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 books. FUN.
This week we welcome Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington, author Ocieanna Fleiss. To win a copy of this great book co-authored by Tricia Goyer, 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?
Thanks for having me! Well, I’m married with kids—four of them, aged ten and under. I also homeschool and work as a copyeditor. My life is very…full. I’m often asked how I find time to write. The answer is I don’t know! I pray a lot, and somehow the time seems to present itself. I also get a lot of support from my amazing husband.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
History is for me! I relish researching for a book. It’s so fun finding out about the lives of people who lived in different times. I love the unusual tidbits and have way too much fun incorporating them into the stories.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I’ve always loved to write. When I was in my late twenties, I decided I wanted to be an author. I jumped in with both feet (as they say). Now, twelve years later, I’ve finally had a couple books published. It’s a long, sometimes painful process, but the Lord walked with me. And, I’m grateful for those hard years, because God used that time of waiting to teach me, train me, and draw me closer to Him. Those things are more important than any publishing contract (although, I’m glad I finally got a couple!).
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’ve found intently planning out a scene in detail before I write it, helps to prevent those moments of staring into space trying to figure out what the character will do next.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
Waiting on the Lord’s timing and being faithful in the little things—those opportunities to write for newsletters, blogs, even encouraging e-mails. Also critiquing, helping others, just being a blessing to those around you.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
My goodness no! In many ways it’s different.
1. Early on I really wanted the whole publicity thing. I pictured myself on talk shows, etc. Now, that stuff scares me. I’d rather sit in my office and write!
2. I also envisioned a leisurely writing day spent pondering, researching, and finally writing. I thought I’d have at least a year to write a book. That’s not how it worked out for me. I’ve had tight deadlines, so none of the pondering stuff at all. Time is so limited, and I never even know if what I produce will be good or not! Sometimes I’ve spent hours on a scene only to axe it—this is very stressful when you’re on a tight deadline. But, I’m so grateful for this process. It’s incredibly helped me learn time-management skills. And even more importantly, I’ve faced so many times when I felt like I couldn’t go on under all the pressure. Of course it’s in those times that I turned to the Lord, desperately crying out for help, and He so faithfully walked me through.
3. Finally, I had no idea about the emotional commitment of writing a book. I’d always written on a superficial level, but as I went through the process of the first book, Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana, I realized I was holding back my emotional commitment to the story and characters. Once I let that go, my writing improved dramatically, but I spent a lot of time trying to focus on my computer screen through eyes blurred with tears. This was very difficult, but again, what a growing process!
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
One of the worst was when I didn’t final for a writing contest I felt pretty sure about. This was after many years of writing, and I thought if I couldn’t even final, after all those years of trying to write, why was I doing it at all? I actually decided to quit striving to be published at that point.
After that happened, I was content to just blog and write for my own enjoyment, but not go to conferences or put together proposals.
Then, one of the best moments happened.
Out of the blue, I was offered to write for Summerside Press (it’s a long story). It was an amazing moment when that happened—a blessing I wasn’t expecting or even actively hoping for. God just blessed me.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
Spending some Saturdays behind the computer instead of with the family. I most like the chance to unleash the welled-up creativity in a way that perhaps will bless others.
What is the role and importance of an agent?
My agent, Janet Grant, is amazing! I’m so grateful for her guidance and knowledge. I don’t know where my career will go from here, but I’m so blessed to have her helping me along the way.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Don’t spend all your time and energy striving, fretting, and pursing being published, instead seek excellence and wait on God’s timing.
Look at that beautiful cover! Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington, will inspire you with the strength and courage of the amazing folks on the homefront in World War II who worked so hard for victory. Read it and be inspired, blessed, and entertained.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
I’m working on a couple historicals at the moment. We’ll see what God does next!
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
The books can be found at any establishment that sells fine Christian books. And you can find me on my blogs: O History! www.ocieanna-ohistory.blogspot.com and Mommy-O www.ocieanna.blogspt.com Also on Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)
Thank you for having me!