Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.
The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Georgia Varozza is StillMagnolia! Please email my assistant Amy with your mailing address. (email@example.com)
This week Gina Holmes is in the Spotlight! To win a copy of Gina’s new book, Dry As Rain, leave a comment on this post!
Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
I am married to the love of my life, Adam. We have 5 children between us, 3 girls, 2 boys. Our two oldest daughters are in college, followed by a 4th, 8th and 9th grader. I write full time, and do some nursing on the side here and there. I was working full time when I was writing my sophomore novel, out now, Dry as Rain. It was just too much and so when I signed another contract with Tyndale House, I quit. I’m finding myself getting stir crazy at home full time so I’ve taken on a part-time, seasonal gig giving flu vaccines. It’s really hard for me to sit still!
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
I started out writing suspense because I grew up reading Dean Koontz, Stephen King, etc. My first few suspense were not picked up and I’m so grateful now because something happened to change what I wanted to write. I started reading these amazing books outside the suspense genre. Stuff like Peace Like a River, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Memoirs of a Geisha, When Crickets Cry, etc and I found myself wanting to try my hand at a slower, character driven novel. Crossing Oceans, my debut, was that first attempt.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I’ve always known I could write. In school, everyone dreaded the essay question while I thought it was easy credit. When I was a stay-at-home mom, I was looking for a way to bring in extra cash and thought writing would be easy money. It’s okay to laugh. I started writing everything from children’s stories to greeting cards and articles. I had minimal success. One day at church a young lady mentioned she was writing her second novel—she was only 17. I thought, if she can do it, so can I.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
Ten or eleven years. Lots of small victories and near misses along the way. Every time I had prepared to give up, God sent some encouragement to prod me along.
Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?
Sometimes I’ll light a candle, play mood music, put my beta fish near me and a bowl of sunflower seeds. I have an office but I generally sit at the dining room table because it’s in front of a window and I like to stare out while I’m writing. I tend to spend a lot of my writing day doing blog and website stuff, and promotion. So far, I haven’t been one of those people who can sit down and write nonstop for hours. I tend to write a few paragraphs, do a load of laundry, write a few more-answer emails, etc. It’s not the most efficient system but it works for me.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
1. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King
2. Participating in a good online critique group.
3. Writer’s conferences. My first was Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference. Can’t recommend it enough.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
Early on, I had the same ideas that most people have about becoming a novelist. I thought it would be glamorous and I’d be rich and famous. Once I started Novel Rocket (then, First Novel Journey… Novel Journey), I had interviewed enough novelists to begin to see the light that it wasn’t what I thought. I work my butt off with more promotion then I ever would have imagined. Even when people love my books, they’re not necessarily enamored with me the author.
What are your biggest distractions?
For me, e-mail, housework and my very handsome husband.
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
One of the best… getting the call from my agent, Chip MacGregor that Tyndale was offering me a contract. Nothing since has quite compared, although the Christy nom and making PW, ECPA and CBA’s bestseller lists were pretty exciting!
The worst… When one of my novels went to pub board and I was sure it was going to get picked up, but then didn’t. That was hard.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
The least… having people think I’m rich. I do better than most and still I made much more as a nurse. The most… receiving letters that tell me how much my book touched someone’s life.
What is the role and importance of an agent?
For me, Chip, my agent got me much more money and better terms than I could have gotten on my own. I think just the fact that someone with such high standards took me on made the publishing houses interested. In my case, Chip also serves as an editor, a marketing guru, and someone to bounce ideas off of. He guides my career and isn’t afraid to tell me when I need to turn a different direction for my own good.
What advice would you give to new writers?
I know it’s not going to help, because I heard the same advice but please understand that it’s probably going to be a long road. The longer you’re held back, the better it will be for you, trust me. With each manuscript you finish, you will become a better writer, build your networking, figure out who’s who in the business. Take a deep breath, relax, don’t plan on your first novel getting published or second, or third. You will be grateful down the line that they didn’t.
Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your book.
Dry as Rain is the story of a couple that drifts apart one unkind word and misunderstanding until the seemingly unforgiveable sin of adultery is committed. Just when it looks like reconciliation is an impossibility, an accident erases the past, giving them a second chance at love.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
I’m working on my 3rd novel for Tyndale. It’s the story of an abused woman who borrows a backbone from a friend, just long enough to grow her own. It’s my favorite story so far!
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)
Haha. Thank you!