I’m just thrilled to introduce you to this writer I met at a Christian Writers Guild’s Craftsman retreat in 2012. We divided into groups, and I found myself delighted and blessed by the young women in my circle. Although I was the eldest (by far), I came away wondering where young women like Given come by such wisdom. What a credit she is to her parents.
I so respect Given. I believe you’ll agree.
Given Hoffman in her own Words
My name is Given Hoffman. I am a young adult suspense novelist from Minnesota. My parents always encouraged me and my four siblings to use the skills God gave us in whatever way God directed. I was homeschooled through high school, and when people asked me what my favorite subject was, I would always somewhat sheepishly say: reading.
My mother read historical fiction to us at lunch and I read fiction on my own, but I didn’t much like any other subjects.I was good with kids though, and over the years I spent a lot of time babysitting, camp counseling, volunteering with youth groups, nannying, and mentoring young people. I didn’t have a clue how much this would play into where God would eventually lead me.
How Authorship Developed for Given Hoffman
I did not grow up writing stories. My one and only childhood attempt at story writing was around age nine. I started a typical girl and her horse story, but I abandoned it in less than forty-eight hours.
First Came Inspiration
So how in the world did I become a young adult suspense novelist? Well, I’ve always had trouble falling asleep. One night somewhere mid high school, I got this one scene stuck in my head. In months that scene snowballed into the plot of a contemporary suspense novel. I couldn’t help myself. I started writing a book. My mother, realizing how seriously I was, took me to a meeting of the Minnesota Christian Writers Guild. For the first time people spoke my language.
I came away so inspired yet also still totally naive about what it took to be a good writer. I didn’t mess around though, I had a book I was determined to see completed. By seventeen, I finished my novel which was 180,000 words long (I guess actually at that length you could say I finished two novels).
Then Came Learning
Later at writers conferences, I heard over and over how beginner writers shouldn’t start with a novel but with short stories to learn the craft. Since I had already finished my first novel it was a bit too late, but I gained a lot of appreciation for the concept of starting with something smaller when it came to editing my first book.
Right in there, I attended my first writers conference and attempted to market my book to a publisher. The editor was wonderfully kind and explained the basics to me, like that most novels are 75k-95k words long not 180k and what a proposal was. I didn’t even know my novel’s word count. I had brought my whole manuscript and plunked it down in front of him (I laugh now thinking about it). It’s totally not what you are supposed to do, but I didn’t know any better. Needless to say, he didn’t take my manuscript.
And Sticking Her Neck Out
Despite my disappointment, I was still determined to see that book published. I went home with the entire conference on MP3 and listened to every session, learning writing, pitching, querying, and writing proposals.
I attended the next year’s conference and the next, and I took fiction writing classes through The Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. Every conference following that first year, I had at least one publisher like my book proposal and request my manuscript. Again and again I nervously sent it out and waited the typical three months to hear back. Nothing ever came of that first novel, but I was invested now in writing. I started my second book. One reason publishers said they weren’t interested in my first novel was because they didn’t think a teenager could market a book to adults. So I wrote my next book with teenage protagonists.
Once I did, I encountered the reality that many Christian publishers don’t publish books for young adults or else publish very few. Most publishers consider the young adult audience, particularly teen boys, too narrow of a market. Ministering and mentoring teens showed me how often teens are overlooked and marginalized. Encountering this reality in the publishing world made me that much more passionate about giving teens worthwhile YA fiction that is both God honoring and engaging.
And Releasing a Debut Novel
My debut novel, The Eighth Ransom, is a contemporary young adult suspense novel about eight young people who are all kidnapped. By working together, they escape their kidnappers and prevent their ransoms from being used in a plot against the U.S.
Currently, I am working on a young adult suspense period medieval trilogy. I also have several stand alone young adult contemporary suspense novels already brainstormed that I’m planning to write after that trilogy.
How to Find Given Hoffman
You can find out more about me and The Eighth Ransom on my website. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Pinterest. I also post weekly on my blog about practical Christianity.
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Oh my, Lord, how faithful You are. Given’s parents poured You into her, and now she’s pouring You into her writing. I continue to be amazed by Given’s maturity, wisdom, and skills. And I pray You’ll bless every single word she writes for You.
~ For Jesus’ sake