Elderland grow into a trilogy with alarm. I wasn’t entirely sure how to plot one book let alone three interconnected ones. I felt inspired when I wrote, but I couldn’t quite connect all the dots to draw a complete picture. I also needed to develop the discipline to see such a project through. I turned to a nonfiction project and left TALES OF FAERAVEN in a drawer.
Without knowing it, I hid that story away in my heart, too. When I suffered a series of rejections and disappointments in my quest for publication, I turned my back on ever writing my trilogy – or anything ever again. And that was that, or so I thought.
Years passed, and I fell away not just from writing but from the Lord. I needed to get back on track as a Christian. Once I did, I prayed for direction. Imagine my surprise when I received a call to return to writing, the dream I’d given up forever. Not only that, but I knew I had to take up the story I’d set aside so long ago.
DAWNSINGER, which will release with Port Yonder Press, is book one of TALES OF FAERAVEN. I found myself backing up in the story because I realized I had so much history to tell I needed to begin at a point before Syl Marinda’s birth. She doesn’t actually enter the picture until WAYFARER, book three. This works because the story is not just about Syl Marinda but rather tells through individual lives the saga of Elderland itself.
I still found it intimidating to plot three books, each with its own story arc, that tell a greater story together. I spent a great deal of time in prayer while writing DAWNSINGER, usually with my hands on the keyboard. Somehow, miraculously, it all came together. I know the Lord breathed life into my writing because so much of the allegory was unplanned on my part. I did not know until partway through that Nalyn, my female protagonist in DAWNSINGER, represents the Church. Imagine my amazement when I realized I’d written a scene where she falls asleep in the Place of Prayer! Just as with CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, Christians will best understand the allegory within TALES OF FAERAVEN, but a secular audience can glean something of value as well.
It took me a year to write and edit DAWNSINGER, but when I was ready to shop it around, I found the world of Christian publishing wasn’t ready to receive an epic fantasy trilogy. I had some interest from one of the few mainstream publishers willing to even consider a fantasy trilogy but no contract. Six months went by without any word from the publisher
Meanwhile, I wrote most of book two, DAWNKING and started Book Readers Central, a blog for readers where I provided author interviews and book reviews. C. Maggie Woychik commented on one of my interviews and, when I searched her name, I noticed she was an author herself. I invited her for an interview on Book Readers Central, she agreed, and a beautiful friendship developed between us as we came into continued contact with one another through blogs and forums online. I didn’t know at first that she was an editor for a brand new small publisher, Port Yonder Press. When I did find out, the fact intrigued me, but I still wanted closure from the other publisher. I hesitated and almost missed the window of opportunity when Port Yonder Press started acquiring in January. I tried to ignore the restless feeling that I should submit DAWNSINGER to Port Yonder Press. I was so undecided that I sent a Facebook email to Chila (the name the C. stands for) asking her if I should submit my manuscript or not. She asked me to send my proposal in and offered me a contract in February.
I hope you will see from my story that we can miss appointed opportunities if we hesitate but that God works to redeem our efforts and bring about His purposes through us anyway. He desires our faith, but He is bigger than our unbelief.
©2010 Janalyn Voigt
I’ve been married for thirty-seven years to my lovely wife Barb. We have two grown sons (one of them married, with a family of his own), and a little daughter waiting for us in heaven. Presently I’m director of business development with a company that does contracting work with the military and the federal government. The three Joe Box novels I have out are Until the Last Dog Dies, When Skylarks Fall, and To Skin a Cat. The protagonist is a
At the first one when I learned that many readers enjoy romance, Destin, Florida, came to mind. I’d traveled there for the past twenty-two years and watched the white-capped waves lap white, powdery sand glistening in a reddish-gold sunset. Even though my book would be an inspirational novel about faith I would make it a romance in Destin. After determining a genre I attended a four-day workshop on plotting books with James Scott Bell, an award-winning writer and frequent speaker at Christian writers’ conferences. Also, I read several Christian romance novels and noted the common threads in them, such as strong, handsome heroes. Then, I devised the following plot.
The heroine, Cammie O’Shea, who is a feature writer for a newspaper in Cedar Forks, Georgia, moves to take a position with a new paper, “The Sun Dial,” in Destin, Florida, after she suffers a heart-breaking split-up with her fiancé.
She has to interview, Vic Deleona, the hero and wealthy entrepreneur, to help get “The Sun Dial” off to a good start. Even though Vic is too busy with his real estate empire to even meet with her, his secretary gives her an appointment. However, from the moment he sees her, he wants to date her. In an attempt to get to know her better he schedules business appointments she must attend. Even though she is attracted to him, because of her recent heartache she never wants to date again. But she and a friend, Angie Jones, have break-ins at their homes, and Vic comes to their rescue. Just when Cammie sees a different side of Vic she receives an offer to return home to her old job. Will Vic win her heart, or will she leave Destin?
The answer to that question lay in the characters’ personalities, which I still needed to establish. I made a list of their likes and dislikes, including the foods they enjoyed and their activities, such as swimming. Before I started writing I also noted their physical appearances and wrote a few sentences about each of them. Even though I’d been in Destin many times, I researched the history of the town and the fishing industry there. I also interviewed a couple policemen about crime scene procedures, and spoke often with my husband, who is a residential builder, real estate agent and land developer. To incorporate Cammie’s job as a feature writer I called on my experience working for a retired Associated Press correspondent. By the time I completed my first draft my characters had taken on lives of their own in Destin, Florida.
After editing Love Turn the Tide several times I read it aloud to my husband and corrected the mistakes I heard. When I knew the words, paragraphs and scenes in my head so well I peered at the page without actually reading them, I edited the manuscript from the end to the beginning. Going backward made me see what I had written as if I were reading it for the first time. Lastly, I asked my husband and my daughter to proof the book and tell me about anything that seemed unclear or awkward to them.
After I made the corrections they suggested, I realized I only knew of publishers who accepted manuscripts through agents, and I didn’t have one. However, after two years of work I was ready to market my book, so I searched the web for a publisher. Sure enough, I found Awe-Struck, an E-publisher having a contest for a short, inspirational romance. I didn’t think I’d win, and I knew beyond a doubt that I was a computer klutz. But, I had nothing to lose by entering, and I easily could learn about cyber space if I were to win, couldn’t I? I did win and began my E-journey, which is another story.
But, I will say that I had a fantastic editor at Awe-Struck E-Publishers. Between the features I had written as an employed writer and the freelance articles I had sold, I had published around two hundred articles and had worked with numerous editors who had been helpful. I concluded that working with a good editor who knows the market was a plus. After meeting so many good authors online I also realized that every story had its own unique voice, depending on who was telling it. That made the struggle worthwhile for each of us.