Ever wish you could sit down with an author over a cup of coffee or tea or hot chocolate and ask them a bunch of questions?
Well, look no further!
Once a month, I’ll be featuring an author whose published work I’ve read or who I know personally (whose unpublished work I’ve read). Every interview, I ask the same questions so that you know what to expect and so you can compare answers between authors if that’s your thing.
I ask some personal questions, a few fun ones, and then I dig into the meat – I ask about their writing. This is a great place to find some tips or tricks that might work to help you with your writing. The more I learn about how others write, the bigger my writing toolbox gets.
I recently read and reviewed Jeannie’s newest book/devotional on prayer, Talking to Jesus.
- Where did you grow up and do you live around there still? What drew you to where you live now?
I grew up in Colorado and I still live in Colorado. I came to Colorado University and fell in love with this place. The mountains, the university, the city, the people, the active lifestyle, and I met my husband, Zane, at CU.
- Dogs or cats?
Dogs! I’ve had two labs, one chocolate one yellow.
- Morning person or night owl?
- Coffee or apple cider or hot chocolate?
Coffee with steamed half and half and cinnamon sprinkled on top. (Honestly, I’m a coffee snob.)
- City or country or ‘burbs?
I don’t know what you’d call where I live… foothills? – so mountains but with a nice city too. (but not a big city…and I LOVE the ocean but have never lived near it for more than a month.)
- Favorite music to write to? (or silence?)
Dallas String Quartet – instrumental – no words
- Favorite movie? (It’s okay if there’s a few… I’m not sure I could narrow down to less than 10, haha!)
Yeah, I have lots. I love going to a movie. But here’s what first comes to mind: Princess Bride, Up, and I love “based on true story” inspirational movies – last year Hidden Figures!
- What do you do when you’re not writing?
Love to be outdoors. Hike, bike, run, ski, scuba dive, amateur photographer. I’m also an avid reader
- Top 3 MUST READ books?
Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott,
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg,
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King.Fiction:
Bel Canto, Ann Patchett,
All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr,
Chronicles of Narnia, S. Lewis (I would highly recommend reading these out loud to your kids)
- When did you first know you were a writer? Was there a specific moment when you thought “yes, I want to be a writer” or has it always been part of you?
As a young girl, I loved language arts, reading and writing. Then at CU I was in the Business School and knew for certain I was going to fail business math. I switched to Journalism, to avoid math, and loved it. I even got my masters in journalism.
- When did you decide to pursue writing as a career? How did those closest to you respond?
See above. Very supportive
- What is your general writing process?
I set aside specific work time, usually 10-2:00 Tuesday thru Friday – and really protect this time. I start with a rough outline and plan out what I want to write before I dive in. If I have trouble getting started, I will free write for 10 minutes about anything. Can find good writing prompts online or in a writing book. Then I write. I work best with deadlines. I like to write in an environment with a little buzz of activity around me like coffee shops or Panera Bread. Last year, a guy donated a space to me at “the Hub.” (A co-working space.) It was awesome. I procrastinate when I work at home and get easily distracted.
- What is your general editing process? How long do you wait between finishing the first draft and starting to edit?
I usually edit while I write. Then when finished I do a thorough edit. Sometimes I put it aside for a week or two, unless I have a deadline. I also try to always have another pair of eyes look at it.
- Do you use alpha/beta readers? How do you find them?
It depends on the book and who it’s for. I’ve had an advisory team of women for a book I wrote for Mothers of Preschoolers, who read each chapter and worked through the book with me. I found them through my job as the publishing manager for MOPS Intl. and I’ve had friends and family read. But yes, always have readers.
- How many times do you edit your manuscript before sending it off to your editor/publisher.
I edit several times, I never feel like I’m done editing. Stephen King writes at some point you just have to “kill the beast” and send it off to someone else. With a book I do a thorough edit, then hire a professional editor. Then the publisher’s acquisitions editor edits it, then there are line-by-line editors. (And even after all that there are still mistakes, it makes a writer crazy.)
- How do you work your writing/research? Do you write a bit first and then research? Research and then write? Some other combination?
I research as I write.
- What is the best piece of writing advice someone gave you?
Never, never, never give up. An editor for Guideposts says this a lot, but originally it was Winston Churchill. One of my other favorite quotes is “I’m a little pencil in the hand of God writing a love letter to the world.” Corrie Ten Boom. One more. Always keep your audience in mind. Sometimes I’ll put up a photo of the person I picture I’m writing to. Such as a young mom holding baby and a toddler clinging to her leg.
- Do you have a writing mentor? How did you find this person?
Yes. When I had my first son I didn’t want to go back to work full-time and wanted to start free-lance writing. A woman I knew was doing this very successfully. I called and asked her if she’d meet with me and she said yes. She encouraged me so much and introduced me to other writers, editors etc. I value her friendship and guidance.
- What does your personal writing community look like?
I have a large writing community as I’ve been writing for 30 years. It’s very supportive.
- What are your go-to ways to overcome writer’s block?
I don’t believe in writer’s block. If you’re a truck driver, or a chef, you don’t forget how to drive or cook. But, at times there’s a lack of creativity or motivation. You have to push through it. You just have to write.
- If you could give starting out writers a piece of advice, what would you most want to tell them?
Buy a writing book once a year, maybe January, and work through it. Writing is a craft, and it’s hard work. Make sure to learn the craft of writing. I meet so many people who say they want to write a book but they know nothing about writing. It’s a skill you can always learn new techniques and improve with commitment and perseverance.
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