Interview: Janine Mendenhall

Today I am happy to share an interview with Starving Hearts author Janine Mendenhall.

Starving Hearts cover

When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?

Answer:

About six years ago, vampires and werewolves–you know the ones from the Twilight series—convinced me to write!

Two of my children, who were in middle school at the time, had that irritating “everyone else gets to” complaint when I wouldn’t let them read the books. So instead of arguing, I decided to check them out myself.

Four days and 575, 710 words later, when I finished the saga, I allowed my kids to begin it.

At that point, I told myself: If Stephanie Meyers can do it, surely, I, with God’s help, can write something that will be interesting and will bring Him glorifying.

Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from? Why do you write what you do?

Answer:  

My brain never stops working. I keep creating and exploring every single possible option in almost every situation with which I’m faced, including all choices and decisions my husband and I make in our daily lives.

It’s like planning all the contingencies one could imagine for what will happen on a two-week vacation, except I do it all the time.

Do any of you have this issue? It’s so bad I can’t drink water before I go to sleep for fear of waking up and accidently turning my brain on.

So to my husband’s great relief, writing gives my analytical mind a safe place to play with ideas without driving him crazy by telling him all the different things we have to do in order to, say for example, get to church on time.

And as far as why I write historical fiction/romance—specifically, late Georgian/early Regency—I’m fascinated by the social issues–like the slave trade–and the beautiful gowns and social customs of that era. In short: Jane Austen made me do it, and her time- period also protects me from having to write inappropriate scenes. It’s more fun to develop romantic tension by keep my couples apart, anyway.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you? How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

Answer:

It’s not so much that I use an outline or that I’ve evolved creatively. It’s more that I did what one of the greatest popular fiction writers I’ve read told me what to do, and I developed some skill in the Craft by reading books on how to do it.

It’s my belief that no matter how creative one is, if she can’t please her audience–by building romantic tension, for example, or by providing realistic characters with flaws and strengths while maintaining suspense and a quick pace–my readers will stop reading.

So I’m always trying please my readers.

I must credit Steven James, a most excellent Christian crime/thriller author, with these ideas and any success I’ve had in the above areas. Before I took his Novel Writing Intensive and studied his Story Trumps Structure, my writing was mediocre, at best.

And I continue to reexamine his teaching and push myself to be the best I can.

What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing? If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future? If you would, please tell us what was hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your book?

Answer:

Christian authors, at least it seems to me, must overcome a general reputation for making characters too perfect/unrealistic and having idealized conclusions.

Life is not easy. Everyone, including Christians, doesn’t end up with a happily ever after (HEA).

This is especially interesting, yet challenging to me, because my tag line is “experience the Ultimate happily ever after.”

Yet even in that, I’m speaking of Christ and not necessarily that all of one’s problems will be solved, although I will still try to give the HEA, since I believe in it.

I don’t really know how long it takes to finish a book because I wrote Starving Hearts while I was occupied working as a full-time school counselor, a mother of five, and a wife. That took me about four years to do that and then another year and a half to go through the publishing process.

God was certainly in the midst of the whole process, but it was challenging.

Demands for a platform—serious social media involvement, which builds said platform—and my introverted nature make the marketing aspects of a writing career so complicated I’ve been reduced to tears a few times.

If anyone ever tells you that a person can still write an excellent book and word-of-mouth will take care of it from there, I would say, is terribly mistaken.

Word-of-mouth is largely social media, and if you’re behind the times or too afraid to step out and try it, as I was, your book and its message may never reach the people for whom it was designed.

Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.  

Answer:

Ultimately it’s not so bad. I write because people, who may never hear the gospel in a church setting, might pick it up from my story or my website, and I care about them. So it’s the least I can do to reach them through my writing.

He’s also calling me to trust Him more as I learn how to do all of these new things so I’ll go along for the ride.

But the three hardest things:

  1. the technical know-how behind building a platform,

2. presenting myself as authentic and truly caring in a world filled with people marketing themselves as the same, but only seeking to sell a product, and

3. truly trusting in God’s sovereignty. (I say the words, but I keep worrying, which means I haven’t really applied my belief to my actions—still growing there.)

On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?  

Words have power, and the Lord has blessed me with the ability entertain/provide an escape to a different world using them. At the same time, with Peter’s and Annette’s story, I can also encourage my friends—my readers—to grow in the faith, even if they’re faith is at level zero.

Then we can talk about it on my blog and stay connected through email and social media. It’s a great way to connect with believers and non-believers alike, no matter where they live, and life doesn’t get much more exciting for me.

What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?

I’m reading Loving Well by William P. Smith, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free, and Praying Successfully by Charles Spurgeon in addition to various “how to” write books including Steven James’s book, again.

If you would like and have the time, write a paragraph or two about anything you wish.

Life is challenging. My writing career has been full of what I’ve seen as barriers and hard work, but the Lord is faithful, and He will not stop working until He achieves His purpose for, in, and through you and me.

Whether you’re in the midst of a challenge or on cloud nine, dig in to Philippians 1:6. It has been very helpful for me. In fact, maybe you’d like to commit it to memory using a song

Enjoy this—one of my favorite songs– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNjZlHARnEk , and then  email me.

I’d love to get to know you better.

Many blessings as you seek Him and grow.

Sincerely,

Janine

Published Work & Buy Link

Starving Hearts

novel trailer   

Website & Blog

Please subscribe to Janine’s newsletter/blog posts. She’d love to get to know you. If you have prayer requests, she’d be happy to pray for you too.

Author Bio—How many titles of movies and/or books can you find in this little write up?

 

My interest in reading and historical gowns started when I was about eight years old and grew into a magnificent obsession with beauty and happily ever after.

Now, after a day’s work as a high school English teacher & school counselor (and when I’m not writing Book #2 in the Triangular Trade Trilogy), I lose myself somewhere in time using: Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice or a number of other classics like Jane Eyre and Redeeming Love.

I cry at the mention of His amazing grace, both the movie and the hymn. But that’s understandable; they are tears of joy over God’s blessings.

Those tears may also stem from being lost in Austen one too many times.

My first Christian historical fiction/romance is Starving Hearts. Never Past Hope and Perseverance are the other two books in the Triangular Trade Trilogy, and I can’t finish them soon enough.

Social  Media links

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Co-Moderator in Sisters in Christ Book Club

 

Interview: D.L. Koontz

Today I am happy to share with you an interview with D.L. Koontz, author of The Crossings Trilogy.

EscapingfromtheAbyss5 500x750 (3)

1.) When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?

I can’t remember a time when I did NOT want to write. My father says when I was a toddler I would climb on his lap with a book and beg him to read to me, and that I’d always say I would write one of my own one day. Then, in fifth grade, Mrs. Flamm dubbed my poem about wild horses as “brilliant.” That did it. I began writing dozens of novels…and never finished any of them.

2.) Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from? Why do you write what you do?

I begin each day with a four-mile walk outdoors. There’s something wonderful in how physical activity activates and clears the mind. That’s when ideas come. I carry my iPhone, and have gotten much use in its built-in “Voice Memos” feature, to catch ideas. My work always includes elements of suspense because, really, I can’t imagine reading anything that doesn’t keep me on the edge of my seat. So, I try to do that for my readers as well.

3.) Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you? How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I’ve tried every approach. (No, seriously.) I am envious of people who can outline their stories before starting. Not me! No matter how much I think and ruminate and plot and plan my story and its characters in advance, those characters start taking over the story at a certain point and take me down paths I hadn’t anticipated. I used to laugh when other authors said that; now I get it.

4.) What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing? If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future? If you would, please tell us what was hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your book?

I am a Christian writer, and I’ll tackle the last two questions. Due to work, family, our farm, book promotion, many pets, etc., it takes me about a year to write and finish a book. I find the hardest thing is to review my work objectively. By the time I’m done, I’ll have read the early-written parts several dozen times, and if it doesn’t “grab” me, then I begin to wonder if it’s terrible or if I’m just tired of reading it. That’s when panic sets in.

5.) Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.

  1. Marketing
  2. Marketing
  3. Marketing
  4. May I list a 4th? – The “Thou Shall Not” rules assigned to Christian fiction.

6.) On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?

I can’t name just one! Creating my own worlds. Developing characters I would both love and loathe in real life. Weaving words together – I’ve always marveled that the dictionary holds within it every book I’ve ever read, and the ones I haven’t written yet! It’s all in how those words are strung together. Isn’t that amazing? Finally, best of all, hearing from readers—I LOVE that.

7.) What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?

Kate Morton, Thomas H. Cook, Frank Peretti, and Susanna Kearsley. Two reasons: 1. Their work challenges me to do even better; and 2. They provide more depth and description (and adverbs!) than we seem to be allowed to do in the Christian market.

8.) If you would like and have the time, write a paragraph or two about anything you wish.

I write novels that blend historical intrigue and modern-day suspense with romance and a touch of supernatural. Try to find that category at your favorite book store! And therein is my first challenge in marketing. Outlets, retailers, marketers, all want to neatly place books into cozy and convenient little subject headings, but a book, like real life, is always so much more multi-dimensional.

Then too, I am a history buff, but happy living in contemporary times. As a result, I like to marry the past and present together in my writing. Some authors use time travel to accomplish that feat; generally taking a modern gal into the past. My trilogy does the opposite, bringing the past into the present, by way of souls that lived a long time ago, but who come into the life of my young protagonist. As a result, it was relegated to the category of “paranormal,” which is discouraging (and a no-no for many Christians) because it implies spooky and ghoulish, but the books are more poignant and inspirational than that. Honestly, the trilogy began with a historic building and the thought, “What if these walls could talk?” The series answers that question as it takes the protagonist on an incredible journey to make peace with God and her faith about the deaths of her family.

Check out D.L.’s “Crossings Trilogy” below  –

See the trailer here 

Crossing into the Mystic

Edging through the Darkness

Escaping from the Abyss

DL KoontzWith her B.A. in journalism and her M.A. in corporate public relations, DL Koontz spent years in four glamorous cities hiding her early fiction ideas, first on journalists’ notebooks where she detailed hard-news interviews, then on laptops as a management consultant and college instructor. She now lives with her husband in rural Georgia on a cattle ranch, where she divides her time between writing and endlessly “going to town” for supplies. She has one son and one step-daughter.

You can visit her website here or give her a like on Facebook.

Interview: Sandra Merville Hart

Today on the blog I am happy to interview fellow Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas author Sandra Merville Hart!

1.) When did you decide to become a writer? 

I wanted to be a writer in elementary school. I wrote my first mystery novel while in the sixth grade, The Mystery of the Missing Diamond Ring. Unfortunately, I received little encouragement. The dream died but the stories kept coming.

Encouraging comments about a devotion I wrote reawakened my long-forgotten dream. I prayed over the decision to quit my job and pursue writing for a year while everything continuously guided me to write. Quitting my job was a leap of faith.

2.) Where do your ideas come from? Why do you write what you do?

I find ideas in unusual places. If I search for inspiration, it always comes from unexpected sources.

I write historical novels so visits to museums, historic towns, quaint villages, and vintage stores inspire me. I once visited a small city that captivated me. Research revealed a significant historic event which I used in a novella that I hope to publish.

I knew a story awaited me in Gettysburg. I visited the battlefields and museums but didn’t find it there. I walked the streets of town and discovered how my story wove together.

3.)Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you? How has your writing evolved? 

When I first began writing, I wrote chapter outlines before starting the novel. I needed the structure. These days I know the beginning and the end with a vague idea of the middle. The latter method turns out more creatively for me. I pray over my stories and the second method allows freedom for constantly unexpected twists and turns.

4.) What are the challenges that you, as a Christian writer, face now and in the future? 

I hate that small Christian bookstores are disappearing. They struggle to compete with larger bookstore chains and Amazon. This avenue for Christian book sales is decreasing.

Having spent countless hours browsing the shelves as a reader, I don’t want to see bookstores close. The ones that survive seem to diversify and also sell novelties, DVDs, etc. Bookstores with comfy chairs and/or a coffee shop are so inviting, like a good book.

5.) What is the hardest thing about writing your last book?

My last book was set in 1863 Gettysburg, beginning five days before the famous Civil War battle. This book challenged me to be as historically accurate as possible, so I constantly stopped to verify facts in my copious notes and library books. History drove the action in my story; my characters walked a difficult road.

I worked hard to maintain historical authenticity, but my emotions further challenged me. I ached for my characters. I experienced the battle, the occupied town, the fear, the suspicion, and the devastating loss with them.

Writing this novel changed me.

6.) How long does it typically take you to finish your book?

This depends on how much research the novel requires. I finished one novella in two weeks. My Gettysburg novel took about fifteen months.

7.) Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.

I try not to focus on the negatives but this question demands it.

’ve already touched on one of them. I hate that online booksellers like Amazon have run many bookstores out of business. Because the online seller doesn’t pay for shelf space in a physical location, Amazon dramatically lowers prices to attract customers.

The second frustration is that booksellers don’t keep unsold books on their shelves very long. Sometimes they only sell them a month before returning unsold products to publishers.

The third frustration hinges on the second: publishers or authors pay the shipping cost for the unsold returned books. Royalties paid in advance when the books went to the bookstore must be reversed.

It’s a tough profession.

8.) On the flip side, what excites you most about the creative process?

I love allowing my imagination to soar beyond my dreams. My desire is to take readers to a place they’ve never been to spend time with characters they love.

9.) What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors?

I write historical fiction and articles and spend most of my time reading nonfiction. My current task is writing articles for my blog, Historical Nibbles, so I’m studying old cookbooks and trying the recipes. Fun!

I love reading Yvonne Lehman’s books. She has over fifty published novels. The last one I read was Hearts that Survive about the Titanic. I’ve learned so much from her.

I love how Ann Tatlock weaves a story together. Kim Vogel Sawyer’s My Heart Remembers has stayed with me since reading it a few years ago. I’ve also enjoyed Eva Marie Everson, Alton Gansky, Eddie Jones, and Marianne Jordan, to name of few. I have a stack as high as my windowsill of fiction novels that I can’t wait to read.

10.) What is the story behind your book A Stranger on My Land? 

While researching another novel for the Civil War time period, I found fascinating books written by Union and Confederate soldiers. One of these soldiers wrote about the “Battle Above the Clouds” on Lookout Mountain. He talked about people living in caves. Women made these temporary shelters comfortable and cozy.

How did it feel to find a wounded soldier on your property after a Civil War battle? It surely happened. Would you walk away and leave him to die if he fought for the other side? What if your members of your family fought for the opposite army? Does that change anything? Suppose you help them anyway and fall in love?

I pondered these questions and the story was born.

 

Stranger in My Strange Land

About Sandra:

Sandra Merville Hart is the column writer for “History in the Making” at the popular and growing site, www.AlmostanAuthor.com. She is Assistant Editor for DevoKids.com where she contributes many historical articles. Her debut book, A Stranger On My Land, IRCA Finalist 2015, released in 2014. She has written for several publications and blogs. Sandra loves to find unusual facts in her historical research to use in her stories and drags her husband along on her adventures. Thankfully, he also enjoys these fact-finding missions.

Buy her Civil War Romance – A Stranger on My Land – here!

Visit Sandra Around the Web:

Assistant Editor at DevoKids| Contributing column writer at Almost an Author| Facebook| Twitter| PinterestSandra’s Goodreads page| Google+| Sandra’s blog|

 

 

 

 

Interview: Norma Gail

Today I am honored to have author Norma Gail for an interview.  I really enjoyed her insightful responses within our little Q&A so I hope you do, too!

Land of My Dreams

  1. When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?

I have written since I was a child, storied, poems, letters to the editor, I always felt I expressed myself better in writing. I stopped writing stories and poetry when I married and work and family took over. I began writing devotionals in 2003 as openings for a Bible study I led. When the pastor asked me to write a weekly devotional for the church website, I began a blog. My husband and I made a trip to Scotland in 2006 for our anniversary. I had a dream that led to thinking about a story, however, I didn’t actually begin writing it until 2008. When I broke my foot and ended up in a wheelchair, I was so bored that reading didn’t quite fill my need and I decided to try my lifelong dream of writing a novel.

  1. Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from? Why do you write what you do?

My ideas for devotionals come from life. Other than the dream that started the idea for my novel, Land of My Dreams, ideas just come randomly. I’m working on a novella now. The idea for that came from listening to oldies on a trip. When I start writing, the ideas flow.

  1. Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you? How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I love seeing where an idea takes me. At some point down the road, I have to look at where the plot is going and who the characters are inside, but I love being totally surprised by what I write. I have become more conscious of what is working and not working in a story. I have learned to cut out parts and make certain each word counts. I can now go through a manuscript and see what needs shortened or written better.

  1. What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing? If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future? If you would, please tell us what was hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your book?

I am a slow writer. Part of that comes from a lack of confidence; part comes from being a perfectionist. It is difficult for me to let go and say I am finished with a manuscript. I see so many things I could make better.

As a Christian writer and Bible study leader of 21 years, it is important for me to have a spiritual takeaway. I love writing for a Christian market, but also feel a need to not be preachy in a way that turns of people who may be at varying levels in their Christian walk. It is more and more important to write books that appeal to those who are not walking with the Lord but like a good, clean read.

I began my first book, Land of My Dreams, in 2008, signed my contract with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in September 2012, and my book released on April 22, 2014. It was a long process. I have been working on my sequel since then, along with learning marketing and social media, which for me is the hardest thing of all. Part of the delay has been dealing with some health problems.

  1. Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.

Marketing, social media, and the difficulty of getting books into bookstores. As a new author, I am not on the “list” of approved authors for bookstores. They ordered my book but either the management took it off the shelves a few weeks later or they returned it, which came out of my royalties.

  1. On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?

I love sitting down and writing undisturbed, just letting the ideas flow. Often, much of the first draft turns out to be background for me and never makes it to the reader. Those are often some of my favorite parts, but they help me create the characters and get to know them.

  1. What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?

I have been reading a lot and fast recently, at least 15 books in less than two months because of medical issues. Fiction helps me relax. A lot of what I am reading is romantic suspense. I am hooked! I find it helps me to see possibilities for my own stories, not the same situations, but it stirs the creative juices. My favorite authors are Michael Phillips and Liz Curtis Higgs. I love their character development and their setting is frequently Scotland, a place I love. I enjoy Susan May Warren, Dani Pettrey, Jordyn Redwood, Tamera Alexander, and Tracie Peterson. Their styles, characters, and settings really appeal to me. I read a lot of classic literature also, Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, and George MacDonald. I try to read books from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, both for reviews and author interviews as a way to support my fellow authors and publisher with reviews and author interviews.

  1. If you would like and have the time, write a paragraph or two about anything you wish.

I write romance. I read romance. I love good, clean, and preferably Christian romance. I hear people say that reading romance fiction is bad for women. They say it makes them look for the impossible and become dissatisfied with what they have in real life. Some say that real life romances do not always have a happy ending, therefore, literary romances should not always have happy endings.

I beg to differ. Part of the definition of romance is that it has a happy ending. I realize that is difficult for those who have been or are going through a divorce or have a difficult marriage. There are other genres, such as women’s fiction, that does not always have a happy ending. A well-written Christian romance should portray marriage the way God intended it to be. His ideal is a happy-ever-after ending for all marriages. The characters in romances should not always be perfect. They should have flaws and broken lives. Romances should show that God can make something beautiful from anyone’s mess or failure. If a romance is well-written, it will give hope that God can redeem our mistakes and heal our hurt.

Thank you for the opportunity for this interview, Pam! I really appreciate it!

Norma Gail

Norma Gail is the author of the contemporary Christian romance, Land of My Dreams. A women’s Bible study leader for over 21 years, her devotionals and poetry have appeared at ChristianDevotions.us, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and the New Mexico Christian Novelists. Norma is a former RN who lives in the mountains of New Mexico with her husband of 40 years. They have two adult children.

Connect with Norma:

Website |Amazon Author page|Book trailer |Facebook |Google+|Pinterest| Goodreads|Twitter | LinkedIn |

Book Links:

Amazon| LPC |B&N

 

Interview: K.S. Moore

Today on the blog I have author K.S. Moore for an interview. Read on as we chat writing, publishing, and her debut novel Angel Beneath My Wheels!

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AngelBeneathMyWheelsCover

1.) When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?

A few years ago, with two children entering their teens, my husband and I became frustrated by the lack of family appropriate movies. Our children were too old for Disney and Pixar and they definitely weren’t ready—in our minds anyway—for PG-rated films. Sadly, we simply stopped going to the movies.

 

Later that same year, my mother-in-law, a prolific reader like me whom I absolutely adore, recommended a book to me. I read it and, while it was a good story, the writing was lame. It made me think, Heck, I could write better than that. The more I thought about it, the more I talked myself into it. People around me—at work, at home, on several boards I’ve served on—often ask me to handle the correspondence or proofread for them. Obviously others thought I had a way with words. So I gave it a shot and fast-forward three years to February 29th, 2016 and my first novel, Angel Beneath My Wheels was published.

 

2.) Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from? Why do you write what you do?

My stories are contemporary character driven tales of normal every-day people and the challenges we all face in real life: love, friendship, parenthood, morality, mortality, compassion and faith. My favorite novels are those that reach down deep, wrap up my whole heart and soul, make me laugh, and cry. And those are the types of stories I want to write. I want to touch people’s lives. I want my reader to feel better, be better, love better, because they read my words and took them to heart. I want to inspire, to comfort and to breathe faith and hope into anyone who may despair that they’re alone in this world.

When I sat down to decide what to write, I kept two things in mind. It had to be a story my whole family would enjoy and it had to be something that would make a great movie.

I decided on a love story because every good movie contains a great romance, but I wanted it to be one my husband would enjoy. So when my brother described an interesting film called Gas Hole, an eye-opening documentary that alleged a massive cover up by oil companies, it sounded like the makings of an intriguing story and one with a definite modern-day interest, given the volatility of gas prices. According to the documentary, “Big Oil” has been suppressing innovations in fuel efficiencies for years, even going so far as to murder at least one very bright young inventor who had the idea for an engine that ran on vapor.

Like many men, my husband and son are into cars. Coupled with my above-average-for-a-woman knowledge of engines, mechanics and chemistry in general, I came up with the idea of a young woman who, like me, grew up working on cars with her father. My husband and son love NASCAR too so I thought that would provide an exciting backdrop as well as tie in nicely with the idea of fuel efficiency. And who doesn’t love to learn something new while reading a good story?

Finally, above all, I wanted it to be wholesome and family friendly, with a meaningful message for young people. So my heroine is a young woman of faith who’s made a commitment to God to save her virtue for marriage. She wears a purity ring and the story explores how difficult it can be for a young woman to retain those ideals in our modern culture.

I really expected it to take more than a couple of tries to get it right, but my beta readers encouraged me to submit Angel Beneath My Wheels, assuring me it’s a great story and well written. Six months and forty-nine query letters later, I landed an agent who then helped me find a publisher and fast-forward another fourteen months and my first book released on February 29th, 2016!

 

3.) Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you? How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I outline using Excel to lay out an overview of my story and flesh it out by ensuring there is plenty of conflict in every scene. Along the way, on a separate tab, I make a list of my characters and their attributes, emotions, backstory, etc. then I write a first-person prologue from the character who I think might be my protagonist. Sometimes that changes. Then I start writing each scene, usually not in order. I’m not sure why. Sometimes I can visualize certain scenes better than others and sometimes a scene, even as I add it to my spreadsheet, I know it’s temporary or might not be needed.

I read an interesting online article a few weeks ago about “the snowflake method” for writing and as I read it, I couldn’t help but think, “Hey, that’s how I write!” It works for me.

That’s my first draft. Then I let it simmer (as Steven King would say) for a few weeks and move on to something else. When I come back to it, I’m in serious edit mode. Omit needless words, ensure my opening line is rock solid and enticing, ensure my opening scene is the right one, that it makes the reader care—really care—about my protagonist. I highlight the lines/scenes that “sing” to me and scratch out (using MS word) the ones that grate. Then I review the highlighted ones and try to apply what worked in those to the scratched parts.

From there, once I have what I think is the best second draft I can create on my own, I give it to my alpha readers – my husband and my mother-in-law. From their feedback, I’ll revise as needed, and then it goes to a small group of beta readers. Revise as needed, and then I have it professionally edited, which is a bit costly but I think it’s worth it. Then I send it to my agent.

 

4.) What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing? If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future? If you would, please tell us what was [the] hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your book?

My greatest challenge is squeezing in time to write. I have a fairly demanding full time job and a family. Most days I work through lunch. And I’m not a morning person so getting up early to write it is not an option. And now that I have a book published, I’m in marketing mode, which is further depleting what precious free time I have for writing. It’s extremely difficult to be an author and a writer at the same time (Stephen King again, sorry!)

I don’t really struggle with the creative process of writing. If anything, I would say maybe I’m too focused on making a story character-driven and my work lacks plot, or enough plot anyway. But I have a great writer-buddy who leans the opposite way and by critiquing each other we balance one another out.

My biggest challenge as a Christian author is trying to balance what makes a character real and what makes them a good Christian. If your story is too real, Christian publishers won’t touch it, afraid it may offend the devout. Even non-Christian imprints are afraid to offend. If your story is full of unrealistically “pure” Christian characters, it will be so sappy or boring no one will want to read it.

5.) Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.

  1. It took me a really long time, fourteen months, to get my book from contract to published.
  2. There is a definite hard line between Christian and secular fiction but the real world isn’t that black and white. And I don’t think readers would necessarily align that way either. If given the chance, and there were more really good Christian fiction writing out there, more secular-only readers would read it. I think there is a middle ground there that represents an untapped market. This is where I want my stories to live…if I can find a publisher willing to go there with me.
  3. Books with poor endings always disappoint and there have been quite a few best sellers that have left me feeling that way lately.

 

6.) On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?

Reviews from readers who say I made them cry. Or laugh. Just knowing that I touched someone’s life in that way gave me a week-long glow.

Another thing that really excites me about my work is falling in love with my hero. I always do. Is that weird? Maybe it’s because I give him a lot of my husband’s traits and I’m crazy in love with my husband. (Shrug) They say, “Write what you know.”

 

7.) What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?

At the moment, I’m reading Coming Home by Karen Kingsbury and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. A friend in my book club said my writing reminded her of Kingsbury and she’s a NY Times Best Selling Christian author that I hadn’t read yet so I had to check her out. And I try to read a book on the craft of writing every month. I have Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings that I can’t wait to get to. I loved her Secret Life of Bees. What a beautiful and unique voice!

I would definitely consider Nicholas Sparks’ earliest works the most influential on my writing style—The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle. I also really like Steven King. I guess I like the super tight, draw-you-in, kind of writing those two authors are known for. I’d love to bring that type of writing to the Inspirational Romance genre. Hopefully I have.

 

8.) If you would like and have the time, write a paragraph or two about anything you wish.

I’d like to close with a simple heartfelt thank you for the kindness you’ve shown me, Pam, when my editor and I disagreed about how much of the love scenes to cut from my recently published novel. I was so encouraged by your words. And thank you for your generosity and grace in lifting up fellow authors. Anytime you’d like to write a guest post for my site, I would be honored. God bless you.

About K.S. Moore:

K.S. Moore

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Kathryn Moore grew up working on cars with her father in Indianapolis, Indiana and now lives in southwest Michigan with her husband and two children. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a graduate of Purdue University where she studied information technology, engineering and chemistry. When she’s not working, writing or serving in her local youth ministry, she enjoys the outdoors with family and friends.

Interview: Martin Wiles

Today on the blog I am thrilled to be featuring Martin Wiles with an interview!

***

1.) When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something? 

I played around with writing a little when I was in college. For some reason, I began writing poetry. Poetry had never been a genre of literature I read earlier in my life, so I’m not quite sure why I was pulled in this direction. When my father died in 2009, I became serious about writing. How the two were connected, I’m not sure. My father never wrote anything except the sermons he preached and the Bible studies he taught. Nor did he ever have anything published. Though I have written a few articles, most of my writing which began at that point was devotions.

2.) Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from? Why do you write what you do? 

My ideas come from real life and my personal experiences. I write short devotions because I believe more people will read something brief. Studies about our decreasing attention spans support my philosophy. God has taken me on a number of unpleasant journeys during my lifetime, but he has also taught me some important spiritual and life lessons along the way. I attempt to share these with readers who may be experiencing similar occurrences in their life. I also see spiritual lessons all around me every day through my life experiences and those of others.

3.) What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing? If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future? If you would, please tell us what was the hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your books? 

For me, the most difficult part of writing is continually coming up with new illustrations and making sure I don’t repeat themes I’ve already written about. Keeping my writing fresh. Though Christianity faces many challenges in today’s society, I think the opportunities for Christian writers are wide open. While many may be fed up with and discouraged by traditional religion, they are nevertheless hungering for truth. Through my website, books, and other avenues, I can give them the truth they are looking for in a neutral setting with no strings attached.

Writing my last book wasn’t difficult. I had hundreds of devotions to choose from. The most challenging part was choosing which ones to use and hoping they would fit the editor’s desires. Since I write five days each week, I always have a number of devotions to choose from for a book.

4.) Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business. 

One is the editing process. Since I’m a freelance editor myself, I know how frustrating it can be for an author to please an editor. For me, once I’ve written what was on my heart, it’s difficult to change anything, but over the years I’ve learned to take an editor’s advice whether I enjoy it or not. The finished product is always better. Another frustration is the rejections. They seem to mount up quicker than the acceptances do. This too just comes with the territory. And I suppose the temptation to be jealous of other writers is also a frustration. Through the advice of sound Christian authors and editors, I’ve also learned to let go of the jealousy and instead to be glad about what God does for every author.

 5.) On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process? 

The flip side of rejections is the challenge to find a publisher who will publish my book, accept my article, or publish one or more of my devotions. When the acceptance letters come or the contract arrives, the sweat of the creative process becomes worth it.

 6.) What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why? 

At the moment, I’m between books, having just finished The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore. My favorite authors include Ann Tatlock, Cindy Sproles, Charles Stanley, and Max Lucado. Ann because she is a superb writer of historical fiction. Cindy because she has a way with words that makes the story or devotion come alive and because she is a dear friend who believed in me seven years ago. Charles Stanley because, for me, he is the most profound Bible teacher in my generation, and Max Lucado because he has a knack for making the Bible come alive.

 

Buy Grits & Grace & God on Amazon | LPC 

 

About Martin:

Martin Wiles is an author, minister, English teacher, and freelance editor currently residing in Greenwood, South Carolina. He and his wife Michelle are founders and editors of Love Lines from God (www.lovelinesfromgod.com). Wiles has authored Grits & Grace & God (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), Morning By Morning, Morning Serenity, Grace Greater Than Sin (America Star Books), Authentic Christianity (Smashwords) and is a contributing author in Penned from the Heart (Son-Rise Publications), and Rise (Chaplain Publishing). He has served as Regional Correspondent and Sunday school lesson writer for the Baptist Courier and also written for LifeWay’s Bible Studies for Life curriculum. He has also been published in Open Windows, Proclaim, The Secret Place, Upper Room, Light from the Word, Reach Out Columbia, Mustard Seed Ministries, Journey Christian Newspaper, Common Ground Herald, The Quiet Hour, and Power for Living. He is a regular contributor to Christian Devotions, and PCC Daily Devotions, and is a regular columnist for the Dorchester County Eagle Record. Wiles also serves as the Associate Editor for Christian Devotions and Editorial Assistant for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolina. His next book, Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church, is scheduled for release in August.

Visit him on Facebook|Twitter|Instagram|LinkedIn|Pinterest

Interview: Lisa Worthey Smith

 

Good Afternoon! Today for “Interview Monday” I had a wonderful chat with author Lisa Worthey Smith about her writing and her book, Oscar the Extraordinary Hummingbird and other tales from Life In My Father’s World, which recently ranked #24 in the 50 Indie Books Worth Reading for 2015/2016!

1.) When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?  

My love for writing probably began while on the newspaper staff in high school. I carried that into being the editor of the community college student paper, and into various jobs and volunteer positions after that. I toyed with stories through the years. Then I had an extraordinary experience that seemed to captivate people, and it easily translated into a Biblical lesson. Not only did people tell me I needed to write it down, I believe God wanted me to as well, so I did!

2.) Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from? Why do you write what you do?

Very simply, I write to point out the hand of God all around us. I do that by using ordinary things such as birds and my garden to help people see truths from a biblical perspective. All of Creation all speaks to the Creator, so I use the obvious!

3.) Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you? How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?  

The idea definitely takes on a life of its own! I couldn’t orchestrate anything as beautiful as that which God already has in motion! I am just an observer. God teaches me and I pass along what I learn.

I do confess to making lists and even acknowledge it can be obsession. All right, it is an obsession. Sometimes those lists do fall into an outline, and I have also been guilty of diagraming Scripture but, we’ll not get into that.

4.) What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing? If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future? If you would, please tell us what was hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your book? 

  The hardest part of the creative process for me was simply making time to get it all down accurately. The creative part is fun, making time to get it on paper (well, on the computer) was the challenge.

Christian writers face the same challenge as other Christians, listening to and being obedient to God rather than the noisy world. I have been told to “leave out the Bible parts and don’t mention God. Just tell the sweet little stories. The God-stuff will be offensive and you will lose readers.” No doubt I will lose readers who do not want to hear the name of God. I have been attacked (verbally) more than once and have been called names I wouldn’t repeat. On the other hand, some listen and hear the truth, and I have received thank-you letters from readers who have learned something new or seen God afresh. As God told Ezekiel to tell the people regardless of whether or not they listened, my job is to point to Him, whether or not anyone listens. As we draw ever nearer to the end of time, we know that the persecution will grow more intense and thus the challenge to continue to share the truth will become more and more costly. That doesn’t change the calling.

Books come together quickly for me, sometimes in a few days unless laundry, or dishes, or the dog, or the sunshine, or lunch… get in the way.

5.) Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.  

Waiting and marketing are my frustrations. Waiting for someone who has a hand in the work, editor or cover design…is not easy for me. I want to share the stories, and become impatient when I have to wait for the process. Invariably, I find errors or creative changes during that time that I would have missed otherwise. So, it is a good thing even though I rarely see it at the time.

The marketing is time consuming and I do not like to “toot my own horn.” So, I give away books and blog with the idea of giving people a taste of my writing and message with the hope they will be blessed by it and return.

Do I lose points for only listing two?

6.) On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?  

When God teaches me something new so I see more of His love and provision and plan it just absolutely thrills my heart! For instance, I fished a dead frog out of our pond and immediately wondered if the mommy frog told him to get out but he argued that he wanted to stay just a little bit longer. I titled it “The Slightly Disobedient Frog” with a picture of him belly up. The truth I learned that day is obedience to God is for my good and disobedience has consequence no matter the good excuses I manufacture. I just LOVE when God gives me a visible example for a biblical truth.  When that translates into someone else realizing that truth too, it is an enormous blessing to me!

7.) What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?  

I just finished Joel Rosenberg’s The Third Target. I like his writing because it includes plausible enactments (with plenty of page-turning action) of prophecy that is yet to be fulfilled. I also like Oliver North for those same reasons.

For the past decade, I have lead a Precept Bible study, by Kay Arthur nine months of every year. There is no fiction or non-fiction that comes close to spending time in the Word of God. Her studies changed the way I study the Bible completely!

8.) If you would like and have the time, write a paragraph or two about anything you wish. Don’t forget: Name all of your published works and your buy links. Send me a picture. Send me a bio. You social media links you want the public to know. And send over anything else you think would draw attention to your work. (Book covers, trailer links, etc.) 

My desire is to point people to the hand of God at work all around them. I want to encourage and equip them to see that for themselves in order to grow closer to Him and to be able to share with others in a simple way they can understand.

Oscar the Extraordinary Hummingbird and other tales from Life In My Father’s World is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

About Lisa:

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I have been called the parable teacher.

I help those

suffering ,

serving, or

searching

to find the blessing in their lives – even when brokenness prevails.

Finding truths in everyday events and nature itself, I use those truths to show a

pattern,

plan, and

purpose

intentionally designed by the loving hand of The Creator - Life in My Father’s World.

 

From High School newspaper staff to college newspaper editor, then newsletters, curricula, procedure manuals, Bible study, and even a cookbook along the way, I have long enjoyed putting pen to paper.   My teaching opportunities include crafting, painting, work seminars, Sunday School, Bible School, Bible studies, High School, and on and on.   Time in the corporate world gave me experience dealing with different personalities and helped develop my communication and organizational skills.  Little did I know at the time, God was using each of those experiences to shape me for this very period of my life.  (Don’t you just love the way He works?)

 

Though successful in the workplace, He little by little began to insert life events that got my attention and took the focus off my abilities and my career and put me on my knees before Him.  (Is there a better place to be? I think not!)   My Father, who loves me, allowed suffering to enter my life to the point of taking away many of the things I considered important well, previously considered important, that is.  With my former “jobs” and abilities sidelined, He put me in a place of brokenness to show me His purpose for this phase of my life. All long the way though, He has shown me blessings I would have missed had I remained in the workplace.   God even placed a little hummingbird (Oscar) in my life to demonstrate the blessing (yes, blessing) of brokenness, and teach me about such things on a level I could understand.

 

Sharing our story (Oscar the Extraordinary Hummingbird, finding blessing in brokenness) has touched many lives.  So, I am thankful;

thankful that my Father  cares about me enough to pull me aside to teach me such beautiful truths;

thankful that He even uses little bitty birds and broken down old women to help other people find His hand at work;

thankful that He uses brokenness to reveal His beauty and blessings.

I share my life in my Father’s world with you in an effort to draw you nearer to The God Who created you and loves you.

Interview: Carole Brown

Happy Independence Day! Today on the blog I have an interview with author Carole Brown, and I really enjoyed what she had to say.

Carole-Brown (1)

Knight in Shining Apron cover

  1. When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?

I’ve written since elementary school and have always been fascinated with books and stories. The first one I remember writing was around grade six as an assignment to pen a week-long journal of a caveman and his family.

 

From there I progressed to short mystery stories and adventures for the younger reader. After that came longer ones, and then . . . life. I wrote journals and news articles, reports and plays. It was only after my sons grew older that I began seriously writing longer books.

 

I can’t remember ever NOT writing. [Symbol]

 

  1. Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from? Why do you write what you do?

 

I write suspense and mystery because of my deep interest in that subject. My ideas come from a plethora of areas:

Friends: we may be talking in general about a variety of topics, but something will spark an idea

News: plenty of times happenings in the world will give me an idea and how to expand on it.

Hubby: hubby has offered several good ideas from which my books have sprung. He and a close critique partner are my go-to brainstorm helpers.

 

  1. Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you? How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

 

I don’t plot in any detailed way, like those who can write down chapter by chapter what will happen. I know what my plot idea is, where I want to go, and sometimes the ending. I jot down, continually, thoughts of what I want to bring into the book, or ideas on how I want something to happen or an attitude, saying, or expression I want a character to reveal, but that is about as close as I can come to plotting.

 

 

  1. What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing? If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future? If you would, please tell us what was the hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your book?

 

As a Christian author, I believe staying true to your beliefs and expressing them in a non-offensive way, yet revealing helpful Biblical truths will perhaps get harder and harder as we progress into the future. The world is changing, and we must stay close to God and be faithful to how he wants us to write that will bring praise to him.

 

The book I’m releasing this month (June) is the second book in the Appleton, West Virginia Romantic Mystery series, called Knight in Shining Apron. It’s a lighthearted (which doesn’t mean there aren’t serious issues at stake) and fun series book with around half and half romance and light mystery.

 

I wrote this series (three books at the time) several years ago as an experiment in writing romance. [Symbol] Somehow, it didn’t work, and I felt it was lacking interest. Last year I dug the first book out and looked through it, decided a mystery would give it the spice it needed, and thus, the Appleton, West Virginia Romantic Mysteries was born. (The first book released last November–2015–Sabotaged Christmas)

 

I’m looking forward to this month’s book release, and then a few months down the road, will come the third book: Undiscovered Treasures, with more from the residents of Appleton at later dates.

 

The hardest part, I think, in writing the series was coming up with the right mystery for this book. But Starli’s abusive played right into the mystery, and the more I pondered, the better it seemed to use that as part of it.

 

Having said all that, I like to give myself at least six months to write a full-sized novel. That’s anywhere from 60,000 words to 90,000. I could do it in less, but don’t like to. With this one, the initial story was down, but I needed to change details, update the story line to include a mystery, adjust some personality quirks, and lastly to change the antagonist to a different person. After that I like to give myself a month to edit and re-edit.

 

  1. Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.

 

Hmmm.

Watching the decline of the traditional publishers and their slow uptake in picking up on current attitudes toward authors.

Although I enjoy marketing–most of it–it is time consuming. Because it takes quite a bit of time from my actual writing, it causes me a little frustration. However, I try to deal with as a necessity and work around the time frame I have.

That so many good–and great–authors are unrecognized as of yet. Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to discover a multitude of “new” authors that we haven’t heard of?

 

  1. On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?

 

I’m a hybrid author, but I must say, that once I experienced Indie publishing, it was as if I’d just jumped over a chasm and landed on the other side with plenty of room to spare. It was an expansive feeling to know “I can do this!” The opportunities and freedom is beyond over-powering.

 

I love creating stories that people love. Getting a new idea, writing them down, editing and finally able to write (mentally, if no where else) the words “the end” are all part of a love of my life that excites me to no end. I truly can’t imagine doing anything else that I love more than writing a book.

 

One other thing that might sound odd to some, is when I discover an advertising method that really works for me. I’ve tried MANY avenues, but only a few actually work as far as selling. I never underestimate the important of getting known, of gaining new readers, so even the advertising methods that don’t produce money, can be beneficial in gaining notice.

 

  1. What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?

 

My favorite authors are those who are my friends, authors I read before I began seriously writing, special classical books from history that will forever remain fixed in my mind as special because of their affect on me while young, and a select few that create powerful novels that lure the reader to continue reading book after book.

 

A few that I’m reading/discovering right now are:

Cleansed by Fire by James R. Callan. He’s an excellent author and supports other authors. That always means a lot.

Sharon A. Lavy’s Adult Coloring Books, and no, I don’t have a lot of time to color, but I love supporting my fellow/friend authors! [Symbol]

Mary Ellis’s newest mystery book:  Moonlight on the Mississippi. Mary is an amazing author, and a sweet friend too. I love promoting her books!

CaroleAug14 (14) croppedBesides being an active participant of many writing groups, Carole enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense, tough topics, romance and whimsy into her books, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

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Interview: Jolina Petersheim

Today on the blog I’m truly honored to have author Jolina Petersheim for an interview. 978-1-4143-7935-7

W6873_P11126_TheAlliance_Final

 

1.) When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?

 

My father and my best friend’s father wrote music every Tuesday night from the time I was two years old until I was about fourteen. Listening to them—two carpenters—setting aside time and energy every week to create rhythm and language caused me to want to create as well. Therefore, I wasn’t even reading or writing when I began to make up stories. My mother was always very patient, listening to me ramble. This experience, coupled with a dedicated second grade teacher—who saw me struggling to read and helped me unlock that magic of story—caused me to know that I wanted to tell stories when I “grew up.”

 

As for actually sitting down and writing? I guess I wrote my first “novel” in sixth grade, proudly filling up an entire journal with my scribbled plot structure. An English teacher, my junior year of high school, gave me a short story prompt for fun, which I spent about two weeks cultivating and then turned in. I remember how obsessed I was with language—spending hours looking up fancier synonyms to replace my words, so that my patient teachers also had to look up those words when they read my stories.

 

Thankfully, that obsession’s worn off. A little.

 

2.) Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from? Why do you write what you do?

 

My ideas usually come from real life. The Outcast came from a true story that someone told me about carnal desire that was left unchecked, and how the price of fulfilling it trickled down through the generations, not only affecting that generation, but the generations to come.

 

The Midwife came from my own desire, as a new mom (my eldest was twelve weeks when I began), to explore maternal nature in all its beautiful forms, and then was further set into motion when I imagined a surrogate saving the life of the child she was carrying only to have the biological parents take her away after birth: what is the definition of motherhood, I wondered, genetics or love?

 

The Alliance came from a conversation with my father about the importance of saving heirloom seeds until the next harvest season, and then—after an altercation with a logger that unsettled me—I imagined how a pacifist community could survive if society was affected by something like an electromagnetic pulse: would they adhere to their beliefs not to take up arms, or would they set those beliefs aside to protect their family?

 

3.) Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you? How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? 

 

With The Outcast and The Midwife, I just had general plots mapped out in my head, but then allowed the stories to take me where they wanted to go. With The Alliance, an altogether different kind of topic, I realized that I really needed to take another approach. My publisher sent me a book, Goal, Motivation, Conflict, which really helped me break the story down and understand my characters’ motivations, which then helped accelerate the conflict. Now, I see GMC in everything—movies, ads, and even interpersonal relationships. So, I would say that this is how I’ve evolved creativity: I used to just wing it, but I find it’s necessary to do a little planning beforehand, or else I waste too much time trying to tidy everything up in the second draft.

 

4.) What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing?

 

For me, it’s the first draft! Once I can just get everything out of my head and onto the page, I find it’s much easier to see where the story’s going and pull out the themes accordingly. But because of Goal, Motivation, Conflict, I even find that process is a little easier. Still, let me tell you, sometimes it’s just a matter of staying in the chair. But once that inspiration descends, there is nothing like it in the world!

 

5.) If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future? 
Christian writers are often pigeonholed as being close-minded, or—worse, in my opinion—their stories being full of fluff. The Christian journey is not an easy one, and I believe such stories should reflect that, giving readers wisdom on how to overcome obstacles and continue trusting God, regardless of the hills and valleys of life. As for the future? I am deeply unsettled by the rising animosity toward Christians, and I know that will not only affect the Christian publishing industry, but all believers as well.

 

6.) If you would, please tell us what was hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your book?

 

The Alliance was, no doubt, the hardest book I’ve written so far. Whereas, with The Outcast and The Midwife, most of the action came through interpersonal relationships, the majority of the action in The Alliance took place through outside forces that wreaked havoc on the interpersonal relationships within the community, so it required me to thoroughly understand the dynamics between the external and internal forces. I also had to research almost every step of the book, since I needed to know how society would break down after a cataclysmic event. However, this project has also been the most rewarding to have accomplished.

 

As for the second question: I can comfortably write a book in a year and a half, but I wrote The Outcast in six months (that was before my eldest daughter was born).

 

7.) Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business. 

I love marketing, and I love writing, but sometimes I find it difficult to truly juggle both and do each well. I have found, however, as I draw closer to deadline, that I just need to check out of marketing and really get honed in on the book. Once it’s turned in, then I can take a few weeks and work on guest posts (as I’m doing now) and have them scheduled for the book’s release. By that time, my book is usually returned from my editor, and I can continue the editing process until it’s completed.

I am incredibly grateful for my job, and for the fact that I can work from home and be there for my daughters during each and every step of their childhoods. I wouldn’t trade that aspect for the world. However, being a novelist is not a very dependable income (authors get a royalty check every six months, and then advances according to their next release), and our family could not subsist on it alone. On the average, though, I work about four hours a day, and so I really cannot complain.

Hmm, I’m having a hard time thinking of a third one. Perhaps it’s difficult at times not to constantly look around, scoping out if someone has better reviews or more silly “Likes” than you. That’s also why it’s good to step away from social media from time to time and focus on the world immediately around you. And on what really matters. I think, with everything, it all comes down to being grateful for what you have.

 

8.) On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process? 

My favorite part of the creative process is when I can read over my novel one last time before turning it in, and it no longer seems like a mishmash of ideas that have been floating around in my head for years, but a cohesive, living, breathing entity that exists entirely beyond me and my realm of imagination. That feeling never gets old!

9.) What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why? 

 

I just finished Atonement by Ian McEwan, which I really enjoyed. I love when I can see the scenes play out in my head, and each was beautiful and evoked through such lyrical language. Another favorite is Donna Tartt of The Goldfinch, The Secret History, and The Little Friend (that author fascinates me—she’s so mysterious with her little suits and stiff way of walking and cropped black hair); I love Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life (very unique story, really makes you think, but you have to take a while to process it all). I enjoy Ron Rash. His novel, Serena, is so atmospheric, it practically crackles! I met Mr. Rash once, at the Southern Festival of Books, and he was so incredibly kind.

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Jolina Petersheim is the bestselling author of The Alliance, The Midwife, and The Outcast, which Library Journal called “outstanding . . . fresh and inspirational” in a starred review and named one of the best books of 2013. Her writing has been featured in venues as varied as radio programs, nonfiction books, and numerous online and print publications such as Reader’s Digest, Writer’s Digest, and Today’s Christian Woman. Jolina and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but now live on a solar-powered farm in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin with their young daughters. Jolina blogs regularly at www.jolinapetersheim.com

Interview: Julie Watson

1.)    When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?
I never thought of ever being a writer but my daughter suggested that I write a book about my life. I was working in Australia at the time and had a lot of time on my hands. My life has been at times very difficult but in the end with faith and love my dreams were realised and am now living a wonderful life. I thought by telling my story I would give hope to others who were also struggling.

 

2.)     Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from? Why do you write what you do?

My story is from my life experience and as I wrote I would go back to that time and all the memories and emotion of that time would come flooding back. I hope others can identify with my story.

3.)    Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you? How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I start with an outline or a rough idea of the form the book will take. I write when I am inspired so sometimes I am writing the end before the middle as the story develops in my head. I endeavour to improve in my writing and be more creative and hopefully my writing becomes more interesting. It continues to be an evolving craft.

 

4.)   What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing? If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future? If you would, please tell us what was hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your book?

I like to be inspired before I start writing but I am finding that I just need to sit down and write and the ideas will come. As a Christian I want my books to appeal to all people, not just Christians, so when I write I keep that in mind. My last and only book took me three years to write and the hardest thing about writing was going back to the negative emotions in my past. I had to go back there and feel those emotions again so I could write creatively.

 

5.)      Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.

The hardest thing I have found is when I started writing I knew nothing about what to do and how the book industry works. Writing the book is just the start and in fact, in some ways it’s the easiest part. I have made loads of mistakes and some near misses. Like I nearly got enticed into using a vanity publisher which would have cost me dearly. I pray every step of the way and trust God to guide me to make the right decisions. You do need to believe in yourself, be passionate and believe in your story. Keep persevering and never give up.

 

6.)     On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?

You write your thoughts and your story down and then you write and rewrite until you are happy with it. The more you do this the more creative you become and the writing is transformed into something else. It’s like having a blob of clay and then reworking it into something beautiful.

 

7.)     What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?

At the moment I am reading ‘French Illusions’ book 1 by Linda Kovic-Skow. I read mainly true life memoirs as I enjoy reading about people lives. I find it fascinating what others have done in their lives. I don’t really have favourite authors but I like a style that draws me into the story and keeps me interested.

 

8.)      If you would like and have the time, write a paragraph or two about anything you wish.

Thank you for the opportunity to share. My writing journey has been at times challenging, frustrating, disappointing, heartwarming and encouraging. Many times I have wanted to just give up and forget it all. Through my journey though, as a budding author, I have found amazing support from others and have found people that I never would have met if I had not written a book. That alone has made it all worthwhile. Everyone experiences the same issues but with sharing and relating we are not alone.

 

About Julie:

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Julie was born and grew up in a small rural town in New Zealand.

She started work at the local maternity annexe on leaving school at the age of sixteen. She married young and was happily married until her second baby died at birth.

Her life was full of challenges for many years and it was during this time that Julie became a Christian. In time Julie realised her dream of becoming a midwife. ‘Born for life’ tells her story and she hopes it will encourage others to follow their dreams even with life’s difficulties.

Following the story written in ‘Born for Life : A Midwife’s Story’ Julie has travelled extensively and worked in several countries around the world, caring for women of different cultures. Midwifery continues to be her passion and love.

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