KyLee here. Today we begin a series of guest blog posts, Authors Inspiring Writers (#authorsinspirewriters), from various Christian authors. The purpose of these articles is to encourage, uplift, and motivate others to keep reaching for their dreams. I hope and pray God’s blessings will pour out on the authors of this series who’ve chosen to share their experiences with us. As for you, dear readers and writers, be blessed by these testimonies as you commit your ways to the Lord and reach for your heart’s desires. (Psalms 37:4-5)
So, we begin with author J’nell Ciesielski as she shares a snippet of advice from her writing journey.
I’ve always been a dreamer. Daydreams in particular are my specialty. Knights on white horses, beautiful puffy dresses, swashbucklers, Highland warriors, and highborn ladies of the manor. I can disappear into these worlds for hours with an utter sigh of happiness and longing. Longing to be a part of it. Books are the perfect escape, but it wasn’t enough. I needed to create the worlds and inhabit them with people I wanted to know, who journeyed off on adventures I wanted to do.
So I became a writer.
My first novel was a piece of my heart. Set in Scotland with more kilts than you can shake a stick at, I was deliriously happy with it. But, as is the fate of most first novels, it will never see the light of day. It’s riddled with beginner mistakes, unmotivated characters, a sagging middle, and head hopping. All big no-no’s. But like all novices with stars in their eyes, I didn’t know any better. So I started reading about the craft of writing and learned what point of view is, what the black moment consists of, and goal motivation and conflict. I joined Romance Writers of America and took their online classes. I entered contests where I won a few and lost plenty. I heard about these things called writer’s conferences, and critique partners. Each step built on the last and pushed me forward in my knowledge of the industry and the craft of writing. Then I started hearing things like “write to the market” “historicals are dead” “you need at least 1,000 followers on Facebook before a publisher will even look at you” “post on your blog weekly” “write what you know” and “to be published you MUST do x, y, and z”. My goodness! I wasn’t doing any of that! I panicked. I dove into social media and nearly drowned in the sheer exhaustion of it. I tried keeping a blog, but no one was reading it. I tried doing x, y, and z, but that wasn’t working either. But I loved writing and so I kept at it. The market may claim historicals are dead, but they aren’t to me. They are alive with such vibrancy that I can’t help spinning stories set in eras long gone. And as for “writing what I knew”—no way am I giving up my titled English ladies or army captain serving on the front lines of WWI France. I’m writing the stories I want to write not for fame or money (though that would be nice and most welcome). I write because I love it. Because I have so many things and people and places shifting through my head that I just have to get it out or I’ll explode. There are no hidden agendas in my stories, no subliminal messages, no stances on the current state of the world. I desire only to create simple love stories that survive whatever horribleness the world throws at them, whether that be Nazis, war, mustache twirling villains, or a past coming back to haunt them.
I’ve been officially writing for fifteen years. In 2013 I landed an agent, and only last April I got The Call for my first novel to be published. No, not that Scotland one. 😉 Through all these years and the highs and lows I’ve always said that I will continue to write even if I never get published. I will write the stories I want to write, and tell them in the way they want to be told. The world may never read them, may never like them, but I will. And that is enough to make me happy and content. Because at the end of the day it’s not number of Tweets, or Facebook followers, or how many blog casts you did that will sell a book. Stories with heart and soul and truth, and hope written into every line are what keep readers coming back again and again.
Believing she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days writing heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle.