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 winners from last week’s Author Spotlight with Camy Tang is Kathy Jacob and the winner from the Author Spotlight Encore with Sarah Sundin is Margaret Jewell! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address!
This week we are featuring Kelly Irvin! To win a copy of her new book, Love Still Stands (Harvest House Publisher, 2013) leave a comment on this post.
Love Still Stands is the first installment in the New Hope Amish series, which follows a group of families as they relocate from Kansas to Missouri to start a new district. Here’s the cover copy:
It’s coming on winter, and a group of dedicated families is leaving Bliss Creek to establish a new community in Missouri. Among them is Bethel Graber, a beautiful young woman with a passion for teaching. But after being injured in a terrible accident, overseeing a classroom is out of the question . . . and romance seems a long-lost dream. Especially romance with Elijah Christner, the handsome young farmer whose very presence seems to set her heart racing.
Bethel begins physical therapy, determined to make a fresh start. But that won’t be easy in the town of New Hope, where the locals seem anything but eager to welcome their new Amish neighbors. Amid growing intimidation from the community, will Bethel find the strength to face her many challenges? And can she find the faith to believe that God still has a plan for her life?
How can readers find you and your books?
My website is www.kellyirvin.com and they can also follow my author page on Facebook (Kelly Irvin Author) and on Twitter (@Kelly_S_Irvin) My novels are available everywhere books are sold.
Anything new for you on the book horizon?
There are two more books in the New Hope series. The second book, Love Redeemed, will debut in February 2014, followed by A Plain Love Song six months later. I’ve also recently committed to Zondervan to do a three-book Amish series set in Texas.
Why do you write?
A number of reasons. It gives me great joy. It’s like breathing. It allows me to use my spiritual gift of writing to shine a light in a broken world. The bottom line is I can’t not write.
If you could wish one thing for your future, what would that be?
Professionally, my wish is that I have the opportunity to continue writing and being published for as long as I live. Personally, I hope to be around long enough to get to know my grandchildren and they get to know me.
Best author moment?
It’s hard to pick one. Holding my first book in my hands. Seeing my book on a bookstore shelf. The times that readers have told me what an impact my stories have had on them. The emails I receive them. Every time I sit down at the keyboard to write, it’s a wonderful author moment.
Worst author moment?
Early in my fiction writing career, I went to a conference and pitched an idea to an acquisitions editor at a major publishing house. He agreed to look at it. A few months later, I received a rejection letter from him. It said that his publishing house only published extraordinary writing and mine did not rise to that level. I’m sure if he had read those words aloud before he dispatched the letter, he might have reconsidered how he phrased his rejection of my work. I shed more than a few tears over that letter, but I can also say I was spurred on by it. I chose to consider it a challenge and to continue to hone my craft. Now, with five published novels under my belt, and six more under contract, I can say with honesty that I don’t believe my writing is extraordinary, nor do I think most writing being published today is extraordinary. I strive to get better with each word I write and to do the very best I can. I believe most authors do. Our commitment is to tell a good story, to edify, and to entertain.
If you weren’t able to write, what would you do?
The next best thing is to read. It’s hard to imagine not being able to write, but imagine never getting to read another wonderful story. That would be a sad day.
Describe your ideal circumstances to write?
Having been a journalist for several years, I can write almost anywhere. I prefer silence, but can write with any number of people talking around me, the radio on, the TV blaring. Once I’m on a roll, I really don’t hear anything. I have a full time job so I have to squeeze my writing in at odd, often short, time periods. I sit down at the computer and go because I don’t have time to mess around. It would be nice, someday, to know I have all morning, every morning, to write my story. Or even all day if inspiration takes over. That would be ideal.
Right this moment, what does your office look like?
Yikes. Okay, I have to admit it doesn’t look good. I’m a packrat when it comes to newspaper articles and magazines and books I need for research. I tend to accumulate stuff for story ideas that I might write later. I have a stack of Budget newspapers next to the chair waiting to be read. A collage my daughter made is on the floor waiting to be hung. Boxes of books sit next to it. A huge stack of folders takes up a big chunk of the desk. All the bookshelves are filled with books and then some. It’s messy, but it looks like the office of someone who really works at writing. It’s also the first thing people see when they walk into the house, which doesn’t make hubby all that happy. But he tolerates it!
How would you describe your writing style to a reader?
I’ve heard it described as “literary,” by some people, but mostly readers tell me they like my writing because the people in my stories have real problems. They can relate to the challenges my characters have. My Amish romances tend to be a little grittier or less sweet than some of the more traditional Amish fiction. I guess they are a reflection of my life experience in that whenever things seem to be going well that’s when I know the other shoe is about to drop!
If you could write any book—on any topic—and be guaranteed a publishing contract, what topic would it be?
I have a story idea that I long to write that involves the day President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s funeral was held in my hometown of Abilene, Kansas. That would have been in 1969, the Vietnam era. This huge event with worldwide media exposure occurred in a tiny town of about eight-thousand people. It was momentous for the town (and me. I was in junior high at the time). I want to write a love story between a hometown girl and a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD who returns to the town in the middle of all this hoopla. I guess the genre would be historical romance. Unfortunately, publishing houses aren’t doing historical novels set in the Vietnam era yet.
Oh, yes! Only one, but it was devastating. Publishers Weekly did not like my second romantic suspense novel. The reviewer said No Child of Mine was full of “unhappy Christians,” and the only likeable characters were the children. No one likes a bad review, but I’ve learned to remind myself that it is one person’s opinion. I tried to move on to my next project and not look back, as hard as that can be. I think it’s okay to privately have a good cry if that helps or chocolates are always good. Mostly, I just keep writing.
What’s one thing you learned about the publishing industry in the last five years? Last year? Last six months?
The publishing industry is like the weather. If you don’t like it, wait a minute and it’ll change. At writing conferences you’ll frequently hear about what’s selling one year and the next year something else will be the hot new seller. And every year it gets more competitive as publishing houses reduce their lines, discontinue fiction lines, or are bought and absorbed by other publishing houses. What that means is we all have to work harder at our crafts and write even more stellar stories. And pray. A lot.
How do you solve a grammar dilemma?
One of my former critique partners, Susan Lohrer, is a fabulous freelance editor. Whenever I have a question she’s my go-to person. Lie/lay, she’s the woman to ask.
Are you an introvert? Extrovert? In between?
Definitely an introvert. Although my job in public relations requires me to do public speaking, do media interviews, and interact with the public, I’m most happy at home with my books and my laptop. A social butterfly, I am not.
Do you enjoy public speaking as an author? Why or why not?
I do. Despite my answer to the previous question. I love talking about writing, especially to other people who love to write and people who love to read. I love talking about writing. I love talking books.
Can a person make a living as a writer?
It’s hard to make a living writing fiction. I know there are people who do, but it’s a precarious proposition for most of us will never get the huge advances. Even if you do sell a book, you can’t count on the next contract and you certainly can’t count on royalties. Some writers are able to supplement by freelance writing, doing editing, and writing coaching. For me, I hope the time comes when I can retire from public relations and focus completely on writing. But for now, my day job pays the bills and my book income helps with the extras. It’s a harried existence, but one that I feel so blessed to have been allowed to have.
What are you working on now? Newest release?
While the New Hope Amish series releases over the next year and a half, starting with Love Still Stands this month, I’m already working on the new series for Zondervan. Which means I’m learning all about bee keeping!