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 we are featuring Tsh Oxenreider! To enter to win a copy of her book, Notes From a Blue Bike (Thomas Nelson), 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’m married with three kids, ages 3 to 9. I work from home as the founder and editor-in-chief of The Art of Simple, and I homeschool my kids. So I stay plenty busy!
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest . . .
My weekly, mainstay writing on the blog focuses on living simply, sharing practical ideas through storytelling. My books tend to be about half-and-half prescriptive and descriptive—so, a sort-of memoir with practical takeaway. This next book of mine has a heavy dose of travelogue genre as well.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I’ve been blogging for 6 years now, but I remember thinking I wanted to be a writer back in the 6th grade. When I was a senior in high school, I walked through my first Barnes & Noble and thought, “How on earth will I ever get published?” There were just so many books, I could barely fathom the process. Little did I know how much the process would change ten years later because of the Internet.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
The first year after I started my blog, an editor approached me with a book idea. It wasn’t my “dream book,” magnum opus sort of thing, but I figured it’d get my foot in the door of the book world. My first book was published in 2010, almost three years after I started my blog.
Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?
I tend to write in the early morning hours, because once the kids wake up, it’s hard to concentrate on anything for a substantial amount of time. We also have a nanny that comes to the house two afternoons a week, and she’s a tremendous help (my husband also works from home). I mostly write from my home office, but about once a week, I like to head to a few of my favorite coffee shops for a change of scenery. I find that tends to revive my brain cells.
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 think it’s been the camaraderie of fellow writers in the blogosphere. These friends in the journey have been invaluable as a place for refuge, iron-sharpening, and practical know-how. They’ve also been a great place to ask all my “dumb” questions! Having like-minded friends in this crazy world is what keeps me going, day after day.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
I grew up daydreaming of this stereotype of an author—attic office overlooking the beach, the luxury of spending all my hours writing, the words flowing effortlessly, no need to do my own publicity. Of course, none of that is true for me. My day looks very, very similar to other working moms in the trenches—juggling work, home, kids, marriage, and the like. I love writing, and I’m thankful that something I love so much puts bread on the family’s table. But it is a job, and in this stage of my life, I need to treat it as such.
What are your biggest distractions?
Besides the kids? And the mess that the kids make? I suppose other writers. There’s a subtle difference between reading other writers to spur you on to better writing and reading so much of the Internet that your spirit deflates. It’ll feel like everything’s already been said once you read too much. I like to consume after I produce, which is another reason I like to write early in the morning.
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
The best moment? Probably signing my most recent two-book deal, because the second book is a book I’ve wanted to write for a decade now. It meant that it’ll finally happen. The worst is probably when I make the grave mistake of reading negative Amazon reviews.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
My least favorite thing is simply that writing is hard work. It’s not one of those jobs you can just phone in—it takes all my concentration, energy, emotions, and sometimes even physical body. My favorite thing, I guess, is that even though it’s hard, I can’t imagine not doing it. It’s like I wake up with words rattling around in my brain, and they have to come out in order for me to be who I’m made to be.
I’ve done a book both with and without an agent, and I can say, unequivocally, that my agent has been a lifesaver. I can’t imagine ever going through the book process again without her.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Write. Write, write, write, and focus your early energy on becoming a great writer. Hone your craft. Make it like breathing. And start a blog, so that you have an online portfolio of your best work, and hopefully build an audience—because if you want to be published, that’s what publishers will want to see: that you have an audience that’ll want to buy your books.
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.
Notes From a Blue Bike is written for anyone who feels like the culture wears like an itchy sweater because it just moves too fast, that it worships productivity, that it defines “normal” as whatever everyone else is watching, doing, loving. And that in order to live well, with intention, you have to swim upstream with your daily choices. Blue Bike explores the topics of food, work, education, travel, and entertainment, and what it would look like if we slowed down to savor those things.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
I’ll be on a Blue Bike book tour (say that ten times fast) for most of February and March, and then in the fall, my family and I head out for a round-the-world trip—something we’ve been planning for years. On our trip, I’ll write my next book, where I’ll explore how different cultures express hospitality.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?