Ronie Kendig has a BS in Psychology and is a wife, mother of four, and avid writer. Her novels include Dead Reckoning (March 2010, Abingdon Press) and Nightshade (July 2010, Barbour Publishing), Book#1 in The Discarded Heroes series. She speaks to various groups, volunteers with the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and mentors new writers. Ronie can be found atwww.roniekendig.com.
Do you think an author is born or made?
Wow, the whole nature vs. nurture thing, huh? Well, I think it’s a little of both. There are many out there who could write if they would apply themselves and stick with it. But I think there are definitely writers out there who have a gift with words. The way they string together words is pure poetry. My “twin” and critique partner, Dineen Miller, is one of these.
What is the first book you remember reading?
At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?
In September 2007, my agent and I met at the ACFW conference. God orchestrated it so Steve and I could chat without anyone else around. I shared with him how I was having a hard time with some critiques (I was involved with many more writers than I am today). Steve leaned across the table, narrowed his eyes, and pointed at me as he said, “Ronie, you know when a story works. Trust that. Stop second-guessing yourself and letting others tear you down.” I admit I am very sensitive person. Some have seen this as a downfall, a negative. I see it as a tremendous blessing because I am very compassionate and empathetic, and these qualities have helped me craft deeper characters. Without the admonishment and encouragement from Steve, I don’t know that I would be as confident in what I write as I am now. (Thanks, Steve!)
Are takeaway messages (in your book) important to you?
Absolutely. I pray that in every book I write, the reader experiences a measure of hope and certainty. My books won’t have preachy chunks of scripture-quoting (not that I think that’s wrong—for some books/authors, it’s perfect!). My faith is a natural part of who I am and how I live. I’m not an in-your-face person, so I think that the elements of faith and hope tend to be more subtle . . . unless I’m writing an in-your-face character (like Max Jacobs from Nightshade). There is a message in every story I write. I’m not up to empty stories that impart no truth or value.
When do you know you’ve got the finished product and it’s your best effort?
In conjunction with the answer about juggling suggestions from critique partners, I’ve learned to listen to the “radar” that keeps me writing better. If my radar goes off, I stop and try to figure out what’s off. It can be something as small as wrong dialogue. If I can’t figure out what’s wrong, then I chuck the scene and rewrite it fresh. As I write, if something still tugs at my mind as “hmm, wonder if people will think that’s cheesy . . . “ then I go back and tweak it, chuck it—whatever it takes to make it stronger.
Realize that you both should be working toward the same goal: making your book the best it can be. The editor has a vested (financial) interest in making your book saleable. You have a vested (emotional) interested in seeing it fly off the shelves. I try hard to keep that in my mind as I work through edits. Everyone says you have to have thick skin to make it in this business. For me, I’ll never have thick skin. It’s not who I am. But I do know how to handle a hard edit. I know how to separate the two. Thankfully, I have a couple of good friends who allow me groaning and mumblings without thinking ill of me. Then, I kick into gear and get the edit done.
Don’t settle. Make every word count—and keep it short, to the point. The focus should be your story, not necessarily you, although that’s a good selling point (this “advice” assumes it’s a fiction piece). Keep the blurb about your story to something eye-catching and compelling.
How much marketing/publicity do you do? Any advice in this area?
In all honesty, this is the most difficult aspect of being an author for me. Lock me away for days with nothing but an IV of fluids and a laptop, and I’m good. Ask me to market my latest book and I’m catatonic.
Writing is one of many journeys in life. It is no more or less important than others. However, if the mission you are on is only fulfilling to you, then I challenge you to broaden your horizon; reach out to others. We’re not alone in this world.