what readers are teaching Glynn Young about fiction (and book giveaway)

(Guest post by Glynn Young)
 
I’m learning what fiction can do for people, and I’m learning it from people who read fiction.

I was on an airplane in 2002, flying to San Francisco for a conference. The in-flight movies weren’t terribly appealing, and so I was flipping through the music channels. One program stopped my channel surfing – an hour-long interview and music show featuring a singer from Greece I’d never head of – Mario Frangoulis.
He had (and still has) a beautiful tenor voice; I sat mesmerized by the songs and the interview. When he sang the song “Luna Rossa” in Italian, the only thing I understood was that it was about a red moon. But it evoked an image in my mind – a priest dancing on a beach. And not a Catholic priest, but an Episcopal priest. I don’t know why, but it did.
The image percolated, literally for years. I began imagining a story in my head – and it grew in my head for three years. In late 2005, I began to pour the story on to the computer screen, and I poured some 300,000 words (a typical novel has between 70,000 and 100,000 words). And then I cut and slashed and burned. I rewrote. I divided and divided again.
The result was a 93,000-word manuscript, which was spurned by every agent and publisher I contacted. As one agent told me at a writer’s conference, “If it ain’t got vampires, it ain’t gonna sell.” And it didn’t have 50 shades of gray, either.
The manuscript eventually found a publishing home, with a small publisher in the Midwest. It became Dancing Priest, and made its appearance in late 2011. I won’t be able to retire on the royalties, but it did OK for a first novel by an unknown writer published by a small firm. It’s a love story – a young Anglican priest falls in love with a young American woman who doesn’t share his faith in God.
It’s not what’s strictly known today as “Christian fiction.” It’s also not what’s considered “general fiction.” It’s a hybrid, a kind of crossover book.
I’d written a story that had been in my head and eventually my heart for years. I was taken aback by what readers said.
“It demonstrates that noble behavior is still a good and possible thing for young men today.”
“I’d heard people talk about faith for years, but I finally understood what they meant. This made sense to me.”
“I can’t believe people still write big, inspiring stories.”
That’s one thing I learned: people are hungry for big stories that inspire and celebrate inspirational behavior.
Dancing Priest now has a sequel, A Light Shining, published in late November. It’s still about the young priest and the young woman he’s in love with, but the story takes a turn into suspense. What had been for them an ordinary existence becomes the center of world events – and a target.
One reader said this: “I think you’ve done a marvelous job with developing Mike and Sarah’s relationship and (especially) their faith in God’s plan. Since reading Dancing Priest and now A Light Shining, I find myself pondering my own prayer life and day-to-day relationship with God in a new light.”
My novel did that?
And this from a colleague at work, who sat himself in my office and said: “I stayed up until 4 a.m. reading your book, and I was blubbering. Everyone else was asleep – I had no one to talk to about it.”
We need stories in our lives, and we need to read stories that help us make sense of things.
But the lessons can be humbling. 

Glynn is giving away a print copy (or Kindle version if you prefer) of either Dancing Priest or A Light Shining. Just a leave a comment and a name will be selected at random.









24 Comments

  1. Loved this. So inspiring to keep going and writing the stories I have simmering.

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  2. I loved this. I just added it to my list of books to read.

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  3. Okay I already own both of these, but I also love both of these, so I’m entering. Would love to introduce a reader friend to Michael Kent.

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  4. Fiction books are among some of my best friends and teachers, opening my mind to ways of thinking that had previously been unknown to me. I’m intrigued by your books and will check them out. I’m always in search of a good read. Well done on getting published! You’re a shining light to those of us who only hold on to a whisper of that dream.

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  5. This is so inspiring! I love hearing the stories behind the stories, especially as an aspiring author. Thank you!

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  6. yes, we need stories. we need to be reminded what it is to hope, to hurt, to enjoy, to dream… to live.
    how quickly we seem to forget we are in the midst of HIStory even as i type. here. now.

    thank you for the reminder of the necessary. i look forward to reading your novels (:

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  7. Fiction is all about making sense of things, isn’t it? That’s why I read it. It’s why I write it. It’s why I celebrate it. Congrats on your second book!

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  8. You know Glynn how I felt about Dancing Priest. Being a cyclist and a pastor it made even more sense. Am so looking forward to reading A Light Shining.

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  9. Love me some inspiring fiction! Thanks for the opportunity! (my own favourite fiction authors > Randy Alcorn and Francine Rivers) Maybe these books will change that!

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  10. Sounds intriguing, and I fully agree about the power of story. Laura Boggess’ review of the second book brought these to my notice, and here they are again. Definitely on my to-read list.

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  11. I sometimes feel rather shallow in my reading habits, but I will confess that I love fiction. I think I have learned more reading stories than I have in some of the non-fiction books I’ve read. Somehow it gets down under my skin and into the very heart of my heart. Your book did that for me Glynn.

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  12. I agree with Linda – I feel shallow if I have to confess my love of good fiction but I have learned SO much! I would love to read your book. I’m sad to say my local library doesn’t have it. If I win, I think I will read it and then donate it in hopes that it circulates through our library system to a larger audience!

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  13. I have a friend who is a dancing priest, so I love the title.

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  14. Hi Glynn and Emily! Very excited for your second book being released and can’t wait to read what happens. Reading fiction actually helps me sort out reality and appreciate all that God has given…including imagination!

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  15. I’m glad you made the priest Anglican. They’re the best kind. Mostly kidding, that sounds so elitist or something, but still. Glad you got it published. And I can understand the dividing, burning and so forth. It’s depressing to do but feels good once it’s done. Blessings friend.

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  16. Oh man I want either one of these books, I knew right away they were right up my alley in fiction. I can’t wait to read them both and I will spread the word.

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  17. what an inspiring post!

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  18. Stories teach, inspire and sometimes even heal in a way perhaps less threatening than a non-fiction book. Thanks for being faithful to the story God placed inside your heart and sharing it with all of us. May much good come from it…

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  19. I am intrigued….and so delighted for you, Glynn, that your story has resonated with readers and done the work God intended to do through you. Good stories do that. It’d be grand to ‘win’ the giveaway, but Dancing Priest is on my book list nonetheless.

    kudos to you!

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  20. I think this sounds great…and the power of storytelling lives on. SInce I am the slowest reader in the world and my piles of generously won and given books overflows, if I win would you award it to the lady before me! ;) Really. And eventually I will get to them! ;) Sounds like a great read (both of them).

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  21. Glynn,

    I am intrigued and suddenly want to hear the Greek opera singer’s Italian song too.

    Thank you for piquing my interest.

    (Emily, always nice to stop by your online home, friend.)

    Jennifer Dougan
    http://www.jenniferdougan.com

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  22. Stories…oh how we need stories. Love to win but either way will be adding these to my list to read in the coming year.

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  23. Looking forward to reading this new book. It sounds intriguing.

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  24. Glynn is such an encouragement to the blogging world

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i'm so glad you're here, friend. how are you?