Stephanie Landsem writes historical fiction because she loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she’s explored ancient ruins, medieval castles, and majestic cathedrals around the world. Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband, four children, and three fat cats. When she’s not writing, she’s feeding the ravenous horde, avoiding housework, and dreaming about her next adventure—whether it be in person or on the page. Stephanie’s debut novel, The Well, has just been released. Read a description of her book at the end of this interview.
Now, Stephanie shares her journey to publication:
How many complete novels have you written so far? The Well is my first published novel and the first book I’ve ever written. It is the first in a three-book series from Howard Books. They are all Biblical fiction, and all based on events from the Gospel of John.
Years you’ve been writing: I started writing seriously when my youngest child went into kindergarten and I felt like I had a little breathing room in my day. So about 6 years.
In a paragraph or two, describe what the road to novel/book publication was like for you.
My road to publication turned into a rollercoaster about the time I became a member of ACFW. I entered The Well into the Genesis contest and became a semi-finalist, which inspired me to send out loads of queries to agents. I had plenty of rejections, but when I finaled in the Genesis, I had enough confidence to check in with the agents that still had my manuscript (only two did!). One of them said she was halfway through it and liked it. Late that night, she emailed me and said she would call me in the morning! You can imagine that I didn’t sleep much. When we talked, we hit it off right away and she offered to represent me. I didn’t win the Genesis award, but my agent sent The Well out to publishers, and Howard Books offered me a three book contract.
Are you a fan of writing contests? Why or why not?
As you might guess from the answer above, I do think that contests can really help a writer. I had no formal writing training, although I do have a BA in history. By entering small contests first and getting feedback, I was able to gain skill and confidence. I wouldn’t recommend spending a fortune on every contest out there, but judiciously choosing a few to enter that really fit your genre can help a beginning writer a great deal.
Three books on writing/publishing you’d recommend:
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, Wired for Story by Lisa Cron, and a good thesaurus.
How is being published different than you thought it would be?
You have to juggle so much more than just honing your story and waiting for agents to email you back! You are marketing one book, editing another, and brainstorming for a third. In your spare time, you work on building a website, blogging, and connecting with readers. Still, if I could choose my dream job – this would be pretty much it.
About Stephanie’s latest release, The Well:
Could he be the One we’ve been waiting for?
For the women of the Samaritan village of Sychar, the well is a place of blessing—the place where they gather to draw their water and share their lives—but not for Mara. Shunned for the many sins of her mother, Nava, Mara struggles against the constant threats of starvation or exile.
Mara and Nava’s lives are forever changed with the arrival of two men: Shem, a mysterious young man from Caesarea, and Jesus, a Jewish teacher. Nava is transformed by Jesus, but his teachings come too late and she is stoned by the unforgiving villagers. Desperate to save her dying mother, Mara and Shem embark on a journey to seek Jesus’ help—a journey that brings unexpected love and unimaginable heartbreak.
Order your copy on Amazon.com, available in print and on Kindle: The Well