Because a Novel Saved My Life…

Me (Nadine) and the first edition of Yella’s Prayers, published back in 2010.

When I was thirteen years old, a novel saved my life: John Nielson Had a Daughter by Ruth Livingston Hill (Ruth Munce.)

Long story behind that, but it’s the reason why John Nielson is my all-time favorite novel. (Later retitled The Homecoming.) It awakened my purpose for writing, and my purpose fueled me as I wrote my first novel at seventeen: Yella’s Prayers.

Seventeen bottled-up years of life, spilling into a book.

I later learned that Munce, who lived to be 103, lived all the way until I began working on the “masterwork of my teenage years.” Yeah. Munce passed just days after I started writing Yella’s Prayers.

I wouldn’t presume to call it a passing of the baton, since Ruth knew nothing about Nadine. But it’s a testament to how one author’s writing can reach further than she knows…

I wrote my firstborn novel with the hope of reaching into someone else’s life. Maybe even further than I might know.

You know?

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My aspiration is for my words to help people: to bring hope, to change minds, to expand imagination, to provide entertainment, and to save lives—as other authors’ words have done for me.

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Yella’s Prayers, a coming-of-age love story

 

My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

The fact is that gossip, rumors, mythmaking, and news stories are not appropriate vehicles for the communication of nuances of truth… So it is time for the defense, for a long session in demythology. But I will not apologize. It is absurd to apologize for a mystery.

“Here we go. Already,” or something similar came out of my mouth after I read those lines, not even past the first page of My Name is Asher Lev by author Chaim Potok.

Remembering The Chosen all too well, one of my all-time favorite books by the same author, I expected this novel might take me on another profound journey. And there it started from the first page. Already.

The coming-of-age story of Asher, who begins discovering a mystery from his childhood: his urgent drive to draw and paint, even as his gift as an artist grates against his Hasidic Jewish observance. A story about the sacred, soulish tension between genius and responsibility, between the need to please and the calling to be.

A story about navigating relationships when you have no easy explanations for the people you love and respect.

No, I don’t read many novels this stark and somber in their beauty. Yes, you do have to have an ear for nuance and the power of what’s unsaid to hear and appreciate the music and poetry behind a narrative like this. And, no, even with my passion for arts and creation, I don’t interpret all the matters here in the same way Asher does.

But I get it. I empathize. And it’s a story that empathizes with me and the kind of impossible pain it’s taken to make me into the creative I am, and am becoming.

A fine, raw, magnificent novel. I plan on reading more about Asher Lev.

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It was back before I said much in reviews, but I meant every one of my few words about The Chosen.

 

Some Genre Details, If You Please

When an author writes in multiple genres, or writes cross-genre books, some clarification can be in order now and then. So I’ll explain a bit about a few of the genres I write.

Historical Fantasy

Historical fiction is one of my all-time favorite genres, so it makes sense that I’d want to write books with a historical feel. Because the historical stories I write are fictional history in completely fictional worlds, they aren’t solely historical fiction. They’re historical fantasy fiction.

Yes, “fantasy” does have certain connotations. There’s usually an expectation of magic, mythical creatures, and the like, but my stories don’t have those fantastical elements. Their “fantasy” label simply signifies that the history, geography, characters, languages, etc. in the books are all imagined, not factual. (Of course, in my role as the English-speaking translator for my characters, I do translate most of their dialogue into English. 😉 )

These stories will likely appeal to you if you’re a historical fiction fan who can enjoy a story with history that’s purely from an author’s imagination. If you’re a fantasy fiction fan who enjoys fictional worlds and some world building, my historical fantasy fiction may appeal to you as well.

Coming-of-Age

A character’s age alone does not determine the genre or age-appropriateness of a book.* For instance, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is told from the perspective of a little girl, but that doesn’t mean it’s a children’s book.

When I label one of my books as coming-of-age, it signifies that the main characters are young but that they’ll reach a major turning or maturing point in life, or that the stories follow the characters from childhood or their teenage years to adulthood. This includes my coming-of-age romances. After all, adulthood isn’t where life begins, and for a lot of people, adulthood isn’t where love begins, either.

You don’t have to be a young adult or a twenty- or thirty-something reader to enjoy my coming-of-age stories—or any of my stories, for that matter. You just have to be interested in human beings and what humans experience, no matter their ages.

Love Stories vs. Romance

All romances are love stories, but not all love stories are romances. That is, the romance genre is only a part of the broader category of love stories.

Even though a book may have a romantic storyline, or a romance within the storyline, it doesn’t necessarily make the book a romance, genre wise. In a romance book, the development of a romantic relationship must be the main focus of the plot. Also, the plot in a romance book follows a specified progression (formula), and that includes a “Happily Ever After” ending where the romantic couple ends up together.

A love story, on the other hand, may be just as romantic, with love as a significant focus, but it doesn’t necessarily follow the romance genre formula. For instance, if the romantic aspect of a plot doesn’t show up until fairly late in a book because the hero and heroine don’t meet each other until then, it’s not a romance. It’s a love story. If at the end of a book, the romantic hero and heroine are going their separate ways for a time, and the status of their relationship is left open-ended, it’s not a romance. It’s a love story.

When I label one of my books as a love story, it signifies that romantic love is a prominent theme in the book, but the book isn’t of the romance genre. If you’re like me and believe that romantic love is a vital and universal part of life, and you enjoy seeing that kind of love portrayed in fiction, then my romances and love stories may appeal to you.

I hope that all makes sense!

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*Note: as for the content, I’d say my books fall within the “PG” to “PG-13ish” range. No profanity or explicit sex. When there’s violence, it isn’t gratuitous, and any substance use is mild or brief. I don’t set out to write squeaky-clean or unrealistically sanitized fiction, since real life can get messy. But I don’t include “mess” for the sake of it, either.

 

Yella’s Prayers: Deleted Scenes

Yella’s Prayers
~ Deleted Scenes ~

yellas-prayers-deleted-scenes

Check out the Deleted Scenes from my coming-of-age novel, Yella’s Prayers.
The ebooklet includes not only the extra scenes but also fun tidbits about the earlier, unpublished versions of the story and the original characters.
(The Deleted Scenes ebooklet contains spoilers and should be read after the novel.)
Click the link below to download a free copy!

Yella’s Prayers: Deleted Scenes