by Michelle Massaro
Hello, hello! Today is a big day!
I am very excited to announce this year’s Olympia Finalists!! Please congratulate:
All three authors’ entries will go to our Round 3 judges: Karen Ball, Becky Philpott, and Becky Wade (links below)
The winner will be announced on April 8th! But in the meantime, I had a little Q & A with our finalists:
Q: What genre and how long have you been writing?
I write YA mystery/adventure/with droplets of speculative fiction. I have been writing for ten years flittering from one genre flower to another. Last year I landed on a mystery flower and tasted the sweet nectar of the genre. It has become my intrigue and stay.
A Farewell, Mrs. Wheatley is a historical fiction novel that was developed out of my undergraduate thesis on Phillis Wheatley. My writing today finds its roots in everything that I have read. Growing up, I would sleep with books under my pillow and my Mom and I would spend hours at the library. (We even discovered that a library card has a 100 book limit.) As a college student, I was an English Major with a literary emphasis. I gained exposure to the classics while learning how to understand the analytical and critical aspects of reading. When I started my Master’s program in Creative Writing, I had a strong foundation that allowed me to explore writing that reflects literary knowledge.
Ever since Laura Ingalls peered into Almanzo Wilder’s eyes and called him “Manly”, I’ve been a pushover for historical romances. But, believe it or not, I wasn’t much of a reader until my sister introduced me to Janette Oke’s, Love Comes Softly. It’s been a love affair ever since.
So many writers say they’ve wanted to write since they were a child. That is not my story. I have always enjoyed writing, but not even in the deep recesses of my mind, did I ever aspire to be an author. In fact, my only experience was writing research papers for my history classes in college and graduate school. My youngest son enjoys writing and he inspired me to tinker around with writing fiction. It didn’t take long for the “bug” to bite. I’ve been earnestly writing historical romance for a little more than two years.
Q: What does Finaling in the Olympia mean to you?
Where would any writer be without readers? That’s who we write for. We long for someone to step into our story world, fall in love with our characters, and take their journey with us. Having people who love inspirational fiction as much as I do say they enjoyed my story is a tremendous blessing. I pray daily that God would inspire me to write stories that encourage and entertain others, while glorifying Him.
Finaling in the Olympia contest is like receiving a hug from God. I am humbled and encouraged beyond my wildest imagination.
Being a finalist in the Olympia is very motivating as a writer. So often, as writers, we discredit our own work. We find reasons to push it aside and discard it before we even give it a chance to succeed. We tell ourselves that we are not qualified to write. But finaling in the Olympia reminds me that writing is a calling. Writing is a vocation. God has given writers the gift of words. I look forward to responding to God’s calling.
Q: What advice would you give other unpublished authors out there?
If you mom likes your work – believe her! Every writer needs someone to hold them accountable and to provide motivation. For me, that is my mom. I have been ready to push A Farewell, Mrs. Wheatley aside many times and not finish. But what keeps me going is her honest feedback after each round of revisions. This manuscript would not have been written if it weren’t for her support.
The advice I'd like to share with fellow unpublished authors is taken from one of my favorite movie quotes: "Never give up. Never surrender." Anything worth pursuing will not have an easy road. Each step forward is an accomplishment, each step back is a lesson. I haven't crossed the publication finish line, yet, but with God's help, I will one day and so can you.
Oh wow, what a question! Two things: 1) Don’t Quit! Believe in yourself and the story God has placed on your heart! Determine in advance that you will not give up—even if you only have a few hours each week to write. Read books on the craft or attend a conference, but keep learning and keep writing. 2) Join a critique group. I joined American Christian Fiction Writers last May and immediately began subbing on their Scribes critique loop. Some of those initial critiques were painful (wincing now), but the amazing community of Christian writers gathered there want to help you succeed. Many of those first critiquers have become trusted friends whose comments and suggestions I rely on heavily.
Fantastic answers from all of you, and what a wonderful glimpse into each of your hearts. Clash of the Titles is rooting for all of our contestants and praying the best for each of you!
If you’re an unpublished novelist interested in entering the next Olympia, submissions open in the Fall. Dates to be announced.