Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Gift that Needs to be Used by Janet Sketchley

Janet Sketchley
Almost 20 years passed between my earliest dated notes and the publication of my first novel. I used to think that said something negative about me – it does say I didn't work at this full time or every day – but it's more about God's timing and the importance of perseverance.

I only quit a few times in those two decades, plus taking a year off with a new baby. Writing opportunities were often brief and scattered. Working on short fiction would have been easier, but the idea behind the novel wouldn't let me go. That meant huge batches of rewriting each time I received feedback and learned new things. I didn't know how much I didn't know!

At times it was overwhelming, but I felt a responsibility to my characters – something only other writers understand. I made a commitment that as long as I could learn how to apply what I'd learned or been shown, I would do it. If and when I hit something I couldn't grasp, I'd stop work on these stories – at least until I learned how to do what they needed.

My motto was "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."

Novel One deals with the redemption of a serial killer and spends time in his head. I felt a strong need to know God's leading about publication. What if it caused more harm than good? Self-publishing wasn't an option, because how could I tell if it was my will or His?

I finished a second manuscript and struggled for motivation with the third. Perhaps I should switch genres. I loved stories too much to quit by this point, even if none would be published.

Choosing to write because it's a gift that needs to be used felt liberating. No more wondering if God had called me, or if I was wasting my time.

Ironically, shortly after that I signed with Choose NOW Publishing for that first, long-suffering manuscript. Three rounds of intensive editing meant more revisions, and I'm so pleased I didn't release the book on my own without professional help. The "before" and "after" are quite different.

My novel had been out for six or seven months, and I was tidying the next manuscript to send to the editor when the company closed its fiction line. I was devastated. At first. But working with a small press meant I'd learned many of the behind-the-scenes details. And I have friends who were in or investigating the world of self-publishing.

I set up as an indie publisher, regained my rights to book one, and have been learning yet more things. Now Heaven's Prey and Secrets and Lies are both in print, and I need to get back into writing Redemption's Edge #3. This time I don't have the luxury of 20 years to let it steep!
About the Author
Janet Sketchley is the author of Heaven's Prey and Secrets and Lies, two novels of suspense and redemption. She also blogs about faith and books. Janet loves adventure stories, worship music, tea and Formula 1 racing. Like Carol in Secrets and Lies, she loves music and tea. Unlike Carol, Janet isn't related to a dangerous offender, has a happy home life, and has never been threatened by a drug lord. May those tidbits continue to hold true! You can find Janet online at janetsketchley.ca. Fans of Christian suspense are invited to join Janet's writing journey through her monthly newsletter: bit.ly/JanetSketchleyNews.

Amazon Author Central: www.amazon.com/author/janetsketchley

Secrets & Lies
by Janet Sketchley
A single mother must protect her teenage son—from organized crime and from himself.

Carol Daniels thinks she out-ran her enemies, until a detective arrives at her door with a warning from her convict brother. Minor incidents take on a sinister meaning. An anonymous phone call warns her not to hide again.

Now she must cooperate with a drug lord while the police work to trap him. Carol has always handled crisis alone, but this one might break her. Late-night deejay Joey Hill offers friendship and moral support. Can she trust him? One thing’s certain: she can’t risk prayer.


  1. "Choosing to write because it's a gift that needs to be used felt liberating. No more wondering if God had called me, or if I was wasting my time." Love this, Janet, as I often struggle with this very issue even now. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  2. I can still feel guilty using time to write when there are so many other things that look "more useful" -- but it definitely needs to be part of my life. The positive side of this struggle is knowing we're not alone in it! Thanks, Dora, and thanks to the whole Seriously Write team for the chance to share my thoughts here.

    1. Thank you for this post, Janet! I love your comment, "I didn't know how much I didn't know!" That's so true for me, too. When I look back at my first conference, I cringe at my expectations. Writing is a long journey, not a pleasure excursion. But it's worth every step.

    2. Definitely worth every step, Angie, and there are some fun spots on the journey! I'm glad we can find so many others travelling with us to encourage us.

  3. Wow, Janet, what a great-sounding book! I really enjoyed your journey of perseverance. Thanksgiving blessings to you and yours.

  4. A blessed Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones too, Tanya. It's funny, I used to see my slow writing journey as a weakness or a discouragement, but (like anything else we feel that way about) now that I talk about it, I meet all kinds of other folks in the same place.

  5. Janet - I loved reading about your perseverance and your honest admission about not working on writing everyday. Thank you for an encouraging post.

  6. I'm glad it encouraged you, Terri. I think perseverance is a big part of our battle.

  7. "Self-publishing wasn't an option, because how could I tell if it was my will or His?" I haven't heard anyone else voice that before. Thanks for putting it into words for me. :)

    1. I'm glad you understand, Bobbi. With some things, it's pretty clear which way God is leading, but I found the dream of being published was so strong that I really couldn't trust myself to be sure. And when I push when He's not in it, things don't turn out so well!


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