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Monday, October 31, 2005

Author Interview: Karen Wiesner PART I

Plug time. What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

My first inspirational was the contemporary inspirational novella, A Home for Christmas in SMALL GIFTS, the first Jewels of the Quill Christmas anthology (Whiskey Creek Press, available now). Wayward Angels (which contains the hero’s brother in A Home for Christmas) is a full-length inspirational women’s fiction, the fourth novel in my Wounded Warriors Series. It’s actually my first inspirational in this varied series. It’s a gritty story that will probably cause a few waves because I didn’t follow CBA guidelines in writing it—though it has received consistent 4 and 5 star reviews since its release. I was more concerned with capturing reality than making sure no one was shocked. But I do hope Christians and those who just love a gripping, emotional story will embrace it.

Michelle Therese recently gave it a compelling review that I think captures so well the essence I was striving for:

"Long story short, this story has grit and guts. It breaks all the rules. They curse, they kiss with passion (though they never actually do more than that but their thoughts are very spicy) and they are real people with insane problems.

The hero is a former music star and a new Christian. He opened a shelter for teen boys on the streets and is a real Prince Charming with a huge heart. I can't believe he actually held off until they were married based on all of the temptation out there. But that's an aside.

The heroine is bipolar and a brand new Christian (literally) who decided God was going to heal her since she got saved, so she stopped taking her meds and, boy, did she turn up the heat. I've never seen a better portrayal of someone who is flagrantly bipolar than this one. They (off meds) tend to be highly sexualized when in a manic state so you can imagine some of the antics. However, she was in a sad place because prior to being saved she was raped and the guy had AIDS and shot himself (while on top of her) so she feared being pregnant and having AIDS for most of the book.

See, I told you it was in-your-face grit. Since I work with intense people, I've seen this upfront and it isn't pretty but it's real. Even with new Christians who have horrible backgrounds. Anyway, this story kept me up until 2:30 AM and I got very little sleep last night (no I'm not bipolar thank the Lord) until I finished.

We talked about symbolism in Louise Gouge's class in Nashville and Karen did a masterful job with the pet cats. Amazing. So if you don't mind an intense read with grit and an occasional cuss word, this might work for you. At any rate, I found it fascinating. The Christian piece of the story was so much more real and deeper than many CBA novels. You hear (in their heads) their doubts and fears and struggles and its so REAL how the enemy works on them. This book has made me think about my walk with the Lord and I like that. So be warned, this ain't for Grandma unless she has major grit in mind.

But the message is clear. Faithful obedience is worth it." WAYWARD ANGELS is available in trade paperback and electronic formats [0-7599-4418-0 (trade paperback); 0-7599-4417-2 (electronic)] from Hard Shell Word Factory. Visit my website for more information: (Fiction).

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

I wrote my first book when I was 10 years old. A few years later, I started brainstorming thriller/mysteries in my head. By the time I was 16, I’d written almost a dozen books, short stories, and countless poems. Unofficially, I had my own fan club in high school and had a dozen publishing credits to my name (all poems). Eventually, I moved into contemporary romance novels—my first eight published novels were romances, with LEATHER & LACE, Book 1 of the Gypsy Road Series published in June 1998.

Ironically, I’d just made the decision to quit trying to get published when I received the call (in this case, the e-mail) that provided me with my first contract. And, strangely, my first thought was, I just had a baby. We put off having kids until my career finally launched, gave up on that ever happening, and now I have a baby and a career. It was then that I knew I had to figure out a way to discipline my horribly erratic writing method. The results of what I learned are in my first book with Writer’s Digest Books, FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

Well, “still” implies that I had self-doubts at any point. I’ve always thought that there was a market for my books, which are all gritty, realistic to the point of being starkly graphic (though never gratuitous, in my own opinion), and powerful. However, I’ve never felt any call to write Christian material, though I have been completely open to Him drawing me that way.

Even now, I don’t feel called to write Christian novels exclusively. But after years of leading me so subtly (He knows me so well; knows just what I can handle!) in that direction, the Lord gave me something of a wake-up call.

Over a year ago now, I felt strongly that I could write Christian novels without losing the realistic edge that I’m so grateful to the Lord for giving me in my writing. I’d worried that if He ever nudged me in that direction, I’d lose that. I worried that my writing would become so ‘tame,’ it would lose its emotional power. I honestly don’t see the point of writing if that emotional power isn’t there—it wouldn’t be worth it for me to continue without it. God showed me that He could use me in this way without taking away the very thing that makes writing worthwhile to me.

Wayward Angels is the first example of that. Writing it was an experience unlike any I’ve gone through before. It was like having God sit down with me every morning and guide my figurative pen. When the book was done, I also felt like I hadn’t written it. It almost didn’t feel like my own writing, and I did experience some self-doubts about it when it was released.

I worried how Christians would react, if they’d slam me left and right for it. Yet the reception so far has been beyond what I could have ever imagined. Earlier this week, I took the plunge and dared to read it myself again after so long away from it, and I have to admit I was stunned. This time I recognized my own realistic, powerful edge that I never want to lose, but I also recognized that God had been leading my hand while I was writing it. While reading it this time, I experienced in an overwhelming way His incredible ability to take a life that seems beyond redemption and turn it into something not only worthwhile but beautiful.

It’s always amazed me how He can use those who started out so far from Him—we’re so blessed by that on its own, yet He always adds to the blessings as if it wasn’t enough! I don’t doubt that I can write Christian fiction now that can both glorify Him and change the life of those who read it.

Do you have a scripture or quote that has been speaking to you lately?

After reading Wayward Angels this past week, I thought again of how Romans 12:1 and 2 cover everything in life. When I first accepted the Lord, my every question was, “What’s God’s will here? Should I do this? Or this? Or not? What does He want me to do?” It was a constant struggle. I’ve learned that Romans 12:1 and 2 are the answer to every question every single time. What I do or don’t do beyond that isn’t the point.

The point is my submission. “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God… Then you’ll be able to test and approve what God’s will is…” God’s will in every circumstance I face is for me to submit myself to Him. The question: Should I confront this person? The answer: Submit to Him, offer myself to Him. The question: Should I teach Sunday School? The answer: Submit to Him, and He’ll reveal the answer to me based on my obedience in offering myself to Him. These verses are just such a peace to me after so many years of struggling for His will.

If your authorial self was a character from The Wizard of Oz, which one would you be and why?

LOL, no doubt Dorothy. I’m such a homebody, my first thought in getting to Oz would be, so when do we go home?

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

Considering the number of genres I write in and publishers I write for (currently 7), I'm extremely disciplined. Everything is planned well in advance, and I keep tweaking my schedule to make it as productive as it possibly can be. For my novels, once a story has been brewing for a considerable amount of time and I’ve amassed the necessary research (which is done between books and well in advance of a project), I start with an extremely detailed outline, which is, in essence, the first draft of the book.

The outline can take anywhere from a day to week to work out, depending on the complexity of the book. Because of the way I’ve worked my schedule, I’m able to set my completed outline aside for a month or more, then come back to it and make sure it’s as solid as I thought before I set it aside. As soon as I’m ready, I can begin writing. In general, I’ll write 2 scene per day (regardless of how long or short—this and the outline itself inevitably prevent burnout and/or writer’s block).

My annual goal sheet can then include accurate time-tables for researching, writing, and revising outlines and novels. I also use project goal sheets, so I can know down to the day how long it'll take to finish a book. Completing a 100,000 book generally takes me a month or so. Once that “second draft” is completed, I again set the book aside for a month or so before I begin revisions. Depending on the project, revision amounts to minor editing and polishing. In this way, I alternate my time between novels in various stages of completion, and I can write at least 4 outlines/books per year.

This year in particular has been very productive for me. So far, I’ve written 3 full novels, 4 novellas, 7 proposals, 6 outlines, and will have at least 6 books published by the end of the year. As you can tell, I believe momentum is a powerful force in any career. If I stall because I have done a good job of juggling my tasks, I can only blame myself. And, lest anyone wonders, I do plan my vacations from writing carefully, too, to help avoid burnout or writer’s block.

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

These days, I promote almost exclusively through the promotional writing group I created in July of 2003. Jewels of the Quill is a group of women authors. I believe the future of author promotion is within groups. Many of the 12 members of Jewels of the Quill share a mutual geographic location (or pretty close!) so that we can assemble for booksignings and other promotional junkets.

We offer readers who love to discover unique small press books (and the occasional mass market published!) in a variety of fiction genres. Because we recognize the need to spotlight authors individually as well as promote the group itself, our group website spotlights one member per month and this includes a Q & A with her on the homepage and a giveaway for a signed copy of her book. Our newsletter, Fans of Jewels of the Quill, goes out each month to a large membership (500+ strong).

We offer our loyal readers incentives to stay with us for the long haul, such as our annual Christmas Books-Galore giveaway and our anniversary giveaway in July. Advertisements include 1/3rd page ads in Romantic Times BOOKclub featuring just 2 instead of all 12 authors, but the group is also prominently promoted in each ad we run.

Everyone contributes a little each month to advertising rather than paying a lump sum, yet there are no group membership fees. Members volunteer to create bookmarks, brochures, etc. Jewels of the Quill was featured in the September 2003 issue of Romantic Times BOOKclub. We also do two anthologies together a year as a group (published by Whiskey Creek Press)—one holiday and one “regular” with stories featuring our chosen jewels. We promote all of our group anthologies ads in Romantic Times as well as monthly anthology giveaways. Our first anthology received 4 ½ stars and was Top Pick upon release.

You’ve published non-traditionally. Can you give us some pros and cons about publishing with a small press?

First, I don’t believe it’s ever a good idea to pay someone else to do what you could do yourself and quite possibly do better with some research and hard work. If an author wants to publish a work of her own which has been professionally edited, then more power to her. That said, I do believe that mass market publishing offers authors “the best deal.” Nine times out of ten that’s the top of the line choice.

If the author has a work that’s proved a very hard sell (strictly because the material is deemed a hard sell to consumers by traditional publishers in terms of subject matter or length, not because it’s poorly written), then I highly recommend reputable, non-subsidy, royalty-paying small press and/or electronic publishers. Non-subsidy electronic publishing offers writers what mass market publishing can't and/or won't—a way to get legitimately published in order to build a resume. Since for the most part, small press and electronic publishing don’t focus on what will sell, the publisher is free to accept the books that they and readers love, instead of only those which might reap financial rewards. For those who need print formats, be aware that most e-publishers now offer print formats alongside electronic, so authors can have the best of both worlds. A resume full of rave reviews, awards, nominations and good sales is something that mass market publishers look at closely.

I could quote you sheer numbers of authors who have started their careers with small press or e-publishers and ended up with a big fat contract from a traditional publisher. It’s an excellent way to show them what you can do—something that you really can’t do if you’ve never had anything published before.

With the state of publishing coming down to a bottom line of money, it’s essential to have that something extra to make publishers willing to take a chance on you. Make sure you do your research, though. Ask the authors at a particular publisher you’re interested in submitting to whether they’re good or they have solid drawbacks. You might be surprised by what you learn. It’s definitely better to hear it before than after, so do your homework first.

The downsides are obvious:

Your sales will no doubt be small, possibly nonexistent, and you truly are on your own with promotion (though you’d probably be anyway, as even most traditional publishers also leave promotion up to the authors). Most small press publishers can’t afford to do even company promotion, but the fact is they can’t afford not to either—whether they grasp that or not.

It is a great thing that many small press publishers do offer print versions of their books. Most are in trade paperback, which is expensive for the consumer, but again, traditional publishers are also going this route because trade paperbacks can’t be stripped and sent back to the publisher only to become landfill.

Some of the trade paperbacks are poorly made and the copy isn’t good. Some are beautiful. Do your homework—buy some books before you submit to a particular publisher and/or talk to their authors about this.

Some small press publishers have poor editing, that’s true, but with some there’s no difference to a traditional publisher. You will probably work harder on this count yourself. Chances are, you’ll be given multiple opportunities to provide your publisher with the cleanest possible copy before the book is published, and sometimes even after. You can ask your friends to help you or hire a professional. Most small press publishers do have a stable full of editors—some professional, some not. Again, it’s up to you to do the proper research.

Many e-publishers only offer the print option if the author pays the set-up fee (usually around $100 per book). Is this vanity publishing? I don’t think it is, considering the fact that a vanity (or subsidy) publisher will charge you and collect the money for themselves for this service. This is profit for them, so they’re definitely going to inflate the cost to you.

When you’re working with an electronic publisher who wants to help you to sell your work to as many consumers as possible, they don’t profit by helping prepare your books for print. A hundred percent of the money goes to the printer for the set-up fee. Having a print version will help sell your book, and most of these e-publishers will do their part by making sure the print version of your book is for sale as many vendors and online bookstores as possible. This also applies to small press publishers, but many won’t charge you the set-up but will absorb it into their own costs.

It’s hard to get reviews of small press published books, but it is possible and some small press published books are receiving reviews that are even better than those for traditional books. There is an advantage many times to taking chances with subject material that traditional publishers won’t touch for a variety of reasons.

The bottom line is that the lines between small press/e-publishers and mass market publishers are becoming blurrier every day. I’ve worked with both, and I don’t see much difference in the process or the outcome (although there’s definitely a lot more money involved for the author with mass market publishers!). You will be expected to know the business through and through—and can’t blame a publisher if problems arise because you haven’t done the necessary research beforehand. The authors with the most problems are though who don’t take the time to become informed about all aspects. It is your job. You can’t expect to neglect such an important task and come away without some problems. DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Don’t expect anyone to do it for you.

You will have a harder road to getting your name and work out to the buying public with a small press publisher, but I believe the advantages of working with a quality small press publisher far exceed the disadvantages. I’d rather be published, multi-published, and have readers love my work and beg for more than languishing as I wait for a mass market publisher to come over to my side enough to publish a single book.

Ask yourself what matters most to you. If you decide small press publishing is right for you, it all comes down to you doing the necessary research on any publisher you submit to. I’d also highly suggest submitting to several quality small press publishers if you can’t get noticed by traditional publishers. See where your “babies” have the most success.

My books ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING The Definitive Guide as well as WEAVE YOUR WEB (The Promotional Companion) have a ton of information on advantages, disadvantages and the best small press publishers to work with, and how to promote once you’re published. (See my website for more information, but also please note that I’ve ceased updates on both of these books.)

All this said, don’t look at small press publishing as “the end” of your career. Once you’ve got a fine resume to present, mass market publishers will show more interest in you. You’re only helping yourself by proving you have what it takes to make readers sit up and take notice. Another benefit is that agents (which are absolutely necessary to even submit to mass market publishers) will also be more willing to take a chance on you if you’ve got a solid resume that proves you’re worthy of closer inspection.

Many authors who start out with small press publishers can go on successfully to have a profitable career with mass market publishers. You just give yourself an incredible head start by taking the alternative route.

What was your experience with a POD publisher?

I strongly believe that people are confused about what a “POD publisher” is. First of all, POD and vanity are not synonymous. POD simply means print on demand. Isn’t it much smarter to print only the books that are going to be purchased rather than printing thousands of copies that will either languish in a warehouse somewhere or, if they don’t sell as expected, have the covers torn off and sent back to the publisher where they can’t be used and therefore will be fit only for landfills?

POD isn’t a publisher—it’s a means of printing books. Instead of large print runs, books are printed as they’re ordered. A publisher who uses POD technology isn’t necessary a vanity publisher. They’re simply a publisher that can’t afford a large print-run or the warehousing to hold the books. POD is a legitimate way of doing business. I truly believe it’s going to be the only logical way to do business in the future where our resources are becoming depleted.

Parting words?

In case anyone’s interested (I’m going to assume you are ) in what I’m working on for the rest of this year: I’ve completed the first pass of Baby Baby, the first book in a new inspirational women’s fiction series I’m writing called the Family Heirloom Series.

My agent is currently shopping the proposal around to mass market Christian publishers. I’ll be doing the revision in November. I’m working on the revision of a probably radical idea for a book—a contemporary gothic with inspirational flavor—called The Bloodmoon Curse.

I’m also in the process of completing the outline for Book 5 of my Wounded Warriors Series, Until It's Gone.

In between these tasks, I’m brainstorming on a second volume of case files novellas for the popular Falcon’s Bend police procedural series I write with Chris Spindler (Hard Shell Word Factory).

My promotional group Jewels of the Quill will be putting together proposals for 2007 group anthologies, including the third volume of TALES FROM THE TREASURE TROVE and our first Halloween anthology. I plan to have novellas in both. So the rest of my year should be busy!

Because it matters to some, most of my novels and novellas aren’t CBA approved or even Christian (though I expect at least one of those to change in the future). In my mind, that really doesn’t mean anything, but to those who are sensitive, feel free to write to me about any of my stories at

Tomorrow we’ll be discussing Karen’s non-fiction book, FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS (Writer's Digest Books).

Saturday, October 29, 2005

S'up Saturday

We'll be reviewing, Don Brown's, Hostage at the end of this post.

Okay, by popular demand, is "S'up Saturday". So The Weekend Wire is out. Give 'em what they want, I say.

We've got a lot that's up this weekend. First of all, I want to mention our line-up for next week. And a contest!

We've got a two part interview with Karen Wiesner. On Halloween we'll air Part I. This interview will be our fiction author questions.

Part II on Nov.1st, she gives us a lesson from her exciting new non-fiction book put out by Writer's Digest, First Draft in 30 Days.

We will randomly draw a name from those who log on and comment to win a autographed copy of First Draft in 30 Days.

Next week we also have a couple of authors you may have heard of:

Robin Lee Hatcher and Alton Gansky. The following week we've got Robert Liparulo (Comes a Horseman), Colleen Coble, and new author Ginny Smith.

We'll have a few guest bloggers coming up. Talented writers I've invited to write commentary on some of the issues writer's deal with. Great subjects I think you'll enjoy.

Other news: Alton Gansky launches a blog on his web-site: He calls it Blogtopia. Funny guy. He's not sure yet where he's going with it, but for now it's a place to interact, ask him questions, etc. Pretty cool.

Brandilyn Collins is running a contest you may be interested in:
You can win one of her novels by signing up for her newsletter. You get extra entries by referring others. You put the person who told you about it in the e-mail. Her books are awesome. Go to her web-site for further details.

This is from fellow Penwright, Rob McClain:

I'm not certain y'all have this link, but I came across it and have been tinkering with it. Seems to be quite a tool. [from Gina: you gotta check it out, pretty neat. Who needs a critique group when you have auto crit. Not really but it's interesting]

And a short book review:

I just finished Don Brown's second novel, Hostage. I read it in a day and a half and it kept me from writing my own book. So, that says something.

If you liked his first novel, Treason, you'll like this one too.

I personally, loved Treason, put it on my list of favorites.

Don writes in short, action packed chapters. The premise of the book is:
"A kidnapping, an ultimatum...and suddenly, Zack faces an impossible choice. If he loses this case, the world could explode into war. If he wins, the woman he loves will die."

As a woman, I found myself wanting to skim some of the legal discussions and terrorist interaction and get back to Zack's pov. To delve into his soul and connect with him. The love story, though not able to be on stage much in this book, was still very satisfying and sweet. Made me cry, actually.

Don is an excellent writer and the thing I love best about his work is that it's not formula. I thought this book was going to be, but as is always the case with Don's writing, I guessed wrong. We talk about edgy not getting through the publishing boards in CBA, let me tell you, Don's stuff is edgy.

I'd love to see this hero have a wart in the future. Something a little quirky, but that may just be me. Though the character did suffer from a bit of depression for good reason, so that was a nice, realistic touch.

The book will surprise you. I can pretty much guarantee it. I'm annoyingly good at guessing how a story will work out. I can tell you the ending of the movie in the first five minutes, usually. I try to do that with Don's novels and neither in Treason, nor this one, was I right. And that's delightful!

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Don's, both as a writer and as a person. Don is one of the nicest men I've ever met. Smart, very, very, kind, funny and humble. He's also one of my mentors. He's encouraged me maybe more than anyone else. Though my mom runs a close second.

I highly recommend Hostage. Everyone I've given his work to read has said the same thing, "This guy's really good."

Yes, I say, I know. He really is. Check it out.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Roxanne Henke

Author Interview: Roxanne Henke

Plug time. What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

My newest book, and the last in the Coming Home to Brewster series, With Love, Libby, will be released in January. I’m so excited about this final book in the series. The theme of it is purpose, something I think most people are searching to find.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

Oh goodness, how long do you have?

I wrote in some form or another for thirty YEARS before my first novel was published. That’s a long time!

I’m going to give you the “fast-forward” version…I went to the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference, met an editor from Harvest House there and ‘pitched’ my novel. About three weeks later I got a phone call saying they wanted to publish After Anne, and they wondered if I had ideas for more books.

To say I was excited is an understatement. I know now, that all those years of waiting, hoping, dreaming, praying, were all part of God’s plan. Having to wait so long to see my stories in print only make the accomplishment all the sweeter!

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

Everyday. It goes like this: What should I write today? What should happen? If “this” happens now then what about “that?” Is this any good at all?

I think self-doubt is the plague of most writers.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of your pants to the seat of a chair.” I don’t know who said it, but they knew what they were talking about.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard?

You have to be inspired to write.

Baloney…writing is a “job,” and it doesn’t happen unless you show up and work at it.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

I’ll tell you what I’m glad I didn’t know…how hard writing is. If I had known how hard it would be from day-to-day, and book-to-book, I think I would have been too scared to actually write my first book.

Do you have a scripture or quote that has been speaking to you lately?

Here’s a quote I have hanging by my computer: “A job should not be your identity. It should be an environment to exercise your gifts.” T.D. Jakes

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

I quit writing at least three times over the years. It was simply too hard, too frustrating and I prayed that God would remove the desire to write from me. He did…but never for long. I’ve learned when God calls you to do something, it’s best to do it.

What are a few of your favorite books? (Not written by you.)

Most recently it’s, Levi’s Will by W. Dale Cramer. I wish I’d written that book. Anything by Francine Rivers or Deborah Raney. I keep a list of my favorite books on my website: Click on the “Roxy Reads…” page to see what I’ve enjoyed lately.

If your authorial self was a character from The Wizard of Oz, which one would you be and why?

Oh, it has to be Dorothy. Like her, I live in a very small, rural community and always had BIG dreams of going off somewhere else to find “fame” and “fortune.” It took awhile, but I learned there really is “no place like home.”

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

My first book, After Anne. I dreamt of writing a book for as long as I can remember…to finally do it was a dream come true. Also, my third book, “Becoming Olivia,” is the fictionalized account of my struggle with depression. It’s my most personal book and the reader mail I get, thanking me for telling that story, is amazing!

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

Marketing can drive me nuts. I always thought a publisher took care of all that sort of thing. But the fact of the matter is, there are SO many books out there these days, that unless an author pitches-in and gets the word out about a new book, it’s much too easy to have it simply evaporate on a bookshelf.

I don’t like comparing myself to other authors. Wondering what their sales are like, etc… I often remind myself that I am not writing for the money, I’m writing for the message. But, bottom line, if a book doesn’t sell, a publisher won’t want to publish more…and there goes the message. It’s a vicious circle.

See what I mean??

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

I’m at my computer by nine a.m., write until twelve-thirty, break for lunch. In an ideal world I will have written four-or-five pages by then and can putz for the afternoon, usually I need to write another page, or two, before I can call it quits for the day.

There is also reader mail to answer, speaking engagements to line up. There is so much more to this than I dreamed.

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

I’m not sure who it would be, but I would like to write faster. Much faster.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

As long as God keeps giving me ideas, I plan to write. When He calls me to do something else, I hope I have the fortitude to know it’s time for me to step aside and let someone else tell the stories God wants told.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

I did quit…three times. Every time I start a new book, I wonder whether I can do it again. Then I start writing…

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

My favorite part of being a writer is knowing I am doing what God created me to do! I also love reader mail!

My least favorite part?

Staring at a blank computer screen, knowing I have 400-plus pages to fill and wondering HOW that will ever happen??

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

I do a lot of speaking about the stories-behind-the-my-stories. Each of my books is about an issue I’ve dealt with in my own life…issues we all deal with. (Friendship, contentment, depression, aging, finding purpose.) Speaking is a good way to connect with readers and let them feel a personal connection to my stories.

It’s easy to get caught up (and driven nuts) by the constant pressure to make people aware of my stories. I like to remind myself that God is the Ultimate Marketer. If He wants someone to read my books, He will make sure they do.

I do what I can, then let Him do the rest.

Parting words?

There are many stages in a person’s life. I talk to many young women who have the desire to write, but they have to work and/or have small children at home. They struggle with finding time and energy to do it all. My advice is to do what you are called to do right now. If you have kids…now is the time to raise them, nurture them. They will grow up and leave…you will have plenty of time to write later. (Believe me, I’ve been-there-done-that.)

If God has called you to write…you will. His timing is perfect. Trust Him.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Novelist: Lynn Coleman

Author Interview: Lynn Coleman

Plug time. What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

Fighting for Bread & Roses is the first book in the Lindsey Taylor Mystery Series. It is two mysteries woven together in one novel. There is a historical mystery as well as a contemporary one. Lindsey the contemporary character is a historical mystery writer who stumbles into her fair share of trouble when researching her books. Anna Lopizzo's death during the "Bread & Roses" strike of 1912 fascinates Lindsey.

And then there was Jenna Waverly, who supposedly had drowned in the frozen Merrimack River. Was her death really an accident or might it have been suicide? Or did someone kill Jenna?

How long had you been writing seriously before you got the call?

It started as a desire to write fiction for the Christian market, after a couple years of playing around with it, I felt confidant of the Lord’s call for this new direction in my life. It was after that call that I seriously began writing and studying the craft of writing Christian fiction.

Tell us about the call.

My call was an eye opening experience. I’m not a natural writer. When the Lord called me to write fiction, I didn’t have the skills and I still have trouble with some like grammar and sentence structure.

But it is out of my inability that the Lord has given me the ability, the gift, to write for Him, to share Biblical truths in an entertaining yet encouraging fashion.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

Now that’s an easy question, read what you want to write. Know the genre, know the publishing houses and what they produce to understand what they look for in a novel.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever heard?

I chuckled at reading the question but it took a bit to try and figure out the “worse” advice, I suppose it was when someone told me my work was great and I should self publish it rather than go the conventional route of finding a publisher. This was very early in my learning the craft of writing and even I knew I had a lot to learn. I believe that if I had given into those comments I would have not studied the craft as much as I have now.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier on that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

You know I don’t know if there is anything I wish I knew before I started. Everything about writing is a learning stage. From the first scribbling of words on the page to the time spent in crafting those words just right.

With regard to the publishing business I’d still have to say the experiences are teaching me more than the knowledge I had before I began. I learn best by hands on experience, I’ll read and listen to learn more, but I’m still basically a hands on kind of learner. I have to do, in order to really learn. I hope that makes sense.

Do you have a scripture or quote that has been speaking to you lately?

“Be still and know that I am God;” Ps. 46:10a

It’s only the first part of the verse but what the Lord has been impressing upon me is spending more time alone with Him.

Being alone with God means many different things for various people. To me it means spending more time reading the Bible, in prayer and in quiet solitude and just waiting on hearing His voice.

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

Writing is difficult, its very nature requires the author to dig deeper into themselves, their characters and the various circumstances of life. If we can look at our set backs as opportunities to strengthen our commitment to writing for the Lord, then “It’s all good,” as Karen Ball was recently quoted saying at this year's Write to the Heart Conference in Nashville.

What are a few of your favorite books?

Eyes of Elijah by Brandilyn Collins, knocked my socks off.
Whispers from Yesterday by Robin Lee Hatcher, is probably my most favorite of hers.My newest favorite has to be Terri Blackstock’s Last Light. Wow, what a powerful book.

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

I’m not sure I can answer that. Each book has had it’s own achievements for me,but since my newest one is a switch in genres I suppose that would be the current one at the moment. Fighting for Bread & Roses.

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

I generally am in my office by 9 AM and I work til lunch. I’m not a morning person so I tend to do book keeping, email, any business related issues I can handle that morning. If there is time, I’ll work on research for a novel.

I finish the day in the afternoon, or in the evenings depending on my husband’s schedule. When writing a novel I try to write 3k a day.

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

The quiet and strong spirit and humbleness of Francine Rivers.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

To be the best writer I can be for the Lord and not myself.

Has there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

Lots, its all part of the business. It doesn’t matter how accomplished you are, there are days when you want to walk away from it. But the reality is, you can’t. Once you are called there is a burning passion in your bones that from time to time may die down to cool ember,s but they will be rekindled.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

Favorite is being god of the story people behave in the manner you wish them to. They solve their life’s problems within the pages of your story.

My least favorite would be editing and yet I say that tongue in cheek. Because I love the process of reworking the words for better pacing, structure and to be more engaging.

Parting words?

Thanks for inviting me to participate in this interview. I suppose for those new writers who are reading this, I would challenge them to question themselves and why they don’t want to change, edit their work. And for those accomplished writers who might be reading this, don’t forget to feed your spirit and develop your relationship with Jesus Christ, he is the source of life and life more abundantly. After all, what’s wrong with tapping into the ultimate Creator?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Author Darlene Franklin

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Author Interview: Darlene Franklin

Plug time. What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

Heartsong Presents published my first book,

Romanian Rhapsody, in July of this year. Carrie Randolph and Steve Romero meet on a Christian singing tour to Romania. Carrie returns to Romania to work for two years in an orphanage. After Steve’s wife dies in childbirth, Steve returns to Romania to adopt a child. He and Carrie want to adopt the same child. One reviewer said “Darlene Franklin has written a novel sure to tug at your heartstrings. ROMANIAN RHAPSODY is a novel of love and loss, hope and happiness.” Another reviewer states “ROMANIAN RHAPSODY is packed full of inspiration, emotion and drama.” The book can be ordered at or at

How long had you been writing seriously before you got “the call” that you were going to be published? Tell us how you heard and what went through your head.

Tracie Peterson critiqued the first chapter of Romanian Rhapsody at a writer’s conference. The manuscript passed through many hands and years but that initial critique led to the sale.

I had been writing for about ten years and had a few dozen short articles published. The night before Thanksgiving, I received an e-mail stating that Heartsong wanted to publish my book. Something to be truly thankful for!

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

Of course! Doesn’t everyone?! My work is beginning to find a market; but every time I read an exquisite piece of writing, I think, “I’ll never write like that. Who do I think I’m kidding?”

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

The best advice on writing is the simplest: A writer must read, read, read and write, write, write.

Publication is a different matter. Networking has proved most profitable for me. As I have gone to conferences, joined writers’ organizations, and reached out to other writers, they in turn let me know about writing opportunities.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever heard?

I don’t know if it’s the worst, but it’s the most frustrating. “Be sure you know the name of the individual to send your manuscript to, and spell their name correctly.” That works as long as you met with the editor face to face and have their business card. But what do you do about a cold query? Often there is no name in the market guide and the not-so-helpful receptionist tells you “Address it to the editor.”

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier on that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

When someone expresses interest in your work—even if it’s a rejection—follow up right away with another idea! One of my friends sent repeated queries to Today’s Christian Woman before receiving an acceptance.

Do you have a scripture or quote that has been speaking to you lately?

Regarding writing, God spoke to me through the tenth commandment: “Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet . . . any thing that belongs to your neighbor.”

Earlier in my writing career, I was dreadfully jealous of people who started writing when I did (or later!) who landed book contracts and published articles in high profile magazines. I would rationalize it to myself, saying “I’m happy for them. But why not me? I want what they have.”

God pointed out what should have been obvious: wanting what my neighbor has is the sin, whether I rejoice with them or begrudge them their success.

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

I often seem to be a step too late. It’s discouraging to finish a manuscript and send it to the editor who requested it, only to find out that editor has left the company; or to write an article on spec and be told they have changed their format and content and your manuscript no longer suits their needs. I know it’s a part of the writing life, but it’s still very frustrating.

What are a few of your favorite books? (Not written by you.)

My favorite romance, barring the overdone sensual aspects, has to be The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger. Dick Francis’ Sid Haley trilogy (Odds Against, Whip Hand, Come to Grief) are among my favorite mysteries. I am impressed by J.K. Rowling’s (Harry Potter) ability to mature her teenage characters book by book.

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

That’s hard to say. I am proud of Romanian Rhapsody as my first published book; I am equally as proud of my latest project, Night Burning, a novel set during the Montgomery bus boycott, because of the way it stretched me beyond what I thought I could write.

My most improved piece of writing was an article entitled “Who Are You This Time?” published in Bible Advocate in 2003. I am proud of turning something that read like a poorly-written term paper about a biblical response to reincarnation to an entertaining and educational article.

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

Being invited to submit something about a particular topic, only to be told “We just published something like your manuscript a short time ago; we can’t use your material.” Please tell me that up front!

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

Ideally, I get up about 6:30 and have my quiet time, then sit down at the computer for 2 hours until I have to leave for work. I look at e-mails, play a computer game to make sure I’m awake enough to work, and then I begin working on my current project. I keep track of each day’s work in a journal. I do most of my research and e-mail responses in the evenings after work. I find I work most efficiently when under deadline.

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

I would love to have Nevada Barr’s ability to describe setting and mood, without her anti-Christian bias.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

To make enough to switch to part-time hours! To be able to write about my passion – African American history – both by growing as a writer, by finding a publisher willing to take a chance on a white writer writing about black culture, and for an open market.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

Many times. For five years I’ve felt like success was right around the corner. Why quit when I’m so close? But that elusive success – as defined by being able to partially support myself by writing – continues to stay just out of reach.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

My favorite part? Dreaming up stories. At heart I am a story teller, whether in fiction or nonfiction. I hear a snippet of history and ideas start flowing through my mind. The Underground Railroad in Ohio . . . the all-black settlements started during the Oklahoma land run . . . . You get the idea.

My least favorite part? Marketing. I wish I could write it and be sure more of my children would find a home!

Parting words

Enjoy the small things. Use every occasion as an excuse to reward yourself! Set goals you have control over: how many pages will you write each day? How many queries will you send out this year?

Did you write today? Rejoice! Have you sent out a query or submitted a manuscript? Rejoice! Was it rejected? Rejoice! Was it accepted? Rejoice! When you get the manuscript proofs – rejoice! When you get the hard copy – rejoice!

If you wait until you experience success – you may have forgotten how.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Author/Editor Interview: Traci DePree

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Traci is the author behind the best-selling Lake Emily series. A Can of Peas, Dandelions in a Jelly Jar, and Aprons on a Clothesline (May 2005). She is also the editor behind many of today's hottest authors, including Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker, Robin Lee Hatcher, Randy Alcorn, Jane Kirkpatrick, Robert Whitlow, Dianne Noble, Terri Blackstock, Lisa Bergren and others.

Author/Editor Interview: Traci DePree PART II

You are also a freelance editor, what are some of the titles you’ve worked on? Do the authors hire you or do the publishers?

I’ve had the privilege of editing Frank Peretti’s Monster, Ted Dekker’s Thunder of Heaven and When Heaven Weeps, many, many of Robin Lee Hatcher’s books including Victory Club, Beyond the Shadows, Firstborn, Ribbon of Years, The Shepherd's Voice (2001 RITA Award winner), Whispers from Yesterday (2000 Christy Award winner), Robert Whitlow’s Jimmy, Life Support, The Sacrifice, The Trial (2001 Christy Award winner), Cindy Martinusen’s Eventide (yet to be released by WestBow Press), most of Lisa Bergren’s adult fiction, Jane Kirkpatrick’s “Kinship & Courage” series and “Tender Ties” series, Deborah Raney’s A Scarlet Cord, After the Rains, Beneath a Southern Sky (2002 RITA Award winner), Randy Alcorn’s Edge of Eternity, Terri Blackstock’s Heart Reader books and many, many others.

I am hired by publishers to work on the developmental/first read stage of editing. Because my time is constrained by the demands of writing and editing and being available to my family I simply cannot review the works of unpublished authors.

Can you give us an idea about the cost of a novelist hiring a freelance editor?

Since I am hired by publishers only, this isn’t something I do. So I really can’t say what an author would pay for such services. I know that many of the established guilds offer this type of service.

What are some of the mistakes you see over and over even from great authors?

Everyone has their blind spots. “Telling” instead of “showing” is a big one. I’m a firm believer in allowing a character’s action, body language and dialogue to tell the reader who each character is and what they’re feeling. This is how we discern the qualities of the people in our daily lives so we all know how to read between these lines. It makes for deeper, seamless characterization.

Another big error I see is Point of View hopping. Certain bestsellers--like John Grisham--don’t seem to have a clue about this aspect of good writing. They seem to think the reader won’t mind switching from one character’s set of eyes to another’s.

But it is a speed bump! The author who maintains a firm single POV throughout any given scene will always have deeper characterization than the writer who jumps POVs betweens paragraphs.

Read anything by B.J. Hoff if you want to see what good POV can do—you know who the character is in any given scene because she masterfully draws these lines with simple POV consistency and delicious character “markers.”

Would you recommend that a first-time author hire an editor before submitting their work to publishers/agents?

I think an honest, intelligent reader who isn’t afraid of hurting your feelings can be just as effective at pointing out your story’s weaknesses as hiring a trained editor.

Usually, I’ve discovered, the points my editors bring up in my writing are things I’d intuited but decided to ignore, so their suggestions unfailingly ring true.

Learning to listen to and follow your instinct in reading is key. If anything interrupts the constant flow of your story it’s a red flag that something isn’t right. As an editor I’ve learned to listen to this instinct more closely and then to ask myself, “What is it that is causing the problem?” Is it an inconsistency of motivation? Am I having a hard time following too big a cast? Perhaps I need to pare down/combine characters so the action is easier to track. It’s time to listen to that little voice you ignored in the process of creation.

You spent seven years at Bethany and managed their slush pile for awhile. What surprised you about the submissions? What made a proposal or manuscript stand out in a good way?

I was surprised at how few submissions were actually published. At that time we received over 5,000 unsolicited manuscripts per year. We might have published one of those proposals; more likely it would have been one in 10,000 submissions.

Too often writers were merely mimicking what was already on the market or trying to sell a project that had too narrow a market. Many proposals were poorly conceived, not drawn out well or fully developed.

Get to know the publisher you’re sending your proposal to. Don’t send a contemporary fiction title to a textbook publisher. You’d be surprised but this happened all the time at Bethany.

Books that aren’t even close to a publisher’s current line aren’t real likely to be picked up. Also houses known for fiction will be better at selling your novel than a house that decides to do one lone fiction title anyway. Each house has its reputation within the market; choose a publishing house that most aligns with the story you’re trying to tell.

The good proposals were always original (they had a hook that met Bethany’s niche), well organized in their presentation, and the writing was honed. Never send your first draft—I guarantee it would be better if you went over it several times more.

Can you give us an insider’s look into a proposal being plucked from the slush pile? Where did it go after you found potential in it?

Mind you I had this job over fifteen years ago—the editing I do today is a very different animal than unsolicited submissions. Usually I could sort through the days’ submissions in an hour or two, write the needed rejection letters. Then I would take a closer look at the submissions that had broad appeal, met Bethany’s particular needs at the time, and were well written.

If the proposal seemed to have merit, it went out to a group of readers for their honest input. These were mostly volunteers, not full time Bethany House employees, so we would try to give them a good month for any given project. If the readers couldn’t force themselves to finish reading, the proposal would end up in the rejection pile.

If it drew readers in and kept their attention until the end, the questions of broad appeal and marketability came into play. If those questions were answered positively the proposal was finally brought before the publishing review board and decided on once and for all. This is why it takes so long for a publisher to get back to you when you send those proposals in—lots of reading time! If you hear back right away it usually isn’t a good sign!

Any editorial advice you can offer to novelists?

Keep learning and keep reading.

Parting words?

Thank you for this opportunity to “meet” you and your readers/writers, Gina! I wish you all the best in this crazy business. I would love to get to know you all better too, so come by my website, sign my guestbook or visit my Writer’s Life and Rural Life blogs. –Warmly, Traci DePree

Monday, October 24, 2005

Author/Editor Interview: Traci DePree PART ONE

Plug time. What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

The third book in my Lake Emily series, entitled
Aprons on a Clothesline, released at the end of May. I like this book a lot. Because it’s Virginia Morgan’s story (the matriarch of the Morgan family), this book is a little deeper, a little more soul searching, yet it carries that same sense of connection to loved ones and the land that all the Lake Emily books focus on.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

I’ve been in the publishing industry for over seventeen years. I began as a customer service representative for Bethany House Publishers. When the phones were quiet I would review unsolicited manuscripts for the editorial department. After a while of doing this I was transferred to the editorial department and given the best training an editor could ask for—hands on experience. I worked for over seven years as proofreader, then copy editor, and line editor, helping develop some of Bethany’s wonderful fiction line.

About ten years ago I moved to a rural town in southern Minnesota and began my freelance editing business. After a while I began to realize that I too had stories to tell, especially as my appreciation grew for all I was experiencing in my home town and the kind-hearted people who had become a part of my daily life. That was really the beginning of the Lake Emily series.

Since WaterBrook was one of the publishers I edited for—I worked on a majority of their fiction line at that time—I sent my proposal to them first. They accepted it right off, no pile of rejections. Actually my editor had left the message telling me that they wanted to publish
A Can of Peas on my answering machine. My husband had heard it first—he sat watching me as I returned from a harried day and went to hit the “play” button. Instead of “play” however I hit “delete” and never got to hear the message! He told me what it had said. I was thrilled!

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

All the time. I simply read my file of fan letters, telling me how much readers have appreciated my writing. That never fails to boost my morale and set me back on the creative track.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

Never stop learning and never think you don’t need an editor. We all need editors, even us editors!

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard?

I’d heard of a fellow CBA author who told a fellow who’d written his life story to wait until he found a traditional publisher for his book—not good advice. Unless your story is extraordinary or you’re already a famous person, odds are your book will never see the light of day in a traditional publishing house. Everyone believes their life story is amazing.

While it may be cathartic to get it all down on paper, and your family will enjoy reading it, most of these stories are never picked up (except Corrie ten Boom and Joni Earekson). Your options—either fictionalize it and be willing to pare “the true events” from the story in favor of a strong plot, or self publish and give copies to loved ones who will appreciate it.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

Randy Ingermanson’s
Snowflake System of writing has been helpful lately, although I didn’t us it in writing my first three books. But it has served to hone the basics of plot and theme up front so I feel my future books will be stronger for it.

Do you have a scripture or quote that has been speaking to you lately?

With the adoption of my daughter from Korea, James 1: 27 really means a lot to me. “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of god our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles…” NLT

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

I haven’t any major setbacks. The thing that has been most difficult for me, I would say, is learning to balance the publicity side of writing with the actual writing side (not to mention family). Publicity can eat up months of time and money. Learning that balance is key to success.

What are a few of your favorite books? (Not written by you.)

Recent books—The Life of Pi, Peace Like a River, Secret Life of Bees. Classics—To Kill a Mockingbird, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights. Books I’ve edited that I also loved—anything by Robin Lee Hatcher, Jane Kirkpatrick, Christmas Every Morning by Lisa Bergren and Eventide by Cindy Martinusen.

If your authorial self was a character from The Wizard of Oz, which one would you be and why?

This is difficult question! I guess Dorothy, because like her I’m willing to travel an unfamiliar path but I want the security of “home”—my family and my Minnesota cornfields—to comfort me. But unlike Dorothy I’m not looking for somewhere over the rainbow; I’m a very content person in my life and in my skin. I’ve learned gratefulness along the way.

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

Aprons on a Clothesline. This book digs deep on issues we all struggle with—aging, losing a loved one, receiving kindness—and I really enjoyed not only the process of writing it but the poetry that the journey of discovery brought forth.

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

Judgmental attitudes. But it seems to me this is what Jesus had a hard time with too.

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

Because I’m a mother of five I don’t have a typical day! I’ve learned to flex with whatever the day holds, always trying to get a little writing/editing time under my belt. Four hours of writing on any given day is a good thing.

I bring my laptop or notebook with me and write while I wait for kids at the orthodontist or piano lessons or between matches at the High School tennis courts! Somehow I’ve learned to block out all else and focus on my story even in the midst of noisiness. I can also be found writing at the public library or at the local diner—although there I tend to be interrupted by well meaning neighbors who just want to visit!

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

I would have Jane Kirkpatrick’s amazing gift of metaphor and insight and Ted Dekker’s plot twists.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

Other than hitting the New York Times bestseller’s list? Only to write a true thing of beauty—simple, unadorned, but powerful in effect. A book that really matters.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

I’ve thought of it on occasion, but I find myself still doing it! It’s beyond reason.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

My favorite part of writing is the creation, especially the fourth rewrite when I can see everything starting to come together and it’s better than I’d originally envisioned. Least favorite would be a tie between the blank page and signings where no one shows up!

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

It depends. When I’m launching a new series I do a lot more than I do for the last book in the series. I’ve done it all, from visiting 100 regional bookstores personally to sell my series to sitting atop a float in an area parade.

My advice—do what you can and don’t kill yourself. A single person with time and money to burn simply has more resources to market their work than a busy mother of five (like me!). I keep always before myself the reminder that my work as a mother has eternal value and that’s where I need to concentrate my efforts; the rest is up to God, a good publisher and a faithful readership getting the word out on my behalf.

Tomorrow Traci gives us a look at the editorial side of things.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Alton Gansky's latest novel is here!!

Success can bring more than fame and fortune. For Mayor Maddy Glenn and her starlet cousin, it might bring death.

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If you visit Alton's web-site, you can sign up for his FREE newsletter. It's well worth it! (But then, I may be just a tad bit bias.)

Weekend Wire

First of all, we'll mention the news that you've already noticed if you're here:

Novel Journey gets a new look! If you have a blog that you're wanting to update, have I got the lady for you. Natalie of Digery Studios designed this and for under a hundred dollars (can you believe that?) worked with me to get the look that was perfect for me. I should have done this months ago. Her addy is: or you can click on the little box to the left under the "I power blogger" with her signature.

I'd love to know what you all think. Leave a comment if you would.

And speaking of comments: Thank you so much to those of you who leave them. I can tell that hundreds of people had visited a certain author's interview, but they don't know that. They only get to see the comments that are left. We all need to encourage each other. And leaving a comment is one simple way. So thank you!

Next on the news front:

Don Brown's much anticipated second novel,
Hostage is now available. I ordered mine through Amazon and they assured me it's on its way. (You can check it out on the Amazon search box on this site, if you like. When you order through Amazon, if you click on the Amazon link on this site, it helps support the site, btw).

I'm so excited about Don's book. I'll be reviewing it on this site when I'm finished.

Mixin' it up: We'll be tossing around some new things in the weeks to come. Start Monding we have a two part interview with Traci Depree. She does a fantastic job. She's both best-selling author and one of the best editors in the business. Her interview will talk about both her writing and the business of editing within a publishing house. You don't want to miss that one.

We'll be having some guest bloggers give some special commentary on the writing life. After next week, I'll be peppering in some of those between interviews.

Author Lynn Coleman has been on a whirlwind tour promoting her most excellent novel, Fighting for Bread and Roses. We'll be interviewing her as well coming up. Keep her in your prayers. She's keeping a schedule that would drop me.

On a personal front, I'm in the market for a new agent. Gasp. No, it's fine. We're still good friends. Just a glitch of the business and it's for the best. God has better plans! But, I'm a talking to a few folks and trying to convince my mentor Alton he needs to get into the agenting business. He'd be awesome.

But, with several great publishers considering both novels, I'm in a fantastic position to snag me another great agent. Things are looking promising.

Another invitation:

If you have writing/publishing related news, SEND IT! Please! No one's taking me up on this and it really is a great, free avenue to promote yourself. And that's why we're here. To promote you--all of us-- who write for the Lord.

One last thing: I hate the name "News Saturday". Yawn. Can anyone think of a better name? I was thinking S'up Saturday, but then figured maybe not everyone would get it.

Give me your ideas.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Author Interview: Angela Hunt

Plug time. What book or project is coming out or has come out that you'd like to tell us about?

My next project in the pipeline is The Novelist, which releases from Westbow in January. It's a book of my heart, probably the most autobiographical thing I've ever written, and really two books in one. I may not be a good judge of my own work, but I think it's my best work to date. I know it was the hardest thing I've ever written.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

That question assumes that I wanted to write books--and I really didn't think about it. I became a writer in 1983 simply because I

1) wanted to help put food on the table and

2) wanted a job I could do at home when my babies were small.

No great dreams of publication, no lofty goals. The mortgage-as-motivation.

After five YEARS of writing magazine articles, catalog copy, and what-have-you, I saw an ad about a contest for unpublished picture book writers.

Well, I've always liked kids and related to them pretty well. Being an unpublished book writer of any sort, I got a book on how to write picture books, wrote something up, and sent it in. First prize was publication, and when the book won suddenly I was an author--without ever really intending to be one. What went through my mind? An overwhelming sense of responsibility. Books change lives; they certainly have changed mine. They motivate, they inspire, they teach. Shoot, I learned how to flirt reading Gone With the Wind.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

Wallowing in self-doubt is far too narcissistic an activity for the Christian. Writing is a job, pure and simple, like any other job. You can teach people how to write effectively. I teach children how to write stories all the time--there's a pattern and a plan and it's not rocket science. You learn it, you do it. No great mystery involved. Does a dentist who's gone to dental school worry about whether or not he can pull teeth?

With that being said, however, lots of people can paint pictures, but only a few make me stop and gaze in admiration. Anyone can put flowers into a bowl, but some arrangements are more "artful" than others. So there is an element of "art" in the midst of the "science." The art part, however, is subjective.

If I have doubts, it's only at the first draft stage, when I'm trying to get the pattern to conform to the vision in my head. Sometimes I fear it will fall short, but as I wrestle with the story through four and five drafts, it generally shapes up. And if it doesn't? Well, that's what editors are for.
They give me the objective eyes I need.

What's the best advice you've heard on writing/publication?
Don't send your novel to a POD press.

What's the worst piece of writing advice you've heard?

Anything that has to do with writer's block--ha! I don't believe in it. If you plan, you'll never be "blocked."

What's something you wish you'd known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

Adverbs are generally evil.

Do you have a scripture or quote that has been speaking to you?

Lately I've been seeing the theme of God's sovereignty echoed everywhere.

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you've gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

If one believes in the sovereignty of God, then nothing is a setback. Even my mistakes are part of God's plan; even my failures are steps forward, because I learn from and am changed by them.

What are a few of your favorite books? (Not written by you.)
The Nun's Story by Kathryn Hulme, Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz.

If your authorial self was a character from The Wizard of Oz, which one would you be and why?

I'm Glenda the Good Witch, without a doubt. She steps in, explains everything, and makes it all look SO SIMPLE (can you tell I've spent an entire week teaching elementary students how to write?)

What piece of writing have you done that you're particularly proud of and why?

I'm fond of The Truth Teller because it was my first "high-concept" book and the first time I really wrote something that rose from my own wacky imagination. I'll always be grateful to Bethany House for not thinking I didn't have both oars in the water . . .

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

YES! I hate it when I come home from a speaking engagement and people crowd around the luggage carousel. If everyone would stay two feet back, we could grab our suitcases and pull them off the moving thingy without taking out two toddlers, a tourist, and somebody's visiting grandmother . . .

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

At my desk by ten thirty, answer e-mails, write some, answer more e-mails, write more, eat lunch, write more, get the mail, toss the mail, write more, answer e-mails, pet the dog, write more, check to see how many more words until quitting time, eat dinner, write some more, pet dog, check schedule, finish with a flourish, and go put on my jammies! (Dull, huh?)

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

As in any other job, we all have strengths and weaknesses and I'm happy to keep dealing with my own God-ordained set.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

I wouldn't dare. While dreams are nice and can be motivational, I've found that obedience to God's will is far more important than jogging toward anything that may or may not be his plan for me.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

Of course. But I got over it.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer? Favorite: the way time flies when you are In the Zone. Least favorite? First-drafting. Because I don't know the story world well enough yet to stick in it.

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

I don't particularly like marketing, though I understand that the savvy writer today is required to think about how she is going to get her product to her intended reader. I prefer to do this in quiet ways--through the internet, the occasional postcard, etc.

Parting words?

I was in a school last week and a young girl, starry-eyed, of course, asked me what inspired me to write. I said "the morgtage payment" and her little face fell. I felt awful, but I also think we need to be realistic. There's a huge mystique about writing--encouraged by far too many writers--that needs to be shooed away.

Truthfully, I think we do people a disservice when we act like writing is some kind of mystery and we are strange artistes. I mean, really . Writing is a craft that can be taught. Some people will never be writers because they don't like sitting in a chair for long periods of time; I'll never be a runner because I hate to sweat.

And that's okay. We're created to be and do different things and God has a sovereign plan for each of us. The Christian writer is simply a person created with the gifts and temperament for writing and called to exercise those gifts in the light of eternity. Nothing mystical there. Nothing mysterious. Preachers preach, teachers teach, writers write. And if we are believers, the Love of our lives shows up in the work.