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 Gina Holmes is Patsy! Please email my assistant Amy with your mailing address. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This week Judith Ingram is in the Spotlight! To win a copy of Judith’s book, A Devotional Walk with Forgiveness, 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?
My husband and I just celebrated our 40th year together! We have been blessed to live in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area all our lives, where we raised our daughter and several cats.
Most of my brain effort these days goes into church work. I prepare lessons for two Bible studies at my church, where I also serve as an elder and liaison for deacons, women, and prayer ministries. I jump at the opportunity to speak on forgiveness at other churches and conferences.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
I love writing both fiction and nonfiction. I wrote a novel called Moonseed that won the first place fiction award at the William Saroyan Writers Conference in Fresno. The genre is women’s fiction/paranormal, about two women born a century apart who suddenly awaken in each other’s lives. I am looking for a home for that story. I also write inspirational nonfiction and just had my first book published, A Devotional Walk with Forgiveness. I have a passion for studying the Bible and learning what it means to live in Christ and then sharing what I’ve learned through writing and teaching.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I have always wanted to write. Even more, I have always wanted to write a book. As a child I would type out little stories on my aunt’s Underwood typewriter and then staple the pages together down the left side to form a booklet I could hold in my hands. I had stacks of them. I’ve always loved words, loved playing with them until I got the sentence or paragraph to sound just right. I enjoy copyediting as well as writing for the sheer joy of sculpting fine prose.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
Define “seriously.” I first got the idea of writing a book about forgiveness when I was studying for my master’s degree in counseling and undergoing my own therapy for painful abuse memories. For several years I read about forgiveness, wrote some essays and chapters but didn’t have a concept of how to proceed. One day I “saw” what the book would be like, and I started writing it. About halfway through the process, God gave me a bad bout of pneumonia, which forced me to give up every obligation I had except sleeping and writing! From start to finish the book took about a year and a half to complete. Then Suzanne Woods Fisher offered to introduce me to her publisher. I wrote a query, sent in my manuscript, and Vinspire Publishing offered me a contract. I am convinced it was all God’s timing.
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 think I have brain cylinders devoted to nonfiction and others devoted to fiction. Reading always sparks my cylinders for nonfiction. Whether it’s Scripture, a magazine article, or a Dean Koontz novel, my brain sparks on ideas and archetypes that pique my interest and stir up insights into how we can navigate this daily business of surrendering to Christ. To write fiction, however, I need to be alone, clear my mind, and immerse myself in the world of my characters. I can go all day without eating and not miss it if I’m writing fiction (good for dieting!).
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 biggest help to publication has come from writers’ conferences. I knew how to write, but I didn’t know the first thing about how to write for publication, how to approach a publisher or an agent with my work, or how to create a marketing platform. Writers’ conferences offer vital instruction, mentoring, and networking opportunities that can move a dedicated apprentice from the level of dabbling wordsmith to professional writer. Plus, it’s just plain fun to hang out with others who share my penchant for closeting myself away for hours on end with only a word processor, a thesaurus, and a coffee maker for company.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
Yes and no. I have always enjoyed writing and have never minded the hard work of putting thoughts and ideas into words on paper. Hours spent at the computer leave me exhausted but at the same time exhilarated—nothing energizes me as much as throwing myself into a writing project, whether it be a new Bible study lesson or a book chapter. The surprise for me has been the marketing aspect. Nowadays authors are expected to promote and sell their own books, taking advantage of new social media venues as they appear on the horizon. I find author networking to be an invaluable resource in keeping up with the latest marketing tools and trends.
What are your biggest distractions?
Life. Laundry. Relationships. My cat. On the other hand, without all the tangles and intrigues and unexpected lessons that weave through my life, I would have nothing worthy to write about.
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
Before my book was published, I led a small group study on forgiveness using a rough draft of my manuscript. Women told me that hearing my testimony of childhood abuse and then reading my devotional on the value and practice of forgiveness gave them hope that they, too, could work through their family hurts. Those precious moments of raw honesty made every minute I had spent writing that book worthwhile.
On the down side, one member of a critique group gave a very harsh review of a short story I had read aloud. I felt so attacked that I burst into tears, which was mortifying. It was weeks before I could even take out my story and look at it again. As you might guess, when I was able to objectively consider this person’s remarks, I realized their value for making my story better.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
Marketing is probably my least favorite part of the writing life. It’s challenging, ever changing, and it takes away from my creative writing time. One of the things I like best is hearing from people who have been moved or helped by something I have written.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Spend some time away from your computer before you begin to write. Pray and meditate and daydream. Be as clear as you can be about where your passion lies and what you want to do before you write your first word.
Attend writers’ conferences; talk to writers and agents and editors about their experiences. Learn how to talk about yourself and your work. Put your pride in your pocket and pursue your craft with humility and diligence.
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.
A Devotional Walk with Forgiveness is a five-week exploration of what it means to forgive, why we all need it, and how we can begin to practice it. Through daily Bible readings, thoughtful essays, and challenging questions, this book will show you how forgiveness can help you work through the pain of your deepest wounds and surrender your bitter heart to the comfort and nurture of God’s love for you.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
I’ve begun a book of forgiveness meditations and prayers for Lent. I’m also halfway through a murder mystery and toying with ideas for a third novel.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
Please visit me on my Website! At www.judithingram.com you can find out what’s new, order my book, and contact me through e-mail. You can also order my book through Amazon or through Vinspire Publishing at www.vinspirepublishing.com.
Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)