Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘writing’

JAN: I am excited today to interview one of my new friends from the Mosaic Collection of Authors. Her name is Stacy Monson, and she hails from Minnesota. Stacy, how long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

STACY: I’ve been writing my whole life; well, since I could spell anyway. But while my family knew I loved to write stories, there were few others who did as I got older. I dreamt of publishing a book but didn’t think it would ever actually happen. Then, about 10 years ago, I was home early from work having picked up my Dad from cataract surgery, and he was watching Oprah while I worked nearby on a story. The show was on midlife opportunities (as opposed to midlife crisis), and by the end of it I KNEW God was calling me to step beyond my comfort zone and start writing for him. That was when I started my professional writing journey.

JAN: That’s cool. An unforgettable moment. Who are some of the people who most influenced your decision to write?

STACY: Aside from Oprah? 😊God put just the right people in my path at just the right time. A woman from church wrote for Harlequin, and she invited me to a local RWA (Romance Writers Assoc.) meeting. From there I learned about ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and began meeting more people who encouraged, taught, critiqued, and walked alongside me. Then the Mosaic Collection began to form and again God put just the right people in place to form the group. It’s been amazing.

JAN: As a recent fellow member, I concur! What’s your preferred genre?

STACY: To write, it’s definitely contemporary. While I love reading a variety of genres, I know I’m too lazy to write historical because all that research would squash my writing!

JAN: And here’s the cover of your newly released contemporary novel, When Mountains Sing. See my last week’s blog for a review. Stacy, how and where do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

 STACY: I started out as a total pantser; didn’t have the patience to be a plotter. I’d just dive in and write, and then end up rewriting and rewriting. Now I’m what I called a plotting pantser. Creating an overall outline, and doing some character interviews helps me know who I’m writing about and the general direction of the story, but then I let it unfold as I write.

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

STACY: I’m a character-driven writer and reader, so my stories always start with a character idea. Something in the news or a story I hear from someone can get my “what would happen if…” wheels turning, and pretty soon I’m building a story around that specific character. New characters and events pop up as I write (suddenly the main character has a brother or sister I didn’t know about, or something happened in their past I hadn’t considered) so I adjust to that as the story unfolds.

JAN: Fascinating. So, even contemporary stories need some research. How do you research and how do you know you can trust your sources?

STACY: For When Mountains Sing, I definitely researched what specific tools/equipment were called, how they were used, etc. And while I’ve visited Winter Park, CO a number of times, I had to research the names of areas, where there was water, etc. Usually I’ll check several sources and if the information I’ve found is consistent, I know I can trust those sources. If not, I keep looking. Gotta love Google for that!

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

STACY: What I like most is the satisfaction of seeing a story unfold and how characters react to the issues that crop up. And especially how they come to understand who God is and what that means for their life. In some stories, the characters have had a basic faith/understanding of God and that has grown. In others, they had no knowledge of God and it was a game changer as they met people on their journey who introduced them to Christ, shared their faith, and helped the character get on the right track.
What I like least is writing the first draft. I much prefer the editing process, so I really have to force myself to get the story on paper in an absolutely rough, ugly draft, then I happily edit from there.

JAN: I’m with you there. What are some of the best methods of promoting your work?

STACY: Word of mouth and reviews are always the best ways for books to be discovered by new readers. It is very, very difficult to be noticed in today’s overcrowded world of books being released every single day. And as an indie author (self-published), I cringe at some of the very poorly written/edited indie books out there. Those books give the world a bad impression of indie authors. Those of us who put the time, effort, and money into making our books as professional as possible are impacted negatively by others who just wanted to “write a book.”

JAN: Yup, yup. What are your favorite / most effective social media?

STACY: A mix of Facebook and Amazon. I’ve found spending money on the ads doesn’t really generate much interest, while interacting with people, putting the book on sale occasionally, and posting other people’s impressions is far more effective.

JAN: Good to know. How do you balance professional time with personal time?

STACY: Now that our kids are grown (we have 4 grandkids now), I have a lot more time to write, so it’s not so difficult to balance the two. I can write late at night or early in the morning, or whenever I want, and still have space in my day for personal time.

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

STACY: I’m reading the 2ndMosaic Collection book to release, Unbound by Eleanor Bertin. I much prefer print but sometimes digital is easier (if I’m traveling, or find I have unexpected free time but don’t have the print copy with me).

JAN: Just for interest sake, what are some of your favorite things? What makes you unique?

STACY: Not sure about what makes me unique, but my favorite things are good books, good chocolate, and spending time with family (especially our grands). Favorite season is autumn (followed by my very, very least favorite, winter). Favorite color is purple. And I love creating new characters, new worlds, and new ways for God to show up.

JAN: What keeps you going in your writing career?

STACY: When I’ve gotten worn down or discouraged and decided to put writing on the back burner, God has provided just what I needed to recharge (a nice review, encouragement from friends and other authors). It’s a lonely process so it’s easy to get caught up in negative thoughts, comparisons to others who seem much more successful. Spending time chatting with other writers, encouraging them, and celebrating the milestones and goals of dear friends always cheers me up and sends me back to the keyboard.

JAN: You feel better when you cheer others on. I like that. How is your faith reflected in your writing?

STACY: I’m a follower of Christ whose main desire is to illustrate how much God loves us and longs to be in relationship with us. My stories always seem to have an element of identity in them–people searching for theirs, or the way they perceive themselves has changed. Always, it comes back to being grounded first and foremost in our identity as a child of God. He is what defines us, not the world around us, and that weighs heavy on my heart as I listen to people around me who struggle with understanding who they are and what their purpose is. When we follow the world, we will always be left wanting, and lacking in comparison to what the world says we should be/do/act, etc. When we follow Christ, we may still struggle but we can always come back to the foundation of our identity and start again.

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

STACY: I think identity is a theme in my stories because it’s something I’ve struggled with throughout my life. When I finally understood that I’m the beloved of God, even in my daily sins, it changed how I view the world. Each story unveils a new layer to that knowledge and understanding. It’s a process!

JAN: What is your ultimate writing goal?

STACY: Is dying at my computer a goal? Just kidding (sort of). I hope I never stop writing, and that God continues to speak to others through the stories He gives me.

JAN: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

STACY:  Know that this is not easy, no matter what anyone says. You will not (unless you’re one of those very, very few people who gets “discovered” early) become an overnight sensation. Never stop learning and growing, encouraging others and letting them encourage you. And compare yourself only to what God is calling you to do. Your journey will not look like anyone else’s and that’s okay! As long as you stay on your unique path, God will continue to unveil new things and lead you forward.

JAN: Thanks so much, Stacy, for taking time to answer these questions and let us get to know you better.

Readers, see below for Stacy’s photo, bio and social media links.

Author Stacy Monson

 

Stacy Monson is the award-winning author of The Chain of Lakes series, including Shattered Image, Dance of Grace,and The Color of Truth, and also Open Circle. Her stories reveal an extraordinary God at work in ordinary life. She’s an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the MN Christian Writers Guild (MCWG). Residing in the Twin Cities, she is the wife of a juggling, unicycling recently-retired physical education teacher, mom to two amazing kids and two wonderful in-law kids, and a very proud grandma of 4 (and counting) grands.

 

 

 

Let’s Connect!

For news about upcoming books, contests, giveaways, and other fun stuff – stop by www.stacymonson.com and sign up for her monthly newsletter. You can find information about her speaking ministry there, as well.

Facebook         https://www.facebook.com/stacymmonson/

Twitter            @StacyMonson

Instagram        https://www.instagram.com/stacy_monson

Pinterest          https://www.pinterest.com/stacymonson/

Goodreads       https://wwwgoodreadscomstacy_monson

Books by Stacy Monson

When Mountains Sing, Book 1 in My Father’s House series

Open Circle

The Chain of Lakes series:

Award-winning stories of loss, redemption, love, and truth.

Shattered Image

Dance of Grace

The Color of Truth

Read Full Post »

JAN: Today I’m interviewing Canadian author, Sara Davison.

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

Sara Davison

SARA: I have been seriously writing for about 14 years, but it is something I have done informally all of my life. In grade 4 my class took a trip, and my write-up was chosen to go in the school newsletter. I can still remember the feeling of seeing my words in print and knowing others were reading them. I believe I knew from that moment on that that’s what I wanted to do with my life.

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

SARA: Definitely my grade 9 English teacher who read several of my pieces of writing to the class and was a huge encouragement to me. My husband and family have also been a tremendous source of support – without them I never would have had the courage or tenacity to persevere in what can be a difficult and discouraging business. I’ve been a huge bookworm all my life too, so many, many authors have influenced me to want to imitate them and their incredible ability to take me away to another world. Writers like C.S. Lewis, Roald Dahl, Madeleine L’Engle, Louisa May Alcott, and Lucy Maud Montgomery, to name a very few.

JAN: What’s your preferred genre?

SARA: I never made a conscious decision to write inspirational romantic suspense, but every time I sat down to write, those are the stories that came out. I guess because it is my favourite genre to read. I definitely prefer contemporary to historical, and am always looking for a story that keeps me on the edge of my seat with my heart pounding, so romantic suspense is my preferred genre both for reading and writing.

JAN: Why do you write?

SARA: It’s a bit of a cliché, but true nonetheless—I write because I can’t not write. God gives me stories and story ideas and I feel as though I have to get them down on paper or I will burst. I completely understand Eric Liddell’s assertion that God created him fast, and when he runs, he feels God’s pleasure. I feel exactly the same when I am writing, as though it is exactly what I was created to do and the way that God wants to use me to bring glory to him, which I pray all of my writing does.

JAN: What a great feeling to know that God wants you doing exactly what you’re doing. How and where do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

SARA: I love to write in coffee shops, but I do most of my writing in my office at home. I can’t write longhand as I am so out of practice that my hand quickly gets tired, and I can’t write nearly as fast as the ideas come to me, so I always use a computer. As for being a plotter or pantser, I’m actually more of a plotser or a pantter – somewhere in the middle of the two. I like to have a fairly good idea of where I am going with the story before I begin. I like to know the beginning and the end and to have a sense of how I am going to get there, but I don’t outline so tightly that the story and the characters aren’t free to take me where they will, because for me, that’s the fun of writing. I often sit down at the computer, as interested as any of my readers will be in seeing what is going to happen next. I also consider myself a reasonably lazy writer, so I only do enough research to ensure that what is included in the story is credible and accurate, but then I basically just like to make stuff up.

The Seven Trilogy by Sara Davison

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

SARA: In the introduction to Stephen King’s book, On Writing, he says he enjoys getting together with other author friends because none of them ever asks where the ideas come from – they all know that none of them know. I was very relieved to read that, as I find this an extremely difficult question to answer. I have a lot of author friends who are inspired by what is going on around them. They get excited when we’re out when something happens or they see an interesting person and they immediately start scribbling notes down to use in their stories. I don’t see the world that way. Pretty much everything I write comes from inside somewhere, not outside me. I know that God gives me the ideas because I feel closer to him when I am writing than just about any other time – writing is a deeply spiritual experience for me in that way.

JAN: I guess I don’t agree with Stephen King on that! I’ve asked this question in countless interviews and received some fascinating answers, including yours! We’re all unique.

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

SARA: I’m not sure I understand the question – if it’s on the Internet, it has to be true, right? Ha ha. Okay, the thing is, as I mentioned above, I really don’t enjoy research and only do what I need to do in order to make sure that what I am putting in the book is accurate. I check more than one source (other than Wikipedia) online, but my preference is to have someone who knows more about a certain field or occupation than I do read it over. For example, since one of my main characters in The Seven Trilogy is in the military, I not only did research online, but one of my editors had been in the military herself, which was incredibly helpful. For Vigilant, since one of the heroes is a cop, I had a friend, a former police officer, read over the manuscript to ensure accuracy. For me it is easiest to just write the story and then have someone with more expertise check over it for me which, so far, has worked out quite well.

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

SARA: What I like most about writing is putting a book out there and then having readers respond with positive comments. The absolute best are the readers that tell me the book really got them thinking about God or examining their relationship with him. If I hear that anything in my books got people thinking or discussing anything, particularly spiritual matters, that is the greatest thrill of all. The downside of writing, of course, is that it can be an incredibly discouraging business that constantly undermines self-confidence. Over and over I have to remind myself that I am not writing for sales numbers, awards, accolades, or positive reviews. I am writing in obedience to God – to his calling on my life. I believe that because he gives me the stories, he has a purpose for them. If that purpose is for five people or five thousand or five million to read them, that’s up to him. I have to trust that if I write the books to the best of my ability and market them as much as time and resources allow, God will take care of ensuring that the purpose he has for them will be fulfilled. And at that point, whatever the response from others has been, I have to consider them a success.

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

SARA: Facebook is actually my favourite method of interacting with readers and promoting my work. Like most writers, marketing and promotion are the least appealing aspects of the writing business, but I do find an Author page on Facebook, or a closed launch team group, or writing or reading-themes groups are excellent ways to interact with other writers and readers, not only about my work but about the work of other authors I enjoy.

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

SARA: Not very well, to be honest. I love what I do – I write and I also have an editing business, both of which I do from home. The positives of that are that I don’t have to get up and go out in the morning, so it doesn’t matter to me what the weather or traffic is like. I love being home and being available to my three teenagers, and I am comfortable working in my office. The downside is that there is no way to punch out of work. Even when I do take a break to spend time with family or to watch something on television (usually sports), it’s in the back of my mind that I should be working. I have to be really intentional about taking breaks and about trying to let go of thinking about what I could be doing if I was back on my computer.

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

SARA: I am just about finished Lindsay Harrel’s The Secrets of Paper and Inkwhich is really good. Next on my TBR is Wooing Cadie McCaffrey by Bethany Turner. Actually not the genre I typically read, but I met both of them at the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat this year so I was interested in reading their books. I definitely prefer paper, but I am also slowly warming up to reading on my Kindle. It’s handy when I am out somewhere and waiting for my kids to come out of school or appointments, or sitting in a waiting room. And if the power ever goes out or I don’t want to disturb my husband when he’s sleeping, it’s great to be able to read without turning on a light. So I do enjoy it, but will always prefer the feel, smell etc. of holding an actual book in my hands.

JAN: Same. I’m getting more into Kindle because it’s so handy. What are some of your favorite things? What makes you unique?

SARA: Some of my favourite things are: live theatre; watching sports (especially hockey and baseball); chocolate; reading and writing, of course; going out for coffee with friends; movies, especially old black and white ones and most especially anything with Jimmy Stewart or Cary Grant; relaxing on the shore of a lake, road trips, spending time with my family, especially weekends away with my husband. I’m not really sure what makes me unique – I lead a fairly quiet life, by choice, so maybe what makes me unique is that I am never bored and, for the most part, I am deeply content.

JAN: I get that. What keeps you going in your writing career?

SARA: Three things keep me going—the deeply-held belief that it is what God has called me to do and it is how he uses me to bring him glory and to do ministry; the support and encouragement of family, friends, and other authors; and positive feedback from readers.

JAN: How is your faith reflected in your writing?

SARA: While I have a dread fear of writing anything that sounds preachy, I do hope and pray that clear spiritual messages emerge from my writing as readers read my books. Different books have different themes, but the one constant truth I pray all my readers take away with them is that they are never alone. God hasn’t promised us that we won’t have trouble or even suffer greatly in life, but he has promised that he will never leave us or forsake us, and that is underlying theme of all my books.

JAN: I’ve certainly “heard” that theme in your books. What are some things you learned from your own writing?

SARA: I strongly believe that Christian fiction needs to be rooted in solid theology, so I am very careful about what I include in my books. I check my own theology against the Bible and against the teaching of hundreds of years of church history and against solid contemporary theologians. If I can’t prove what my characters are saying or experiencing on a spiritual level from the Bible, I won’t include it in my books, so I have learned a lot of theology and doctrine since I have started writing, which actually could be included in my list of favourite things to do.

JAN: What is your ultimate writing goal?

SARA: My ultimate writing goal is to produce works of excellence that glorify God, draw others closer to him, and fulfil whatever purpose he has for them.

Sara Davison’s latest book

JAN: Any advice for beginning writers?

SARA: A writer I admire once said that we have no idea what we don’t know when we are starting out as writers. Personally, I have found that to be true, so the two biggest pieces of advice I like to offer beginning writers are 1) be teachable. Take every opportunity to learn and grow. Accept constructive criticism and try to learn something from negative feedback. Be humble and always, always strive to go deeper and achieve greater excellence with every piece of writing you produce. And 2) if you believe in your work, never ever give up. Perseverance is the key to making it in this crazy business, so take every rejection as an opportunity to learn and grow and to improve your writing and then submit it somewhere else until you find someone who believes in it as much as you do.

JAN: Great advice. Thank you so much, Sara, for taking the time to answer these questions so we can get to know you and your work better. I wish you all the best as you continue on in your writing career, as God has called you.

To learn more about Sara, check out her website. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today I’d like to introduce you to Bonnie Rawling, a new author with one book out and another in the works. Since Bonnie has written a non-fiction story about her life, her responses will be different from my usual fiction authors’.

      Bonnie Rawling

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

BONNIE:  I started my book about 15 years ago, and after many failed attempts, along with the busyness of life, I finally finished it in 2016. I always knew I would write a book about my story, I just needed to get through to the other side of some things before I could write from a healthy perspective.

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

BONNIE:  I would say my biggest influence was my desire to share my experience of how God completely healed me by His touch, and began the metamorphic changes in me.

JAN:  What’s your preferred genre?

BONNIE:  Real and authentic stories.

JAN:  Why do you write? You’ve hinted at this already, but fill us in a bit more.

BONNIE:  I write because I want to share a message of hope to a hurting world. If I can impact just one life with my story and my writing, it will have been worth it. If I can help just one person know the Jesus that I know, it will have been worth it.

JAN: That’s a lofty and worthy goal, and after reading your book, I’m sure you are greatly influencing your readers.

How and where do you write?

BONNIE:  I have to write near a large window or outside on the deck. Always with my feet up in my recliner or glider rocker with my lap table on my lap.

JAN: What inspires you?

BONNIE:  I can only imagine writing about real stories.

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

BONNIE:   I am a journaler. All of my sources for my books have involved reviewing stacks of journals.

JAN:  The best way to accurately reveal what happened at certain times in life. What do you like most/least about writing?

BONNIE:  What I like most about writing is the depth of being able to bring a thought or an experience to life so that my reader is able to know and feel exactly what was happening in the moment. What I like the least is final edits, more edits, and more edits!

JAN:  Yes, that’s a challenge and seems to go on and on. I can’t seem to stop tweaking mine! What are your favorite/most effective methods of promoting your work?

         Bonnie’s first book

BONNIE:  The best way that I have found to promote my book is touring with my husband where I speak and he sings, or I send books along with him when he goes on tour by himself.

JAN:  That’s a great opportunity for you. Do you have favorite social media that are effective for promotion?

BONNIE:  To be honest, I try to avoid social media, though I know it would probably help my book distribution. I’d just rather not join the drama.

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

BONNIE:  All of my children are grown and out of the house, so balancing professional and personal time is easier now. I usually write for three to four hours in the afternoon, after I’ve finished my personal devotion time. If I’m really on a roll then I write until I am tired and can’t think anymore.

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

BONNIE:  To be honest I am not really a reader, but currently I am reading through the Bible again. It’s a pretty good book! I would recommend it! I much prefer print!

JAN: I agree. There’s no other book like the Bible that I can read again and again and never tire of, and always learn something new. What are some of your favorite things? What makes you unique?

BONNIE:  My favorite things: spending time with my Lord…days of fasting and prayer, my grandchildren, gardening, sewing, knitting, soaking up Vitamin D, swimming, curling. What makes me unique…my abandoned faith.

JAN:  What do you mean by abandoned faith? Does it refer to living your faith with abandon?

BONNIE: I suppose the best way for me to explain abandoned faith is using the illustration of Peter getting out of the boat.

Seven years ago, the Lord called Bruce and I to sell our acreage in Taber, Alberta and come follow Him. So we sold or gave away, or stored everything that we had, left our careers behind, and moved into a bus.

That began a wonderful journey of listening closely to “the Wind of the Holy Spirit” and being trained in obedience to go wherever he sent us. It’s kind of like the last paragraph in my book where I describe the horse that has been bridled to be broken, submissive, and obedient to His will for my life.

JAN:  Thanks for the story. Your faith-in-action inspires me. What keeps you going in your writing career?

BONNIE:  I don’t really feel that I have a writing career; I just wanted to write my story and share my faith.

JAN:  Simple and honest. So how is your faith reflected in your writing?

BONNIE:  My writing is all about my faith, I hope that is what is most reflected in my story.

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

BONNIE:  One thing I learned from my own writing is that I can be very repetitious and wordy! Lol

JAN:  I know what you mean, speaking for myself here! What is your next writing goal?

BONNIE:   To finish my second book.

JAN:  That would be a good focus. Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

BONNIE:  I would consider myself a beginner writer so I don’t feel I could offer any advice.

JAN:  Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me, Bonnie. I encourage you to keep telling your story so others can benefit from the hope you offer in Jesus. This world certainly can use that kind of hope. All the best as you continue to allow God to use you in His service.

 

Read Full Post »

I recently came across the following quote sometimes attributed to motivational speaker Tony Robbins: “If you do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always gotten.”

The quote resonates with me, because I am preparing to launch a new book the same way I launched the previous two, yet expecting it to sell better than they did. How can I honestly expect anything different if my plan of action is the same as it was? Or if I don’t really have a plan? Obviously, I desperately need to redirect the process this time.

              photo credit to pixabay.com

If my expectations aren’t being met, if my goals go unachieved, then something has to change.

How will I go about making the necessary changes?

  1. Become aware of the problem. In other words, stop pretending it’s not there. Stop denying.
  2. Decide what I want to accomplish. What are my goals? My expectations?
  3. Decide when I want to accomplish my goals.
  4. Decide how to meet these goals. This may take a bit more effort to break down, but this might be a good time to put the SMART method into action. I was reminded of this at an InScribe WorDshop I attended in Saskatoon this spring, in a workshop led by Sally Meadows, who expanded the acronym to SMARTER:

S — Specific

M— Measurable

A— Actionable

R— Risky (discomfort can be a catalyst for growth)

T— Time-keyed

E— Exciting

R— Relevant

  1. And one more thing. I need to make myself accountable to someone, at regular intervals. I need to reassess my progress from time to time. And I need that objective viewpoint to encourage me forward.

               photo credit to pixabay.com

Even if the changes I make are small, the outcome will improve. And life is for learning.

Read Full Post »

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

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Pinterest | YouTube | Amazon

 

Read Full Post »

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.

 

Read Full Post »

December 2018 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Amish Romance:

The Amish Sweet Shop by Laura Bradford, Mary Ellis, and Emma Miller — It’s almost Valentine’s Day at Beechy’s Sweets, where the Amish gifts of love and faith are even sweeter than the home-made candy. In The Sweetest Courtship by Emma Miller, bachelor Jacob Beechy is a master candy maker whose mother longs for grandchildren, so she sets out to find him an assistant confectioner during the Valentine’s holiday—and a wife. In The Sweetest Truth by Laura Bradford, Sadie Fischer can’t see beyond her scars from a barn fire, but there’s a young man who sees only sweetness when he looks at her, and he’s sending her Beechy’s chocolate and mysterious gifts leading up to Valentine’s Day. In Nothing Tastes So Sweet by Mary Ellis, Pregnant widow Hannah wants to buy her English employer’s hardware store, but ends up following a clue from Beechy’s to clear a man’s name—and finds a partnership in work, faith, and love. (Amish Romance from Kensington)

Amish Christmas Memories by Vannetta Chapman — When a young Amish woman collapses in the snow shortly before Christmas, Caleb Wittmer rushes to her aid. Only, “Rachel” remembers nothing of who she is. Now his family has taken in the pretty stranger, disrupting Caleb’s ordered world. He’s determined to find out where she belongs…even if Rachel’s departure means saying goodbye to his old-fashioned heart forever. (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Quilt for Jenna (Apple Creek Dreams #1) by Patrick E. Craig — On her way to win a quilting competition—and a ticket out of Amish life, Jerusha finds her God, her missing husband, and a lost little girl in the heart of the Storm of The Century. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

The Road Home (Apple Creek Dreams #2) by Patrick E. Craig — Adopted into an Amish family as a child, local historian Jenny Springer is looking for the parents she never knew. When Jenny meets Jonathan Hershberger, a drifter from San Francisco who lands in Apple Creek fleeing a drug deal gone wrong, she is intrigued by this Englischer with an Amish name, and offers to help him discover his Amish roots. While Jonathan discovers his need for home, family, and a relationship with God, Jenny finds more than she hoped for—truth and love and the knowledge that you can go home again. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

Jenny’s Choice (Apple Creek Dreams #3) by Patrick E. Craig — When Jenny’s husband disappears in a terrible boating accident, she returns home to Apple Creek, Ohio and her adoptive parents. Working through her grief, she pursues newfound writing dreams and is presented with a possible romance with a handsome young publisher, until the elders of her church confront her consideration of going outside her faith to pursue her dreams. At the same a faint hope that her husband might someday be found alive holds her heart in the past. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

Minding the Amish Baby by Carrie Lighte — Amish store clerk Tessa Fisher isn’t ready for marriage or a family—until a baby girl is abandoned on her doorstep. Now Tessa and her gruffly handsome landlord, Turner King, must mind the baby together. And soon Turner and the sweet-cheeked kind are burrowing into Tessa’s heart. But with secrets between them, can the temporary family find a way to stay together forever? (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)

Contemporary Romance:

Who I Am with You by Robin Lee Hatcher — Jessica was pregnant and facing divorce when her husband and daughter were killed in a car accident. Withdrawing from friends and family, she feels far away from God. Then months later she receives her great-grandfather’s Bible at her grandmother’s funeral. Ridley has suffered his own loss. Bitter over disgrace at his job, an ended career, and subsequent breakup with is girlfriend, he retreats to a vacation property owned by his parents to lick his wounds and hide from the press. Thumbing through the Bible later, Jessica journeys through the aged margin notes, back to faith and wholeness. And the broken roads they have followed bring Jessica and Ridley to each other as well. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Historical:

Three Christmas Novellas by Mary Connealy — Three Christmas Novellas in one volume: Long Horn Christmas, The Sweetest Gift and The Christmas Candle. (Historical, Independently Published)

The Making of Mrs. Hale by Carolyn Miller — Can a runaway marriage ever be redeemed? Julia Hale ran off to be married in Gretna Green, following romance instead of common sense. But her tale isn’t turning into a happily ever after. Her new husband is gone and she doesn’t know where—or if he’s ever coming back. Julia has no option but to head home to the family she betrayed by eloping and to hope they’ll forgive her.Along the way she will learn how relationship with God can bring restoration and hope, and find the answers she needs both for her husband and her future. (Historical, Kregel Publications)

Child of Light by Annette O’Hare — While praying for her own Christmas miracle after five years in a childless marriage, Margaret offers aide to a destitute and expectant young woman during the holidays. She is condemned for her decision to help a woman of ill repute and must face the consequences of doing what is right. Will Margaret’s prayers for a child of her own be answered this Christmas or does God have something else in store? (Historical from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson — Inspired by a Gripping True Story from World War II’s Daring Doolittle Raid–Japan, 1948: A prostitute seeks her revenge; a war hero finds his true mission. (Historical from Mountain Brook Ink)

Historical Romance:

The MissAdventure Brides Collection by Mary Davis, Cynthia Hickey, Kathleen E. Kovach, Debby Lee, Donna Schlachter, Marjorie Vawter, and Kimberley Woodhouse — Seven daring damsels refuse to let the cultural norms of their eras hold them back! Follow along as they trek the wilderness as a fur trapper; teach in the backwoods; campaign for women’s rights; breed llamas; drive cross-country; become a hotel tour guide; and pursue art. Will they meet men who admire their bravery and determination? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Kiss Me Once Again by Gail Kittleson — When Glenora Carson’s first love perishes along with the crew of the U.S.S. Arizona on December 7, 1941, she locks away her heart and her dreams of attending college on scholarship, instead choosing to hold down the home front by helping out the family business – Carson’s Garage. The grease-stained overalls don’t do much to compliment her female figure, but they cover her female heart well enough. That is, until Hank Anderson, a wounded warrior back from battle, walks into the garage and into Glenora’s life. Is an old maid’s future Glenora’s fate, or will Cupid throw a wrench in her plans? (Historical Romance from WordCrafts Press)

Stagecoach to Liberty by Janalyn Voigt — Can a desperate young woman trust the handsome Irish stranger who wants to free her from her captors? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: