Please help me welcome author Janie Franz, who is sharing the moments that changed her life and her series, The Bowdancer Saga…
It was hard to pick just ten moments. I’ve lived a long time and there are many more.
- The Scholastic Book Fair in school. My mother, bless her, always managed to pay for all the books I wanted to buy when I got the sales flyers at school. She valued books but couldn’t read very well herself.
- Discovering in seventh grade that other people’s input could change a story (whether I wanted it to go that way or not) when a friend wanted me to write a happy ending to a story I wrote. I discovered at that young age that I didn’t write quite like others wanted, but I had to be true to my own style and what I had to say.
- Taking a creative writing course in high school and getting my first check for a published work. However, it wasn’t for my specialty: short stories. I was paid for an essay and two poems. That sort of set the tone for a large part of my life that followed.
- Having to make a critical decision in college on whether to pursue art or writing. When I hit a wall in my advanced drawing class, I went to my professor and told her that I was at a crossroads. She said that she had to do the same thing when she was first in college. She chose art. I chose writing. Art would always be a big part of my life but only as a hobby.
- The births of both of my children and later my two grandchildren. I was told by a wise La Leche League Founding Mother that once you become a mother, it profoundly changes your life. She said you will always be a mother, no matter how old your children are and that it also affects how you interact with others throughout your life.
- Going back to college to finish my degree at 49, but not in English or Creative Writing, but in Anthropology, my second love. I discovered I could pull from all of my previous life experiences (as well as reading broadly, writing for non-profits organizations, tutoring college students with learning disabilities, and editing professors’ journal articles) and see a whole picture. A student told me that I didn’t need to work so hard for my A. I told her that I wasn’t there for a GPA. I was there because I was fascinated by the subject matter.
- Booking and doing publicity for my son’s groove/funk band. I’d been helping him do some booking and publicity before they were signed by a local record company. When that company failed to book them in places that matched their style, we bought out of the contract and I took on those duties, booking locally and two national tours. I learned a lot about how to use the computer for research, how to schmooze club owners, how to mount a continuous marketing campaign, and how to promote in general.
- Starting my own freelance writing/editing business in 2000. I took everything I’d learned about computer research and promoting and applied it to looking for work—not getting an editor to buy my pitched story–but a writing job that would generate more work. I broke every rule I’d been taught about landing a writing gig. I spent the next few years interviewing all sorts of people and writing literally about everything from medical articles, music and dance, art, pavement, dental labs and dentistry, food and wine, and science.
- Getting my first book published in 2009, the first book in the Bowdancer series. I eventually moved that book and two more to MuseItUp Publishing when my contracts expired. I already had eight titles with Muse and plan on publishing many more. I have used all of my experience marketing a band by trying to market myself as an author.
- Having to start over after a divorce and moving to a new part of the country. I healed and rediscovered lost pieces of myself as I adapted to a new climate and landscape. I’ve discovered new cultures here in New Mexico, and I’m surrounded by archaeological sites that I’d only read about in college. I’m fitting into my independence and learning more life lessons. This all inspired my self-help book, Standing Strong: Honoring the Unexpected Changes in Our Lives (Lessons along the Journey of Becoming a Woman of Power), which is currently being reviewed by a psychologist.
Oh my gosh, what a life you’ve led. Very touching about your mother. What a gift she gave you. Wise words about motherhood. Once you become a mother, everything changes. I know what you mean about finding it difficult to only pick 10. I have tortured guests by asking them to do so, but the tables were turned when I did the same on an author friend’s blog. It IS difficult to pick only 10. You did an excellent job, though. Very pivotal moments. Thank you so much for sharing.
The Bowdancer series chronicles the life of Jan-nell, a young healer and keeper of tribal lore, who seeks belonging as she discovers a vast world outside of her village. The Bowdancer Saga presents her early years in that quest as she discovers rogues, bards, kings, beespinners, and muscular sword dancers with as much grace as the bowdancer herself, and many unusual beliefs and lifeways as she seeks to create family in some form.
The arrow flamed in a yellow arc across the night sky, like a trailing star portending some great event. And in truth it did this night, the night of the Great Moon of Full Summer. This night the bowdancer’s arrow signaled a solemn rite and a village celebration—the union of Merin, the tall horserider, and Co-rell, the blonde chosen-daughter of Wise Woman Dan-da-nell.
They were often seen among the white mares in the meadow. Merin’s long hair flowed behind him as he raced to grab a handful of yellow-white horse mane nearly the same color as his own. He would swing himself upon a sleek back of one of the mares and come racing to scoop Co-rell high onto the horse with him, cradling her in his arms like a happy squealing child.
Jan-nell, the bowdancer, knocked the last burning signal arrow against her bowstring. She smiled as her mind composed the quatrains of an idyll to the horserider and his bride: white against white like playful doves, spirit folk.
When she released the arrow to call in the stragglers from the outlying farms, she shook her head and altered her imagery. No, not spirit folk, just sleek horses riding the meadows enjoying the fullness of coupling and sweet grass. But this young stallion and his mare would grace the village children’s tales and lessons. Jan-nell would see to that. Co-rell and Merin were the stuff of legends. She would gladly give the young ones a dream. They need not know that Merin could not speak a sentence without coloring the shade of a retiring sun and much preferred the silent movements of horses to men.
Jan-nell had spent too many early mornings drilling Merin in the wedding words he was to speak to Co-rell. There were only five short speeches, but they were impossible for him to remember, much less speak them to a woman. Finally, on this wedding morn, he had been able to say the words to Jan-nell without much stumbling. She did not know if he could repeat them at moon-rise to Co-rell.
Jan-nell frowned as she ducked into her solitary thatched hut some little distance from the village edge. She wondered why she remained with such simple wits. From a shelf above the stone fireplace she had laid with her own hands, she brought down a pot of scented oil and set it on the hearth to warm. Taking a small piece of cloth, she wiped the smoke from her large bow.
Janie Franz comes from a long line of Southern liars and storytellers. She told other people’s stories as a freelance journalist for many years. With Texas wedding DJ, Bill Cox, she co-wrote The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Book and The Ultimate Wedding Reception Book, and then self-published a writing manual, Freelance Writing: It’s a Business, Stupid! She also published an online music publication, was an agent/publicist for a groove/funk band, a radio announcer, and a yoga/relaxation instructor.
Currently, she is writing her tweveth novel and a self-help book, Standing Strong:
Honoring the Unexpected Changes in Our Lives (Lessons along the Journey of Becoming a Woman of Power)