Let’s Chat! Given Hoffman

Welcome, everyone!

Given Hoffman is our honored guest this week.

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

Hi, Everybody!

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.







~ ~ ~

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

6 thoughts on “Let’s Chat! Given Hoffman

  1. Thank you, Naomi! Homeschool does indeed rock. : )

  2. Congratulations, Given. Sounds like you really took the bull by the horns in setting your course. And kudos to your mom who helped you direct your passion! #Homeschoolrocks!

  3. Great to learn more about Given. What a talented young woman!

    1. Thank you, Melissa. It’s definitely not been an easy journey pursing the talents God has given me, but He has been so faithful in that journey. : )

  4. Licha

    Wow, you are a very talented young lady and good for you that you are writing books for teens! Thank God you did not give up on your writings! God gave you your Very Special talents because He knows that Good will come from your writings. God Bless you and Thank you for being so inspiring.

    1. Licha, thank you for your kind words. I am very thankful too that I did not give up, because there were definitely a lot of time when I felt like it. But God is good, and I do very much hope my writing will encourage teens and their families.


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Giving Thanks

giving thanks
Signs of a time for giving thanks

Thanksgiving, the unique day set aside for giving thanks, is nearing. Ever struggle to say Thank You in a way that feels sufficient? 

an occasion for giving thanks
I’m giving thanks for The Calling of Ella McFarland

I’m embroiled in this experience at present.

My first novel, The Calling of Ella McFarland, is due to be released on December 1. I expect to hold an actual book in my hands very soon and have yet to link together the words and phrases that will express my gratitude.

What emotions will the sensation of holding that first book engender?

Between the covers will be pages filled with words I chose with care. For readers’ sakes. For the sake of the memory of my mother and grandmother who identities are woven into the characters Ella and her mother Betsy. And for Jesus’ sake, which is the closing line of every prayer I’ve prayed over this story.

giving thanks
I’m giving thanks for Mama, a grandmother who left a name worthy of a great-great-granddaughter

The seeds for the story were planted decades ago when I sat on my grandmother’s lap for tales bout life in Indian Territory prior to Oklahoma statehood. Mother watered the seedlings with intrigue and love for that state of her birth.

As I grew up the daughter of a South Texas farmer in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s, I learned what connected me to my family roots buried in rural soil was the constancy of Jesus Christ who heals, enlivens, and sustains.

giving thanks
I’m giving thanks for the sweet aroma of the Rose of Sharon.

For generations He has brought the sweet aroma of the Rose of Sharon to the gruesome stench of death and heartbreak. He has taken the dreadful sultriness of a summer hail storm, destined to wipe out a cotton crop and a year’s earnings with it, and replaced it with the gentle breeze of Hope, the Anchor for the Soul. And He has transformed the gut-wrenching sight of a loved one, maimed and becoming more so each day, into a vision of a new body in a new heaven.

I thank Jerry B. Jenkins and his team of judges for choosing this story as the first place winner in the 2014 Operation First Novel contest. The award has made possible the revealing of Ella McFarland who was born as I imagined what shape my gentle, quiet, shy grandmother’s world might have taken if the kaleidoscope of her life had twisted a hair’s breadth in either direction.

On Thanksgiving this year I will give thanks for Jesus, my family, friends, a home that shelters me, food in abundance, and more conveniences than are good for me. But this year I’ll add a Thank You for a once-in-a-lifetime blessing of a debut novel. Surreal.

giving thanks
Thanksgiving: a time for giving thanks

My words of gratitude won’t feel sufficient, but they’ll be the best I can muster.

Thankfully, the Lord can read my heart.

One thought on “Giving Thanks

  1. Teresa Brooks

    Amen! I am thankful for all you mentioned as well and can’t wait to hold my copy of your book in my own hands! Love you and the story that tumbled out of your heart and will soon be here for all who read it to be blessed!


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