Sunday, 24 October 2021

G Guest Editorials

Celebrate Lit - Saving Faith

Jennifer SiennesWhen I first started writing at the ripe old age of twelve, I dreamt of becoming a romance novelist. I loved everything about romance, right down to the happily-ever-afters. In fact, my mom once accused me of wearing rose-colored glasses because I tended to believe that everything in life would turn out the way it does at the end of a romance novel. Call it optimism, naiveté, or just plain old delusion.

God had other ideas. Although I know romance has its place in advancing kingdom glory, for some reason, He decided my writing focus should be on the hard stuff of life. Just to be sure I walked in obedience, He allowed a season that had me feeling more aligned with Job than with Jesus. In a short span of time, I was dealt three tragic situations with my children (molestation and two traumatic brain injuries), abandonment by a husband of 22 years, grief over the loss of my beloved mother, the suicide of my childhood hero and brother…I have no need to go on; you get the idea.

It became clear pretty quickly that unless I used the emotions that were birthed throughout that long season against the backdrop of the redemption and hope we have in Jesus, I would have wasted an opportunity. I love knowing that the Lord uses every bit of our pain for our good and His glory when we put our trust in Him. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that the desire and gift I’ve been given as a writer has a purpose—and it’s not about me.

Does that mean I’ve set romance aside? Absolutely not. In fact, when my publisher asked me to write an Apple Hill novella to supplement the three novels in the series, I jumped at the chance to write a romance. Before, my stories were women’s fiction with an element of romance. Saving Faith is a romance with an element of women’s fiction. You might miss the subtleties, but there is a definite “formula” to a romance. You know from the outset that the boy gets the girl in the end. In women’s fiction, that’s not necessarily true (unless I’m the author). I just can’t help myself. Who doesn’t love romance?

Although I’ve already had one novella published (All That Glitters, an Apple Hill Christmas novella), Saving Faith was actually the first one Isaving faith website available wrote. My publisher held onto it until the opportune time to release it. All that to say I use the novellas as an outlet for my desire to write romance. Because novellas are much shorter than full-length novels, it’s more challenging to delve deeply into real-life issues. I still do it, but romance is definitely in the driver’s seat.

I was recently asked how I develop a story—characters first or plot first? There is no short answer to this, because every project is different. In creating Saving Faith, it started with a little girl in my Sunday School class. She’s bright, precocious, adorable, and headstrong. Thus, Addie Jacobs was born, and the main characters came into play afterwards. That was a first for me. Another first was not plotting out the entire story before I began writing. It was as if the Holy Spirit introduced the characters and theme to me as I wrote, which was a little disconcerting for a control freak like me.

In the end, I believe it’s a better story for it. How could it not be when God was in the pilot’s seat, and I was merely the co-pilot? It’s almost as hard to say good-bye to my characters when I’m finished with a novel as it is to old friends. I hope you love Addie, Faith, Michael, and Chloe as much as I do. More than that, I pray you feel the grace and hope of our Lord interspersed within the pages of Saving Faith.

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