Janice: Welcome to my blog, Marsha. Thanks for agreeing to do this blog-interview with me.
Marsha: It’s my privilege. Thank you for inviting me.
Janice: When I first “met” you via Helping Hands Press and your website, I realized you are a multi-published, multi-genre writer. Tell us what genres you write and how you came to each.
Marsha: I guess you can say I’ve been around the block concerning writing different genres. Over twenty years ago I started writing poems, short stories, and human interest articles for magazines, all of which have been frequently published. Ten years later after working on my craft, I had my first book published, DRAW ME CLOSER, LORD, a Bible study guide about prayer. I’ve also published YOU’VE DECIDED TO HOMESCHOOL, NOW WHAT?, a helps book for parents who are considering homeschooling their children. Next I moved into the fiction arena, publishing my eight-book tween Keystone Stables Series with Zonderkidz, which became a best seller. I also published three stand-alones: THE SECRET OF THE BATTY, RICKIE RIDES TO THE RESCUE, and THE SECRET OF WOLF CANYON. My latest publications include a three-book series, THE LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY and THE SNYDER COUNTY QUILTING BEE SHORT STORIES (SETS ONE AND TWO), fiction works which introduce readers to the Amish and Mennonite culture in Snyder County, PA. Right now I’m back in the tween fiction genre, working on another girl/horse novel, SNOW, PHANTOM STALLION OF THE POCONOS.
Janice: That’s quite a variety of genres. In reviewing your book list, I noticed a definite interest in horses. What breeds do you have? Why do you base so many of your junior reader fiction on horses?
Marsha: You might say I was born with a silver stirrup in my mouth. I’ve loved horses as long as I can remember. Although I no longer have horses, I owned them for over twenty years (mostly Quarter Horses and Tennessee Walkers), overlapping the time my hubby and I had foster children. Thus, my juvenile fiction books all involve horses and kids. Many of the fiction stories are based on experiences I’ve had in the past. When you put kids and horses together, there’s bound to be a good story!
Janice: I believe it, and your books are proof. What’s your writing schedule / process?
Marsha: If I can write for four hours a day, it’s a good day. I’ve learned to write with noise in the background. My elderly parents lived with me for 15 years. My best hours are from ten a.m. to two or three p.m. I enjoy sitting with my laptop either on my sofa in the living room or on my back porch overlooking our yard that has a small garden pond with a little waterfall.
Janice: Sounds relaxing but I know it’s hard work. What’s your favorite part of writing and what’s the most challenging aspect for you?
Marsha: I love the creative process. I enjoy creating characters and breathing life into them. I always tell my conferees at writers’ conferences that good writing is 90% good thinking. The most challenging aspect is, of course, finding a publishing company that would be interested in my work.
Janice: That’s the truth! Tell us a bit about yourself and your life beyond writing.
Marsha: I enjoy gardening, shooting pool—we have a pool table in our basement—playing the organ in church, and reading the Bible and devotionals. I also exercise my thinking skills by playing Scrabble online. I try to keep in shape physically by exercising my fat four times a week on a treadmill, stationary bike, and playing ping pong. I have fat…but it’s in shape!
Janice: (smile) I’m with you there! I noticed from your booklist that you often write series. How do you go about creating a series?
Marsha: A broad outline with ideas for the beginning and end of each book is essential to writing a successful series. The publisher usually has its own ideas, as well, how to develop the series. I don’t know how anyone could write a series by the seat of his/her pants. Detailed planning of character development, plot structures, and story arcs for each book in the series is a must.
Janice: You write for both junior and adult readers. How does the writing differ for these audiences?
Marsha: Besides the length of the manuscripts, difficulty levels of vocabulary vary. As a Christian, I write with my Christian readers in mind, being careful to develop discreet scenes and use language that is not offensive at any age. My ultimate goal is to honor the Lord with my writing.
Janice: I’m glad to hear it, and I pray that God will continue to bless your writing. How involved are you in social media and what do you see as the assets / liabilities of these media for writers today?
Marsha: For the longest time, I tried to ignore the e-book craze and social media, but authors can no longer ignore the fact that the market has changed dramatically in the last five to ten years. I’m saddened at the closing of so many bookstores, which has made personal appearances for authors more difficult. However, the social media opportunities online have balanced that equation. An author who avoids the Internet has his head in the sand. Hundreds, even thousands of contacts can be made online in an hour whereas it would take months or years to meet that many folks in person.
Janice: So true. What kinds of books do you enjoy reading for pleasure? What are you currently reading?
Marsha: Of course, I like to read the genres for which I write, so over the years, I’ve read my share of tween girl/horse books and Amish fiction. My favorite book is the Bible (herein lie the words to eternal life), and I read missionary letters/periodicals and devotionals. I also read “how to write” books to improve my writing skills. I just finished reading SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS by Renni Browne and Dave King.
Janice: I have that book in my library too, a great resource. In your opinion, how important is research in fiction writing and how do you go about it?
Marsha: Although fiction is mostly “made up,” I believe an author needs to be as factual as possible with scenes, descriptions, and character development to be credible. I’ve done my share of research for all my fiction books. For example, I’ve interviewed firemen for a barn fire scene, I’ve questioned a veterinarian friend numerous times about health issues of horses, and I’ve quizzed some of my Plain Folk friends to the Nth degree to be accurate in my LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY books.
Janice: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Marsha: To improve their craft, beginning writers MUST be members of a critique group, either local or online, and they should attend as many writers’ conferences as possible. All writers at different levels of experience need these two helps to improve their skills and eventually be published. Even after twenty years of publishing my work, I still cannot say, “I’ve arrived.”
Janice: Thanks very much for this interview and for your helpful suggestions. It’s been fun to get to know you better.
Marsha: I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts with you and your readers. I trust it’s been an encouragement. Thanks again.
Marsha Hubler, author of the best-selling tween Keystone Stables Series, lives in central PA with her husband and two dogs. Her latest published works, THE LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY SERIES and THE SNYDER COUNTY QUILTING BEE SERIES 2 SHORT STORIES, Amish/Mennonite fiction romance by Helping Hands Press, was created out of Marsha’s friendship with many Plain Folk who live in Snyder County. She has 16 books in print and dozens of articles and short stories.
A frequent speaker at writers’ conferences, she has a passion to help beginning writers get their work primed for publication. Visit Marsha at her website, http://www.marshahubler.com and her blog that features writers’ tips for all genres and Amish and Mennonite traditions: http://www.marshahubler.wordpress.com
Check out Marsha’s social media links below:
AUTHOR PAGE AT AMAZON:http://www.amazon.com/author/marshahubler
MY WRITERS’ TIPS & AUTHORS’ BLOG: http://marshahubler.wordpress.com/
MY LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY FAN PAGE ON MY BLOG: http://marshahubler.wordpress.com/the-loves-of-snyder-county/
MY HORSE FACTS’ BLOG FOR MY FANS: http://horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com/