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.
The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Beth Wiseman was Hannah! (Hannah, you didn’t leave your email. Please email my assistant email@example.com with your mailing address!)
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 (21 years) with four amazing children; the oldest of whom is in college. We were missionaries for many years in Russia, until God called us back to America. Around that time, I had my first book published and have been writing full time ever since. I am usually at my computer by 9am, and work until 6pm.
I am an anomaly – I love all kinds of fiction from romance to suspense to fantasy. However, I also love adventure – so in all of those books, some element of adventure is key. I try and write about people I’d like to know, or places I’d like to visit, and things I’d like to do…after all, fiction is an escape into another world, right?
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I love reading – I think all authors should love to read, and I read constantly when I lived overseas, in Russia, while my husband and I served as missionaries. I soon ran out of books. However, without knowing it, I had begun to absorb the elements of a good book. I had also cultivated a desire to write my own stories.
So, one snowy day, I sat down with a story in my head and began to write. I really had no idea what I was doing, but I knew in my heart what I HOPED to write, and I just followed my heart. After I finished my story – with was about 150K, I had a James Michener epic, way too long that would be only be used as a highchair for my toddler. However, I HAD finished a book. And in that, I was a success.
From there, I submitted the book to agents and publishers and got good feedback – one agent suggested I write a much smaller book and see if I could publish that first. So I wrote a Heartsong, a story about my grandparents. And after they looked it over a few times, they published it. In the meantime, I kept writing, attending online classes, reading books and keeping a journal. I wrote a novella about an experience I had being trapped in an elevator in Russia, and submitted it to Tyndale. They bought (much to my great surprise) and then asked me what else I had. Thankfully, I had a number of other projects…
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
Four years. Four books.
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 spend every morning in the Word of God, journaling, thinking about my day, life, my stories. I also spend time in prayer, and I try to exercise (that is a great way to get the brain going!) Then, to get my story going, I read through the passage I wrote from the day before, correcting and deepening elements (although not editing – that’s a different phase of writing). Then, I start writing. I usually write hard for about 4-6 hours/day.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
ACFW was a huge help to me – even when I lived overseas. Having a writing group that assisted me in my journey, helping me learn the basics and encouraging me kept me going. Which is why I started My Book Therapy as a way to help writers get started and write amazing books.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
No. It’s harder. First, every book you write has to be better than the last one. And, you bring a lot of your personal journey to the page, so it is also very vulnerable. Finally, I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone and do things I am not great at – from television appearances to presenting awards (yes, I can speak in front of thousands, but get me to present or accept an award and I’m a mess).
The key is, however, to remember that God hasn’t called you to do anything He isn’t also going to equip you to do. That’s been a big faith builder for me in this process.
What are your biggest distractions?
Internet Shopping. 🙂
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
Best – when I won the RITA and my best friend/writing partner Rachel Hauck accepted for me. Also, going to dinner with Tyndale my first year as an author and sitting next to Francine Rivers. Cool!
Worst – The rude awakening that not every one of my books would be a best-seller. Grr.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
I don’t love revisions because it makes me work hard. 🙂
I love watching a story come to life on the page!
What is the role and importance of an agent?
An agent is an encourager, an advisor and person who has your back in the publishing world. I love my agent.
What advice would you give to new writers?
A true writer keeps writing, regardless of the challenges. Write the book you would want to read – and others will too.
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.
PJ Sugar has just inherited a mansion. Her troubles are over, right? But the gift contains secrets to her past…and could destroy her future. Just how much trouble is too much?
What’s on the book horizon for you?
My next contemporary comes out in time for a great beach read next summer – My Foolish Heart. It’s a story about a talk show host to the lovelorn who has never had a date…until the “perfect” man moves in next door. But will she be able to recognize him? My next historical is called Nightingale – it comes out in November and is the story of a Red Cross nurse who falls in love via letters with a POW…until she discovers a secret about him that might just destroy them both.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)
Thank you for having me!