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March 2011

My First Sale: Rosslyn Elliott

Sometimes the bravest and hardest deeds don’t appear that way from the outside, and only the person involved knows the true sacrifice required.

Debut author Rosslyn Elliott writes love stories about ordinary people who find extraordinary strength in hard times. She hopes her novels inspire readers to be courageous in their everyday worlds.

Rosslyn Elliott 1Elliott signed with Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary in the summer of 2008. Her first novel garnered interest from publishing houses, but didn’t make it through the approval process. Instead of giving up, she prayed over her second novel and using feedback gained from her first book, vowed to make the second one the best she could write.

She finished that second novel in August 2009 and submitted it to Rachelle, then learned in October that the Thomas Nelson publishing board was considering her proposal.

When Rachelle called in February 2010 with an offer from Thomas Nelson, Elliott listened, but was dazed. In fact, the details are still fuzzy, but she recalls basking in relief and joy.

Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn ElliottFairer than Morning, her debut novel, is a historical romance about two young people haunted by their pasts who find love and freedom as they assist fugitive slaves in 1826.

Fiction over academia

While finishing her Ph.D in American Literature, Elliott chose to pursue fiction writing instead of going into academia. She visited a small museum in Westerville, Ohio, to research artifacts for a nineteenth-century historical novel with romance and adventure. A documentary about the Hanby family who lived in the house before it had been turned into a museum was the catalyst for her first novels.

Critique partners sing her praises

Rosslyn marries excellent, fast-paced storytelling with the masterful treatment of imagery, setting, and language.

Gwen Stewart, one of Elliott’s critique partners, said she writes with precision, “Rosslyn marries excellent, fast-paced storytelling with the masterful treatment of imagery, setting, and language. (Her novel is) gentle, yet compelling in its storyline and characters.”

Dave Slade, another critique partner, praised her pacing—particularly for a historical romance that is packed with action. “The romance is always subtle, laid down in layers like a fine symphony that builds slowly toward crescendo,” he said. 

Elliott cites as an influence, Charles Dickens, for his compassion, sharp observing eye, and ability to write satire while having such a huge heart. She hopes to achieve a similar compassion in her work.

Which, according to Lorena Hughes, another critique partner, shouldn’t be a problem. “I am impressed by Rosslyn’s ability to accurately capture 19th century atmosphere through dialogue, setting, and fashion,” Hughes said. “She has a gift for painting a vivid portrait of the times for the reader. When you read her novels, you truly care about the fate of her characters—and her page-turning plots make her books difficult to put down.”

Trusting God for the next step

Rosslyn Elliott 2Elliott has finished the second novel in her trilogy, Sweeter than Birdsong, and will begin editing it while working on the third. She has more projects percolating, but needs to do research and discuss them with her editor before deciding which is best.

She sees God’s hand in every part of her writing. ACFW members can pray for her to be a hardworking and humble servant who blesses others and remains faithful in whatever she is called to do.

Elliott isn’t an all-work-and-no-play writer. In fact, she conducts orchestral music in her living room to an invisible audience. Her love of singing allows her to make up silly songs from life’s observations, particularly about her dog. As a teen, she was an equestrienne, and still loves horses.

Learn more about Rosslyn Elliott and her writing adventures.


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