Local Christian writer will have her first novel published


Jan Watson sounded like she still was floating on a cloud of success and wonder a few weeks after she found out she had won a nationwide contest sponsored by the Christian Writers Guild, a group to which she belongs.

"I'm so excited," she said in a recent telephone interview.

"I belong to the Christian Writers Guild, and I noticed in Writers Digest it was sponsoring a contest. So, I sent in my little manuscript. I got good feedback. And I won the thing."

She found out she was a winner June 28. Three finalists had been chosen from 290 entries. Watson traveled to Atlanta as a guest of Tyndale House, which will publish the book.

"They had a dinner honoring Jerry Jenkins (of the "Left Behind" series). Jenkins owns the Christian Writers Guild that sponsored the contest, and he announced I was the winner.


"I just felt very blessed."

Watson received a $50,000 award to go along with the publication of the novel. Part of it is just hers, and another part is an acquisitions fee, she said she thought.

Part of the feedback Watson received was from Grassroots Writers, a group based out of Lancaster. Watson said she got hooked up with that group after attending a writing class taught by Beth Dotson Brown.

"I started attending her class and was invited to join the Grassroots Writers," said Watson, 60. "It has been so much fun. It's been great to have another group of people who are interested in the same thing you are. We critique each other's work. There is a lot of talent in the group."

The novel is titled "Troublesome Creek"

Watson's novel is titled "Troublesome Creek" and will be published July 2005. It is a book based on a story her maternal grandmother from Eastern Kentucky told her when she would visit as a little girl.

"She told about a young mother who got caught in a flash flood and climbed a tree - to save her baby and herself," Watson explained. "But the baby was swept away and never found.

"The story - the time of the book - is the late 1800s, and it is set in Eastern Kentucky. ... The story is about the baby, Copper Brown."

Watson said she ended up with enough material for two novels, and it took her five years to write them. She said an editor told her the book was too long when she had it as a single novel.

"But I didn't want to change it," she noted. "I had a revelation: Make two books out of (the material) and that would be all right. God was leading me to do that.

"I came home and it was fairly easily turned into two books. The first one I sent to the contest."

The second novel is a sequel to the first, she noted, and a third one "I'll write as soon as I get the second one re-written."

"I'll wait and see what the Lord has planned for those two little books," added Watson, a registered nurse at Central Baptist Hospital.

The fledgling author said she always has been a voracious reader, which led Watson to writing.

"I love the written word," she said. "I have the feeling that most readers secretly want to be writers. We always think, 'I could have written that.'

"I started playing around with it six years ago. I started writing, and the first year I just kinda played."

Then Watson started looking at her writing as a ministry.

"I'd never thought of it that way. It was just something fun to do."

She believes books with a moral are a good way to go

As a Christian writer, Watson said, she believe that books with a moral are a good way to go, and not just for a Christian audience.

"God directs our lives and He loves us," Watson noted. "We can accomplish great things under His direction. When you write a good, moral story, I think people are hungry for that kind of literature. It's a talent - God gave (me this) talent. Different people have different ones. I have developed this one late in life."

And writing is the most fun she's ever had, she added.

"It is just - every day, when I sit down, I have a really good time."

Finding the time to sit down is a challenge, said Watson, who will celebrate her 42nd wedding anniversary with her childhood sweetheart in October, and who has three sons and a daughter-in-law.

"Because I still work," she explained. "When you work at home, there are so many things that pull you. You have to discipline yourself to take the time to do it, give up some other things, and make it important. And treat it as a ministry so you don't feel bad when you take the time to do it.

"Another blessing ... about my writing is that starting so late, I hope to be an inspiration to other women ... especially in teaching or nursing or other professions. Here, at this age, is a whole new thing to do. It's very exciting. Other women who have dreamed of something else - I hope they are inspired to do something else. You're not old at 60 anymore."

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