by Dina Sleiman
The new hot thing this year seems to be coming up with one word to encapsulate your goals. Even before I noticed this trend, I had spotted my word in a quote from Mary DeMuth on Author Media. Are you ready for it…Entre-author. A friend asked if this had something to do with an author entering, like the French entre vous. Actually, I think it does. To my understanding it is a mix of entrepreneur and author. Therefore, I suppose it is a writer ready to enter the big leagues.
This word captured what God had been laying on my heart for the past few months. You see, I started my novel writing journey as an art and a ministry. At some point I realized in order to succeed, I would have to understand writing as a craft and a business as well. But just late last year, it hit me that I had two teenagers headed for college and needed to start making a serious income from my writing. As my debut, small-press, medieval novel struggled for sales, I watched my crit partner’s first “marketable” novel thriving. My desires began to undergo a change. While I still wished to touch lives, I now wanted to provide for my family through my writing as well.
Of course the question that remained was whether or not I could write to market while achieving my artistic and ministry goals, but I determined to try. At my agent’s urging, I prayed for several weeks for a marketable idea. Finally, a title dropped into my head, and a story began to unfold in my mind.
As I sat down during NaNoWriMo to pen my first “market-driven” novel, an amazing thing happened. I chose my hot genre, my popular setting, and even focused on plot for once in my life. Each time I had a decision to make, I asked myself what would be more entertaining. But as I did so, my voice and themes still found their way into the novel with little effort. The book still fit my “Dina Sleiman ~ Dance with Passion” tagline. It still depicted intimacy with Christ. And as I sat in church the first Sunday morning after I started it, God even gave me a vision for a worship dance scene that I could weave organically into the plot and setting. Something I hadn’t dreamed of for my Scarlett O’Hara meets Jane Austen novel.
I’ve just sent this new Virginia set historical romance to my agent, and truly, I couldn’t be happier with it. Who would have guessed? I can write a novel to market and still love it myself. I learned something important through this experiment. The outer trappings of the novel are not what matters. If God is in the mix, His purposes will be accomplished. The heart of the novel is what counts.
Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. You will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion, released in 2011. Dina is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray.