I wrote a few short stories in high school (and perhaps a poem or two), but more than writing, I loved to read. My first real novel was Roses for Mama by Janette Oake. My aunt gave it to me for Christmas when I was in my early teens, and I was hooked. The idea for the novel series I’m presently working on came to me one day while listening to a song, and so I started writing chapters for it just for fun. After a few years I got serious about it, and realized that I had finally found what I loved to do. I didn’t just want to write the book I was working on, but I wanted to keep writing. I love it.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Too long. But I think I’m getting faster.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I have no work schedule at present. I have four kids under 10, I’m pregnant and I homeschool—so I beg, borrow, and steal whatever hours of the day I can find. My husband likes that I write, though, so he is very supportive about watching the kids so I can get out of the house a few evenings a week to type, uninterrupted, at a local coffee shop.
Who is your publisher?
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like to read, do artsy projects, and turn out a successful homeschooling day with the kids.
What does your family think of your writing?
They’re young, but they seem to be happy for me. My husband is very supportive. In fact, he was the one who first encouraged me to write a book, and the first person to go around telling people that I was an author.
Which of your books is your favorite? And why?
Between my children’s book and my novel series, it would be my series hands down. I like my children’s story, but overall, adult fiction is what I want to write. Plus, I used a different publishing company with my children’s book, and my experience wasn’t as positive as it was with Selah Press. I won’t go back to the other company.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Lots of things. I wanted to be a teacher, a nurse, a cop, a missionary, a wife and mother, etc… The Lord gave me the latter, and now I can write about any of the former. Who says you can’t have it all? I am so not built for a nine to five. I thank God, every day, that I can stay home with my kids.
What books have most influenced your life?
That’s difficult for me to say. All books influence me to some extent, but mostly I read for enjoyment—literally for the love of reading a good sentence or being taken up into a good story. Scripture is what influences me the most.
Which writers inspire you?
Growing up, I loved Linda Chaikin, Bodie Thoene, and Gilbert Morris. I think their books are why I chose to write historical fiction. They do such an amazing job at it. I started reading Francine Rivers much later and loved her books as well. I usually stick to Christian fiction, but have read books like Memoirs of a Geisha and The Judas Tree that have some explicitness to them that I don’t care for, but also have an intensity to their stories that stuck with me long after I was finished reading them. I want to write stories that stick with you…that you have to think about and wish you weren’t done reading.
What was the hardest part of writing books?
Editing. Being okay with what I’ve written, and not constantly wanting to improve on it.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
The setting was 14th century England during the Black Plague, and there was a lot of research involved. I would have to stop every couple of sentences or paragraphs to make sure it was authentic—or authentic enough. There are always a few conflicting sources, or no information on what you most want to know. That can be frustrating.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Writing the dialogue. That’s where I build my characters. The scene descriptions are much harder for me.
Is there a message in your book(s) that you hope readers will grasp?
I hope that the Lord has put several messages into my writing that He wants someone to grasp. His messages are much better than mine.
What are your future project(s)?
I have three more in this series to publish, so that is my main focus. After that, I have another historical fiction series I’d like to start, along with several spin offs to my first series, a mystery novel I’d like to take a crack at, and eventually, a series of books for my ten-year-old daughter.
What are you working on at the minute?
A Christian historical series set in 14th century England during the Black Plague.
Why do you write?
Because God put it in my heart to do so. And I’ve been loving every agonizing self-deprecating minute of it!
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
From the time the inspiration hit me for Beneath Outstretched Arms to the time I actually started writing it in earnest was about 10 years. I wrote bits of the story along the way, but I wasn’t at all into being serious about it yet. I felt that I just didn’t have the time for all of the research, etc… (that’s when I only had one child). Then I read a series by Linda Chaikin (which I’d read at least twice before), and realized how much better her novels were than some others I’d read because of all the research she did. I wanted to be like her. Once I finished the last book of that series, I felt like I received the “okay” from the Lord. Even though I now had four kids, it was just the right timing, and so I brought home at least 19 books from the library and started the process.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
I don’t know exactly how much time I put into it. I homeschool the kids and then I write if at all possible. It would probably be most accurate to say that I’m actively trying to get book after book done, and not passively hoping that my thoughts will fly out of my head and leap onto the paper (which I wish were a thing, because I could definitely benefit from that).
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Definitely not structured. The only habits I’ve formed in the past few years are to walk a mile every morning and to maintain a consistently inconsistent schedule. I write anytime I can fit it in. Best stretch of time is usually in the evenings, but I like going to bed with my husband, so I try not to draw it out too long.
Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
I shoot for everyday and usually make at least 4-5 of them.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
No, but I’m new at this, and I’ve been reading online that a lot of people do. They keep track of how many words they can type in an hour and then see how much better they can do as time goes on. I’ve read that writing everyday will exercise your mind and help your thoughts to flow better with less time to jump back into your groove. I’ve thought about keeping track of this, but that requires remembering to write down my words and time…which would require me to form a habit. So the struggle continues.
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
Traditional paper/hard backs, but I’m not opposed to the other. They’re very convenient.
What book(s) are you reading at present?
I’m reading a nonfiction book called, Lord, Teach Me How to Pray in 28 Days by Kay Arthur and I plan on starting a fiction book called, The Heavens Are Telling by B.D. Riehl (the second in a Christian fictional series about human trafficking).
Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
Laurel Pepoon, an editor with Selah Press. She was wonderful.
Who designed your book cover(s)?
I designed the cover art, and then Amy Edwin brought it to life in colored pencil. Jennifer Smith from Selah Press then used it to design the front and back covers. I love how it turned out.
How do you market your books?
Still in the process of learning, but what I’ve used so far is Facebook, Twitter, word of mouth, and passing out some free copies to people who might share it with others. I’ve also entered it into a Readers Favorite Contest, and am anxiously awaiting the outcome of that. I plan on entering it into more as time goes on.
Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Unfortunately, no. I’m still sitting at the feet of others, myself. With four children, I barely have time to write, let alone market. Marketing can definitely feel daunting at times. I suppose if I had any advice, it would be to commit it to prayer and ask Him to guide you to the right opportunities. Ultimately, increase comes from the Lord and not from man.
What do you do to get book reviews?
I put my book in for a free review with Readers Favorite, which I received and was very pleased with. Anyone who tells me that they’ve read it, I ask if they’d mind putting a review on Amazon for me. This can be difficult, though, because I know a lot more people have read my book and told me they loved it, than have actually left me reviews. I may remind them once or twice, but I don’t want to pester them. In the end, I’m very happy they read and liked it. I know there are other ways to get reviews, but I haven’t researched them enough, and I know I don’t want to pay for them.
What’s your thoughts on social media for marketing?
I think it is extremely helpful. I may not have fully tapped into its potential yet, but I know it’s there. You can reach anyone through the internet. Pretty amazing!
What is your favorite motivational quote?
The Dean of Woman at Multnomah University once told me that we always have to keep our hands open. God will place things into them and take things away. We live to serve Him and we should do our best with what He puts in front of us. I’ve always remembered that.
Where can you see yourself in 5 years?
I’d like to see myself in Heaven. Lord, come quickly. But if he tarries, James 4:13-15 comes immediately to mind. So taking that into considerations, I would hope to have five more published books under my belt, to see all of my children walking in the Spirit (this is my greatest desire besides the return of the Lord, Himself), and to have had five more years of love and memories with my husband.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Learn how to form good habits before the habit of not forming them is so fully rooted.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Come find me on Facebook so we can “aspire” together I’m too new at this to have any sound advice, but I’d be happy to be your next beta reader, and encourage you to keep moving forward.