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.
This week we are featuring Jill Eileen Smith! To enter to win a copy of her book, Rachel (Revell), leave a comment on this post.
I’ve been married to hubby Randy for almost 37 years. Together we have three adult sons, and yes, we are empty nesters as of last year when our youngest son married his sweetheart. I write full-time from home.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
I write biblical fiction for Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. I love writing in this genre because it allows me to study the women of the Old Testament and call it work! There are some fascinating stories there, if we take the time to see them.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
Twenty years. I didn’t pursue publication in earnest that entire time, but I worked toward that goal. I nearly gave up a few months before my first series sold.
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?
I would change that to a good, strong cup of black tea. I like to ponder before I begin a new scene in a first draft. I will often do that by thinking of the story as I am falling asleep at night and picking it up again as I being my morning routine. I ask God for wisdom and understanding, and then try to imagine what came next, in keeping with the outline I have already fleshed out. I go more by word count than hours per day. I typically decide when I want a book’s first draft completed, do the math on how many words a week I need in order to achieve that goal, and then work to achieve it. I aim for about 1,000 words a day, 5,000 a week.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
My critique partners. Before I sold my first series I was part of a great critique group, all of whom sold before I did. But they were super supportive, and I would not be where I am today if not for them. That group disbanded, but I am still critiquing with Kathleen Fuller from that original group and with Jill Stengl, who has been a friend and critique partner for so long that I’m not sure I know how to write a book without brainstorming with her somewhere along the way!
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
I’m not sure I really had a vision for what it would be. I just knew I was wired to write. I’m happier having written, and I “can’t not write.” I’m a driven person, so deadlines, real or my own, are not new to me. The one thing I didn’t understand or envision was the response people would have to my being an author. The reactions are varying – not something I’m used to.
If you could create a perfect day for yourself, what would you do?
Spend the day with my husband and kids. We would visit someplace we all enjoy, eat out at a great restaurant and just talk and laugh, and maybe go to the movies afterward.
If you could cook one meal for us, what would it be?
Well . . . I’m not a super fan of cooking very often, to be honest. If eating out were healthy for us, I would go out to dinner more than we do! But . . . if you came to my home, I would probably serve roast Amish chicken coated in all fruit berry preserves or garlic cloves and chicken broth. Side dishes would include sweet potatoes, asparagus, and a big veggie salad. Coconut ice cream (non-dairy) for dessert.
If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?
Grace. I want people to see Jesus in me, and I hope my life and every story I write proclaims His glory and His grace to all.
Write what you love. I’ve heard it said, “Write what you know.” But you can always learn what you don’t know. Write what you love and readers will hopefully love it, too.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
I just turned in the first book about Rahab in a new series for Revell. We are in the titling phase right now, while I am also researching the second book in that series, which is about Deborah. At the same time, I am working on an e-book novella series on the Loves of King Solomon.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?