Ever wish you could sit down with a cup o’ joe with a writer and ask all those pesky questions?
Well, you don’t have to because I did! Sort of.
This week we get to meet Rebekah Hargraves, the author of Lies Moms Believe that I reviewed last week. I could relate SO MUCH to some of the things she talked about in here and I think, whether you’re spiritual/religious or not, you’ll still be able to find some really good things in here.
If you haven’t entered the giveaway yet, be sure to check out last week’s post and enter!
- Where did you grow up and do you live around there still? What drew you to where you live now?
I was born in Conroe, TX (about 40 miles north of Houston), but my family moved to Chattanooga, TN when I was 12. My dad had always had a desire to move and we had family in TN, so it made sense. We absolutely love this area, and my husband and I (he is a native Chattanoogan) can’t imagine ever living anywhere else.
- Dogs or cats?
I love both. In some ways, I’m partial to dogs.
- Morning person or night owl?
Again, kinda both. 🙂 I do love to stay up late and watch movies or TV with my husband, but I also get up early with him every morning to enjoy breakfast before he leaves and have that quiet time to myself before our little ones get up.
- Coffee or apple cider or hot chocolate?
I’m a coffeeaholic! I like apple cider and hot chocolate during the holidays, but other than that, coffee all the way!
- City or country or ‘burbs?
I like aspects of all of them; sometimes it depends on my mood. lol But, overall, I love the feel of living on lots of land in the country (but also being not all that far to fun stores and things – I actually feel like we have that “best of both worlds” feeling here in Chattanooga).
- Favorite music to write to? (or silence?)
Most of the time it’s quiet when I write (though I love to hear the birds singing right outside the window beside my writing chair!). Occasionally I will listen to praise and worship music while I write.
- Favorite movie? (It’s ok if there’s a few – I’m not sure I could narrow down to less than 10, haha!)
haha That is hard! I love Christmas in Connecticut, the 1948 version of Little Women, various Christian films, Return to Me, The Sound of Music, and While You Were Sleeping.
- What do you do when you’re not writing?
Reading! haha Or keeping up with my kiddos and nannying/homeschooling the daughter of a family friend. I do also have an Etsy business that I give a little bit of my time to, and I also podcast.
- Top 3 MUST READ books?
Oh man, for a huge bibliophile like me, that’s hard! I adored The LifeGiving Home by Sally Clarkson. Dance, Stand, Run by Jess Connolly was excellent. And a brand new book, Searching for Spring by Christine Hoover is also great (it’s along some of the same lines as One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, another favorite!).
- 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?
haha The Lord definitely has a sense of humor, because it has not at all always been a part of me. I was homeschooled all 12 years and used to give my poor mom grief when she would assign me any kind of writing project – book report, essay, poem, anything! It was torture. But then, out of nowhere, I became super passionate about certain topics Biblically-speaking and started my first blog when I was 15. From then on I have been a writer and I can’t go more than a day or so without writing before I will feel as if I’m going to explode if I don’t sit down and write! It’s been a pretty crazy 180!
- When did you decide to pursue writing as a career? How did those closest to you respond?
I started my current blog about a month after my husband and I got married in 2014. In 2015 I had our first baby and became passionate about writing on topics pertaining to motherhood. From then on I knew I wanted to expand my writing into writing books. I found that I had so much to say on a host of various topics that I couldn’t just cram it all into simple little blog posts. Even though my mom knew my history and was still astounded that I liked to write now, at the same time she somehow wasn’t all that shocked. The way she describes it is just that by that point, even with my history, it just seemed like the natural next step after seeing all that God has done in my life. My husband was on board 110% and is so sweet about how excited he gets over my writing projects. My friends have all been super supportive, as well, which is a blessing.
- What is your general writing process?
My general practice is to brew a cup of coffee as soon as my husband leaves for work in the morning, sit down with my Bible, and spend some time with the Lord. After that, I start my writing time for the day. Oftentimes I utilize resources like blueletterbible.org and biblestudytools.com as I’m writing on whatever topic is at hand. I was daily on one or both of those sites throughout the writing of Lies Moms Believe (and again when writing the companion Bible study).
- What is your general editing process? How long do you wait between finishing the first draft and starting to edit?
Oftentimes I will write straight through whatever it is – a blog post, a chapter or section for a book, etc. in its entirety. Then (if it’s a blog post), I will go back through right away and read it, editing as necessary. Then I may sit on it for a couple days, come back and edit it once more.
- Do you use alpha/beta readers? How do you find them?
I am so blessed to have a mom who is both incredibly gifted in editing, grammar, concept flow, etc. and also really great at being unbiased. So she can read through a manuscript for a book and tell me where and how I might ought to tweak it. She’s typically my go-to first. My husband also reads what I’m working on as I’m working on it and then I have a few friends who do the same thing from time to time.
- How many times do you edit your manuscript before sending it off to your editor/publisher?
That’s a great question. So, for me, it largely depends on the project and it can definitely vary. So far, having only self-published, things have gone one way while here on out as I begin to work with my agent, I know things will be different for future books. But I would say that, thus far with my first book and with the Bible study, I read through and edited the various sections of them probably 3-5 times before I then gave them to my mom who did the same thing, and then we went from there.
- How did you come up with the idea for Lies Moms Believe?
So, here’s where the Lord’s sense of humor again manifests itself! I had always planned to have my first book be on the topic of the mommy wars, never even thinking of writing about lies moms are believing, per se. In April of 2017 I launched the podcast I had been doing the prep work on for a couple months, thinking that once that was finished, I would turn to the next big project, that of being writing my mommy wars book. However, the month before, in March of 2017, the idea popped into my head of writing a blog post entitled “Lies Moms Believe”. My plan was to cover 3-5 lies that I have found myself believing during my journey of motherhood thus far and then show how the Word of God refutes them. Interestingly (and, as I look back now, this was so clearly the hand of God leading all along the way!), a couple days before I was actually going to sit down to write it, the idea popped into my head to post on Instagram my article idea and to have the mamas who follow me share what the biggest lies are that they have been believing in motherhood. I was thinking that only a couple women would probably respond. I was shocked to receive 10 responses in just a few minutes! From there I ended up posting about it on FB and, to make a long story short, ended up with a 75,000 word book covering 32 different lies moms end up believing! It was crazy and totally all a God-thing!
- How did you generate or narrow down your list of lies?
Several of the lies in the book are ones I have struggled with myself, but quite a few of them came from the input I received from ladies on social media. At first glance as I read through some of the responses, I didn’t think I had struggled with a few of the lies submitted. But as I began to sit down, study the Word, and address those lies, I came to see just how much I actually had struggled with them, without even realizing it! That whole process was very sanctifying for me. As for the lies themselves that did get included into the book, some of the ones I received were all along the same lines and got paired together, in a sense, under one heading. But, other than that, I included into the book each and every lie that a fellow mama submitted to me online. I did face a bit of writer’s block at first on some of them (the ones I didn’t think I had struggled with before), but felt it important to address then anyway since I knew other moms were struggling with them and needed truth.
- What is the best piece of writing advice someone gave you?
Write in your own voice. Don’t try to copy the writing voice of someone else. You write as you feel called to write, by faith putting to good use the writing talent God gave you.
- What does your personal writing community look like?
It’s mostly online. My local friends aren’t really into writing in the same way I am. But online I have a wonderful group of friends that are such a blessing to me in my writing, offering me so much camaraderie, encouragement, fellowship, and inspiration. I chat with a couple of those friends on Voxer on a regular basis, another on Marco Polo, and then the others are in a blogging group I’m in on Facebook. It’s such a blessing to have that likeminded encouragement and fellowship of people who get it and know what it’s like to be a writer who is seeking to write to the glory of God.
- What are your go-to ways to overcome writer’s block?
Reading helps a lot. I begin to feel inspired as I read great writing. I also will just sit and ponder on various things for a minute, and that quiet thinking oftentimes helps to spark creativity for me. Coming up with an outline for whatever it is I’m writing helps a lot, too, with gaining focus on which direction to go in. And, sometimes, just typing up as much as I can (even if it is about an unrelated topic) can help to get the creative juices flowing.
- If you could give starting out writers a piece of advice, what would you most want to tell them?
Read a lot. Surround yourself with things that inspire you. Look to (and remain in!) your own lane, not making the mistake of comparing yourself to others. Write by faith, looking to the Lord for wisdom and direction. And, on a practical level, write every single day if you can. The more you write, the easier it will be. If you go long stretches without writing, you will begin to feel a bit rusty when you do go back to it. Make it your goal to write a certain number of words every day (or at least several times a week), and you will find it so much easier to write and grow in your writing craft.
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Also, also, if you’ve made it this far, perhaps you’re willing to go just a little further for me? I’ve submitted a piece into a contest where I need to be in the top 10 voted stories to be included in the final judging. Would you go read my entry, and if you feel it’s worthy, vote for me? And if you think it’s REALLY good, would you share it with your own social network, too? (Voting ends May 13, 2018) Thanks!