Chasing the Writing Dream through Rejection Valley and Beyond
By Ann H. Gabhart
Have you ever had a dream that seemed so big, so impossible that you were almost afraid to admit you were thinking it? That’s how I was when I was a kid and first decided I wanted to be a writer. I had no idea how I was going to make that happen. I just knew I wanted it more than anything and I was willing to chase the dream to try to make it happen. I have a healthy dose of stubbornness that has served me well as a writer through the years as I’ve persevered and continued writing even when things weren’t going well.
After publishing thirteen books in the general market, I hit a low point in my writing life and began a long trudge through Rejection Valley. I wrote book after book with no success. One rejection letter included the not so encouraging note that there wasn’t anything wrong with my story but nothing really right about it either. Sigh. Things got so tough that I began to wonder if I should give up writing and find a job that came with a regular paycheck instead of working at writing with only the glimmer of hope of perhaps getting paid. At that time, the glimmer was getting pretty dim.
But I couldn’t quit. Writing is part of who I am. So I decided to write at least one more book. Since it was more than obvious I wasn’t cornering any markets, I decided to write the book I wanted to write instead of one I thought an editor might like. I came up with a story about a young girl and her father, a small town newspaper editor during the week and a preacher of a country church on Sundays. The characters and story are completely fictitious, but the background and setting came straight from what I remembered about my little hometown in the Sixties.
Jocie turned out to be a great character who sprang right to life in my imagination, and it was pure writer’s luck that Wes fell out of a Jupiter spaceship as he was passing over Hollyhill. Of course, that’s just a story Wes makes up for Jocie, but his and Jocie’s Jupiter talk adds a few smiles to the stories. I stirred in some more eccentric small town characters including a crazy old aunt named Love who tries to keep Jocie in line by quoting Scripture at her. But all is not as it seems in my little town of Hollyhill or even with Jocie’s Aunt Love. While Jocie is bemoaning the fact that nothing ever happens in Hollyhill, a whirlwind of discoveries suddenly threatens everything she thought was true about her life.
As my characters came to life in my thoughts and my heart, I was anxious and eager to tell their stories. Scent of Lilacs, my first Heart of Hollyhill book, snagged a loving editor on its first trip out. And I stayed with my Hollyhill characters through two more books. Orchard of Hope takes place at the end of a long, hot summer as racial tensions swirl in Hollyhill. Then the third book, Summer of Joy, has the past coming to call on my Hollyhill family with challenges for their future. Each of the books can be read as a stand-alone story, but I hope once readers meet my characters, they’ll want to return to Hollyhill to experience more of their small town life.
My years in Rejection Valley were discouraging, but perhaps I needed that time to become a better writer and to discover the stories I really wanted to write. I like writing inspirational fiction where I can include my characters’ faith journeys in their stories. I feel blessed when I write a scene and it just naturally connects with a Scripture verse or a Bible story. I never wanted to be a preacher, only a writer. So I don’t preach in my books, but I do hope readers will be able see the joy of Christian life as they live the stories with my characters.
One of the things I found interesting was the question Ann asks at the end there. Do you like stories that include a character's faith journey? So for the giveaway, that is your question. For me, I really like seeing how a character grows and matures in their faith. Many times I find help and encouragement along the way. As we are all growing and won't stop until we reach Heaven, I am often blessed in reading books like this. Take a look at that cover there. Ready to enter for a copy? Go on ahead! You know you want to:)
This giveaway will end 4/9. Winner will be chosen through Random.org and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. US ONLY!!
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**DISCLOSURE: No compensation was given, and all thoughts are 100% mine. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**