The years of 2002 through 2006 were great years for my writing journey. I was still fresh and full of hope. I got plugged into critique groups that helped provide encouragement as well as good suggestions on how to tighten up my craft. I even managed to get the first few pages through a “thick-skinned critique” with Jerry Jenkins in 2003 at my second Writing for the Soul conference.
I wrote the final words of Starfire in 2005, just before my second American Christian Fiction Writers conference (technically this was the first, as the year before they were still the American Christian Romance Writers). I went to that year’s conference with both barrels loaded, confident in my writing and my story. There was even a small, but growing market of Christian fantasy novels in bookstores. Surely there would be a place for me.
Strangely enough, it turns out publishers didn’t really want to take a risk on a book starring sentient alien dinosaurs. That’s when I began understanding that there’s more to this business than writing the best story you can. You have to make sure there’s someone out there willing to take a risk on that story. And back then, there really wasn’t anyplace set up for the kind of risk-taking that my novel called for.
I knew enough to know that while Starfire was the start of the story I really wanted to tell, I probably needed to break into the market with something safer. So I started writing a fantasy, after all they were selling, right? Though this fantasy starred a dragon-slayer cursed with the memories of a dragon eh slew, a sentient jack-a-lope that is forgotten as soon as you lose sight of him, and a buffalo-minotaur shaman style character. Not exactly typical for the CBA market.
I also tried a YA comedic space opera staring a telekinetic slug, a stick-man (the kind kids draw, not one made of sticks) and a bubble. That didn’t exactly work all that well either.
By the time 2006 ended, my dream of ever being published with the stories I loved to tell was all but dead.