December 19, 2013 by Jen Cudmore
Run the race, even when there are potholes.
As a reader and a writer, my passion has always been fantasy and science fiction. I became a uber geek even before the term was coined. The first novel I purchased was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine Engle. Besides devouring books, I’ve always had a strong desire to write fantastical stories as well, As a Christian, I believe God gives gifts and talents to everyone as is beautifully portrayed in Matthew 25. But I’m not a preacher or teacher. I don’t write devotionals or Christian apologetics. Could God really use a simple storyteller like me? There was one thing I couldn’t doubt, though—the fire burning in my heart to write.
Thirty years ago, I submitted my talents, my dreams, my aspirations to God. Since then, I’ve been running the race set before me, but it’s been tough at times. My first novel, a fantastical retelling of the creation story, was rejected by Crossway Books. It just “wasn’t good enough to get past their editorial board”. I took my first rejection in-stride and knew I had to improve my craft. I found a critique group and I began to focus on short stories. I wrote and submitted to various magazines, wrote and submitted, wrote and submitted . . . and accumulated a nice pile of rejection letters before I finally had my first sale.
After, the rejections came much more frequently than the sales and I began to doubt myself, my ability, my gift. If I were truly using my gift as God wanted, then why so many dear author, sorry your story doesn’t fit our needs. Best of luck. rejections? The same held true for my mid-grade fantasy novel, Whispers from Forbidden Earth. I won’t tell you how long I worked on it. I edited and tweaked the story until I was absolutely sick of it. Then I began querying agents, first 1, then 3, then 7 . . . 10 . . . 13 . . . and listened to the ensuing silence that caused me to doubt my gifts and ability all over again.
Stick-to-itiveness is a strange creature, though. Maybe I’m too bullheaded. The fire in my gut wouldn’t disappear and I persevered. I found a publisher who embraced my novel and now Whispers from Forbidden Earth is available on Amazon. Woot!
For some, your writing journey may have been much shorter and smoother than mine. I congratulate you. But I’m really talking to many more who find themselves traveling on my road, a road with a few bumps and potholes in the way. Don’t give up! Work on your craft, develop a thick skin and charge ahead. Read voraciously, network, join a critique group, and always seek ways to improve your writing. Listen to your heart and not your head. Did I say to work on your craft?
Do you see that brilliant star ahead? That is your dream and it’s coming closer.
Two lives, two worlds, bound together by one accident.
When the young elf Strum first heard the whispers, some on Eversong called it a gift. After all, he is the first of the Iunctus Unus (United Ones) born in centuries. But the whispers are from a bizarre land called Chicago where twelve-year-old Jason Snider lies comatose in a hospital after a terrible accident, an accident that binds the two lives together. If Jason dies, Strum dies.
Forcing open the long-locked portal throws Strum and a pintsize baby dragon into the terrifying world of Chicago. He teams up with a street-smart girl who has her own painful ties to Jason, and the battle is on. For not only is all Chicago chasing them, so are evil mages banished to Earth centuries before. Strum is their chance to return and conquer Eversong. He must stop them, even if it means forfeiting his chance to go home–or worse, his life. (For young readers, ages 9-12.)
Bio: Mark Venturini’s short fiction and flash fiction has appeared in various print and electronic magazines over the years. In 2013, Helping Hands Press published his fantasy novel, Whispers from Forbidden Earth, for ages 8 and up. Mark founded the Pittsburgh East Scribes critique group in 2010 with the aim of helping aspiringwriters pursue their dream of publication. The group has flourished beyond his wildest dreams.By day, Mark is a Senior Software Engineer for a large regional bank. He enjoys the outdoors and loves to kayak and backpack through the beautiful mountains of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Mark and his wife Kathy also provide pro bono IT services to a variety of nonprofit organizations.