The competition was stiff, but c. joy allen, Jennifer Rodewald, and Pegg Thomas have risen to the top. This week starts Round Three of the Olympia. The winner will be announced on May 5th, 2014. We’re all holding our collective breath to find out who that will be, but in the meantime I asked each of our finalists a few questions...
Q: What genre and how long have you been writing?
Pegg: I write historical fiction with a touch of humor. I started - seriously - pursuing writing in 2009.
Jennifer: Like many writers (I think), I’ve been writing since childhood. But I put on a serious face to pursue this dream about six years ago. I started with a historical romance—and completed it after a mere two years (tongue in cheek) of fiddling around. It will most likely never leave my hard-drive. But that little, unpublishable work confirmed the dream in my heart: I wanted to write. Well. For the glory of God.
I’ve turned to writing contemporary, which was entirely unexpected. I’ve completed two
manuscripts in that genre, and have several more plotted and waiting on my laptop’s backburner.
c. joy: My genre preference leans toward contemporary fiction and romance. I have always dreamed of writing, but it was just under two years ago that I sat down and began to fulfill that dream. It’s all about God’s timing.
Jennifer: It means that someone else likes what I wrote! Yay! But more than that, it means gaining a second wind. This writing stuff isn’t for the easily discouraged (like y’all didn’t already know that), and the pause and smiles this small success has afforded me feels like a mountain stream on my tired feet after a long hike. Thanks for that!
c. joy: Finaling in the Olympia tells me that my writing is making progress. I’m encouraged by the fact that there’s an audience who enjoyed what I wrote.
Pegg: I'm not sure I know yet! This is so exciting! It's going to take a few days to sink in. But what attracted me to enter the Olympia is that this contest is reader judged. That's so important. I've had a lot of people in the writing industry assure me that I can write, but it's the readers that I'm writing for.
c. joy: Don’t give up. Learn everything you can, and don’t be discouraged along the way! When I get feedback, I try to see it as the secret for how to write better. Also, remember that it’s all subjective. Not everyone can be your audience.
Pegg: 1) Go to a writers conference. If I hadn't attended Maranatha Christian Writers Conference, in Muskegon, Michigan, I would have given up years ago. You have to learn to write. This isn't high school English. It isn't even close! I was amazed, and dismayed, at how much I had to learn for even a shot at publication. Yes, they are expensive, but they are worth every penny.
2) Find - or start - a critique group. I live in a very rural area and I couldn't find a group within driving distance, so I started an on-line group. We all met through the American Christian Fiction Writers Scribes group. My "critters" have pushed - and sometimes shoved - me into being a better writer. Your family is going to love whatever you write. Find other writers who will hold your feet to the flames.
3) Write-write-write. The best story idea on earth doesn't do you any good until you get it down in words.
Jennifer: Pray. Keep writing. Find a crit group. Pray. Keep writing. Read. Pray. Keep writing. Find an editor. Pray. Keep writing. Enter some contests. Pray. Keep writing.
Hands down, the best moment thus far in this journey didn’t come by way of confirmation from other people. It came from God. I’d been wrestling with the end of a story for a long time. It just wasn’t coming out right, and every time I prayed over it I felt a ‘No. Not yet.’ So frustrating. My crit group was working with me on it, and still it wasn’t singing. And then one day it worked. It came together and in my heart I lifted it to God again, and (tears still beckon) He smiled. I felt it as clear as the warmth of the summer sun on my skin. He smiled.
So. Keep at it. Aim for His smile. There’s nothing like it.
If you’re an unpublished novelist interested in entering the next Olympia, submissions open in November.