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Friday, March 31, 2006

Author Interview ~ David Gregory

David Gregory is the author of Dinner with a Perfect Stranger and coauthor of two nonfiction books. After a ten-year business career, he returned to school to study religion and communications, earning two master’s degrees. He is a native of Texas.

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

The sequel to Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, called

A Day with a Perfect Stranger, is due to be released on July 18, 2006. I hope readers will find it as interesting and engaging as they (well, many of them) found Dinner to be, but in a different way and with a different main character.

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’m still recovering from waking up and finding myself to be a fiction writer. It was the last thing I ever expected. In the late 90s I had co-authored a couple of nonfiction books on Christian living. I was a writer for a Christian ministry, and I only thought in nonfiction terms. But I took a creative writing course at seminary and found that fiction writing was fun. I then took a course in creativity, and some material on comparative worldviews that I had previously wanted to work into a nonfiction format morphed into a story about Jesus talking with a modern day cynic.

I wrote Dinner with a Perfect Stranger off and on for a year and a half, self-published it, then sent it to the only two contacts I had in Christian publishing. Both expressed initial interest, but WaterBrook Press was the one who caught my vision for the book and ran with it.

I realize that my relatively easy entrance into a book writing career is atypical. All I can say is that it seems to have been God’s time for my first fiction book. My “years in the wilderness” were spent not receiving publishers’ rejection letters, but spending twenty-plus years figuring out what I wanted to do when I grew up—that is, what God had designed me to do.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

I didn’t experience much self-doubt with Dinner with a Perfect Stranger. No one was expecting it, I had no deadline, and I just had fun with it. The sequel,

A Day with a Perfect Stranger, engendered more doubts, but my deadline was short enough that I didn’t have too much time to dwell on it. I think doubts are inevitable, but they are alleviated somewhat if you are writing from the heart, writing a story and conveying a message that you are passionate about.

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

Write what God lays on your heart to write, not what someone else tells you or expects you to write. If God gives you a heart for a certain story or message, someone out there needs to read it. It may not be a blockbuster, but God doesn’t just work through blockbusters. I have been greatly touched by books that were mediocre sellers at best.

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

To find out what the market is looking for and write that. What the market is looking for may not be at all what God has laid on your heart, what He has gifted you to write, or how He wants to touch other people through you. If the writing is good, there will be a place for it, even if it’s never more than a niche book with modest sales. That may be exactly what God wants to do through you, to touch those people who will read it.

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

This isn’t directly related to the publishing business, but I wish I had known how important it was to understand and follow how God has designed you in regard to work. For a decade I pursued a career at which I had some success, but which followed neither how God had primarily gifted me nor where my heart was. Nevertheless, God has used even that to accomplish His purpose in me, so that time was not truly wasted.

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

For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:8, italics mine).

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

The Glory and the Dream, A Narrative History of America, 1932–1972, by William Manchester. It’s the best U.S. history I’ve ever read. The Phantom Tollbooth, a children’s book by Norton Juster. I Promise You a Crown: A 40-Day Journey in the Company of Julian of Norwich, arranged by David Hazzard—great on God’s love. C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy. Jurassic Park (I’m a pushover for Michael Crichton novels). Undaunted Courage, Stephen Ambrose’s history of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

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

My wedding vows. They captured for my wife and I the reality of Christ living in us and through us toward one another and the high calling to see the glory of God in our lives together.

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

So much excellent material, which could truly deepen people’s relationship with God, reaches a few thousand, while less useful books reach millions. But that’s the nature of any market-driven business. God often seems pleased to use niche books to deeply touch lives.

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

I am trying to establish my typical. I wrote Dinner whenever I felt inspired. Since no one was waiting for it, I had that luxury. I wrote Day over a brief time span, working days and nights seven days a week. I don’t recommend that. I hope to establish a happy medium with my next book.

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

I would choose to be more disciplined in my writing. Most good writers are.

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

I would love to be used by God to help people know the depths of God’s love in Christ, and thus be filled to overflowing with God, as the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians.

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

Not yet. Ask me again in a few years.

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

My favorite parts are at the beginning and end: dreaming up the story, and hearing how God has touched lives with it. My least favorite part is doing self-employed income taxes.

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

I am a terrible marketer. I’ve gone the self-publishing route and I know. For now, I simply try to be available for what my publisher’s publicity department recommends, such as interviews, and respond to other opportunities that present themselves.

I've heard of people beginning to use it as an evangelistic tool. How does that make you feel?

I wrote Dinner with a Perfect Stranger because I wanted a book that I personally could give to family and friends that presented the person and work of Jesus Christ in an engaging and entertaining way—a book that you could read in a sitting or two. For people to read the book and want to give it to others for that same purpose thrills me.

Were you worried that readers might not agree with the way you portrayed Jesus?

Not really. I knew that some people would disagree with some things I did with the Jesus character, like having him drink wine. I did that intentionally, not only because he did so in the gospels, but also to challenge people to venture outside the extrabiblical boxes we construct for ourselves. The goal of the book is to present Jesus. People who aren’t Christians yet aren’t offended by Jesus drinking wine. Why should I hesitate to present a Jesus to them that they can relate to. , Especially especially a biblical Jesus?.

My goal was to make Jesus’s character, words, and action match as closely as I could to the biblical narrative. In fact, the book’s website,, lists over 250 Scripture references that match to specific statements Jesus makes in the book.

Parting words?

Despite my experience, it’s hard to break into the publishing industry. Having a contact, as I did, is much more effective than sending in an unsolicited proposal or manuscript. If you think you have a great book, consider attending a good Christian writer’s conference, like the annual one at Mount Hermon, California. Talk to acquisitions editors and agents about your project. That’s an effective and enjoyable shortcut through the submission process.

Read a review of Dinner With a Perfect Stranger by clicking here.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Win an autographed copy of Creston Mapes', Full Tilt!

To be entered to win one of two autographed copies of Creston Mapes' ~Full Tilt, enter your name in the comments below this review! The winners will be announced Saturday.

Full Tilt
Creston Mapes
Format: Paperback, 400pp
Pub. Date: March 2006
Publisher: Multnomah Publishers, Inc.

From the Publisher:

What Good Can Become of Psychotics, Meth Users, or the Mob? In this sequel to Dark Star, rock star Everett Lester is eager to share the redeeming power of Christ's love with the world through his music. But reaching his family in their twisted lives is another issue altogether. His gambling-addicted brother, Eddie, and the rest of his deteriorating family greet Everett's attempts with disdain and hatred. When the Mob gets involved, dangerous threats become a haunting reality. And when Eddie's son, Wesley - who blames Everett for his brother's death - hooks up with psychotic Tony Badino, the two meth-using antichrists will stop at nothing to bring Everett down and secure his demise!

Reviewed by Gina Holmes

In this sequel to Dark Star, Creston takes us on a thrill ride. Everett is still rocking but the born again believer is now doing it for the Lord and not everyone is happy that the wildly popular group, Death Stroke has disbanded.

Everett wants to begin a new life with wife, Karen, but they are plunged into danger again and again, first by their Meth addicted nephew, then by Everett's gambling addicted brother who is in deep with the mob.

Murder, drugs, rock n roll and redemption. This book has it all. It also includes a fair amount of prayer, ministering, and scripture quoting as well.

You do not have to have read book one to fully understand and enjoy Full Tilt.

Creston's writing is even better in this novel. He doesn't shy away from tough issues and once again proves that no one is beyond redemption. I recommend Full Tilt to anyone who has suffered from addiction or knows someone who has and to those who have sowed some wild seeds before coming to Christ.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Author Interview ~ R.K. Mortenson

RK Mortenson is a Navy chaplain who has served in the Persian Gulf, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Hawaii, Brunei, Indonesia (Surabaya and Bali), Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia.

In 2004, Mr. Mortenson and his family moved to Jacksonville, Florida. Randy currently serves as a Protestant staff chaplain at Naval Station Mayport. He serves the sailors assigned to the base, as well as the civilian employees, and their families, and he also ministers to the congregation at the Chapel by the Sea.

Landon Snow and the Shadows of Malus Quidam is his second book.

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

The second Landon Snow book came out in March 2006: Landon Snow and the Shadows of Malus Quidam. Reviews have been posted at here , here, and here.

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.

My publishing dream started in the summer of
1994. It was a dark and stormy night (it really was) when I felt inspired to write a poem, which I later titled “The Auctor’s Riddle.” That same night I wrote in my journal about my dream to become a published author. The dream included a house on the New England coast (though I’d never been to New England), where I sat on my large balcony looking out at the slate-like Atlantic, wearing a cable-knit sweater and sipping a certain beverage that was sipped at a certain wedding in a certain place called Cana (see: “Jesus’ first miracle”).
Of course, I hadn’t actually written a story yet to support this dream, let alone a novel.
A few months later I wrote “Landon’s Tale,” a 70-page fantasy inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I reworked it for a couple years and then put it away after garnering several rejections from editors and agents. In June of 2004, I dug the story back out and rewrote it, doubling its length. I then took it to the Christian Writers Guild’s Writing For the Soul conference at the Cove (Billy Graham Training Center) in Asheville, North Carolina and pitched it to three editors. The editor from Barbour said my pitch worked and she was intrigued. Three months later I received a contract.
Most of the communication happened via email, including word that a contract was officially forthcoming. When the contract arrived, also via email as a pdf attachment, I was at a (non-CBA) Florida writers conference in Orlando. That same night “Landon’s Tale” won first prize in the Royal Palm Literary Awards in the young adult, unpublished division. When I accepted the trophy, I got to announce that I had just received a contract. It was surreal. Dreamlike. Cool.

Later that night I went to Barnes & Noble and “talked to” the C. S. Lewis books, asking the great writer for help.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

This goes in waves. I’ve just finished writing book 3 in the Landon Snow series, and I feel like I’m getting better. I’m more confident in my ideas and my ability to write them and to get them down more clearly the first time around.

(Wait. Did that make any sense at all? Will people wonder how on earth I got published – writing a paragraph like that? How long can I get away with this charade?)

I may feel like a genius-writer one night (come on, we all do, don’t we?). Then the next day feel completely opposite, wondering if any of what I’ve written deserves to be published or, if it is published, if anyone will actually read it or think it’s any good at all.

When my wife likes something I’ve written, I drive myself batty, not to mention her, with my seemingly infinite need for affirmation. “Really? I mean, is it really good? Or are you just saying that?” It’s insane. I don’t know how she puts up with me. I’m thankful she does, though. Eventually I let it go and move on.

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

Go to a writers conference.

I say that simply because that’s how it happened for me. Had I not gone to that conference, I’m pretty certain I’d still be in the aspiring/waiting/hoping-to-be-published-someday group. Along with that advice goes this: be prepared to pitch your project. And pitch it like you know it’s a winner.

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

This is really subjective, but I’ll give you one common piece I don’t follow. That is, “Write every day.”

I don’t write every day. In fact, while writing both book 2 and book 3 of Landon Snow, I had a 2-3 week lapse where I didn’t write at all. I was on vacation and traveling and doing other things and it didn’t work. But lapses don’t frighten me. In fact, I feel fresher going in 5-10 page bursts every few days rather than trying to grind out something every day. I like to spend a lot of time thinking about scenes and images between writing times. I’m also a believer in letting one’s subconscious “work” on things. This takes time.

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

As your site name states, it’s a journey – going from dreaming and writing to becoming published. During those eight years where Landon was in a box in my closet, I was reading and studying tons of books both on writing and about publishing. I also wrote two other full-length adult novels (unpublished), and perhaps a hundred other starts or ideas for stories. It took me time to learn the craft and I’m still learning.

Saving time is beyond one’s control. I mean—a writer simply isn’t going to find a publisher before the work is ready.

Saving frustration lies more within a writer’s control, however. We can know and accept that it will probably take a long time to get published, so we take a deep breath, write, submit, learn, grow…take a deep breath, write, submit…
The best thing is to accept the journey for what it is—to enjoy it—and keep climbing despite the inevitable obstacles and moments of discouragement.

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

“Fear not.”
Why not, Lord?
“Because I am with you.”
No matter where you are on your writing climb, God is with you and you can rest in him.

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

The biggest wind-out-of-my-sails experience on this journey was when I failed to make the 20 semi-finalists in the Christian Writers Guild’s “Operation First Novel” contest in 2004. I had submitted an adult suspense novel, and I was so sure, so sure that I had a good chance of winning, that I set myself up for a big fall when the news came. Honestly, I was stunned.

(Say, I had shared this story a while back on The Writers View, and I think you, Gina, posted part or all of it here on your site. I called it “A Gift of Failure.”)

The thing is—and this is such a huge, huge thing now I can’t get over how glad I am that I “failed”—it was my losing that contest that prompted my pulling “Landon’s Tale” back out of my closet and rewriting it. Today, rather than having one suspense novel published, I have a series of five books coming out.

In hardback.

With great covers and illustrations.

I feel so blessed.

And that adult suspense novel? It wasn’t close to being ready for publication two years ago. I’m rewriting it now, and my agent thinks the new version has a decent chance. We shall see.

Walt Disney said it was important for everyone to have one big failure in life. It’s the only way to see some things. And big failures often point us toward future successes.

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

The Hobbit
Watership Down
Mere Christianity
The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers

I’ve read each of those books three times.

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

The Great and Wonderful Wizard of Oz!
It is fun playing with the switches behind the curtain and causing bookcases to open and books to speak and turning a chess knight into a horse and chasing eerie shadows around the room and down a winding staircase and—
Ahem. Yes, it is fun to play the wizard as author.

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

I have to say Book 3, Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum, which I just finished (it’s in the editing phase now) and which will come out in the fall.
I’m proud because I went after some things that were challenging for me to write, and I think I pulled them off, growing and gaining confidence in the process. I really like this book and I believe and hope it will propel the series to a higher level.

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

My pet peeve is not with the publishing biz, but with the world. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but I wish more people would turn off their television sets and read. There are so many good books to stimulate the mind and heart and soul, yet many or most of these books sit unopened on shelves while people fritter away their minds and hearts and souls on other things.
Sigh. Ah well.

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

It’s good you have the qualifier “of your writing life”, because a more typical day sees me not writing at all. (I’m a full-time chaplain in the Navy as well as husband and father. Writing, though now much more than a hobby, remains a part-time avocation for me.)
If you could see me right now, you’d see the typical shot of my writing life.
I’m sitting at a table in the Borders bookstore café, my laptop plugged into the outlet in the wall. Sipping my vanilla latte and occasionally glancing in annoyance at a person talking on her cell phone as if she was alone at home.

This café is where I’ve been coming to write for about the past year. Today is Saturday, late afternoon. While in the thick of writing the previous books, I would come here two evenings a week around 7PM till the store closes at 11. And perhaps on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

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

I read your interview with the awe-inspiring Karen Kingsbury not long ago. She doesn’t sit down unless she’s going to write 10,000 words.
And she apparently sits down a lot.
I heard the thuds of jaws dropping around the world as aspiring writers read that outrageous “quota”.
Karen, mother of five (I think)—that is profoundly prolific.
Okay, what was the question again?
Oh yes.
I would choose the strength of Karen Kingsbury to plunk out 10,000 (good, usable) words at a sitting.

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

I dream of owning a house on the New England coast with a balcony overlooking the rugged Atlantic. I’m wearing a cable-knit sweater…
Seriously, getting to do the Landon Snow series is a longtime dream fulfilled that I’m still wallowing in. I’m dreaming of seeing the books “translated” to the big screen some day. That would be awesome. And I dream of Landon Snow books being in print even after I’m gone, which I hope is still several decades away! (I’m 38.)
Beyond this series, I dream of getting more contracts and publishing more books. I’d like to get the suspense novel published. I’d like to publish some nonfiction. And of course I do dream of reaching a level where I could write for a living and support my family. I’m not sure I’d want to give up being a minister, but having the option to “only write” would sure be nice!

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

I did have one time, and perhaps some of you have experienced something like this, about four years ago when I asked God if I was never going to be published, would he please—please—remove the strong desire to write and to be published from my heart?
The journey had already been long at that point. I was tired. And I figured I could focus my energies elsewhere if the publishing dream would forever be merely a pipe dream.
The next day, it seems, I was writing like crazy more than ever.
For those of us impassioned with this fever, trying to quit writing is like trying to make your heart stop beating. It kills us.

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

Favorite part of being a writer: Writing “in the zone” and then coming out of that dreamlike state to a café that has mysteriously emptied from being full four hours earlier.
Least favorite part: Realizing I haven’t done a scene “right” well after the fact. Usually this happens several days after writing it, perhaps after I’ve written tens more pages. I want to move on with the story, but one scene rises from my subconscious and haunts me until I fix it. Then I can move on with the story.

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

Recently I’ve visited and spoken at local schools, to grades 3-8. For children’s books, this is a great way to promote and to meet your target audience. Getting your book to “catch fire” among groups—schools, churches, book clubs, etc.—is one of the best ways to ignite word-of-mouth promotion.

For Book 1, I’d also visited three churches and sold over 50 books at each. With groups there’s built-in buzz and synergy that doesn’t often happen with individual sales.

Since Landon Snow has not been picked up by Barnes & Noble, Borders and other non-CBA stores, I do book signings at these stores simply to get the books on their shelves. They order books in for the event, and I try to invite people to make the event a success. Even if not a lot of people buy the book the hour or two I’m there, at least another store and a few more people become aware of the book’s existence.

As a still new and unrecognized name, I’m willing to do all I can to get “Landon Snow” and “R. K. Mortenson” out there before the public. To very loosely paraphrase a passage from Romans: How will they buy and read a book unless they first hear about it? And how will they hear about it unless someone tells them?
Blessed are the feet of those who tell others about Landon Snow [or insert your title here]!

Parting words?

Thank you, Gina, for this great opportunity to blab about writing on your growingly renowned site for my favorite kinds of people—readers and writers. You’re providing a wonderful service to us all.

Finally, fellow writers—Fear not. The Lord Jesus will be with you always, to the very end of the page.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Get Ready to Rock!

Thursday we are giving away TWO AUTOGRAPHED COPIES of Creston Mapes' just released ~FULL TILT!

I've just read it and can testify that it's even better than his first novel, Dark Star!

Upcoming interviews include: Zondervan acquistions editor and novelist, Karen Ball, R.K. Mortenson, David Gregory, Donita Paul, Denise Hunter, Kathy Fuller, Diann Hunt, Lars Walker, Paul McCusker, and many more!

Noel Quotes...

"The difference between the right and the nearly right word is the same as that between lightning and the lightning bug." ~Mark Twain

Monday, March 27, 2006

Author Interview ~ Sharon Hinck

Sharon is a wife and mother of four children who generously provide her with fodder for her books. She earned an M.A. in Communication from Regent University in 1986 and spent ten years as the artistic director of a Christian performing arts group, CrossCurrent. That ministry included three short-term mission trips to Hong Kong. She has been a church youth worker, a choreographer and ballet teacher, a home-school mom, a church organist, and a freelance writer. One day she’ll figure out what to be when she grows up.

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

The secret is out! THE SECRET LIFE OF BECKY MILLER, published by Bethany House, will hit stores the end of May, 2006. Becky’s rich fantasy life helps her cope with the pressure to be a Wonderful Wife and Marvelous Mom. But she keeps hearing the inner tape play: "Your mission, should you choose to accept it: support your husband when he loses his job, nurture an eccentric circle of friends, raise perfect Christian children, live a life full of Grand Purpose, all while standing on your head and whistling the national anthem. Your fantasy will self-destruct in five seconds." Can she turn off the tape and hear God’s voice before she implodes?

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 did some writing for periodicals over the years, mostly dabbling. I was busy with raising children, running a Christian arts ministry, and other endeavors. Several years ago, when seeking God for direction, I felt His single word call, “Write.” But I waited years for further direction, and nothing I tried had any spark. Then in 2002, I found a Christian writers group. Others in the group were working on novels and it seemed so fun that I decided to give it a try.

I finished my first novel (a mom-lit fantasy about a soccer mom pulled into an alternate world where she fulfills a role like Deborah from the book of Judges) in March of 2003, and was told that a writer’s conference was a good way to see if any editors might be interested. I browsed the internet and stumbled upon Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference (only a few weeks away!). Two of my favorite authors were keynote speakers, so it seemed like a terrific fit. (Except that it was scary to fly across the country, spend all that money, and show my fledgling work to editors and agents for the first time). Truthfully, I expected to be told I didn’t have the chops, and that I needed to go home and learn how to write.

Instead, an agent offered representation. That was enough encouragement to continue writing.

I wrote two more books in the fantasy series, and when no contract came in, tried a new genre and wrote a historical based on the life of my Granny in Russia and Latvia during the Russian Revolution and World War II. In the meantime, I switched agents, and he recommended I focus on contemporary work.

So that year I wrote the first chapter of a mom-lit, THE SECRET LIFE OF BECKY MILLER, on the airplane, while flying home from the Mount Hermon conference. I finished the book over the summer. I met an editor from Bethany House at a small local writer’s conference and had an appointment for him to give me feedback on my work. I told him, “I know Bethany doesn’t publish this genre, so I just want you to tell me what I need to work on as a writer.” (I didn’t want him thinking I was uninformed and trying to submit something that didn’t fit their house). He scanned the first chapter and said, “The writing is fine. Have your agent send this.” What I didn’t know was that Bethany House was planning to explore the chick-lit, mom-lit genres and were looking for a book like mine. It was a total “God thing.”

I got the phone call right before Thanksgiving about the contract offer (for two books) and after I hung up the phone, I wanted to call my agent back right away to be sure he had actual called me, and I hadn’t dreamed it all.

So, if you’re keeping track, that was my fifth complete novel, and the contract came after two years of writing VERY full time, attending several conferences, being active in a local critique group and exchanging work with several online critique partners.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

Incessantly. I’m a true tortured artist. My active imagination may help me write, but sadly it also helps me imagine that I can’t write worth beans, and that my agent, editor, and publishing house are all just being nice when they trust me to write a book. I still wait for the letter telling me, “Whoops. We made a mistake. We didn’t mean to send a contract to THAT Sharon Hinck.”

What mistakes have you made while seeking publication?

Not knowing how to pitch a book and babbling like at idiot at ALL the writer’s conferences I’ve attended. Wasting a LOT of energy on novelist neurosis and angst.

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

Being published doesn’t validate you. Write from your passion and joy and calling and leave the rest to God.

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

Write magazine articles instead of novels because you reach more people that way. (That is great if you are called to write for magazines. But if you are clearly called to write novels, ignore that advice. Even if less people read a book than a magazine article, those folks who read a book enter the world you’ve created for hundreds of pages. You’re able to go much deeper. And I believe storytelling has tremendous power).

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

God is able to bring wonderful, supportive, wise people across our paths exactly when we need them.

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

Galatians 1:10. We work not to win approval of man, but of God. And the cool thing is, we already have God’s approval and love, so we don’t have to EARN it. We write because He’s invited us to join the grand adventure of bringing grace to hurting people.

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

Rejections on the “book of my heart” that praised the strength of the story and the writing, but said the market wasn’t buying that genre. It feels very frustrating. But I’m trusting that in God’s time, that book will find a home and an audience.

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

I always hate that question, because books are really like friends to me, and I hate picking favorites. I love everything from Shakespeare to Austen to Twain to Tolkien, Lawhead, absolutely everything by C.S. Lewis (fiction and nonfiction). I read sci-fi, mysteries, mom-lit, romance, historicals, thrillers, women’s fiction…the works. And I also enjoy many current CBA authors.

A few favorite books:

C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra
Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories
Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair
Madeleine L’engle (most anything, fiction or nonfiction)
I spent a blissful summer in Mitford immersed in Jan Karon. I better stop, because now I want to go curl up and read.

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

The fantasy series. Because the first book in the series was my first completed novel, and because those who’ve read the manuscript say it has changed their way of thinking and impacted their lives, and because it’s completely unique.

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

Writing proposals. Ugh.

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

Wake up, hear the crows flapping around my head telling me I’m a lousy writer, shoo them away, get up, get the kids off to school, devotions, grab my laptop and go somewhere (anywhere that I can’t see my piles of laundry, emails, or phone). Write until noon. Come home and edit and/or critique for friends. I’ll spare you the details of all the head-banging and hair-pulling of those hours. Wait for husband to get home so I can force him to read my latest pages, then over-react when he suggests improvements. Lather, rinse, repeat.

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

Kristin Heinzman’s ability to make my stomach knot up in empathy for her character.

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

When I began writing, I moved a tiny empty bookshelf into my office, ready to receive books I might publish one day. My dream is to need a bigger bookshelf. I also dream that in the miraculous way that God has, my stories will bear “fruit that will last” (as Jesus describes in John 15).

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

Try every ten minutes all day!

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

Least favorite is when I really can’t see past the fog of self-doubt and feel like I’m slogging through oatmeal. Favorite? The amazing people I’ve gotten to know – authors, editors, agents, marketing folk, readers, crit buddies, etc. And those rare and beautiful days when I write a scene, collapse back in my chair and say, “Wow!” because I uncovered a new understanding of God’s wonder in that moment of writing.

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

My publisher kindly (and wisely) said, “Do what you enjoy.” I’m still sorting that out. I’m sending out personal cards and letters to everyone I can think of to let them know about my debut novel, and will be doing a follow-up postcard to that database when the book hits the stores. Also running a website and blog. Guest blogging on Faithchicks and anywhere else I’m invited. I’ve already done some press interviews, and plan on some local television and radio appearances.

Parting words?

Thanks for inviting me to share about my adventure. For something that LOOKS sedate on the outside (a person sitting on a chair, clicking computer keys) this writing life has higher highs and lower lows than most other experiences of my life. Writing a novel means investing so much that you deeply care about the story, which means that you want others to have access to it, which means when those doors don’t open, you feel very real pain. Writing requires as much risk-taking and courage as being a paratrooper or deep-sea diver. The true treasure is found in those moments when I learn something new because of my characters and their stories, and I feel God’s smile.

Please visit my website at for fun info and some helpful tips on the writing life.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Recovering files after your computer crashes

I recently had my laptop crash which sent terror through me. My novel was on that hard-drive, not the only copy mind you, but the latest.

With the help of some very long suffering technical support personel, I was able to retrieve this important document before the entire computer froze and had to be sent back to the manufacturer for repairs and rebooting.

I found this article on recovering files after such a crash and thought it might help someone else out.
Click here to read the article.

For Historical writers

I found this excellent article on writing historicals and thought I'd share.

Seven Rules for Writing Historicals

S'up Saturday

Here's a small publisher you may not have heard of (or submitted to):

Lighthouse Trails Publishing. They are a Christian publisher. I pulled this from their website:

"Lighthouse Trails Publishing is currently accepting proposals
manuscripts from prospective authors
It is recommended you study
our website and perhaps read some of our books before you submit a proposal.

We will look at nonfiction, fiction,
autobiographies and

We are a Christian publishing company
and publish books
that align with biblical truth,
while lifting up the name of Jesus Christ.

The books we publish must have a message or story that needs to be
heard. We are always interested in stories of Christians who have risen above
incredible challenges and even their own failures to illustrate God's amazing
grace and strength to overcome.

We have a special place in our hearts
for missionaries and would welcome well-written submissions about or by such. "

To isit their web-site, click here.

Next week we have interviews with Sharon Hinck, R.K. Mortenson and David Gregory, among other things.

NOTE: Novel authors, if you have an upcoming release you'd like us to mention on this site, please contact me with the information through my blogger profile. We'd like to help you get the word out.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Author Interiview ~ Marilyn Meredith (speaks on e-publishing)

Marilyn Meredith has been a professional writer for thirty plus years. She’s written for local newspapers and national magazines.
She’s had two historical family sagas published based on her own family genealogy. A new edition of TWO WAYS WEST is now available.
Besides Christian horror, Marilyn has written mysteries including the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series and the Rocky Bluff P.D. series.
An instructor for Writer’s Digest school, she is also one of the judges for the Writer’s Digest contest for Genre Fiction Category for Self-Published Books.
She's been married 52 years to the sailor she met on a blind date, they raised 5 children, and have 18 grandkids and 9 greats. To learn more about Marilyn and her books visit her website at

Do you have a project you'd like to tell us about?

My latest published book is Cup of Demons published by Treble Heart Books and what I call Christian Horror. It's about a girl who is plagued by ghosts of her ancestors and demons. It was reviewed by Carolyn R. Scheidies who ended the review with these words, "A look at the face of evil and the power of Christ."

What is e-publishing?

E-publishing is a process of publishing a book that looks like a book but can be read on a computer, a Palm Pilot or other hand-held device. E-books can be purchased from the e-publisher's website and many other places like Even New York publishers are putting their books out in e-formats now.

Why write Christian horror?

I used to love horror movies and always thought if only the heroine or hero was Christian he or she could use her faith to fight against the evil--whatever it happened to be in the particular movie. Ideas began to pop in my head and I had to write what I thought. I always felt that God inspired the ideas though when it was so difficult to find a publisher I did wonder a bit if that was true.

What has been the reaction of others when they find out what you write?

Usually I have to explain what Christian horror is. I believe that the Left Behind series is really Christian horror too. I'm also a mystery writer and often use Christian elements in my mysteries too.

Do you think the market is getting more receptive to Christian horror?

I'm not sure. My first Christian horror, The Choice, I self-published through PageFree Publishing because the Christian publishers all liked my writing but said the novel was too "horror-ible" for their readers. The secular publishers liked my writing but said the book was too Christian for their readers.

Tell us about your experiences with traditional publishers.

I've been published by two large traditional publishers--historical family sagas, a small independent publisher for four of my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries, and several e-publishers for other books.

You were one of the first to jump on the e-publishing bandwagon. Why?

My first experience was with a publisher that I didn't know was an e-publisher. The company was listed in Writer's Digest Market and I sent a police procedural to it. When it was accepted and I got the contract, then I learned it was going to be e-published. I had no idea what that meant, but I thought, why not? The publisher was the best editor I've ever had, but once the book was available as an e-book it was much too difficult to obtain.

Plus there was no way to read it except on the computer. Also, the publisher really didn't know how to market it and neither did I. I had other books accepted by other e-publishers who also didn't have much of a clue about what was going on. The industry has grown and become a viable business since that time.

What are the benefits to e-publishing?

One benefits is you get feedback from the publisher much quicker after you've submitted a manuscript. Submitting a manuscript as an attachment to an e-mail is much simpler and less costly than submitting by mail. The percentage of royalties are much higher than with regular books. Most e-publishers also publish trade paperbacks at the same time as the e-books. The royalties for the trade paperbacks are better than for regular books too. The whole publishing process is quicker than with traditional publishers--though unfortunately that is changing. Probably the best thing about e-publishers is that they are not so set in their guidelines and are willing to take chances with unusual books and publish books of varying lengths.


Not everyone is enthusiastic about reading a book on a hand-held device. All e-published authors are trying to educate people about the pluses of reading in this manner. You can carry lots of books in one little object like a Palm Pilot and read anywhere. Most hand-held devices are back-lit making it unnecessary to have a light to read by making it able for you to read in bed without disturbing your spouse.

How do you make money in this publishing avenue?

I receive royalties from my publishers every quarter.

How have sales been?

Sales are sporadic but I do get regular royalties. To be honest, I make more money selling the trade paperbacks.

Advice for others thinking of going this route?

Be sure that you find a reputable e-publisher. Research the publishers. Read some of their books. If you go to the Epic website:
you'll find a list of e-publishers with links to their websites.

How do you promote your work?

E-books must be promoted via the Internet. There are various ways to do that by getting reviews, being on lots of lists and telling people about your book, entering contests, getting interviewed like this.

Can you tell us about Treble Hearts the e-publishing co. you use?

The publisher of Treble Heart Books published a mystery of mine called Guilt by Association and it won the best mystery/suspense award for that year. I approached Lee Emory, the publisher and now a friend, about publishing Deeds of Darkness, another Christian horror, and though I think she was a bit unsure about it, she gave me a contract. Once that one came out, she was willing to publish "Cup of Demons." Treble Hearts has good editors and Lee Emory works hard for her authors.

General advice for aspiring novelists?

Be sure that you have self-edited your book to the best of your ability and if possible, had someone who knows about editing take a look at it so it's as good as it can possibly be before you send it off to a publisher. Follow the publisher's guidelines and only submit the kind of book that they publish.

Do you have dreams for your writing future?

My goal is to get all my books published that I've written before I die. People always laugh when I say that, but after all, I am a great-grandmother and I've written lots of books.

What's next for you?

I have a book called "Wishing Makes It So" that's a novel of suspense that has Christian elements in it. It's about what happens when bad things happen to a good family. It's much darker than my usual writing. This one is coming from Hard Shell Word Factory, another excellent e-publisher who has published other books of mine.

Parting words?

The publishing world has changed greatly since I was first published. Though the major publishers are not as easy to break into as they once were, mainly because they are looking for block-busters, there are lots of smaller independent publishers out there both e-publishers and traditional who are looking for good manuscripts. The biggest difference between a published author and one who isn't is the published author didn't give up.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Author Interview ~ Maureen Lang

Maureen Lang is the recipient of RWA’s Golden Heart Award and ACFW’s Noble Theme (now The Genesis). She’s an active member of RWA, ACFW, CAN (Christian Authors Network) and several workshop/critique groups both face-to-face and online. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and three children.

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

I’m very excited to tell you about PIECES OF SILVER, my Inspirational historical from Kregel that is out as of March, 2006. Liesel Bonner has never had her patriotism questioned—until America joins the First World War and Germany becomes the enemy. Now anyone with a German name is suddenly suspect. Worse, Liesel realizes the man she thought she was going to marry isn’t at all who she believed him to be. She suddenly faces an impossible decision: remain loyal to America and betray this man, or be loyal to him and betray America. Only the handsome federal agent who turned her life upside down can help her now.

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’d been seriously pursuing publication for about three years before receiving an email from Kregel stating their desire to publish my book. That first moment was wild: giddy, I suppose, quickly followed by disbelief, then back to giddy in between prayers of thanksgiving. I called my husband, then my mom, in between re-reading the email to make sure I’d read it right.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

The older I get, the more I realize there is a whole generation of women out here who have self-doubts in just about every area of life. I’m hopeful the next generation coming up has less of this, although I’m sure that insecurity will be replaced by some other flaw since we’re all human! Basically I do suffer from self-doubt in my work, mostly when I’m away from writing for a while. I forget the enjoyment I felt while creating. Then I might read something that’s particularly well done and think mine can’t possibly compare. But when I’m in the midst of a project, these feelings are almost never there. I just enjoy writing too much. Which is why, I suppose, I like to work so much!

What’s the worst mistake you’ve made while seeking publication?

Probably not following through with every opportunity to submit work to an editor I’ve met at a conference. This is like throwing away a chance, not to mention the money spent to attend that conference. I’m also a bit slow about submitting things, I tend not to like simultaneous submissions, and I probably take too long to get over a rejection so that slows down the submission time, too. I admire people who have proposals out everywhere, who have the organizational skills needed to follow up on things, who somehow get answers to inquiries where I’m more a wait-and-then-wait-some-more kind of gal.

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

I once heard Robin Lee Hatcher say when she finishes a book she’s not sure she has another one in her. Imagine that, after so many successful books! But that’s exactly how I feel when I finish something. Can I do it again? Sometimes I’m not so sure. But just knowing I’m not the only one to have felt something like this makes it seem less daunting and more common, easier to get over.

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

I recently heard one writer tell another to start submitting her work before the book was finished, just to get it “out there” and give her more incentive to finish the project. For a first-time author, this is horrible advice. Publishers rarely buy on contract from someone without a track record, and I firmly believe submitting something before it’s ready is literary suicide for that particular project. Do it enough times to the same editor, and it’s literary suicide for that author.

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

That I would still have to clean the toilet after I got published. Translation: life doesn’t change much after a dream comes true. There are still problems, some new, some old.

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

Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

I just love the Bible – it has the most beautiful language ever written. But more than that, Scripture proves to me that God has designed us to be receptive to the power of the written word. Now obviously God’s Word is the MOST powerful, but it stands to reason He wired all of us up to be speakers and hearers of words that touch others. Isn’t it an awesome thing to use words to touch another life?

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

My debut Inspirational, PIECES OF SILVER, is actually my second entrance in the publishing field. A long time ago I wrote secular romances, but I became a single parent and suddenly couldn’t find the energy or the time to continue in a field that didn’t pay very well. Years later, when life settled down again, I thought I might take another stab at it. By then I was remarried, with another child on the way.

But that baby turned out to be my precious Grant, who has Fragile X Syndrome. We learned he was mentally retarded when he was around seventeen months old, and for a time I thought I would never write again. Life was just too hard to consider wanting to experience it through writing along with just getting up in the morning.

But God drew me back to peace, and I knew when I started writing again this time nothing would stop me. I hoped to be published within five years of that time and there were moments in those first couple of years that I wondered if God intended for me to write professionally again. Maybe He wanted the writing to be just between us. Those doubts, while real, never lasted long so I’ve kept at it and now I can’t imagine NOT writing for as large an audience as possible.

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

Peace Like A River by Leif Enger is probably the strongest writing I’ve ever enjoyed. I also love Eve’s Daughters by Lynn Austin, W. Dale Cramer’s Bad Ground, and Deeanne Gist’s A Bride Most Begrudging. And tons of others! I love books!

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

Well, I am proud of the book that’s out now, PIECES OF SILVER. I think the plot works well, and it was a lot of fun to put the characters in tough places and then make things worse for them. Hey, the light won’t seem bright unless you’re in a black moment, right?

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

How long everything takes! It seems all I ever do is wait! I hate waiting!

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

I’m up early and I start the day with breakfast, a short quiet time with the Lord, then email. After that I get my boys off to school, and then I sit down to write. I must admit I’m happiest when I’m in the midst of a project. Between books I’m restless, a tad bit crabby judging by the fact that I don’t want to be around myself so I’m sure most others feel the same. I normally write from 8 in the morning until 1 in the afternoon, then I break for lunch and if I get another half hour in before my son comes home around two, I’m lucky.

Then I’m busy with family and house demands, so my day is pretty much over. I do end the day with some reading, however, which I also consider part of my writing life. Usually I’m researching something and have a history book or two checked out from the library, but I also use the evenings to read fiction. It’s so important to keep feeding your mind with good writing!

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

I would love to possess the concise clarity of words that Leif Enger uses when he creates an image that zings from his book indelibly into the reader’s mind. He doesn’t waste a word; they’re all right where they’re supposed to be.

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

I want to do what every other fiction author wants: to touch others with a story or a character, to have someone read my book and say: “Yes, I’ve felt exactly that way, too.” There’s a connection, a sort of community for that moment, even though I’ll never meet that person. But, in heaven, we might meet because we’ll have the time to meet absolutely everyone eventually, and maybe we’ll have that sense of community again and it’ll be even better because we’ll be in heaven. Does that sound silly? I hope not, because I have this feeling heaven will be one huge community with an intimacy we can’t achieve down here.

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

Before receiving my first contract – yes, just ask my husband! It’s not worth the pain of rejection. I’ll just write for me and God. But since getting my first contract with a Christian publisher? No, not yet, although I suppose it’s a bit early with only one Inspirational under my belt. Ask me again in a few years, and I might have a different answer!

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

My favorite part of being a writer is writing. Creating a story out of my imagination, where things seem to fit together as if they’ve been there all the time, waiting for me to discover them.

My least favorite part is contemplating speaking in front of an audience. I’m scheduled for a couple of events this year, and I’m already worried about it. I’ve been writing for many years and I know I have lots to share, but I would prefer to just write out the speech and have someone else give it.

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

I’ve had some promotional items made up which were fun to put together – pens and sticky notes, a post card with an image of the great cover Kregel gave my book. I mailed a post card to many bookstores in my state and the surrounding ones, and it was actually more fun than I expected. I’m not sure of results since this is my first venture into this sort of thing, but for a first book – I definitely recommend it because it all helps you to believe it’s really, finally, happening. I also have a couple of book signings scheduled, but I’ll only do those with other authors so we’ll at least have each other to talk to!

Parting words?

I’d like to encourage other writers out there to keep at it. I know everything in this business is harder than it first appears, that it takes longer, that the competition is tougher than ever. But writing itself, if you’re wired for it, is the real blessing. God can teach you things about yourself, about this life He’s given you, about Who He is, all through the written word. There’s nothing else like it, because it’s just you and Him and that computer. And that’s all you need for writing.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A new market for historical romance!

Steeple Hill's Executive Editor just sent an e-mail to authors announcing the news that in October 2007, Steeple Hill will launch a new series, Love Inspired Historical.

They'll be looking for 75-85K, and the stories can be just about any time period except Colonial America and the Civil War.

Ah, the progress

This news story from MSNBC: An Afghan man faces the death penalty for converting to Christianity.

Because of the controversy, the state is anxious to drop the case, clinging to a possible insanity defense.

Read the story here.

Dealing with rejection

Rejection is part of life--from the moment you're the last kid picked for the kickball team, to the crush you had on that guy who asked out your best-friend instead.

It's ironic that writers tend to be hypersensitive people and the moment we try and get our work into the hands of publishers, we are met with a stream of seemingly non-stop rejection.

Of course this has never happened to me having been the captain of my highschool's cheerleading team, valedictorian, prom queen, and best-selling novelist (I write under a pen name, shh), but for the rest of you sorry saps, here's a link with some tips for dealing with the insecurities that come along with criticism and rejection.

Click here to read

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

You can stop crossing your fingers now

I just heard this morning that River Oak is suspending its fiction line. They are a division of Cook Communications. The River Oak authors who passed on this information stated that River Oak is honoring the contracts they already have. They are simply not acquiring new works at this time. They sited a saturated market as one of the reasons for this change.

Whether River Oak is going to be cut all together or sold, I don't know.

So, if you're like me and have proposals with them, you can safely stop crossing your fingers and move on.

Author Interview ~ Ann Tatlock

Ann Tatlock is a novelist whose books have received numerous awards, including the Christy Award, the Silver Angel Award from Excellence in Media, and the Midwest Book Award for General Fiction. She has a master’s degree in communications from Wheaton College and spent five years as an editor with Decision magazine (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) before leaving to pursue fiction writing full-time.

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

Things We Once Held Dear, my fifth book with Bethany House, just came out in January 2006. It’s contemporary fiction dealing with family relationships, though it includes a touch of romance, a taste of the real-life history of a small Ohio town, and a subplot of murder and mystery. I wrote the story in part to examine the nature of truth: that truth is revealed rather than fabricated in the human mind.

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 fiction for 11 years before I knew my first contract was on the way (and two more years would pass before the book was actually published). When I first felt called to writing, I pictured myself as a journalist. My master’s degree is in print journalism from Wheaton College. I never dreamed of writing fiction. But when, in my mid-20s, I went through a time of loss, I realized I needed a new way to express my grief. So I started writing stories.

It wasn’t long before I knew that fiction writing would be more than just a form of self-therapy for me. I started writing with my sights set on publishing. I’d write every evening after work (I was an editor for Decision magazine) and on weekends. But it took me a long time to get up the nerve to approach a publisher.

I’d finish a novel, tell myself it wasn’t good enough, put it aside and start another one. I did try sending one to a publisher once (it ended up forgotten on a shelf--see question below about my worst mistake) and was eventually rejected. Finally, after writing some seven novels, I met my future husband, who stepped in and found me an agent who, within about six months, found a publisher who liked my work. I suppose I’d still be writing novels only to put them aside if it weren’t for Bob and the agent. (It helps to have someone around who believes in you.)

I learned my first novel was accepted when Carol Johnson, VP Editorial/Fiction at Bethany House, called to ask me a question while she was working on the contract. I asked--rather timidly, I suppose--“Does this mean you’re going to publish the novel?” She assured me that that was the plan. I believe I called my dad as soon as we hung up. Then I put on my coat--it was a cold April day in Minnesota--and went out to walk by the lake and thank my Heavenly Father. I’ll never forget standing there looking out over the water; I felt as though my life and my calling had finally met.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

Yes. I always will. Self-doubt is simply an occupational hazard for most writers.

What’s the worst mistake you’ve made while seeking publication?

Being too afraid to call a publishing house to find out why they hadn’t responded to my manuscript. Finally, some nine months later, I learned it had been sitting on a shelf, forgotten.

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

Very often the strongest careers grow slowly. Some people’s careers are like shooting stars: they burst onto the scene quickly, but they also die out quickly. Be content to take your time.

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

“Write quickly, pouring out all your ideas on the page as fast as you can. Then go back and rewrite later.” Doesn’t work for me. I write very slowly, with long thought-filled pauses between sentences. I don’t necessarily recommend my method for other writers--it just seems to be the way my brain functions.

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

As long as it took me to get published, I believe now that everything happened at the right time and in the right way, according to God’s plan. On a personal level, before I was published, I wish I’d spent less time wondering whether my desire was simply a pipe dream and more time trusting God to bring about what he had put in my heart to do. I persevered over the years, but too often with the sense of “you might as well just give up; you’ll never be a published author….”

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

Yes, John 14:6: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.’” We live in an age of relativism. Our culture tells us that whatever we want the truth to be, that’s what it is. Well, guess what? That simply isn’t true. Some truths are relative, but the truth that leads to salvation is an absolute. Truth is a Person. We can’t decide what we want truth to be, because Jesus told us what Truth is.

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

Anything written by Frederick Buechner. He’s a writer of rare sensitivity and genius. My favorites are “The Sacred Journey” and “A Longing for Home.” Also, the published diaries and letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She was a natural wordsmith, with an amazingly keen eye for detail. She was a person aware of every moment of life while she lived it.

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

I guess I feel good about “All the Way Home.” Somebody must have liked it because it won a 2003 Christy Award and the 2002 Midwest Book Award for fiction. More than that, it was a world I loved stepping into for a time. Researching (reading real stories about real people) and writing that novel gave me a greater appreciation for the human spirit and the strength that comes from faith in God.

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

A window into my life would offer the view of a person sitting at a computer. Not very exciting. But my life is so full I wouldn’t trade it for anything. With most writers, it’s the inner life that’s rich and satisfying rather than the outer life. Some writers are also adventurers, but someone like me--well, the day starts at 5:15 with some time of Bible reading and prayer. Then, after my daughter goes off to school for the day, I revel in the quiet and solitude and give the imagination free reign. It’s so much fun!

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

I have to go back to Frederick Buechner and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I strive for the freshness of description that seemed to come naturally to them.

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

I sometimes joke that I would like to be successful, but not until after I’m dead. Kind of like Emily Dickinson, who published only seven poems--and those anonymously--in her lifetime. I’m very much a behind-the-scenes person and am content to live a quiet life. So my plan for myself is just to go on writing and living a quiet life, exactly as I’m doing now, unless the Lord lets me know there’s something else He wants me to do.

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

Quite honestly, yes. I still sometimes think I should stop writing and get a job with a regular paycheck. But the thing is, if I quit writing, I might as well quit breathing.

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

I love everything about writing--doing the research, listening to my characters as they tell me who they are, facing the challenge of getting the words down on paper. I love the whole process of being creative. My least favorite part is wrestling with the uncertainties, the doubts and the fears that are an on-going part of this journey. Once I’ve finished creating, is anyone else going to like what I’ve done?

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

My general strategy is to finish a book, throw it out there, then sit back and see what happens. (I think someone needs to give me some advice. Marketing isn’t my strong suit.)

Parting words?

Sometimes people wonder about the use of reading fiction. Is it worthwhile to read a story that isn’t even true, that someone simply made up? Well, Jesus was Himself a fiction writer. He often used parables to teach his followers about God and the Kingdom of Heaven. For instance, He could have simply told us that God loves us and left it at that, but He made it more real by telling us that God is the shepherd who goes after the lost sheep and rejoices over the sheep once it’s found. That gives us a concrete image to hold on to. Literary images help us to see in our minds what we can’t yet see with our eyes.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Author Interview ~ Max Anderson

Max Elliot Anderson literally grew up in the film production business. His father, Ken Anderson, was the founder of Gospel Films in Muskegon, Michigan, and later, Ken Anderson Films. At the age of eight Max was "killed" by a hit-and-run driver, while riding his bike in one of his father's motion pictures. But, since the film was being shot in black & white, the blood came out of a chocolate syrup bottle.

Mr. Anderson writes action/adventure book for children.

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

Thank you for this opportunity to talk about the writing process. My latest book is due out in March. Reckless Runaway tells the story of a boy who believes that, because his parents have to discipline him, that means they don’t love him. Along with his dog, Barney, he sets out to teach them a lesson. But that’s not how it turns out. He is the one who learns a valuable lesson that will stay with him for the rest of his life.

You've finished 34 manuscripts in about three years. Tell us how you are able to be so productive.

While waiting for my client based video production business to return, I had a lot of excess time, and no place to use my creative energy. The first book was extremely difficult to write, but I pressed ahead anyway. Then, when that first manuscript was completed, it was very much like having the cork come out of the bottle. I was inundated with story ideas. These came in one of three places; while driving, mowing the lawn, or in the shower. Each had its own difficult circumstances. When a new story comes, it comes all at once, like a flood. Early on, I used to try to write it all down. Now I use a small recorder to tell myself the story.

My normal schedule, when the next book is clearly to be written, is to write every evening from around six to about ten. I try to finish three chapters in a session like that. I work longer hours on weekends and holidays. This leaves me with large blocks of time for other things since the writing goes in spurts like that.

Each time I finished one story, there were at least half-a-dozen waiting to be next. It’s that way now. I could start any one of about a dozen stories. And it’s very clear which story is next. I’ve slowed down a little because there aren’t enough outlets for all those manuscripts, and because it looks like I’ll be working on more videos soon.

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 began writing just after 9/11. The reason I started was because most of my video production clients headed for the hills. This has lasted until just very recently. So, this left me wondering what to do. I began writing mysteries and adventures, primarily for boys, that I would have enjoyed as a child. The reason for this was because I grew up hating to read. The first book was published in September of 2003, and Reckless Runaway will be my 8th. How I heard was through a series of emails and phone calls.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

That only happened very early on until some other authors and avid readers responded so positively to my early work. Ever since then, I’ve never looked back. For some examples of what I’ve heard about these books, you could read over 30 pages of reviews at

What’s the worst mistake you’ve made while seeking publication?

I can’t think of any just now. When I began, and the first book was actually published, I set out on a five year plan. Right now, I’m ahead of that schedule.

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

Find a need and fill it. I looked at the market, studied hundreds of kid’s books, and didn’t find anything that answered my deepest questions about why I didn’t like to read. Once I realized certain patterns, it was full speed ahead. I’ve just completed writing the 34th manuscript called Danger Mountain, and am ready to start another.

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

For me it was, “You have to write something every day.” I’m very project orientated. I guess that comes from so many years in film and video production. But, I get tunnel vision when it comes time to write a book. I write as the story unfolds, even though I do have research notes and a skeleton outline. The most extreme example of this tunnel vision happened when I wrote the first draft of Legend of the White Wolf in three days.

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

I’ve been real satisfied with learning as I go. I’ve become a student of the publishing business both from the writing and the marketing/promotion sides. So far there haven’t been any major surprises, but that’s because I gave a lot of thought to the process before the first book came out.

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

That’s an easy one. Proverbs 3: 5 – 6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.

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

This is the funny part. My books are being compared to some of the great standards of children’s literature, and I’ve never read any of those books. Now I’m trying to help others develop a lifelong love of reading.

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

Since I write mostly mystery / adventure books for kids, each book feels like one of my own children. In that light, it’s impossible to like one over another. I think the one-and-only magazine story I’ve ever sold probably gives me a sense of pride because it put my name out in front of a national audience for a brief time. The story is An Unexpected Song in the May / June, 2005 issue of Guideposts’ Angels on Earth.

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

Lack of information as to how books are doing in the market would be at the top. With each royalty statement, it’s a little like waiting for Christmas.

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

I think the process would be more instructive because I don’t have a typical day as such.
I always burn a candle while I’m writing. It helps me focus on the task at hand, and to zero in. I only burn it while writing. I keep a lot of props around for inspiration. These are things that help set the mood, like the chipmunk I caught, two days in a row, while writing Forest of Fear. I play mood appropriate music to help my brain get into the mood of the scene. I never read a manuscript until I’ve finished the first draft. Most of the time I’m pleasantly surprised at what’s in there.

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

There are several authors who come to mind, but it would be to have a name that is recognized in then general marketplace. I realize that takes time, and I’m doing all that I can to make that happen.

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

It’s actually a step beyond the business of writing. Because of my film production history, I’d love to see the day when one or more of my adventure / mysteries were to be made into a motion picture. The truth is, as I’m writing them, they are already films in my mind. I sometimes slip, in conversation, and refer to them as films. Then I have to catch myself and remember that they’re just books at this stage.

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


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

While I’m actually working, writing the next book, I’m at perfect peace. It’s the most fun thing I’ve ever done in my life. I look forward to each new project because it’s such a positive experience for me. I don’t have a least favorite. Writing is pure pleasure for me.

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

This is where I spend the bulk of my time. I would advise writers to start on this process as early as possible. Develop your contact lists, find potential reviewers, look for interview possibilities (like this one) and do everything you can to make connections. It is in the marketing area that I would agree, you should do something to advance your books every day.

Parting words?

Well, even though I believe what is happening is in God’s perfect timing, I wish I could have discovered the ability to write about ten or fifteen years ago. I’m 59 now. I also find it sad how so many independent Christian bookstores are going out of business. Where this will all lead is uncertain. As the big get bigger, it will make it even more difficult for new people to become a part of the process. The reality is that there are over 85,000 publishers who cranked out something like 185,000 new titles in 2005 alone. But I would say to anyone, find a need and fill it. Believe in what you’re doing. And, if God has truly called you to write, no one and nothing can stop you but yourself.

Max Elliot Anderson

NEWSPAPER CAPER, TERROR AT WOLF LAKE, NORTH WOODS POACHERS, MOUNTAIN CABIN MYSTERY, BIG RIG RUSTLERS, SECRET OF ABBOTT'S CAVE, LEGEND OF THE WHITE WOLF, & RECKLESS RUNAWAY are compared by readers and reviewers to Tom Sawyer, The Hardy Boys, Huck Finn, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, Scooby-Doo and adventure author Jack London.REVIEWS: