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  • Jennifer Z. Major

Last week was 'why?' This week? The whens.


Last week I talked about why I dared to write what I write. This week? Let's talk about the "whens".

My husband John has been telling me to write a book since, ohhhh, ever. But as a mother of four, 3 of whom are hockey players, explain to me WHEN I'd get time to write?

Exactly.

But, I was challenged a few years ago by the concept of "regret is worse than failure". Did I want to lay on my deathbed, knowing I could have tried, but refused because I was scared of failing?

Then, it was as if God whispered "Who says you're going to fail?"

Well, uhh, hmmm, sputter, sputter, sputter...

So, late on December 26th, 2011, I cracked open some nerve, and started a story.

Since then, I've had to learn how to tell a story.

I learned 'point of view', also known as POV. Third person versus first person. The difference between historical romance and historical fiction, and believe me, there is a BIG difference!

Formatting.

Rough draft. Fast draft. Line edit. Content edit.

Oh, and the big one?

Voice.

As in, the writer's distinctive style, her way of communicating a story.

Think of it this way-if you asked 4 different authors to re-tell The Three Little Pigs, you would get 4 very different interpretations of the same core story. Each would come to the same ending, but each would get there in his or her own style. Her own voice.

I've been told that my voice is similar to Lori Benton and Laura Frantz. Trust me, that is an enormous honour. Do I aim to sound like them? No. Because they sound like them. I sound like me.

I am quite happy to sound like me.

So, back to Boxing Day, 2011. I started to write a story and yet, I knew I need to learn what is called "craft". Something I was rather horrible at. So, I started searching the Interwebs and found Michael Hyatt.

Through him, I found Rachelle Gardner.

Through her, I found The Books and Such Literary Management Agency's blog, at www.booksandsuch.com.

Through them, I started learning. I soaked up their wisdom. I studied. I learned. I made new friends.

One friend who helped me A LOT during the early years is Lisa Lawrence. Wow, talk about a life saver!! I named one of my characters after her. He's a bit of a life saver too.

But, I still had to do the work. And work, I did. I worked on my first story for 2 years before I was offered representation by literary agent extraordinaire, Mary Keeley.

Does that sound all smooth and easy?

Ha!

In those 2 years, I also got to learn how to take rejection from literary agents who either didn't want to deal with my subject matter, or worse, didn't believe I was ready as a writer. I took their suggestions to heart and worked to improve.

I also read the books I loved with a clinical eye. Then, with my heart. Then with craft in mind.

Speaking of craft, I've read Laura Frantz's Courting Morrow Little fourteen times. That book is a study in tension and incredible character development. And it's pretty darned awesome. Read it.

I worked and worked and then had my critique partners read through what I'd written. Then, I worked more.

If a person thinks all there is to writing a book is merely sitting down and writing, they are sadly mistaken.

I kept going, even when I was told I wasn't ready. To that, once again, I answered with doing the work it took to be ready.

So when Mary offered representation at ACFW 2013 in Indianapolis, I cried off a lot of mascara!

I have worked for 2 years since then to polish that first finished story, and write and polish a second one. Which, for a while, was known as "the second one I wrote but the one that goes first".

In the last 3 1/2 years, I have been blessed with 3 trips to Arizona and New Mexico. For me, I cannot write about a culture and people that I know nothing about. Research is huge. Especially for a historical writer. I know that not all writers get to walk where their subjects walked, to breathe the same desert air, to feel the fear in the same canyons where they were pinned and captured.

Many have asked, "when will your books be published?"

That, my friends, is the million dollar when. I leave that to God and my agent.

Until the day I hold my first book in my hands, I will keep working.

#writing #when

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