Archive for the ‘Fellow Author Feature’ Category

JAN: I am pleased to be able to interview another of my fellow Canadian authors today. Sandra Orchard, welcome to my blog.

Sandra Orchard

How long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

SANDRA: I started writing my first novel in the autumn of 2006. I’d been contemplating the idea for a while, then my husband, in desperation over the books piling up around our bedroom, suggested I write my own and so my journey began.

JAN: What’s your preferred genre?

SANDRA: I enjoy writing both mysteries and romantic suspense.

JAN: How and where do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

SANDRA: I write on my laptop sitting in a gravity chair. I actually prefer to write longhand and used to when my daughter was still at home and would type out the pages for me. I’m a plotter, although I have “pantsed” the ending of several novels, when the villain didn’t turn out to be who I’d planned.

JAN: That’s fascinating. Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?

SANDRA: Ideas come to me from anywhere and everywhere—while reading articles, watching the news or a movie, during conversations, while driving, hiking, kayaking and more or less minding my own business. I might see a detour sign and imagine what my heroine would face at the other end. My Serena Jones Mysteries were initially inspired by an article about a Montreal art crime detective.

JAN: I’ve often wondered where that unique idea came from. How do you research and how do you know you can trust your sources?

SANDRA: I do extensive research. Over the years I have connected with trusted advisors in law enforcement, the fire department, the medical fields, the FBI and in occupations pertinent to the characters I am creating. For my Serena Jones Mysteries, I traveled to St. Louis to explore the city where Serena lives and to visit the FBI headquarters where she works and to interview her “colleagues.” I explored numerous art museums, read countless books on art crime, authored by the founder of the FBI’s art crime team, and top art crime detectives in the UK, NYC and California, and even a couple written by art thieves. I like to have a strong sense of the motivation driving both my heroes and my villains after all.

JAN: That sounds like a lot of work; it makes the story more credible when I know you’ve done your research well. So tell me, what do you like most / least about writing?

SANDRA: I love brainstorming new stories, especially with fellow writers and specialists. And I love the research, which inevitably spawns lots of potential directions and rabbit trails for the plot to take. I even enjoy editing. It’s a wonderful feeling to know the story is done and to be able to polish it until it really shines. My least favourite part, ironically, is the actual writing. It didn’t used to be that way. It is a side effect of having to write to deadlines and be creative and productive on a schedule.

JAN: Yes, creativity and deadlines are sometimes at odds. What are your favorite / most effective social media?

SANDRA: I love interacting with readers on Facebook. I don’t really participate in other venues. I have a presence on Pinterest and Goodreads, but I don’t hang out there.

JAN: It obviously takes a lot of time to research, write and market. How do you balance professional time with personal time?

SANDRA: Much better than I used to. I used to write and/or work at marketing as much as twelve hours a day. After my young grandson’s near fatal accident in 2016, I took five months off to be with him and the family in the hospital through his recovery. Since then I’ve been writing cozy mysteries for Annie’s Attic, which are only available through mail or e-book subscription, so no marketing is required on my part. This gives me much more time to spend with my young grandchildren.

JAN: Life has a way of highlighting priorities, doesn’t it? I didn’t know about Annie’s Attic. Must go there. What are you currently reading? Do you prefer digital or print?

SANDRA: I am currently reading a Mary Conneally historical romance novel. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a historical. It’s a nice change of pace. I prefer to read on my old kindle that reads like paper (not backlit), because I can enlarge the print and comfortably read for hours.

JAN: What keeps you going in your writing career?

SANDRA: The encouragement of my loyal readers to keep writing.

JAN: What are some things you learned from your own writing?

SANDRA: As I work through the goals and motivations, flaws and epiphanies of my various characters, I inevitably examine and work through my own perspectives on what they’re learning. I’ve also learned to seek the Lord’s inspiration daily. A metaphor he inspired for sea glass in Over Maya Dead Body is a good example of a nugget of truth that really resonated with me:  the sea glass “had once been an ugly piece of broken, useless glass that nobody wanted. But in being pushed around by the waves and roughed up by the rocks and sand, it was transformed into a beautiful, sought-after treasure.”

JAN: Lovely and inspirational. What is your ultimate writing goal?

SANDRA: To write stories that both entertain and inspire. I am continually amazed at the smallest thing in a story that might speak to a particular reader. Recently, it was the fact one of my older secondary characters felt comfortable enough in her own skin that she didn’t feel the need to dye her hair. It made a reader decide that she didn’t need to either.

JAN: That’s cool. Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

SANDRA: Don’t be in a hurry to publish. Enjoy the journey.

JAN: Thanks so much, Sandra, for taking the time to share your journey with us. I wish you God’s rich blessings as you continue on your way.

More about Sandra Orchard

Sandra’s Books

Some of Sandra’s stories


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Today, I’d like to introduce you to a writing friend who also lives in Saskatchewan, Canada. We haven’t known each other long, but I’ve already come to appreciate her enthusiasm and encouraging attitude. Say hello to Donna Gartshore, who writes for Love Inspired, the faith branch of Harlequin.

Donna Gartshore

JAN: Welcome, Donna. Tell us, how long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

DONNA: I honestly don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I was about five or six when I proudly gave my dad, a journalist, a story I’d written about two girls on a picnic who saw a squirrel. I’m sure it had no punctuation! But the thing that stands out for me was how seriously Dad took my efforts. He didn’t just say, “Oh that’s so cute.” He read it carefully and told me what he liked about it, but also how to improve it. I’ve never forgotten that. So, I’ve believed I could be a writer ever since then.

JAN: Who are some people who influenced your decision to be a writer?

DONNA: I guess I partly answered this in the previous question. My dad always treated my writing goals seriously. I have a lot of creative people in my family – playwrights, marketing experts, etc.; books and words are important to us. I also had elementary school teachers who liked my stories and encouraged me. And every time I read a book that contains a descriptive phrase or a moment of revelation that takes my breath away, I think THIS is what I want to do.

JAN: What’s your preferred genre?

DONNA: It might be faster to talk about what I don’t read! I don’t like horror or true crime. I worry enough without bringing that into my life. I read Christian fiction and romance (obviously!). I love Alice Munro’s and Mavis Gallant’s short stories. I love mysteries—Gail Bowen’s are favourites of mine. In general, whatever the genre, I don’t like things that are too preachy or overly sweet. I like to see characters with genuine struggles, so when they find their answers, it’s that much more rewarding. I’ve gained some of my greatest inspiration from the strength of characters in books that aren’t traditionally inspirational.

JAN: Why do you write?

DONNA: I believe in using the talents we are blessed with. I want to show my thanks to God, share ideas, inspire people, help myself understand my views on the world … mostly it feels impossible to imagine not writing.

JAN: How and where do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

DONNA: I like to say that I’m a plotser. I use chapter beats a lot. I have to get down some kind of outline as far as what I hope to accomplish in each chapter and what needs to happen to each character to move forward. But, it’s very fluid and exactly HOW things happen can change a lot as I’m writing. I write at the kitchen table.

JAN: Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?

DONNA: I think I’m inspired by what I don’t know and by what troubles or challenges me. Writing about those things is a way of making peace with myself and with God about things that I don’t understand.

JAN: That makes sense. What do you like most/least about writing?

DONNA: I like most being able to express myself and the feeling of fulfillment it gives me. What I like least are the self-doubts. I was telling my writing group that I’ve actually been experiencing more of those since I got published and I don’t know if anyone but other writers would understand that. I want to try to focus on the joys of the process, rather than being overly worried about when I’m going to get published again.

JAN: Yeah, we think we will have arrived when publication comes, but actually, it means we have lots of work to do, and we’re not always sure we’re up to it. What are some the best methods of promoting your work?

DONNA: I use Facebook and Twitter a lot. The authors with Love Inspired are very good at promoting one another’s work. I was also fortunate to do TV interviews with CTV Noon and Global Morning shows.

JAN: That’s excellent. How do you balance your professional time with personal time?

DONNA: I don’t get enough sleep! I try to do writing early in the mornings. It’s never easy to get out of bed but I know myself well enough to know that I feel less motivated after work than I do before. Right now, I am writing mornings and evenings because I’m trying to get a project done by the end of the month. But I still try to wrap up by 9 pm so I have time for other things before bed.

JAN: What are you currently reading? Do you prefer digital or print?

DONNA: I just finished an oldie but a goodie: Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow. I prefer print; no contest.

JAN: What are some of your favourite things? What makes you unique?

DONNA: Hmm, I don’t know about the unique part. I love family time, especially hanging out with my daughter. I like church, I enjoy doing personal Bible study. I like to visit with friends and share chat and laughs. I probably watch too much TV.

JAN: Yes, me too. What keeps you going in your writing career?

DONNA: Probably coming to understand and accept that it’s not always going to be a straight road, that there will be a lot of bumps and ups and downs. I personally like to keep focused on writing because I love to write and not getting bogged down with the career aspects of it. It also helps to share honestly with other writers and to benefit from their experience. We all look “perfect” on Facebook but I know that we all experience challenges in writing and I like to be honest about that.

JAN: That is so true. How is your faith reflected in your writing?

DONNA: As I said earlier, I don’t like things that are too preachy or make faith look like it’s a magic solution to everything. In my books, I try to show how having faith can help people through difficulties and challenging times but they still having to go through the process of getting through and the pain in doing that is still very real.

JAN: What is your ultimate writing goal?

DONNA: I truly just want to keep writing, and keep learning and growing as a writer. If I can do that and show my faith in God in the process, that would be great. On a more secular level, of course I do hope to continue to publish with Love Inspired and also hope to find other avenues to share my work because I also like to write short stories, poetry and devotionals.

JAN: Advice for beginning writer?

DONNA: WRITE! I know so many say that but it’s so true. It always amazes me how many people say they want to write but also say they don’t have time. I will insist that we always make time for the people and things that are truly important to us. Also, I would say, trust yourself, enjoy the process and be true to your own voice.

JAN: Donna, thanks so much for taking time to answer these questions and let us know more about you. Blessings as you continue in your writing career.

DONNA: Thank you, Jan! I had a great time doing this and really appreciate the opportunity.




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Today I am pleased to share an interview with a dear woman who has been a personal friend of mine for more than 25 years. Dee Robertson has been an educator most of her adult life. She grew up in and travelled to many exotic places in her life, and has written several non-fiction books, a children’s three-book series, and many magazine articles. She continually amazes me with her knowledge, wisdom and opinion on many and varied subjects. Take a read of our interview…

Janice: How long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

Dee: In 1962, I travelled with my young son to Venezuela to visit my parents who lived there, only to arrive in Caracas in the middle of a revolution. We were first held in detention, and then shipped out of the country to a small Dutch-owned island. It was all very traumatic. I wrote the story, and The Calgary Herald bought it for twenty dollars—a lot of money for me at the time.

When my second husband and I settled onto an isolated Native reserve on B.C.’s north coast I started writing regularly for several well-known west-coast monthly magazines. I continued to write for those magazines until we moved to Saskatchewan in 1995. Since then I have written and published three adult books and a trilogy of children’s books.

Janice: Who are some of the people who most influenced your decision to write?

Dee: Both of my husbands were very supportive of my writing efforts. In fact, my first husband had to copy out all my early writings on an old Underwood typewriter. I was totally inept at typing! My second husband had the advantage of having a more user-friendly typewriter to help me out. It wasn’t until I got my first computer in 1995 that I did my own typing.

Janice: What is your preferred genre?

Dee: Whether as adventure articles or as memoir, my work has been almost exclusively non-fiction. I tried my hand at a tiny three-volume set of books for children, but since they were about my pets, to me they too were non-fiction. My favorite genre though, is the essay, and it is, I think, in creating essays that I do my best writing.

Janice: Why do you write?

Dee: I suppose it’s a compulsion to put thoughts, ideas, and dreams down on paper. Now, in retirement, I am almost constantly jotting down the whirlings of my brain. At first, they often seem wondrously prescient, but over time, they do seem less so.

Janice: How and where do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Dee: I write at my table in my little “office/computer” room where I can sit and watch hundreds of feeding birds, and be still and peaceful. I jot down random thoughts and ideas that sometimes get developed—or not.

I guess you would say I am a pantser – writing about what moves me or obsesses me at that moment.

Janice: Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?

Dee: My ideas, my inspirations come from my reactions to what I read, what I hear and what I see. A good TED talk can have me madly jotting in reaction to the message—positively or negatively. A well-done documentary film can provide hours of scribbled response. Mostly the notes will go nowhere nor serve any further purpose, but somehow I find pleasure just in recording them.

Janice: How do you research and how do you know you can trust your sources?

Dee: In spite of the frequent questioning of the information provided to us by Google, it is likely no less trustworthy than all the information that our traditional sources have provided us with over the hundreds of years. Everyday a new revelation comes out telling how we have been misled.

Janice: Good point! What do you like most/least about writing.

Dee: I honestly can’t think of what I like least about writing. I just like writing. I thoroughly enjoy editing others’ writing; the challenge of composing messages, reflections or homilies for my church. The focus provided by writing for the many courses and workshops I have attended over the last twenty years has also provided direction. But most of all, I love writing to tell a story, even if the story is only for myself.

Janice: What are you favorite/most effective social media?

Dee: I am not much of a “social media” user. I find most postings on social media at least as ill-informed as I am myself. I do not need collaboration of my own misconceptions.

Janice: Okay then, moving on (smiles)…How do you balance professional time with personal time?

Dee: Since retirement, I am free to do whatever I want. However, without deadlines, commitments, or career obligations, I too often find that “nothing” is what I end up doing. I believe most people operate best under pressure and deadlines. However, from the perspective of eighty years, I think I’ve used most of my time wisely. I have accomplished much of what I would have planned to do, if I had been a planner.

Janice: I like that. What are you currently reading?

Dee: I have just finished reading a book called Rock Creek by Thelma Poirier. The author lived her whole life on ranches in the Rock Creek Valley, which now makes up part of the Grasslands National Park here in Saskatchewan. Since I have lived as a wandering gypsy most of my life, I have great admiration for those who have lived “in place” for generations, and have come to make the place a part of themselves.

Janice: What are some of your favorite things?

Dee: I truly love nature. But I also truly love people, places, travel: the silence of the high Arctic, the hectic liveliness of a tropical village, the ocean in a storm, the diminishing of person when standing on a high mountain, the terror of roaming through bear country, and the quiet aloneness of wandering the trails of Grasslands.

Janice: How is your faith reflected in your writing.

Dee: My faith is inherent in all I see, in all I know and in all I do; it is an integral part of me. My faith is an essential part of all that I write.

Janice: And finally, what advice do you have for a beginning writer?

Dee: It will be the same advice that all writers give to potential writers: just do it! But we must also insist that beginning writers know the importance of re-writing. While taking courses at the local college with young students, I have been quite dismayed by the students’ inability or reluctance to work at improving their writing. They all seemed totally content with their initial production, in spite of, and often with total disregard for, what the instructor has told them.

Janice: Thank you, Dee, for taking the time to visit with me today on my blog. You are and always will be an inspiration.

Dee Robertson











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JANICE: Good morning, Glynis. Thanks for appearing on my blog today. How long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

GLYNIS: Yikes. True confessions. I have been writing all my life, but I will define a time frame of 31 years because that is when I took a 12-week freelance writing course that changed my life. With knees a-knocking I was encouraged to approach our local newspaper and to ask them if they might be interested in a little ‘slice of life’ editorial. They said yes. I was in. I ended up writing that column for 11 years and it was my springboard to much more. God nicely began opening doors for me.

JANICE: Who are some of the people who most influenced your decision to write?

GLYNIS: I think the best influencers in my life, not counting some amazing writers of great books, has to be teachers who said things like, that story really spoke to me, or very good job on that assignment. There was one teacher in particular, Mrs. McLeod. When I first came to Canada, she took me under her wing, protected me from bullies and told me that I could do anything I wanted if I put my mind to it. She encouraged me to write and love literature. My mother, too, was a weaver of words and wrote poetry that both mesmerized and made me chuckle.

JANICE: What’s your preferred genre?

GLYNIS: Oh how I love writing for children. I have won a few awards for some of my stories and let me tell you, there is nothing better than hearing someone say, “My child loves your book and wants me to read it to her every night!”

That said, I love writing short stories too, especially when it is sprinkled with a bit of humour and a lot of hope.

JANICE: Why do you write?

I write because if I didn’t I would explode. And I would likely annoy people because I have so much to say and share and tell the world about and if I couldn’t do that by writing, it may come out in chatter! So I write because I love the way I get to express myself by stringing words together. There is just something extremely pleasing and satisfying about the rhythm of words that thrills me. I have a million stories bubbling inside me and I am excited to share and comfort and offer hope, encourage a soul, make someone laugh; not to mention, I am always amazed that people are interested in what I write.

JANICE: How and where do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

GLYNIS: I am actually a different breed – I call myself a ‘Planster!’I plan sometimes. I write by the seat of my pants other times. If I am writing a book for adults, particularly non-fiction, I do tend to plan a bit more. But most of the time, for short stories, particularly humour, I just write and let each word hold hands and tug me along. Children’s stories, I usually have an idea where I am going but it’s not often I plan that out in a storyboard or the like, unless it’s a lengthy chapter book. I write in my office – some in my family have dubbed it the ‘dungeon.’ But it’s quiet, cluttered (in an organized way) and positively inspiring. I have to have dead silence when I write, though, otherwise my brain, which lends itself to a little attention deficit, engages in even the slightest noise. I am in awe with people (like my daughter) who work with background music or while watching TV.


JANICE: Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?

GLYNIS: I was a private tutor for 18 plus years so much fodder came from my delightfully honest and playful, often care-free students who didn’t mince words. I am fascinated with people in general and sometimes I think I have a little insight into deeper feelings. I watch body language pretty closely and love cheering for the underdog. I can come up with plenty of ideas from a conversation or a sentence dropped. I love titles. Most of the time when I write (anything) I have to have a title first. I love taking notes when listening to sermons. Sometimes I am inspired to write or respond to something that was said and I have ideas popping up all over the place so my notebooks are littered with asterisks.

JANICE: How do you research and how do you know you can trust your sources?

GLYNIS: I admittedly do love how easy it is to search online, but that said, there is nothing like good old book research and even better – conversations with ‘those who were there’ if possible.

JANICE: What do you like most / least about writing?

GLYNIS: I just love the process of writing and how I get to pour words onto the page and see how most of the time, they make sense. I love the actual creation and then I don’t even mind the editing, although I wasn’t always like that. I used to not like when others messed with ‘my baby’ but I have been the recipient of some excellent editing that vastly improved my work and ultimately allowed ‘my baby’ to grow up and mature nicely. As far as what I don’t like – it has to be the marketing. I really dislike plugging my own work and promoting it. I would much sooner love on others and talk about their brilliant work!

JANICE: I can see that from you! What are some of the best methods of promoting your work?

GLYNIS: Oh and look at that! The next question is about promotions. I think having a faithful following is the best. Word of mouth means good sales. I sell a lot of books during speaking engagements and if I have referenced any of my books, that usually results in more sales. I have some good business people in my community who sell my books, and I have a little book boutique in a local grocery store, which actually does pretty good most months – especially at Christmas! Facebook, surprisingly, is a great place for me to get connected with people. I do sell quite a few books this way, too.

JANICE: What are your favorite / most effective social media?

GLYNIS: You might have guessed by now that Facebook is a great place for me. I moderate a private ‘Angel Hope’ group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1508424326062846/ with over 500 members – writers, readers, librarians, editors, bookstore owners and others. We engage in conversation every day and then in the evening I feature a Canadian (usually) published book, article, blogpost, artwork, poetry and more. I have learned so much from this group and our “Angels” as I call the members. It’s a great networking place for writers and others. Another social media that I like – although I should use it more, is Twitter. I am trying to get a little more active on there. I also have a Linked In profile and am on Pinterest, too. But I don’t do much with those (yet). I am also thinking about Instagram but for sure I will need my children or grandchildren to give me a tutorial or two!

JANICE: I enjoy your Angel Hope group, Glynis. You have a lot going on. How do you balance professional time with personal time?

GLYNIS: Personal time? What’s that? Because I have a home office and I also run a little publishing company, I am on the go constantly it seems. But I also care for my 90-year-old father 24/7 so I can’t spend my entire life in my office. My husband and I have made a deal that every morning before we do anything, we meet on the couch in the living-room and have a time of devotion, Bible reading, prayer and some good old one on one conversation. Then we have porridge. It is the best part of the day and a great way to focus before we jump into the craziness and the busyness of both our jobs. If our children need anything or want help or need an ear, we try to drop everything and be there. Weighing priorities gets easier as one gets older.

JANICE: What are you currently reading? Do you prefer digital or print?

GLYNIS: I have a lovely TBR (To Be Read) pile beside my bed and it never shrinks. I am a bedtime reader and love drifting off with a book. I am reading two books right now. One is called Princess Elizabeth. It’s a lovely old book written in 1930 and is all about the childhood of Queen Elizabeth II. I also am working my way through my latest Chicken Soup for the Soul book – Spirit of Canada. I have a story in that volume but am having fun reading everyone else’s stories, too, especially those written by authors I know! Love print books the best but I do have a Kindle for dashing days and waiting times at appointments. I also have my daily devotion on there. But definitely I prefer print books.

JANICE: What are some of your favorite things? What makes you unique?

GLYNIS: I love gardening and am always in awe at the tiny seeds that I plant and then we get to be nourished by such. I always give thanks to God for his wisdom in creation and how well he provides for us. I love family. I adore children – especially my grandchildren. I love animals – dogs, chickens and horses to be exact. I almost feel like I should be singing – raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…! What makes me unique? That is definitely a question you should ask my family. They gave me a drama queen sign. Enough said.

JANICE: What keeps you going in your writing career?

GLYNIS: Well it sure isn’t the monetary payback. I think my desire to spread joy and hope and to do something that I really love doing keeps me clicking the keyboard. I do love positive feedback and especially when people who read my work say things like, “I know exactly what you mean.” “I totally relate.” Finally someone understands.” “Thanks for the encouragement.” “Your words really blessed me.” (Can you tell my love language is Words of Affirmation?)

JANICE: Yes! I understand that! How is your faith reflected in your writing?

GLYNIS: I sure hope the wholesome aspect of my work shines through even if I am not writing for the Christian market. I always try to remember, that when I write I am able to do so because of the passion God has put in my heart. Faith, fun and a wholesome read; these are the goals I want to strive for in my writing. No, not all my books have an obvious faith angle because I want some of my books in the mainstream market and sadly as soon as I mention Jesus, God or Christianity – I get tossed. But I strive to make all my writings for young and not so young God-honouring and filled with encouragement, joy, clean entertainment and a jolly good read.

JANICE: What are some things you learned from your own writing?

GLYNIS: I have learned I am not perfect. I have learned I don’t know everything. I have learned how important editing is. I have learned to have thick skin. I have learned that I need to learn something new every day. I have learned that to love what you do creates passion. I have learned how much I love to help others learn the craft of writing.

JANICE: What is your ultimate writing goal?

GLYNIS: Well, we all would like to be on that best-seller list, but actually it doesn’t bother me to not be on there. Probably my biggest goal is to please God – as cliché as that may sound. I am no great theologian, so profundity and perfection in religious belief will never be part of what I pen. But I love to think I might have tapped into even a little of God’s heart in some of my writing.

Also, I have about five or six half-done writing projects in my computer. I would one day like to see each of these to completion!

JANICE: Advice for beginning writers?

GLYNIS: Two great pearls of wisdom not written by me, but claimed by me many moons ago:

* Write from the heart and you will touch other hearts.

* Cut it down by half and leave nothing out.

And then I would like to top that off by adding:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,

as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

Colossians 3:23

Loosely translated – applied passion!

JANICE: Thanks so much, Glynis, for taking time to visit with me today.

Here’s more about Glynis and her writing.



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JANICE: Today I’m welcoming Sally Meadows to my blog. Sally is an award-winning author and singer/songwriter. Sally, how long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

SALLY: Like many writers, I was drawn to creative writing when I was young. Beyond elementary and high school, writing continued to be an integral part of my work life. From research scientist to editor to children’s entertainer to educator to administrator, I have had the autonomy to incorporate creativity through the written word into a wide range of projects. However, it wasn’t until 2011 that I started getting serious about sending submissions to anthologies and writing contests. In 2013 I took a leap of faith and left my job at an engineering firm to focus full time on writing and music.

JANICE: Who are some of the people who most influenced your decision to write?

SALLY: I had two high school teachers English teachers—Mr. Marland and Miss Kingsbury, both of whom I adored—praise my work and encourage me. I also received the Grade 13 English award. In my first year of university, I took an English course as an elective (I was a science major), and the professor told me that I produced some of the best writing he had ever seen by a first year student. These were all things that I tucked away in my heart and which eventually confirmed for me, that when the time was right, to pursue a career in writing.

JANICE: What’s your preferred genre?

SALLY: I write in a wide range of genres, including short, inspirational true-life stories, informational articles, children’s books, and songs. I have also recently started writing fictional short stories. Part of who I am as a writer is being diverse. It would be hard to say which genre I like best, because I like them all! As the Lord leads, I challenge myself to expand into genres that are new to me.

JANICE: Why do you write?

SALLY: Writing is the best way for me to communicate my thoughts and feelings. The flow of ideas from my mind/heart/soul through my hands is my most effective way to release heartache, make sense of difficult times, raise awareness about causes dear to my heart, share the gospel, and spread joy. It’s cliché but true: I write because I must.

JANICE: How and where do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

SALLY: I have a computer desk that sits in our family room with my official office close by. But I usually bring my computer up to my sunny kitchen with big windows. There is something about writing in close proximity to nature that both calms and energizes me. Although I mostly write on the computer, I occasionally hand write the first draft of an article or story. Regarding the second question, I am more of a plotter when it comes to writing short stories, articles, and children’s stories. I have a really, really good idea of what I want to write already in my mind before I sit down and write. Interestingly enough, when it comes to writing songs, I would say I’m more of a pantser. Usually, a melody line comes to me first. The majority of lyrics come only after I have worked out the entire score on the piano.

JANICE: Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?

SALLY: For the first couple of years, I focused mainly on writing autobiographical stories. I still get inspiration from my own journey, but now I tend to take only a snippet and build a fictional story from there. My kids have always inspired me. Nature inspires me. People who are on the “fringes” and have overcome odds inspire me. I wouldn’t be the writer and songwriter I am today without the profound influence of God’s own Word and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

JANICE: You are well-versed on promotion. What are some of the best methods of promoting your work?

SALLY: As long as I can flex my creative muscles when promoting, I am willing to try anything! Earlier this year I collaborated with a number of other authors in launching the “7 Days of Great Canadian Giveaways” (for more information, see https://sallymeadows.com/blog/blog/day-one-7-days-of-great-canadian-giveaways). And when I released my new single “Holy Spirit” ((https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL2LxARc7Kg) I had a bestselling author/illustrator design a colouring sheet as a giveaway. Both these inspired events boosted my (and the other authors’) profile. I do post quite a bit on Facebook (less often on Twitter), and I use a lot of images, usually my own photography. I also do a lot of cross-promotions. For example, my children’s picture book Beneath That Star is based on a song I wrote on my Christmas CD Red & White. But my best sales are when I do a public event—a concert or speaking engagement. This year I want to explore doing more video/live Facebook events for promotions. It’s the way to go right now in getting yourself out there.

JANICE: What are your favorite / most effective social media?

SALLY: Facebook has been my go-to for promotions, although in retrospect it has been less effective on the sales end than I would have liked. Nonetheless, it has certainly raised my profile. This year I hope to explore using Pinterest more. I am very visual and I have created a lot of images. And as mentioned above, I would like to get more into video productions.

JANICE: How do you balance professional time with personal time?

SALLY: Working from my home and being an empty nester, this is always tricky. When I am focused on a project, I could easily work all day and all evening. However, I am also aware of the need for balance. I usually go for two walks each day, and do my best to keep off computer (as much as possible) in the evenings and on the weekends.

JANICE: What are you currently reading? Do you prefer digital or print?

SALLY: I still prefer print. Like my writing, there is no one genre that I am particularly drawn to, although I mostly read Christian authors. What I do read: suspense, historical romance, contemporary drama, humorous stories, short stories, non-fiction, children’s picture books, articles, and more. I recently read your (Jan’s) latest novel In A Foreign Land as well as Esther: Royal Beauty by Angela Hunt. I’m about to start Joel C. Rosenberg’s Without Warning and Jeff Goins’ Real Artists Don’t Starve. And my Bible is always close at hand. Right now I am reading through the Book of Judges.

JANICE: What are some of your favorite things? What makes you unique?

SALLY: I love to do paper crafting and try out all kinds of different techniques and products. In fact, I have been exploring writing a craft book—I have a great title already picked out. I also like miniature things; and have been growing (go figure!) a collection of realistic-looking stuffed animals. Photography is definitely a passion. What makes me unique is that my interests and abilities are so diverse; the most common comment to me is “What haven’t you done?” I am always on the lookout to try something new. Challenging myself beyond my box is something I constantly aspire to do.

JANICE: What keeps you going in your writing career?

SALLY: As above: challenging myself. I am always stretching, always growing, and sometimes take on things that kind of terrify me.

JANICE: How is your faith reflected in your writing?

SALLY: I write for both the faith-based and mainstream markets. However, writing for the mainstream market is always informed by my faith.

JANICE: What are some things you learned from your own writing?

SALLY: I have learned that the learning never truly ends. I thought I was a good writer until I started writing full time. I still have LOTS to learn.

JANICE: What is your ultimate writing goal? And any advice for beginning writers?

SALLY: Like many writers, I have a lot of projects swirling around in my head, and I would love to see them all come to fruition one day. However, I am also being more prayerful about what project to focus on at any given time, and am open to discarding projects according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. I am ready and grateful for any doors the Lord opens. My advice (and ultimate goal) is to walk with one foot in front of the other each step of the way with eyes fixed on Jesus. He’ll get us to where you and I are to go.

Sally Meadows is a six-time national/international award-winning author and singer/songwriter. She is the author of two children’s books, The Two Trees and Beneath That Star, and has released two CDs Turn the Page and Red & White. You can connect with Sally at https://sallymeadows.com, https://facebook.com/SallyMeadowsMusic, @SallyMeadows, and sally@sallymeadows.com.


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I am very pleased today to interview a long-time friend and local business owner, Daniel Bushman. Most of my interviewees are fiction writers, but we’re going to change that up a bit today. Daniel and his wife, Kim, own and operate two local newspapers, so writing is what Dan does every day. Fast-paced, deadline-driven. Let’s see what he has to say about writing from a newspaper perspective…

JANICE: How long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

DANIEL: I have been writing on a consistent basis for almost nine years. After being a reporter in the radio world for a few years, my wife, Kim, and I decided to make a move back to small town Saskatchewan in August, 2008. We packed our bags and moved from Saskatoon to Watrous, where I am originally from. Back home, I began my new role as a reporter for The Watrous Manitou, a weekly newspaper out of Watrous, SK. Kim and I eventually purchased the paper in 2014 and then we bought the Lanigan Advisor in December, 2015. I continue to write articles, but with the added titles of publisher and editor.

JANICE: Who are some of the people who most influenced your decision to write?

DANIEL: That is a good question. My two strongest subjects in school were History and English so I suppose I always liked writing. My mom always said I had a knack for writing and I got it from my dad. My heart and mind were always set on doing radio broadcasting so I didn’t really think about writing until later on in my life. Actually, when I graduated from high school and attended college, writing lengthy term papers was something I didn’t enjoy doing. I think it was because I preferred spending time with friends, but coming to work now and being able to share people’s stories through words has been an enjoyable and often rewarding experience.

JANICE: I ask authors what their preferred genre is. How would you answer this question?

DANIEL: Being a reporter, I write a variety of articles ranging from hard news stories to sports, entertainment and feature type stories. I am a sports fan so when I get the chance to write about an athlete’s experience, I would say that would be my preferred genre. I also really enjoy listening to people’s stories and getting to know them through that, so feature type articles on people are also ones I enjoy writing.

JANICE: Why do you write?

DANIEL: I write because it’s my job 🙂 I will be honest though, it doesn’t feel like a job. I am always learning how to refine my craft, and every so often I get one of those “lightbulb” moments where I am able to pen a story that flows really nicely and I feel really good about it when I am done. I have been blessed to have won some awards for my stories at the Saskatchewan Weekly Newspapers Association‘s annual awards night where weekly papers and writers from across the province are recognized for their work.

JANICE: Congratulations, Daniel. For the readers’ interest, here is a list of the first place awards won for The Watrous Manitou:

  • 2012 best colour photo
  • 2013 best black and white photo
  • 2013 best post-secondary story
  • 2014 best tourism story
  • 2016 best Sask. arts or cultural story
  • 2016 best black and white photo

Some very prestigious awards, Daniel.

So tell me how and where you write. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

DANIEL: I write from my office in Watrous, plunking away on my keyboard. There are times where sitting on my couch with a hockey or football game on in the background would be nice but the office works just fine. I would be a pantser for the majority of my stories because every day brings different stories to my desk. For some of the articles though, like a feature article on a person, I would be more of a plotter, scheming of how to approach the story while gathering background facts. For the most part though, I just take what each day throws my way.

JANICE: Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?

DANIEL: I get my ideas from what is taking place in and around our community. Sometimes story ideas come via email, phone or by word-of-mouth, but for the most part, it is me just keeping an eye on what is happening in our area or even watching social media. In recent years, I have found social media like Facebook and Twitter can be a help instead of a hindrance as people will post things or events that they are involved in, which leads me to contacting them to see if they are interested in sharing their story with the newspaper.

People inspire me. Being able to share their stories through our paper in Watrous and more recently our paper in Lanigan is something I enjoy. I really think that providing positive people stories in our papers not only provides inspiration for me but also for our readers as they learn about what positive impacts are being made by others.

JANICE: I’m always amazed at how you pick up on the many local happenings. How do you research and how do you know you can trust your sources?

DANIEL: I do a lot of my research online. I find a lot of relevant and factual information there that I use when compiling articles. I also use resources like history books for historical articles. I try to interview official people or those within an organization, like a chairperson, committee chair, mayor, government official or someone that is trusted or in a position to speak on behalf of a business, community or organization.

JANICE: What do you like most / least about writing?

DANIEL: The thing I like most about writing is being able to paint a picture with words. I like to tell people’s stories and try and weave an intricate web of details. I try my utmost to make my stories positive but of course in today’s day and age, sometimes stories don’t always have a positive spin to them. But I do what I can to make them positive.

The thing I least like about writing are the stories with conflict or negativity. I know that there are issues that are supposed to “sell papers,” but for me, I try to approach my line of work in a different light. I do my best to be positive through my writing, and when there are sensitive issues that arise, as they do on occasion in the news world, I take my time and look at them from every angle possible. Do I always get it right? No, but I try my best.

JANICE: What are some of the best methods of promoting your work?

DANIEL: I guess it would be through the newspaper each and every week. People continue to subscribe to our papers. I can’t express enough how grateful I am for that. I know that everyone has an opinion on what should be included and not included in a newspaper, but I try my best to insert a variety of articles and features each week. “Local” for me is integral, so my focus is always on having local content in the paper before expanding to provincial and national items. Because we are a weekly paper, a lot of that provincial and national news has come and gone by the time we publish so unless it has some local tie, I usually don’t include those types of articles. People want to know what is happening in their community not necessarily halfway across the globe, especially when that news has already been told days earlier.

JANICE: Interesting. I hadn’t thought of that. What are your favorite / most effective social media?

DANIEL: I find people like Facebook so I try and run our Facebook pages as news feeds. We have a website for both papers (www.twmnews.com and www.laniganadvisor.com) where I do similar things and include an online subscription-based paper but it would be Facebook and Twitter – both those sites can reach a larger audience at the press of a button.

JANICE: How do you balance professional time with personal time?

DANIEL: Family is extremely important to my wife and m. We have two kids turning six and three in May, with another one on the way in July and so we are kept busy. Owning two papers has also kept us really busy and since I am the only reporter/photographer/editor/publisher for both, even more so. Since we are relatively new owners (three years with Watrous and just over one with Lanigan) that balance has been tilted more towards the newspapers at times. With weekly deadlines it can make it tough to be home when I’d like, and I will be the first to admit I don’t like being away from my kids and my wife. Kim has been a tremendous person in how patient and loving she’s been as we get things rolling forward with our two businesses. Right from the beginning we felt God’s calling to use the papers as a ministry opportunity and we are certainly trying to do that. Owning your own business can be challenging, like spending more time at the office than at home at times, but it can also be rewarding, being able to be at our kids sporting events, programs and other activities.

JANICE: Do you have any time for recreational reading? What are you currently reading? Do you prefer digital or print?

DANIEL: With a lot of my time spent at the newspapers, I have currently been reading my stories – proofing them after I type them. I have to say that one of my greatest fears is publishing two papers only to have spelling and grammar mistakes in them. We proofread a story probably three or four times, but there is always that one mistake that can fall through the cracks. I am not perfect, neither is my writing or grammar, but I just try to do the best I can. I enjoy reading biographies and autobiographies and have a stack of them on my desk at home waiting to be read. I just haven’t quite got there yet. As far as digital or print, I am old-school and enjoy physically picking up a book or newspaper and reading it that way.

JANICE: What are some of your favourite things? What makes you unique?

DANIEL: Some of my favourite things would be my family first and foremost. I love sports and being outside taking pictures of nature and wildlife. Some of my most enjoyable times outdoors are with a camera. I guess I would be unique in the fact that I own two weekly newspapers and purchased them in my early 30s. Many people say newspapers are dying but there will always be a need for news, especially local news. I love what I am able to do, and try and do it differently than some of the other papers that are just out to create headlines no matter the issue. I try to be sensitive towards my subject and take a compassionate view of each story I write. So perhaps while a news reporter can be tough and ruthless, I try to go against the grain.

JANICE: What keeps you going in your writing career?

DANIEL: Being able to put food on the table 🙂 In all seriousness though I do this job because I enjoy it. I don’t think I could do something different, at least not right now. Being in the media world has brought me some pretty cool experiences, and God has truly blessed us during our time at the paper in Watrous. We try to take his leading each day and hope that we are making the right decision in whatever we do.

JANICE: How is your faith reflected in your writing?

DANIEL: When we were first approached about buying the newspaper in Watrous, we really felt that it was a ministry opportunity. When I write stories, I try and take a positive and compassionate approach. When more sensitive or sticky stories come up, I rely on my faith to know what to do or how to write it. Sometimes I don’t include a very sensitive article that would otherwise be in a paper elsewhere. Yes, there are “newsworthy” stories but there are also people affected by those stories, so it is a real fine line for me at times as to what to do. I have lost a lot of hours of sleep when some of these instances come up but I trust that God will help me come to the right decision.

JANICE: What are some things you have learned from your own writing?

DANIEL: One thing I learned right off the bat, coming from radio to print, was that I had to write more. In radio we are taught to have a short introduction, get to the audio clip, then get out of the story. In print, there is no audio as such so the stories have to be lengthier to help paint a picture. My first week as a newspaper reporter my stories were only a few paragraphs long. I didn’t know how I would ever be able to write longer pieces. Now almost nine years later, sometimes I find myself typing and typing and typing until it becomes more like a novel than a news story.

JANICE: What is your ultimate writing goal?

DANIEL: I’m not sure if I have an ultimate writing goal other than to produce enough stories each week to print two newspapers. I thought it would be cool to one day attempt to write a book, but I don’t know that I would have the patience to do it. I like to sit down and type a story until it’s done. Stopping and starting would be tougher for me but then again I have lived with deadlines since my radio days, so if I had more time to think and plot it might be different.

JANICE: Do you have any advice for beginning writer…

DANIEL: If you love writing, give it a try and let your imagination take you for a ride. Don’t be afraid of failure. I still learn new things every day and if something doesn’t sound right or fit, grab another cup of coffee or eat a piece of candy and give your brain a bit of a break. Sometimes I will be writing late at night and just can’t go on. Then the next morning I come in and think, how did I ever come up with that? That is awful. Then a few minutes later a new lead is written, much better than the one I had painstakingly come up with the night before.

Thank you for the opportunity to let me share a bit about my story and journey.

JANICE: Thanks so much, Daniel, for sharing your story with us. We wish you all the best with your newspapers and your daily writing.


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Today my author interviewee is Tracy Krauss. Besides writing, Tracy teaches high school in British Columbia, Canada.

tracy-krauss-author-photoJANICE: Tracy, how long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

TRACY: I started writing seriously back in 1985 right after I had my first child. I composed a lot of stories in my mind before that time, but I used visual art as my main creative outlet. We lived in a very small house and, as most new mothers can tell you, “free” time was at a premium. During my daughter’s precious naptime, it became frustrating to get all my art supplies out only to have to clean up again. Instead, I borrowed my mother’s old typewriter and started putting some of those stories that were in my head onto paper. I was hooked. Thirty-two years later, I’m still tapping away.

JANICE: We know that writers love to read. What are you currently reading? Do you prefer digital or print?

TRACY: I’ve currently become enamored with two authors: April Gardner and Dana Pratola. Both write in the “edgy” style that I aspire to myself, yet still have a very strong Christian message. Plus, their stories are just plain spellbinding. I actually do most of my reading digitally these days. I like the way I can make the font as large as needed, I can buy and download books instantly, and it is just so easy to have an entire library at my fingertips! Sometimes with non-fiction, I will buy the print copy after I’ve already read the digital version so that I can go back and highlight it.

JANICE: Tell us a bit about yourself. What are some of your favorite things?

TRACY: Art Galleries really do it for me. It’s probably because drawing was my first love and I actually majored in visual art at university. Going to a gallery exhibit fills me with such a sense of euphoria – even when the subject matter isn’t necessarily pretty. I also have a large collection of handmade pottery mugs and I genuinely take pleasure in having my morning coffee in a different mug every day. Oh, and shoes. Yup. I’m a shoe person.

JANICE: I’ve seen some of your amazing shoes at writing conferences, so I can attest to the shoe fetish! What keeps you going in your writing career?

TRACY: There’s always another story to tell. It certainly isn’t the money, fame, or prestige since none of those things have materialized. I’ll admit that sometimes I hear that voice of discouragement in my head telling me to just give in – “Stop it already because you’re spending a lot of time and effort on something that isn’t having any real impact!” Then I get a nice email from a reader, or see a positive review and I think, “Don’t listen to that voice.” I genuinely feel called to write, so I guess it’s about obedience to the call, without caring what other people think. (Or what the negative ‘voice’ in my head says.)

JANICE: How is your faith reflected in your writing?

TRACY: My novels and short stories usually have a pretty blatant Christian theme or message although I try very hard not to preach. I did not come to Christ until I was an adult, so I think my work is “edgier” than a lot of Christian fiction, but I certainly don’t intend to offend anyone. One of the recurring themes in my work is the redemptive power of Christ, and my characters often have serious flaws that they need to work through. My NEIGHBOURS series is not quite as faith forward, but many of the characters are Christians and the sequel, KEEPING UP WITH THE NEIGHBOURS, ends with a stronger redemptive theme. I also write stage plays which are totally secular in nature. Most are parodies of classics like Shakespeare or fairy tales.  sallys-promo-copy

JANICE: What are some things you learned from your own writing?

TRACY: I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn! I’ve come a long way in thirty years, but still haven’t arrived. When I look at my first published books, for instance, I see so many things I’d like to change – things like too many adjectives, to name just one. It’s one advantage of today’s publishing world. Since I’ve gotten the rights back to my first three books I plan to republish them, fixing all the things that irritate me. However, it’s not as straightforward as that since there is always new material in my head that needs to get out and finding the time is an issue.

JANICE: I can understand the wish to change things in my first books. We live and learn. What is your ultimate writing goal?

TRACY: I suppose my ultimate goal is to be able to write full time. At this stage in my life that goal is not too far off since I hope to retire from teaching in the next five to six years anyway.

JANICE: Do you have some advice for beginning writers?

TRACY: Set goals for yourself but don’t have unrealistic expectations. Humility goes a long way in this business. Learn what you can from those that have gone before. Be a life-long learner and never stop pushing yourself to get better.

JANICE: Thanks, Tracy, for taking the time to visit with us today. Keep up the great work.


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