May 08, 2014

Showcase Your Current Project — Epitaph, a novel — Janelle M. Baldwin

We are pleased to have Janelle Baldwin, an InScribe member and InScribe's webmaster, join us today as our Guest Blogger.

Janelle, what are you currently working on? I am currently working on a trilogy of novels called Epitaph. The first book is Epitaph, the next two are Mourning Light and Beauty for Ashes.

Is it a new project or something you’ve been working on for a while now? The books have been an ongoing project for about three years, but the idea was born almost ten years ago. When I started writing it, I expected it to be one book, but the characters had other ideas. It became one story spread over three books.

Is this a usual genre for you? Yes, I write mostly fiction. This is the biggest project I’ve undertaken. It’s been a huge learning process.

How did the idea come about? Many years ago, I asked my husband what he would put on my headstone if I died. The answer he gave me was commonplace and bland. I started to wonder about whether my life was really reflecting what I wanted it to and what I wanted my headstone to say in the end. The story was born out of that, but it really became a journey for my protagonist from agnosticism to faith, through love, loss, forgiveness, grace and peace. They are not fluffy books, they tend to lean toward edgy.

What do you want to accomplish by this writing? My hope is that it reflects the love of the Lord, demonstrating that He meets us right where we are. In the midst of joy and suffering, in good times and bad, He is constant and unchanging. He is reliable, He is trustworthy, and we are never alone.

What is giving you joy or frustration at this time? This has been a long process. I am currently revising the books to patch the holes and remove the tumors. So far, the patient hasn’t bled out on the table, so I think that’s positive. The first book’s rewrite is nearly complete, however, there are miles to go until I’m finished. The biggest challenge is not giving up. If I’d known the heights, depths and breadths when I began, I may not have started at all, so it’s been an amazing journey.

What are you discovering about how the writing is unfolding? Any surprises? Well, it’s different from what I thought it would be when I started out. One character I’d originally added as a minor character pressed for a more starring role, so I gave it to him.

Will you share a paragraph or two to give us a teaser? Kyrie (protagonist) has just received news of a friend’s suicide:

My thoughts are scrambled and incoherent as I shamble down the narrow hallway to my living room, footsteps dragging over the cream-colored berber. When I reach the sofa, I collapse against its soft, worn cushions. It offers a musty, emotionless embrace—exactly the kind that I need right now. I don’t want to feel. Or think. Or move.

I despise death. I do not like its taste, its foul stench. The rhythms that come of it are disjointed, lacking harmony. It is ugly. It behaves like a rude guest—one that I wish hadn’t shown up at all.

When do you plan to have it completed? (Laughs) Last year? No seriously, I hope to send the first book to my mentor and editor in the next month or so. Then I’ll work on aligning the next two with the first.

About Janelle: I have known for as long as I can remember that I wanted to be a writer, I was reading very early and have always had a passion for story and words. As a child, my teachers encouraged me to write and I was chosen as the school’s representative at the Young Author’s Conference three years running.

Over the years, I've worn many hats, including graphic artist, business writer, web designer and mother, but now I am finally pursuing what I love most to do—writing fiction. I feel the Lord's presence gently pressing me onward toward the goal. I’ve had moments of heartbreak and joy, and lam learning a great deal about mining, refining, perseverance and faith throughout this journey.


  1. "It offers a musty, emotionless embrace." Great line, Janelle. I love how fiction writers are directed by their characters. It fascinates me (creative non-fiction is my genre). Your trilogy sounds monumental and very interesting. I like Christian writing with an edge. Can't wait for it to come to fruition.

    Do you think you'll wait until all 3 are ready before publishing, or would you publish one at a time?


  2. Janelle Baldwin7:01 am GMT-7

    Hi Bobbi, thank you for your kind words. My hope is to publish the three books a couple of months apart, however, we'll have to see how it goes. Thank you for your encouragement! It's been a long, long journey, but on a positive note the rewrite of the first book was finished on Monday. :)

  3. I echo Bobbi's words. I is also great to put a face to your name - wonderful job of pulling the website together.

  4. I'm intrigued. Can't wait to read the book.

  5. Janelle Baldwin12:59 pm GMT-7

    Thanks Tracy and Vickie! I appreciate it!

  6. I've pondered the epitaph question often myself. And it's always fascinating to me how God draws people to Himself. Love your titles and the tidbit you shared. I'd buy it!

  7. Janelle,
    Thanks for sharing your work in progress with us. I enjoyed the small snippet you shared with us and look forward to reading your books when they are published. It sounds like we think alike in some ways. I've pondered what I want on my gravestone. It's a good question to ask ourselves :)

  8. Hi. Janelle, I like how your book got it's start - by asking your husband about your epitaph! That is an excellent kick start for a story- sounds interesting! Blessings on your work
    Pam Mytroen

  9. Janelle Baldwin8:57 am GMT-7

    Eleanor, Ruth and Pam, thank you all for your kind words. I appreciate the Inscribe community, it's so welcoming, encouraging and supportive. :)

    Janelle :)

  10. I too have been considering what I would want for an epitaph--but I'm also curious as to what my family would write as an epitaph for me and whether it's what I would write. Sounds like a challenging project with the three books--keep pressing on in what God has called you to do.

  11. I love the interview format, Janelle, and your title and topic for the trilogy sound intriguing. Good for you. I appreciate the way you get inside your agnostic protagonist's head in the teaser you have given us. May God continue to guide you as you write the rest of this story.

  12. Janelle Baldwin12:20 pm GMT-7

    Thank you so much for your comments, Sharon and Connie Mae, I so appreciate them!


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.