Wednesday, June 20, 2012


My guest today is debut historical author, Jayne Fresina. Her topic is timely for writers. When you write for yourself it's different than the courage needed to share that writing with others. Jayne calls it girding her loins.  

An appropriate term, if an old fashioned one, because the loins are vulnerable to injury. Taking on a physical task or going to war, one girded, or wore a protective belt to protect the loin area and sword. Or in the case of the biblical use, meant tying (or belting) up your loose clothes for ease of movement and generally meant preparing to use all resources for a difficult task. I would say a writer preparing for having their work published would qualify.

I started writing stories in my head when I was a girl walking to school each day. I vividly remember foggy autumn mornings, dawdling along, crunching fallen berries under my shoes. Often I stopped to collect beautiful gold and burgundy leaves that would not look half so impressive by the end of the school day, crushed into my satchel with the balsa wood airplane I made in woodwork, or my sweaty socks from hockey.

Unlike the fallen berries and dry leaves, my stories lived on. Each day I wrote a new chapter.

In the beginning I kept those stories in my head, because I feared other people would laugh at me. Certainly, I never had thoughts of becoming a published writer or letting anyone else know about the stories I thought up. It wasn't until I became an adult, that I started writing them down—in a notebook at first and then on a computer. Even then, I wrote them for my own satisfaction, not planning to share them with anyone else. Ever.

But one day I got up the courage to show a friend. I had mentioned to her, quite by chance, that I'd been working on a book. Immediately she was curious —as in What on earth are you doing writing a book? It must have been a surprise to a lot of people, since I'd kept my passion secret all those years. For some weeks I put her off, changed the subject, politely evaded talking about the book I was writing. It became a bit of a joke to some people. Oh, Jayne's writing a book, poor thing.

Eventually it was done, I felt an immense sense of pride and achievement and suddenly I wanted to show someone. Suddenly I was unaccountably vain. I was so proud, so in love with my characters. I wanted other readers to enjoy them as much as I did. It takes a pretty swelled head to take a manuscript that's never been professionally edited and give it to a friend to read. How did I ever get to that point? I laugh about it now, the hours I sweated over my decision to show other people what I'd written. I was taking a huge chance. They might never stop laughing at me.

Well, I'd better pull up my big girl panties or - as my heroine Sophie Valentine would say, I'd better learn how to Gird my Loins.

Looking back, I suppose that was the point when writing changed from hobby to purpose. My friend showed the manuscript to her husband and then to other friends. Soon I was being persuaded to try publication. Before I really knew what had happened, writing became not just a pleasant past-time but a driving need. Every morning I got up a few hours early just to write before leaving for work. At night I sat up in bed reading books for research or making notes on the pages I'd printed out. At that point I knew I had to find a way to get published. Whatever it took, no matter how many rejections from agents and publishers—and there were hundreds of those!

Sometimes I stop and look back. I wonder what I would have done with all those hours if writing had not become such an all consuming passion. What would I have found to do? Occasionally, when I finish another book and I'm about to release it out into the world to be judged, I think back to that first time I ever showed another human being my work. And I wonder how I got so brave.

No, the fear never goes away, never fades.

I write stories that I would like to read. It's all I know how to do. It's all I want to do. That is, after all, why I started, as a schoolgirl, trampling berries and fallen leaves on her way to class. It still feels incredibly good to know there are folk out there who get as much pleasure from reading these stories as I get from writing them.

Frankly, it amazes me that the stories coming out of my head can entertain other people, because inside I'm still the same girl with scabby knees, a lot of geekiness, hair that will never lay flat and a very, very good imagination.

And a great deal of fear as I send my precious characters off into the world for the first time. 

Like Sophie Valentine I had to learn how to "gird my loins" and take a leap of faith.

  • What has had you girding your loins and taking a leap of faith?


"Wanted: one husband, not too particular. Small dowry, several books, sundry furnishings, and elderly aunt included. Idlers, time-wasters, and gentleman without other attachments need not apply."

—Miss Sophie Valentine


Sophie Valentine knew placing an ad for a husband in the Farmers Gazette would bring her trouble-and she was right. When the darkly handsome, arrogantly charming Lazarus Kane shows up on her doorstep, the nosy residents of Sydney Dovedale are thrown into a gossiping tizzy. After all, it's common knowledge that Sophie is a young lady In Need of Firmer Direction. But even Sophie isn't so scandalous as to marry a complete stranger…is she?


Lazarus Kane has been searching for Sophie half of his life. She may not remember him, but he could never forget her. But the past is a dangerous thing, and it's best if his remains secret if he wants to tempt Sophie with...



Jayne Fresina sprouted up in England, the youngest in a family of four girls.  Entertained by her father’s colorful tales of growing up in the countryside, and surrounded by opinionated sisters— all with far more exciting lives than hers— she’s always had inspiration for her beleaguered heroes and unstoppable heroines. Visit for more information. 


~Sia McKye~ said...

Jayne, Welcome to Over Coffee.

It does take a leap of faith to share what one has written with another. In our minds, our story is entertaining and fun. Just right. Somehow, showing it to another is fraught with fears and much trepidation. You're on tenterhook until you hear back and meanwhile you find yourself telling the phone to ring. Say something. Anything. And you're also right in saying it forever changes you and your perception of your writing.

My girding of the loins and leap of faith recently? Getting back into my writing after an interruption from life. Hard to sit and do when you get out of practice.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Thanks for hosting Jayne, a wonderful post to read, thoroughly enjoyable,


Jo said...

I did once gird my loins to show something I had written to an editor for an opinion. Always a scary thing to do.

Enjoyed the post. Glad your loin girding worked.

Sia, have sent you a couple of emails with no response?

~Sia McKye~ said...

I thought I had better check in and say hi. Been dealing with hay fields which is hot work even before 10 in the morning. I have a few minutes of cool and water and back out.

Jo haven't been able to access my gmail. I'll work on it later today.

Carol Kilgore said...

I'm taking a leap of faith now and launching my characters and their story into the public. I'm more than a little nervous.

Wanda said...

Such fun to read what "Real Writers" say...Remember my girlfriend and I making up stories when walking home from school..Over and over, new stories, new characters...but never wrote any of it down.

Jayne said...

Sia, thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today. I had great fun spilling my thoughts to share with you all. :)

Betsy Brock said...

What a fun and interesting post! Jayne, you surely will be an inspiration to others who are closet authors! Best of luck with your writing!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

How interesting! I love writing down fairy tales. I'm so glad to have found your blog. Happy summer!