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Once a month, I’ll be featuring an author whose published work I’ve read or who I know personally (whose unpublished work I’ve read).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.
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.