Dawn and I are very excited to host our fellow critique partner and good friend, Ocieanna Fleiss. We were privileged to participate in her journey to publication as friends, critique partners and cheerleaders. Recently, Ocieanna placed fresh, autographed copies of her book into our hands. What a day! May her experience inspire and encourage you this Fortifying Friday.
Here's our interview:
How long have you been writing fiction?
I can't remember ever not writing fiction. I think one of my early stories was in third grade. I wrote a story about a robber who stole people's pants. I read it to the class and everyone laughed. I was hooked. When I decided to pursue a writing career (twelve years ago!) fiction was my first choice, mostly because it seemed to be more fun than non-fiction and also I needed an outlet for the stories swirling in my imagination.
Tell us how your contract came about with Summerside.
As much as I loved writing, I'd been pursuing publication for so long that I was getting discouraged from all the rejections. Discouragement is a very real part of writing and creeps up in many different ways. So, I prayed a lot about it and even considered stopping writing. What I finally decided was that I wouldn't stop writing (how could I?), but I would stop pursuing publication. I would just write for God's glory and my own joy and let go of all the other stuff.
This decision created a huge amount of relief and revitalized my love for writing. I was very content ...
A few months later, out of the blue, I received a Facebook message from my friend Carlton asking if I wanted to write for his publishing company. I've known Carlton for years and knew he had recently started a new publishing company, but I thought it was only for non-fiction and I didn't know the name. Well, since I wasn't pursuing publication, I didn't respond! I was very impolite and didn't even return his message (shame on me!).
In the meantime, my critique friend told us about this new company called Summerside. She was all excited and said it had received lots of good reviews and was the newest "thing."
About three weeks later, Carlton sent me another message on Facebook asking if I wanted to write a book for his new company. This time, I thought I should at least respond, and I sort of flippantly told him about all my ideas. He sent me his catalogue and to my complete amazement, it was Summerside!
At this point, a friend told me God was opening a door and I'd better walk through. I was very happy to do so (although a bit scared, too.) So, I wrote up some synopses and they liked the idea that Tricia Goyer and I had come up with a few years before.
What lessons have you learned? What did God teach you in the process?
All throughout this process I've learned that God cares about each area of my life, that He watches with His tender hand of providence, and His love for me never fails. There were times when I felt overwhelmed and discouraged, but He led me through the fog step by step. And during the times of rejoicing (like when the box came with my books inside) I knew it was only by His grace that this could've happened.
What advice do you have for writers waiting to break into publishing?
There's no quick secret to getting published. My advice is rather than chasing after being published (which I did for years) pursue excellence and hide in Christ, leaving the results to Him.
Here is the back cover copy to their new book:
Julia Cavanaugh has never left New York City. But in 1890, the young woman must head west to ensure that the orphans under her care are settled into good families. After her final stop in Montana, she plans to head straight back east. But upon arriving in the remote town of Lonesome Prairie, Julia learns to her horror that she is also supposed to be delivered into the hands of an uncouth miner who carries a bill of purchase for his new bride. She turns to a respected circuit preacher to protect her from a forced marriage but with no return fare and few friends, Julias options are bleak. What is Gods plan for her in the middle of the vast Montana prairie?
Ocieanna Fleiss's first novel, Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana, which she co-wrote with Tricia Goyer, will hit stores December 1. She and Tricia are currently creating their second novel, Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington, for release next summer. Ocieanna's also written several articles for national publications and a bi-monthy column for Northwest Christian Writers Association. Homeschool mom of four little ones, she, along with her husband, stay busy at her home in the Seattle area.