Author Spotlight: Margaret McSweeney

christen Author Spotlight

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 Roundup is Angela Chesnut! Please email my assistant Christen with your mailing address. (ckrumm@litfusegroup.com)

This week Margaret McSweeney is in the spotlight! To win a copy of her new book Mother of Pearl, 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 have been married for over twenty one years, and we have two daughters. Our oldest daughter will be a sophomore in college this fall, and our youngest will be a senior in high school. So I guess you could say we have half of an empty nest.

And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…

My late mother, Carolyn Rhea, was a Christian writer and author of nine books. I will always remember her wise advice. She said, “You have a choice about how you use your gift of writing. You can honor God with your words or choose a different path. I personally hope that you will honor God.” With that in mind, intentional inspiration has become my genre.

How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?

People always say that you will end up doing what you loved to do in the third grade. For me, that was writing. In fourth grade I started writing a book called The Girl that Couldn’t Sit Still However, I couldn’t sit still enough to finish writing it. And even though I was voted “Most Creative in Writing” during high school in Alabama, I pursued a master’s degree in international business and worked in New York City as a corporate banker. I met my husband, Dave, there. A few months after our oldest daughter was born in New York City, we moved to the Chicago area where Dave had grown up. Far away from Wall Street, I suddenly became a stay-at-home mom, living in the quiet suburbs, and driving a station wagon. A year and a half later, our second daughter was born. Although I loved my new role and responsibilities as a mom, I realized that I still needed my own separate identity. I reconnected with my childhood passion of writing. While my daughters napped, I wrote. As words flooded onto the page, I felt happy – probably the same feeling that a runner gets from endorphins. My first published freelance work was writing text for greeting cards. Soon, an opportunity opened to write a neighborhood column for a local newspaper. When I attended my first writers’ conference, “Write to Publish,” I brought a few of the poems I had written during my daughters’ naps. The gift book editor from J Countryman liked one of the poems but thought it needed to be a little longer. That same evening, I added more lines and emailed it to her. My first book, “A Mother’s Heart Knows” was published in 2005, and I dedicated it to my late mother who had passed away in 2003. At age 43, I became a published author..

What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?

Writing can be an isolating experience. I encourage you to connect with a community of writers and if at all possible to attend a writers’ conference. Two conferences that have really helped me along my path are “Write to Publish” and “Writing for the Soul.” Meeting directly with editors, authors and other aspiring writers at these conferences is very helpful. Also, check out books written by other authors who share their insights into writing books. If at all possible, set aside a special place and time to write. Realistically, that is not always an option. The funniest place that I have ever written anything was in an automatic car wash while the car steered itself and water splashed onto the windshield.

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be? (Explain your answer)

The “writer’s life” is simply part of my life. Instead of burning calories on the treadmill, I end up eating lots of jelly beans and M&Ms while I type. Inside the drawer of my writing table, I keep inspirational letters and photos that help cheer me over each “writer’s block.”

What is the role and importance of an agent?

Having an agent is important in today’s market as most publishers no longer accept unsolicited submissions. Through their strong relationships with the publishers, agents open doors for new authors. However, most editors who attend the writers’ conference will accept a manuscript submission from conference participants, so don’t panic if you don’t have an agent.

What advice would you give to new writers?

My late father was always a great wordsmith. After I was named “Most Creative in Writing” in high school, my dad purchased a Writers’ Market and inscribed it as follows: “Write, write, write. Polish, polish, polish. Publish, publish, publish.” Over thirty years later, those words still hold true.

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.

Aftermath is all about growing in the grace of our Father through our grief. Mother of Pearl celebrates motherhood. It is a collaboration of many talented authors meant to encourage and inspire. All proceeds from Mother of Pearl is donated to organization that help struggling women and children.

What’s on the book horizon for you?

I’m still trying to find some time to sit still and at last write my first novel.

Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)