know the novel, part one: introduction // a writers linkup

Hey there, friends! It’s been too long since I’ve posted, but school and other responsibilities have taken up a lot of my time lately. I’m back today, though, with a writers linkup hosted by Christine @  Christine Smith. I’m so excited!

Basically, I’ll be sharing some fun facts about one of my WIPs – specifically, the one I’m planning to do for NaNoWriMo (a November challenge in which writers worldwide try to write 50k words in 30 days).

… Yes, I’m planning to do NaNo. For the first time. I may not get 50k, and that’s all right. I’m going to be hand writing the entire novel, because I really want to get through a whole book without doing ANY edits the entire time. That’s intimidating, but it’ll be good for me, whether I write 50k words or not.

All right, here we go! (If you’re interested in doing this linkup too, scroll on down to the bottom of this post for instructions.)

introduction to my novel

This novel, tentatively titled The New Jerusalem, is a retelling of the musical Fiddler on the Roof with a modern twist.

1: What first sparked the idea for this novel?

If you know me, you know I love the music of Andrew Peterson.  One of my favorite songs from his newest album, Resurrection Letters, Volume I, is “Maybe Next Year.” I listened to a podcast in which he and his friend Ben Shive talked about the creative process of writing the song, and one of the things that stuck out to me was how he referenced Fiddler on the Roof. He said that he always loved how the characters in the musical say “Next year in Jerusalem!” to each other as they part. It’s incredible, how they hope and believe that they will meet again.

But, Andrew said, he thinks that Christians’ hope is even more incredible. We don’t believe we’ll meet again in the earthly Jerusalem – no, we will see each other one day in the NEW Jerusalem.

That thought stuck with me for a long time. Fiddler has always been one of my favorite musicals, and this Andrew Peterson / Fiddler connection wouldn’t let me go.

Sometime (I’m not sure when) the idea for this book just came. A modern retelling of Fiddler, set in my world, with characters like me. A story about love and life and God.  A story about people whose hope is in the new Jerusalem.

You know the old saying “Write what you know”? I’ve never written much set in my own time period, drawing from real-life events, but I did write one story once.  It was based on my life, and looking back, it’s not very good. But, coincidentally, its title was “Maybe Next Year.”

I made my way to the western wall
As the sun went down, I could hear them call for you
And the words I heard in the ancient song
Were the same as the ones I’ve sung so long to you
And when I touched the wall, the veil, it never felt so thin
Cause you are the Rock and the Cornerstone
You are the temple of flesh and bone
And you are the door and the way back home again

Andrew Peterson, “Maybe Next Year”

2: Share a blurb!

I have never written a blurb for this book before. Here’s a try:

Meet the Jordan sisters: Sarah, who wants life to never change; Hadassah, who longs to leave her world; and Eve, who’s trying to fix what she’s broken.

Freeze. But this can’t last forever.

Flee. But running won’t solve any problems.

Fix. But no one can do it alone.

Sometimes dreams don’t come true.

What was good is gone, and the sisters will have to move on. Together.

I spent a lot of time on that, and it turned out nothing like I imagined it. Just picture a contemporary family story about your deepest insecurities tangled up in a romance where no one gets what they thought they wanted. Or… something like that.

3: Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?

This story takes place in a small town in rural Michigan (I’m currently thinking it will be fictional, but that’s not certain yet). I’m really excited to write this because I’ve grown up in Michigan almost my whole life, so I know everything I need to make this setting awesome.

4: Tell us about your protagonist(s).

I (kind of) already did in my blurb.

But here’s a further introduction:

  • Sarah, age 20. Studying writing at a liberal arts college. Wants to be an author.
  • Hadassah (Dassah), age 19. Studying nursing at a community college. Doesn’t know what she wants to be.
  • Eve, age 17. Homeschooled high school senior. Wants to be in the army.

5: Who (or what) is the antagonist?

Time, humanity, and reality.

And that’s all I’m gonna tell you…

6. What excites you most about this novel?

I LOVE everything about this story, so how do I pick?

Well, I’m really excited for you to meet Cai. He’s one of my favorite bumbling heroes ever.

7: Is this going to be a series? standalone? something else?

Standalone, unless plans change wildly.

8: Are you plotting? pantsing? plantsing?

(For those who don’t know, plotters plan their book ahead, pantsers write what comes to their mind as they’re writing, and plantsers are somewhere in between.)

I’ve already planned/plotted most of the story, but I don’t have an outline (other than the Fiddler script) and I don’t want one. Some of my best ideas come when I’m writing, and planning every little detail kills the joy of storytelling for me.

9: Name a few things that make this story unique.

  • I’m going to hand write the whole first draft.
  • Each of the main characters is based, in part, on me.
  • There’s a fiddler in it – but not how you’d expect.
  • There are chocolate-covered pretzels.

10: Share a fun “extra” of the story (a song or playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map, a theme, ANYTHING you want to share!).

I have two things to share!


I made these on Canva, and the images were all public domain except one (click here to go to its source). This was my first time making this kind of thing, and I don’t love how it turned out, but here they are:

Sarahsarah collage.png

Dassahdassah collage.png

Eveeve collage.png


Oh, I have LOTS of songs I could share, but I’ll save some for later.

the whole story: maybe next year (andrew peterson) // the ballad of jody baxter (andrew peterson) //  the last goodbye (billy boyd)

sarah (tzeitel): abide with me (jill phillips) // audition (emma stone) // true love (patti murin)

dassah (hodel): runaway (jess ray) // when will my life begin (mandy moore) // lost dog (skye peterson)

eve (chava): the rain keeps falling (andrew peterson) // always good (andrew peterson) // words fail (ben platt)

the sisters: the schuyler sisters (renée elise goldsberry, phillipa soo,  jasmine cephas jones, leslie odom jr.)

cai (motel): the coral castle (andrew peterson) // a million dreams (ziv zaifman, hugh jackman, michelle williams) // smile (namo)

peter (perchik): kristoff lullaby (jelani alladin) // let’s get married (the gray havens) // a lovely night (ryan gosling, emma stone)

theodore (fyedka): if i could tell her (ben platt, laura dreyfuss) // i see the light (mandy moore, zachary levi) // only us (ben platt, laura dreyfuss)

want to do this for your novel?

You don’t have to be doing NaNoWriMo to participate in this linkup! Just head over to Christine’s original post and follow the instructions there. There’s even a handy way to add your link so other writers can see it.

thanks for reading!

I hope you enjoyed this post! I enjoyed writing it, and I can’t wait to get to work on my novel.

Until next time,


Published by Maya Joelle

classics student, bookdragon, wordsmith, forest girl, incurable romantic seeking to adorn the dark with my words and kindle hearts with legendary fire looking for beauty in the ordinary but the men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark

24 thoughts on “know the novel, part one: introduction // a writers linkup

  1. I’ll admit I’m not too familiar with Fiddler on the Roof…but I’ve gotten interested in retellings, and a contemporary retelling where the homeschooled protagonist wants to join the Army?? 😍😍 This sounds amazing!! And I love this linkup! 👍

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my goodness, this sounds sooooo good! I love the whole “flee, freeze, fix” concept, and each character representing one of those things. What a neat idea! I also love how you got the idea in the first place. New Jerusalem and the Fiddler on the Roof mixed into a contemporary novel? LOVE IT! And I’m totally drooling over your character inspiration boards.

    This is just spectacular all the way around! ALSO. Your first NaNo? AAAAHHHHH!!! SO EXCITING. NaNo is such a fun, magical event. You’re gonna have a blast! Also, also. You’re handwriting the whole thing? :O I. Am. In. Awe. That is epic! I hope it all goes wonderfully! Cheering you on!

    And thank you for joining the linkup! I absolutely love hearing about your novel. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This novel sounds wonderful! From setting (yay Michigan) to characters to hand-writing the whole thing (you are one brave human), I’m so excited to read it that you have to be sure to publish it one day simply to satisfying my curiosity. 😛

    Also, NaNo buddy! This is my second year doing it, and last year was so….wonderful and /intense/ that I’m really looking forward to this time around! ((I’m ElleryS on the official NaNo website if you’re on that and want a writing buddy. 😊))

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never seen Fiddler on the Roof, but I love the way it’s inspiring this novel! And apparently I need to go listen to Andrew Peterson’s latest album. 😉

    Good luck with Nano, especially writing it all by hand!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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