A2Z - P is for Phoebe

Phoebe Johanson was "born" thirty-five years ago, in a creative writing class, at Bucksport High School. It was my senior year, in a new school, and I only needed a couple credits to graduate. I didn't want to take any more science or math, so I filled my schedule with fun classes-literature, writing, and French.

Instead giving a specific writing assignment, Mr. Harriman often told us to just write for the whole class period. At first, it was hard, but I learned to love it. I learned to express my teenage stresses and fears and dreams through my words. As graduation neared, the bitterness of moving away from my former school re-surfaced, so I created a character that also longed to be settled in one place. I filled page after page about Phoebe and her travels and the people she met...all the while wishing for a home.

Well, life has a way of filling our time and days. I married a very steady man, who built me a house (where I still live). We had a baby and then another and another, until we had eight children in the next twelve years. My days were very busy, but Phoebe was still there in my mind. At night, I added more characters and changed the plot, but it was still the same theme. When I had a quiet moment to myself, I'd write my ideas down, but most of it was in my head.

When my youngest child was in his last years of high school, the drive and dream to finish my story of Phoebe grew very strong. Our family now had a computer, and I loved writing on it. Gone were the days of arrows and asterisks and numbering my paragraphs. I loved the freedom of "cut n'paste." I spent hours writing and writing.

I was so excited when I finally was able to put an ending on my story, but it was a long way from being done. To enter the Christian Writers Guild's novel contest, it needed to be at least 75,000 words. It was only around 50,000 words. So I added more characters and subplots until the whole thing was 90,000 words. I did more research and joined the Christian Writers Forum where I received some good critiques and made some great writer friends. I began learning about the immensity of the writing world.

When I sent my story to the CWG contest, it was like sending one of my children out into the world. Phoebe was going to be tried and tested to see if she could on her own. I even cried a bit. Phoebe didn't make it. The story needed more work. I joined Faithwriters and learned more. I cut the whole first chapter and learned to tighten description and dialogue. I changed the point of view and defined the age of the reader. To make it a middle-grade historical novel, it needed to be even shorter. I needed to condense my story-not take away from the plot, but concentrate on what was there. I even found an artist friend that was willing to illustrate it.

In my story, Phoebe is still a young girl, but she has grown up. She is stronger and more confident and ready to face the world. I hope and pray that she finds a home soon.

(an excerpt of "A Home for Phoebe")


Kim Russell said...

Awww...I love the story of your story. So encouraging for those of us that are beginning our journey.

Barbara Lynn Culler said...

Wow! What a journey. I also hope she comes home soon.

Diana Lesire Brandmeyer said...

I hope Phoebe finds a home of her own soon.

Rita Garcia said...

I hope Phoebe finds a home, I want to read her story! This is my favorite post this week!

Anonymous said...

Phoebe WILL find a home.
Not IF, but WHEN.
Praying it'll be soon.

Sunny Hugs

Shelley Ledfors said...

Thanks so much for sharing part of Phoebe's story for a *wonderful* P post, Vonnie! God bless you on your journey to publication. I can't wait to read Phoebe's whole story!

Patty Wysong said...

Praying Phoebe finds a home, Vonnie!!

Sparrow said...

So cool to hear the beginning of your writing journey. Hoping Pheobe does indeed find a home.

Yvonne Blake said...

Thanks for all the encouragement! I pray that God will open just the right door for my book.

Diana Dart said...

Awwww, super sweet and heart warming story, Vonnie. I'm with Sunny - Phoebe will find a home, in print and in your readers' hearts.

Joanne Sher said...

You KNOW I'm praying for you and Phoebe. Love the story of where she came from!

Sara Harricharan said...

Ah, so that's the history behind Phoebe, eh? Wonderful. Thanks for sharing it, Vonnie. I remember reading chapters on CWF. ^_^


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