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I belong to a writing group that meets twice a month. It’s great to talk shop, critique the pieces members have sent out ahead of time, and discuss in a group the ideas we have concerning the submissions. We learn as much from critiquing as from submitting.

Our group holds a workshop every year, supported by the Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild, of which most of us are members. This year’s guest asked what we did in and with the community to make people aware of our existence and to promote the art of writing. We were silent as we looked around the table at each other. We meet regularly, but don’t reach far beyond that. The presenter encouraged us to become more visible and active in our area.

“Let’s host a coffeehouse,” suggested one of our members. “We can each present a short reading and invite people from the area.”

The event was organized and advertised, and the people came. Not a lot, but more than just the readers and their families. A good beginning.

image credit pixabay.com

We invited a local businessman/musician to play guitar and sing for us, which added to the ambiance, and each of us read a short piece from our work. Of course, there was coffee and snacks as well. At the end of the evening, the emcee, not a member of our group, announced that this was the first “annual” writer’s workshop, and the audience applauded. Those who had never heard of us before, or didn’t know who “we” were, said they were looking forward to next year’s offering, and would bring others with them. We, as members, felt supported and positive.

Not every community needs the same kind of event, but if you are part of a writing group, it’s good to create a way others can hear about you and offer interest and support. Why not set up a short program and put the coffee on?

image credit pixabay.com

 

 

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JAN: Please help me welcome a good friend and fellow writer, Sheri Hathaway to my blog. Sheri, How long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

Sheri Hathaway

SHERI: Now there’s a rabbit hole I’ll have to wander back through to find the beginning! I’ve always been a note taker, diary keeper and letter writer so is it fair to say, since the day I was born? In Grade 12 I considered taking a journalism course after graduation but when I found that the nearest university offering it was in Calgary, I was intimidated by the distance, size of the city and moving to an unfamiliar city. What a farm girl I was back then! I returned to thoughts of writing when I took a Canadian literature course at Lakeland College, Lloydminster and studied the life of Susanna Moodie. I thought to myself, if she can raise a family, manage a farm, and write, well then, so can I. I put out a feeler, as it were, and sent a story to the Western People, a supplement of the Western Producer,and to my surprise and horror it was published. Getting published for the first time is scary business.

JAN: Yes, it is. One feels very vulnerable. Who are some of the people who most influenced your decision to write?

SHERI: Susanna Moodie for sure, but later, I began reading biographies of other writers. I discovered that most writers have lived through messy lives and many, many rejections and still persevered, so that encouraged me.

JAN: What’s your preferred genre?

SHERI: Historical non-fiction for sure. Everyone has an interesting story. Reading about them is a way to be nosey without being told I’m nosey.

JAN: Why do you write?

SHERI: Sometimes a story starts developing in my head and keeps stirring and bubbling around until finally I have to let it out, just so I can sleep at night. It’s a very satisfying feeling to dump my brains out. It allows me to think of other things, or just relax. I have wondered about the cave drawings. Did some prehistoric man or woman have to get that story out of his/her head so he/she could sleep at night? I think writers have existed all through history.

JAN: That’s funny, Sheri! Tell me, how and where do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

SHERI: The kitchen table used to be the throne of inspiration for me until I got a computer, and then it moved into a separate room. That works better because there are fewer distractions. I have to write in silence. I can’t travel to another place and time in my head if the present keeps bringing me up short.

I’m a plotter when it comes to articles, definitely. The book I’m writing now is about my parents’ lives so the plot has already been laid out for me, making it a very easy task as far as plot goes, but I have a theme of personal strength and overcoming adversity that helps me choose what stories to put in.

JAN: I like your line about how the present brings you up short. How true. Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?

SHERI: I write about my interests: farming, pioneer life and the wars. There are so many stories, I will never run out. While writing one story, questions pop up that I have to pursue for another story later, and so it goes.

JAN: Great to have that continuum. How do you research and how do you know you can trust your sources?

SHERI: I once referenced Wikipedia on an article to the Western Producer and never did it again after the editor told me it wasn’t a reliable source. I read an article recently which advised it may be all right to find your first answers from Wikipedia but then go to the other sources listed at the bottom of the article. That seems like good advice to me. I use the internet a lot but I use sources such as universities, government websites, books and magazines that have been published in hard copy originally. When a publication has gone through the rigors of editors and fact checkers, you can rely on the information. Using blogs or websites that use a person’s opinion or memories without any references to other books, etc., is never a good idea.

Interviewing people on their experiences is an accurate source as long as you remember that it is one person’s memory of the event, which may be skewed with time or their perception. You can quote that person as long as you state that it is their memory or opinion.

Not able to find an answer to why my mother had short-term paralysis in 1947, I recently asked my doctor’s professional opinion. He told me what he thought it probablywas, and that is how I’m explaining it in my book. The medical records no longer exist, so I’m going to say that it is impossible to know for sure but this is the opinion of my doctor today, that in all probability, this is what happened. Sometimes you can’t find an exact answer, but you explain that uncertainty to your readers.

JAN: Very interesting observations from your experience. Thanks. What do you like most / least about writing?

SHERI: I love doing research and finding answers to questions about life in a former time. I love explaining that to my readers. It’s like teaching a class of really interested students. It’s a dream come true.

What I don’t like about it is the delayed gratification. It takes a long time from writing something to seeing it in print, and then getting a paycheque. A writer must have faith: faith in God that he made you this way for a purpose, faith that you are doing good work, and faith that eventually you will see the rewards of your labour.

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

SHERI: My first book isn’t published yet, so I can’t comment on methods for that. For my articles, though, Facebook is the easiest way to reach the most people. I have an author page as well as a personal page and share posts about my writing across both. I have a website but don’t get the same response. I’m not a real avid social media user, so I don’t have a lot of different social media memberships. I have Twitter account but sometimes forget to use it. I need to be more diligent in that.

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

SHERI: In former lives I’ve been employed outside the home and later ran my own business. I treat my writing as if it were a job and go to work every weekday morning, leaving weekends for things like house cleaning and socializing. It doesn’t always work that way and I’m prepared to be flexible. If a friend wants to have coffee on Tuesday, for example, I don’t turn her down because it doesn’t happen often, and friends and family are a priority. I make up the difference on the weekend but I don’t keep close track of hours. I have a list of things I’d like to get done each week and try to stick to that.

JAN: I’ve seen your determination to plan and carry out, and it’s motivating for me. What are you currently reading? Do you prefer digital or print?

SHERI: Last year a friend took my hand and placed a book in it, the first in the Mitford Series by Jan Karon. I’m not usually a fiction reader but these books hooked me and I think it was the mysteries. Every researcher is solving a mystery and I was interested in the unwrapping of that process. She also has great character development. It’s made me think about incorporating better character development into my stories.

JAN: What keeps you going in your writing career?

SHERI: When I’ve emptied my head onto the “page,” I sleep better at night, feel accomplished and proud of myself, and I know I’ve done what I was made to do. If I never got published, I’d keep writing journals, poems, and letters because of that feeling of satisfaction and the game of playing with words.

JAN: How is your faith reflected in your writing?

SHERI: Most of my writing cannot be called faith-based. I write history about farming and war and my faith doesn’t enter it obliquely, at least, not yet, but values such as family, honesty, trustworthiness, and ethical choices is all about what I write. When I get to know a new friend, I don’t come out and tell them right away that I’m a Christian, but when it does come up, they’re never surprised, so I think, like my character, that aura of Christianity hopefully surrounds my writing. Nothing is ever written in stone, either, and down the road, my writing may turn into a Christian genre.

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

SHERI: I was surprised that people actually wanted to read it! But seriously, researching other people’s lives and finding out what they lived through and gained victory over has always been an inspiration to me. I hope others gain that same inspiration from what I write.

JAN: What is your ultimate writing goal?

SHERI: I have several books that I want to write, so just to write them will be a major accomplishment. I have worked at other jobs most of my life and it prevented me from concentrating on a major work like a book. I’m finally at that place where I can write full-time, but it took me so long to get here and start a book that I was afraid I might die before I got even one done. Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes, is quoted as having the same fear and I think many writers are in the same place. I feel like I’m living the dream now just to have this opportunity.

JAN: Do you have any advice for beginning writer?

SHERI: Don’t get discouraged. Life may throw rocks at you, but remember that later on in life, you can look back on those rocks and write about them. A person has to live a life before they can write about one effectively.

Also, seek out other writers. I have learned a lot about writing by talking to other writers, going to workshops, reading magazines and books on writing and then practicing what I learned by writing and writing and writing.

JAN: Well said, Sheri. Thanks so much for letting us get to know you better today. All the best in your writing journey.

 Sheri’s Facebook page.

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JAN: Today, I’m pleased to feature friend and fellow writer, Carol Harrison on my interview blog. I’ve known Carol for many years, but sometimes it takes something like a question/answer platform to learn some of the details.

Carol Harrison

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

CAROL: I started writing again, other than journals and university essays, in 2008. My husband, Brian, had been encouraging me to write a book about our youngest daughter Amee who had a stroke at birth and was not expected to live. It took a number of years to listen to his requests.

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

CAROL: The biggest influence to get me started writing again was my husband, and then Amee also began to beg me to write her story so others would understand. Since then some of the biggest influences have been other writers such as Jan Dick, Marcia Laycock and others I have met. They have shared insights and tips as well as encouragement. Now several of my grandchildren encourage me to continue to write and try new genres such as fiction and poetry.

JAN: Cool! What’s your preferred genre?

CAROL: My preferred is short non-fiction and memoir. I love to preserve and tell family and faith stories.

JAN: Why do you write?

CAROL: I write to encourage others that there is hope in the midst of tough times and that it is important to share our stories of faith with others.

JAN: That’s a great reason. How and where do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

CAROL: I am usually a pantser, although I find I have had to do more plotting when I am working on my first fiction book. I write on the laptop most of the time but always have pen and notebook handy to jot ideas or journal.

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

CAROL: Since I write non-fiction, my inspiration is family stories and adventures. I tell my family they are all fair game for a story to write about or use as an illustration for a devotional or when I speak. I am inspired by things I see and experiences and how scripture has impacted me.

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

CAROL: The research I have done is mostly based on family stories or journal entries. When I wrote Amee’s Story, I had years of reports from doctors and other professionals that had worked with her. This made trusting them very easy. For family information, I try and check it with several family members and paperwork that surfaces. I also check the archives at the library for information on certain areas and times. I feel confident that it is as accurate as I need it to be if it all matches up.

JAN: Yes, we do our best. Tell me, what do you like most / least about writing?

CAROL: The thing I love the most about writing is the stories and getting the ideas jotted down to write about later. I even enjoy digging into the details to find out more information. Having the patience to edit multiple times is what I like the least.

JAN: What do you find are some of the best methods of promoting your work?

CAROL: Promoting my work is an ongoing battle for me. I should maybe say that the marketing of my work might be what I like the least. However, my book—and the anthologies that include stories I have written—sell best at speaking engagements. I am still exploring options of how to get them marketed beyond that and to let people know I am available to speak.

JAN: What are your favourite / most effective social media?

CAROL: The only social media I use on a regular basis is Facebook. I do have a website but it needs updating.

JAN: Yes, that’s probably something a lot of us need to do occasionally. How do you balance professional time with personal time?

CAROL: Balancing professional time and personal time takes a lot of work and changes as we enter the retirement season for my husband. I often struggle with setting aside time to write, edit and especially market.

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

CAROL: I still prefer to read an actual print book but I enjoy the ease of taking many books with me without adding to the weight by having a digital format when I travel. I have been reading through a number of books by authors I know. I have completed a few like Deserts, Dams and Dirt by Dr. Delwyn Fredlund, Mrs. B Has Cancer by Glynis Belec and Life on a Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers. I have a few more on my to-read pile that fit into this category. My daughter lent me The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn as a devotional style book I want to read.

JAN: Thanks for the reading ideas (as if I need more on my to-read pile!). What are some of your favourite things? What makes you unique?

CAROL: Some of my favourite things include reading, collecting things and storytelling. As a writer, I actually enjoy the public speaking more than the writing which is a unique quality about me.

JAN: What keeps you going in your writing career?

CAROL: One of the things that keeps me writing is hearing from readers that something I wrote has encouraged them, helped them or motivated them in some way. The encouragement and push from family to keep writing also helps me keep going. I do not want to disappoint them. But these encouragements help me remember that God has gifted me with the ability to tell stories, write and teach. I want to be faithful even when it is hard to balance the time or market or edit.

JAN: Thanks for that wonderful answer, Carol. Tell me more about how your faith is reflected in your writing.

CAROL: My faith is part of who I am and therefore permeates everything I do or write. It obviously comes out in a prominent manner when I write devotionals. Faith colours how I perceive life and that is reflected in any of my writing.

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

CAROL: I have learned some things on this writing journey. I found out I can do more than I expected. I can write more than one memoir, including an occasional poem or fiction story. I have met amazing people along the way who have shared parts of their journey, and for a person who loves to hear stories, this is a fabulous learning time. The most important thing I think I learned is that God has given me this ability and uses the words that I write and share with others.

JAN: What is your ultimate writing goal?

CAROL: I think my ultimate writing goal is to preserve the family stories by writing them down for my children and grandchildren. Some of them will be submitted for publication and that will be a wonderful bonus. I do not have a specific number of books or stories I want to write but I want to be faithful to stories God puts on my heart to share in whatever format those might take.

JAN: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

CAROL: My advice for beginning writers is threefold. First connect with other writers who are further along their writing journey and learn from them. Also, be open to feedback, critiques and edits so you can be continually learning. This will help you reach your fullest potential. Finally just keep writing and enjoy the process.

JAN: Thanks, Carol, for this refreshing visit and insight into who you are and what you write. I wish you all the best as you continue on your writing journey.

Readers, you can check Carol’s Facebook page for more insights.

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JAN: Today, I’m pleased to feature an interview with Kimberley Payne, who I met years ago at a Write! Canada conference. She’s still busily writing and sharing her knowledge.

Kimberley Payne

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

KIMBERLEY: I’ve been writing since I was a child keeping track of my summer activities in a journal. But I didn’t seriously write for publication until I was in my 30s. I turned 50 this year, so it’s been 2 decades.

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

KIMBERLEY:I remember attending the God Uses Inkconference years ago (before the name changed to Write! Canada) and I found my tribe. These same people are still my friends and encourage me to write. Janis Cox is most influential; she spurs me on.

JAN:What’s your preferred genre?

KIMBERLEY: Non-fiction. I write about things that I learn. I write about anything F; that is fitness, family, faith, food, fellowship, and fun.

JAN:Why do you write?

KIMBERLEY: I love to share. When I learn something new I want to share it with others. I can’t not tell others what I learn. If I didn’t write, it’d become a real problem.

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

KIMBERLEY: I write longhand in an 8.5×11 spiral notepad. I usually write on my comfy couch in my bedroom but have also written on the beach and back deck. I like to listen to the same CD of instrumental sounds and pantser my way around.

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

KIMBERLEY: Reading, listening to Christian programs, going to church. I’m inspired when someone shares a perspective that I hadn’t considered before.

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

KIMBERLEY: I like when an idea is percolating in my mind and I’m excited to get it on paper. I like when people comment on my writing – especially when they say nice things.

I don’t like when I lose a thought because I didn’t record it quickly enough. I don’t like when someone gives me a rating of 3 out of 5 on a book review. Yuck! I’d rather a 1 than a 3. Three is so mediocre.

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

KIMBERLEY: I believe the best way is through my email list. I say this because the people who have joined my list have done so voluntarily and so I expect that they are actually interested in what I have to say.

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

KIMBERLEY: I like Facebook. It’s easy and I spend a lot of time there on a personal level. I’m also on every other social media site just because I was told I should be. I tweet and Pin but I really don’t know how effective they are.

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

KIMBERLEY: I work full-time so my daytime hours are dedicated to my job. My evenings are divided into hour slots; an hour to write, an hour to play with my granddaughter, an hour to exercise, an hour to colour/watch television. Give or take an hour.

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

KIMBERLEY: I am currently reading Bad Girls of the Bibleby Liz Curtis Higgs, and Donald Miller Greatest Hits: Through Painted Deserts, Searching for God Knows Whatand Blue Like Jazz. I alternate between digital and print. I pick up a lot of my print books at garage sales and in library boxes. But I have downsized to one ladder bookshelf in my bedroom so I don’t have too much room for print books anymore. For fiction, I love mysteries. I like digital because I can usually download an e-book for a good price.

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

KIMBERLEY: Dark chocolate. Steam rising off the lake. A seagull’s call. My granddaughter’s giggle. Naps. These are a few of my favourite things. The dentist just pulled a 50-year old baby tooth. I think that qualifies me as unique.

JAN:What keeps you going in your writing career?

KIMBERLEY: As a life-long learner I keep learning things that I want to share. I suppose if I stopped learning, I’d stop writing.

JAN:How is your faith reflected in your writing?

KIMBERLEY: Everything I write reflects my faith. My bio states: “Her writing relates raising a family, pursuing a healthy lifestyle and everyday experiences to building a relationship with God.”My faith is really central to my writing.

JAN:That’s inspiring. What are some things you’ve learned from your own writing?

KIMBERLEY: I’ve learned that I have a lot of stuff to share. And after many years, I am finally finding my voice.

JAN:What is your ultimate writing goal?

KIMBERLEY: To leave a legacy of writings that my grandchildren’s grandchildren will enjoy reading and learning from.

JAN:Advice for beginning writer…

KIMBERLEY: Join a writer’s group for support and encouragement. I am a member of Inscribe, The Word Guild and John316 authors. Finding your tribe and talking with like-minded people is especially important for writers. We are a unique group. We need to stick together.

JAN:Thanks so much for taking the time to let us in on your life, Kimberley. Blessings as you continue to learn and share and write.

BIO: Health that Feeds Body & Spirit

Kimberley is a motivational speaker and an award-winning author and a member of The Word Guild and Inscribe Christian Writer’s Fellowship. Her writing relates raising a family, pursuing a healthy lifestyle, and everyday experiences to building a relationship with God. Kimberley, who lives near Toronto, Canada, offers practical, guilt-free tips on improving spiritual and physical health.

Kimberley Payne

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I met Ann-Margret Hovsepian at the InScribe Christian Writer’s Conference in 2018, where she was the keynote speaker. We immediately felt a friendship and camaraderie, so I asked her for an interview for my blog.

Ann-Margret Hovsepian

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

Ann-Margret: I’ve been writing for publication for over 25 years, but that was never my childhood aspiration, even though the clues were there. Ever since I learned the alphabet, I’ve had an irrepressible affinity for the written word and, although I’m Armenian, the English language. My parents often found me poring over a dictionary or encyclopedia, or amusing myself with word puzzle magazines or my older sister’s English exercise books. In elementary school, I made good use of my parents’ old manual typewriter and every scrap of blank paper I could find to produce one-of-a-kind family newsletters complete with articles, jokes, illustrations and puzzles. However, I also loved science, so I studied chemistry in college for a few years before it dawned on me I was in the wrong field.

When I was 20, I started working for Home Builder Magazine and, within four years, went from typesetting and proofreading to managing the editorial department, copy editing and copy writing. At that point, I decided to quit my job and launch out on my own, and have been freelancing since then. I am drawn to writing because I want to share good news with people and that’s one of the tools I’m skilled at using. For me, writing is the means to an end, not the end itself.

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

Ann-Margret: My father saw the gift in me before I took writing seriously and he’s always encouraged me to write—not necessarily to showcase my talent but to share what God puts on my heart. He’s a pastor so he has always seen a deeper purpose for my writing. I’ve also had many editors and writers affirm my talents and that has helped me stay the course even when I’ve struggled with self-doubt.

Jan: What’s your preferred genre and why do you write?

Ann-Margret: Definitely non-fiction. I love reading fiction but do not feel drawn to write it. Again, writing is a tool for me. My real passion is communicating God’s love and truth to people, encouraging them and bringing them joy, and writing is an effective way for me to do that.

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

Ann-Margret: I have to confess that I’m all over the place with my writing, even after 25 years of doing it professionally. My approach depends on the project, and mine have been varied. Some require more preparation than others, and for some I’ll handwrite notes first while for others I’ll just sit at my computer and start writing.

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

Ann-Margret: Everything inspires me! Nature, books I read, conversations I overhear, smells, sounds, memories, songs, mistakes I make, people I meet, etc. I carry a little notebook around with me to jot down ideas. I don’t always use them but it’s a practice that helps me pay more attention to details around me.

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

Ann-Margret: Again, it depends on the project. I love interviewing people and hearing their stories or insights. I generally interview people I already know or people I’ve been asked by editors to interview. I will occasionally ask friends for suggestions. Of course, I do research online as well but I try to be diligent about fact-checking and tend to stick to reputable sources.

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

Ann-Margret: What I like most is the opportunity to touch people’s lives—to inspire and encourage them, or to share important information with them, to nudge them closer to God. It gives me a thrill when they respond and let me know my article or book had the desired effect.

What I like least is all the hard work! The lack of inspiration at times, the fear, the rewrites, the brain drain when the sentences start to sound like an alien language but I need to keep pushing through. It can be discouraging at times.

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

Ann-Margret: My best forum for communicating with a wide audience and letting them know about my writing has been Facebook (my business page). Since all my books have been published by traditional houses, however, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to have them promote my work. Word of mouth has been great, as well as simply being involved in various areas of ministry and getting to know lots of people.

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

Ann-Margret: Facebook and Instagram, but mostly Facebook because there is so much more space for writing longs posts and easily commenting back and forth with people following my page.

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

Ann-Margret: I’m not sure I do! It can change from week to week or month to month depending on how many deadlines I’m juggling. Sometimes I do very little writing for long stretches and other times I’m writing well into the wee hours of the night just to get it all done. As a freelancer who works in my own home and lives alone, this is manageable. I think I probably thrive on the variety. I’m fairly disciplined when it comes to working hard and meeting deadlines, so I like being a bit less structured when it comes to managing my schedule.

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

Ann-Margret: It’s not unusual for me to be in the middle of two or three books at the same time. I recently starting reading Becoming Mrs. Lewis and Praying with Jane. I have a couple dozen books in my Kindle library but I really, really don’t like reading from a screen unless I have to. It can be practical when traveling but it’s basically print for me.

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

Ann-Margret: I think I collect favourite things. I have so many! The colour red, snowflakes, meringue, Calvin & Hobbes, quilts, vintage suitcases, gerbera daisies, polka dots, gingham, fireworks, peppermint tea, anything Narnia, anything Jane Austen, calligraphy, key lime pie…! Maybe that’s what makes me unique. I am delighted by many things. I’m curious and creative and find it impossible to be bored.

Jan: What keeps you going in your writing career?

Ann-Margret: First of all, the Lord’s strength and help. And then it’s the people around me: the ones who pray for me, the ones who read my work and ask for more, the ones who publish it. For me, my writing has very little to do with me. It’s not a hobby or something that I necessarily enjoy doing. My writing is all about my readers.

Jan: How is your faith reflected in your writing?

Ann-Margret: Especially in the last several years, just about everything I write is a reflection of my faith as I write almost exclusively for Christian publications. And that is the goal of my writing anyway—to share my faith and to help others know God more through my work.

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

Ann-Margret: I’ve learned things about the world around me as I’ve interviewed people and shared their stories, but I’ve also learned a lot about myself and God as I’ve worked on devotionals or feature stories on difficult topics. I’ve learned to be more open-minded and attentive. And, as I’ve worked on thousands of rewrites and revisions, I think I’ve learned just a little bit about humility!

Jan: What is your ultimate writing goal?

Ann-Margret: To be faithful and obedient in whatever opportunities God gives me to connect with readers, and to be truthful in everything I write. I no longer have any measurable goals regarding how many books I write or sell or how much money I make.

Jan: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Ann-Margret: As far as the craft of writing goes, my advice is to balance confidence with humility. You need confidence and courage to put your thoughts on paper but you also need humility to be open to direction and correction. Talent is important but it’s not enough. A major part of my success in being published comes down to my willingness to listen to and work with editors.

In terms of the business of writing, I always tell novice writers to be willing to invest in their careers, not only time and energy but also resources. Choose a writers’ conference that is right for you, making sure it’s one with good networking opportunities, and save up for it if you have to. Nothing beats meeting the editors and publishers who want to publish what you are writing.

Jan: Thanks, Ann-Margret, for your willingness to share with us on my blog. I hope to meet you in person again soon.

Readers, please check Ann-Margret’s Facebook page, blogsite, LinkedIn.

 

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“We are judged by how we finish, not how we start.”

How true. Some people are so worried about whether or not they’ll be able to finish a project that they hesitate to begin anything. I confess to being one of those. Partly, it’s because I tend to perfectionism. Please understand that perfectionism doesn’t mean that everything I do meets that high standard, but it’s what I wish I could attain. Through my life, I’ve had to make choices about where to spend my energy and focus, a fight against perfectionism. (Dusting the furniture was something that lost out!)

My husband is a starter. He loves to jump into a project and get it going. He doesn’t usually worry about finishing at that stage. I, on the other hand, am afraid to start something in case I won’t be able to finish it. The result: I talk myself out of a lot of things that might be good if I trusted myself. I have to say my husband and I have rubbed off on each other over the years. I’m more willing to try something, and he’s more intent on completing a project.

As a writer, I’ve learned that first words aren’t crucial at the outset. It’s the act of beginning that’s important. First words can be changed, edited, tweaked, or stricken from the record! They are only a starting point, a thought-bullet fired in a specific direction. The more important aspect is following through, completing a task to the best of our abilities.

We’re on a journey through this life, and our paths are not complete until our number is called. Let’s give each day our all, with the help of the God who created us do the things He has prepared in advance for us to do.

 

NOTE: For as long as I can remember, our household has regularly received The Furrow magazine, a farming publication published by Deere & Company. My favourite part of this magazine is the next-to-last page, titled fun & Philosophy, a collection of jokes, quotes from famous people, and capsule sermons. From these I’ve chosen a few as conversation starters for my blogspot. Thought-bullets.

 

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By the time this blog appears live, I will have been and gone to my favourite annual writer’s conference: InScribe. It’s a treat I look forward to every year, and this one’s accessible; I can drive there or ride with a friend.

Conferences are superb confidence boosters, in that our association with other writers helps us to believe we really are writers too.

Conferences are comfortable places for introverts to network! We’re most of us—but certainly not all—introverted types that gather at writing conferences. We spend a lot of our time in solitary, with only our computers as companions, and mostly, we’re okay with that. But from time to time we need more than virtual input. A conference is a time when we can reach out to others who understand our boundaries. Maybe we can find someone who can fill a gap in our writing life: a story editor, a cover designer, a formatter. And just maybe we can fill a gap in someone else’s writing needs as well.

Conferences are memory makers. We meet people we’ve met before and renew our acquaintance. We meet people we’ve never met before, and often our personalities will click. Or we meet people we’ve heard of but never met, and find out they are accessible and normal folks. We feel surrounded by friends of like mind.

If there’s a conference in your area, save up your bucks through the year and take advantage of it. You won’t regret it.

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