Student Allison Blanchard publishes her first novel
Sitting in study hall, Allison heard a faint voice in her head: “I almost lost my breath when he walked through the door.”
“It wasn’t my voice,” said Allison Blanchard, a sophomore French and creative writing major. “It caught my attention because it was a female’s voice. It was Adeline’s voice.”
After hearing this voice repeat the same sentence over and over, Allison finally pulled out some paper and scribbled it down. One sentence turned into a page and finally many pages. For the next three to four months, she wrote nearly every day, not telling anyone that she was writing. When she finally showed the story to her friends and mother, they were ecstatic and encouraged her to publish it. Her mother was especially proud of her.
“Allison celebrated her fifteenth birthday on the edge of her Dad’s sick bed,” said Tonya Blanchard, Allison’s mother. “A month later, he went home to be with his Lord. In April of that year, Allison began writing as a way to cope with the grief. I was amazed at the way she poured herself into this novel. She seemed to be turning a corner. It gave her hope and a focus.”
But that was not the only reason Allison began to write “Forget-Me-Not.” When she first thought of one of the main characters of the book, a young man from a Native American ancestry, she began researching tribes that would fit him. She stumbled upon the Little Shell Reservation in Great Fall, Montana that isn’t recognized by the government as an official reservation. She wanted to bring attention to it, hoping that knowledge of the place would cause people to accept it as an official Native American reserve.
“Forget-Me-Not,” planned to be the first installment of a trilogy, is written from Adeline Jasely’s point of view. A boy, Cole Dyami, who transfers to an off reservation school to be more normal, intrigues Adeline, a girl with few friends.
They become friends, and he takes her onto the reservation to a campfire ceremony where the elders retell old tribal legends. His tribe and their legends begin to fascinate Adeline. Throughout the book the characters try to come to terms with reality and learn to accept the things that are happening in this paranormal novel.
Getting a book published is no easy feat. “It’s scary,” Allison admitted. She sent over 50 query letters to literary agencies and publishing companies. Some said no, some never replied, and some even gave advice on how she could better her manuscript. Her mother encouraged her every day.
“You don’t need 100 yeses; you just need one,” Tonya said.
Finally on Apr. 1, 2012 Allison checked her email on her iPhone before going to bed. She had gotten an email in March from Martin Sisters Publishing asking for her entire manuscript.
“I felt an overwhelming sense of peace,” Allison said.
She read the miniscule print on the small screen of her iPhone: “Forget-Me-Not Contract.” Allison ran to her mother’s bedroom and shared the exciting news. In all her excitement, her mother did not realize, or care really, that it was late at night and called every relative that came to mind to share the exciting news. Her family members weren’t the only ones proud of her achievement, though.
“She loves to write!” said Kelly Carelson, sophomore theater major and Allison’s best friend. “It is a talent she was blessed with, and I was crazy excited to know that others get to have a chance to take part in her passion.”
The contract was signed on Apr. 6, and the book is hoping to be released by the end of this year. Allison is thrilled that her mom was there to support her the whole way.
“I could not be more proud and excited for her as I know her dad is,” Tonya explained. “What a joy it has been watching her grow in her faith and excel in so many ways, all to the glory of God.”