Writing and Rising From the Ashes

Writing a book is no joke. Seriously…it’s hard work. But it is SOOOOO fun too!

I know, some of you just cringed, thinking back to the days in college when you had to type a multi-page paper about some subject or other and find the words that would sound unique and intelligent and earn you that A. If you feel a little bit nauseous thinking about said days and want to check your diploma just to make sure you did graduate, writing does not fill your cup.

But, if like Holly and me, you wrote poems about unrequited love in middle school, filled multiple journals about the torture of life in high school, and LOVED to compose works of philosophical and literary glory in college, then you would LOVE this writing process!

For us, the act of writing is like planning a party. We research names and locations and trends in the craft. We analyze the stories that have stroked our emotions and we wrestle with plot lines with reckless abandon. We are giddy with each “ah-ha” moment, (and friends, we have oh-so-many of those). But the greatest joy in writing is the journey of discovery. It’s exactly like opening a book and falling into the narrative, letting the prose and the characters take you for a glorious trip, destination unknown. If you read, these are to books that you can’t put down!!

As many of you know, Forged, our first book that garnered much enthusiasm and interest (even an award) from literary agents and editors at the SDSU Writer’s Conference in January of 2017, was essentially laid to rest by industry professionals by summertime. We had written and YA fantasy with Native American history, legends and characters. And at the same time, the #ownvoices movement in publishing gained traction.

Here’s a little lesson on the campaign. #Ownvoices is meant to encourage, publish and showcase books written by authors who share the identity of their characters, such as a book with a Native American protagonist written by a Native American author. The reason this is so important is because marginalized people are the best ones to tell their own stories. It’s not just enough for an author to write authentic and sensitive stories outside their culture/experience, even when sensitivity readers are involved. The industry wants those diverse populations to tell their own stories. The #ownvoices movement and others that promote diversity in literature, aim to rightsize the publishing world where, historically, stories about marginalized and diverse communities have been told by privileged (white) people.

In a nutshell, since neither Holly nor I are Native American, as one agent put it, “No publisher will even consider publishing this book unless you remove the Native American elements. Perhaps you can use Gaelic legends, change the origin story and some of your characters?” As we researched and toiled over the fate of Forged, we realized that, unless we self-published, we would not be able to find a home for that version of Forged. So we decided to let it go. (Oh the anguish…I’m not kidding. We couldn’t even talk about it for a few months, we were so sad/sick/upset. Don't even ask the Mike's about it...they can't even!)

But please don't feel sorry for us. Like the phoenix, goodness always rises from the ashes.

Plotting out our NEXT book has been just as magical. And very soon, we get to begin the work. This is the fun part for us…the discovery and the adventure as we embark on our new story. We are holding onto our characters, changing them up a smidge, but we love them and they told us they don’t want to be tucked away in a drawer. They have a story to tell. We can hardly contain the excitement to share the twists and turns with you, our most treasured fans and cheerleaders.

So tell us, if you were going to write a book, what would the title be and what would it be about? And if you have an urge to put down some ideas, let us know. We’d love to encourage you.

Happy writing. It is the best of times.


(Photo cred: Kent Pilcher-Unsplash)
Holly and Jenn

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