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 Kathi Macias is in the Spotlight! To win a copy of Kathi’s latest book, A Christmas Journey Home, 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 my childhood/junior high/senior high sweetheart, Al. Our children are all grown and have blessed us with 18 (!!!) grandchildren and one great grandson, Isaiah. Until my 90-year-old mom “graduated” to heaven on August 3, 2011, she lived with us (for 11 years), but now we truly are empty nesters. Writing/editing/speaking is my fulltime job (often more than 40 hours a week).
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
I write both fiction and nonfiction, having published 35 books (of my own) and ghostwritten/collaborated/edited about 100 others. Right now I’m inundated with fiction contracts, so nonfiction is on hold except for my weekly devotionals (which go out in both English and Spanish to an extensive readership) and articles for various online publications. With few exceptions, my fiction is contemporary and issues-related (persecuted Church, human trafficking, illegal immigration, homelessness).
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I never wanted to be anything other than a writer, though I don’t know that I was thinking anything as big as books when I first entertained the thought of making a living by arranging words on paper. I started as a newspaper columnist and string reporter and eventually branched out into writing Christian articles/poems/short stories for various publications. Eventually I got a job at Gospel Light Publishing (as an editorial assistant in adult curriculum), and it was there that I landed my first book contract. The rest, as they say, is history.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
Not long at all. If we’re focusing on books here, then I actually got my first two books (one fiction and one non-fiction) published less than two years after I began writing them.
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 am up at dark o’clock at least five days a week, sometimes six. I’m a tea drinker, and I usually sip that as I read my emails, check social networks, etc. Then I spend some time alone with the Lord, reading the Bible and a devotional or study of some sort, write in my journal, and pray for a while. After that I’m ready to dive in—and I do! I set a word count for myself (realistically, depending on what else is planned for the day, but usually between 3,000 and 6,000 words), and I don’t stop until I’m done. I spend anywhere from three to six hours a day actually writing, but several more hours doing marketing, correspondence, preparing for speaking engagements, etc. I do almost all my writing at my desk, as I’m a creature of habit and don’t do well trying to write on my laptop at Starbuck’s or on an airplane. Thanks to journalism training, I write fast and clean so I’m able to meet my contractual agreements of 3—5 books annually, though when my husband retires in a year or two, I may throttle back a bit so we can spend more time together.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
I’m smiling at your comment about my mom. She actually has been my number-one fan since I was a child, but she didn’t necessarily rubberstamp everything as you might expect. She had a real eagle eye when it came to proofreading, and I’m going to miss her input now that she’s no longer with us. But writers’ conferences are a real plus for any budding author. I attended only one as a conferee in my life—a beginners’ conference when I first decided to launch out into serious publication. I took meticulous notes and came home and applied everything I learned. That was it. In a few years I was teaching at conferences, though, and I still think they’re the best investment for anyone who is serious about getting into writing. I also had a great critique group that I met with regularly in the early years of my career. I don’t do that now simply because of time constraints, but I would if I could. It’s wonderful to be around people who share your passion for words!
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
Yes and no. I anticipated a lot of hard work because those in my writers’/critique group had warned me about it, but it was more so than I’d realized. And the industry has changed drastically since I first broke in a quarter century ago. We didn’t use agents or publicists then—no marketing required! We just wrote the book, turned it in, and moved on to the next one. I’ve had to learn to change with the times or get left behind like some sort of fossil. I didn’t like that idea much, so I got on the marketing bandwagon and now spend far too many hours doing that part of the job.
What are your biggest distractions?
Social networks! I’m a very social person, and writing is a long-ranger sort of pursuit. I could easily spend the better part of my day yakking it up on Facebook or responding to emails. I have to discipline myself NOT to do that!
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
One of the best was just recently when my novel Red Ink won Novel of the Year at the Golden Scroll award banquet, and then a couple of hours later I got a call informing me that the same book was a finalist for a Carol Award from ACFW. Wow, what a day! One of my worst moments was when I won an Angel Award from Excellence in Media, and when I was waiting in the wings to be called out to receive it, they announced the name of the woman at my publisher’s who had filled out the paperwork. Rather than compound the situation by correcting the error over the mic, I just smiled and said thank you and exited stage left. (Oh Kathi! That’s terrible – you’re so gracious!)
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
The marketing! UGH. I do it, but it is not something I enjoy. I’m a writer, period. I miss the “good old days” when all a writer had to do was…well, write. (What a concept!) But as I said, I had to get with the program, so I do it. What do I like most? Hearing from readers who tell me what one of my books meant to them, how it changed their life or healed a relationship or turned them back to God. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.
What is the role and importance of an agent?
These days an agent is nearly a necessity. Even if publishers were willing to consider unagented material (and most aren’t), it is quite time-consuming to shop projects around and then negotiate contracts. I am so thankful that I have such an awesome agent (Tamela Hancock Murray) who not only knows the industry inside-out, but she also shares my vision for ministry through my writing. And that is vital! She knows my heart and what I want to accomplish with my writing, and she partners with me to make that happen. I encourage new writers to take advantage of every possible opportunity to show their work to agents at conferences (or in the proverbial elevator, if the situation presents itself). If you can snag a good agent, that’s more than half the battle toward landing a good publisher.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Identify and pursue your passions. God has created and gifted us as individuals, and it’s important to recognize and honor that individual gift because that will affect the type of books we enjoy writing and write well. Don’t be a groupie of established writers and try to clone yourself after them. Let God show you what type of writer He created you to be, and then commit yourself to becoming the best writer possible so you can honor His name in all you do.
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.
Deliver Me From Evil will not only captivate you from the first page, but it will challenge you at the deepest levels of your faith. I promise that if you read this first book in the Freedom series, you will not only stand in line for the release of the next two, but your life will never be the same.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
In addition to completing this three-book Freedom fiction series on the topic of human trafficking, I have a new Christmas book out (A Christmas Journey Home), which will be the first of an ongoing annual Christmas novel each year. I am also one of the authors for B&H’s new Bloomfield series, with my contribution being book two of the series, Last Chance for Justice. We are also in the early stages of contracting another series with New Hope called “Patches of Freedom.” I can’t wait to get started on that one!
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
I have two websites: www.kathimacias.com and www.thetitus2women.com, and my “Easy Writer” blog: http://kathieasywritermacias.blogspot.com. I would love to hear from your readers. All they have to do is go to the first website listed above and click on contact. I always answer emails from readers. Blessings!
Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)