Joanne Otto

Author

Tag: Daughter of Jerusalem

Cornucopia DoJ Review

Cornucopia Books shared a lovely review of Daughter of Jerusalem. You can read the review on their site and I’ve also shared it below:

This new novel, aimed at the young adult market but readily enjoyable by adults, plunges the reader into the bustling word of first century Jerusalem. It’s also the world of Mara, a teen-age Jewess, who in her struggle to find and realize her full identity and completeness, has an experience millions might envy. She meets and talks with Yeshua, known to us as Jesus the Christ. Continue reading

Kirkus Reviews

You may remember I blogged recently about Taking the Plunge when I submitted my books to Kirkus Reviews. It was a big step for a first-time independent author to take. In fact, Kirkus has only recently begun reviewing indie books at all. So picture rookie author Joanne discovering the links to her reviews on her iPhone and being unable to access them because she has no idea what her Kirkus user name and password might be! Continue reading

Taking the Plunge

You may not have heard of Kirkus. Until several months ago, neither had I. But among publishers and booksellers they have been well respected since the 1930s for their intelligent, unbiased book reviews. A fee is charged for these reviews, but there is no guarantee that they will be favorable. Kirkus’s reputation rests on their being honest.

I had been undecided as to whether to submit my books to them for a review. It seemed expensive and a bit daunting. But this afternoon I took the plunge, encouraged perhaps by a discount they were offering this week. After a seven-to-nine-week waiting period, I should be hearing from them. If nothing else, the results will provide a learning experience. But, of course, I can’t help hoping for more.

Something to Celebrate!

Writing a book, for me at least, seems far less difficult and much more fun than promoting one. Nevertheless, a dutiful, concerted effort to promote my books began in January. Then, after several months of researching children’s book websites and making vain attempts to contact bloggers who write reviews of books for early and middle grade readers, I was asked to resume some work at church which left me little time for such a quest. All I could do was entrust my books to Him who inspired them. Continue reading

The Search for Mara

We may have been warned against judging a book by its cover, but, let’s face it, most of us do. . .at least to some degree. So the visual dimension of “Daughter of Jerusalem” loomed large when it came time to select images for the cover that would introduce it to potential readers. The images of first-century Jerusalem, especially of the Temple, were not difficult to locate. But finding the face that would represent our heroine, Mara, was another matter. At first I thought all I’d need to do was a Google search for “young woman with head scarf.” Surely a few intelligent-looking, reasonably attractive young women would turn up. But I found myself on stock-photo websites scrolling through cartoon figures, flirtatious hussies with come-hither looks, and sun-weathered candidates for National Geographic. Hundreds passed before my dazed eyes before one -just one – potential Mara finally turned up. And thanks to Meghan’s artistry, she now graces the cover of my book. Sometimes I wonder who she is and where she lives and whether she’ll ever know where her photo ended up. But to me, I guess she’ll always be Mara, the intelligent, spirited young daughter of Jerusalem.

Bringing the Past into the Present

A friend recently asked me why I chose to write my book, “Daughter of Jerusalem,” in the present tense even though its story takes place nearly two thousand years ago. My short answer is: to make it come alive.

Can’t you almost hear a friend telling a story about something that happened yesterday or last week and using exactly the same technique? (“So I run up to him and ask him what the heck he thinks he’s doing.”) That friend knows instinctively that the present tense invests a now concluded incident with the aliveness of this very moment.

I first tried using it for story-writing when it was suggested at a writer’s workshop I attended about 20 years ago. I could see that it made my story sing, and I’ve used it on occasion ever since. That’s not to say it’s appropriate in all situations, but if you like writing stories, it’s definitely worth a try. Let me know if you have success with it.

Writing a Story About Jesus

Picking up on last week’s observations re biblical fiction, I can think of no more challenging or more thrilling subject for an author to build a story on than the life of Jesus. The challenge, of course, is in doing him justice–catching even a glimpse of what made him who he was and presenting it in a way that rings true for today’s readers. In attempting this, I had to see Jesus through the eyes of my fictional characters, especially Mara. I found myself asking: What sort of scriptural teaching has she heard up to this point, and how would Jesus’ teaching have been different? What would draw her to him? How would her one-on-one encounter with him be initiated in an age when women’s interactions with men were so restricted? The answer that came to that third question was straight from the Jesus I knew from Scripture: he’d have known she wanted to speak with him. And the moment of this realization was nothing short of soul-stirring. It was insights like this one that made “Daughter of Jerusalem” the most thrilling writing project I’ve ever undertaken.

How does it feel?

How does it feel to get your books published? To me it feels a lot like motherhood. No kidding. My books are my babies. And they have a life of their own.

Like most mothers, I delighted in the early stages of their development. They often surprised me, as children do their parents, in the amazing process of becoming what they were meant to become. But they were still safe at home, still not fully formed, still able to be molded as further intuitions came.

Then the day arrived when it was time to let them go. It’s remarkable how difficult that can be. I began to realize how much I’d enjoyed having them around as “young” unfinished projects, how much my sense of life-purpose had come to evolve around them. But the only way they could fulfill their purpose was for me to release them. So, of course, I did.

And like every mother, I wish them well on their journey into the world and hope that they will meet up with some good friends along the way. I hope you will be one of them.

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