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 with Celeste Butrym is Jessica R. Patch! Please email my assistant Amy with your mailing address. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This week radio personality and author Tim Sinclair is in the Spotlight! To win a copy of Tim’s latest book, Branded, 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 33 years old, have been married for five years, and have two amazing little boys. Jeremiah is almost four, and Elijah is two. I live in Illinois and work full-time as the morning co-host at WBGL radio. I also do a fair amount of freelance voiceover, writing, and production work for other radio stations and businesses.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
I’m a non-fiction guy, focusing mainly on the intersection of faith and culture. My writing is often an attempt to pull people out of their comfort zone and look at faith through a strictly biblical lens, rather than simply a traditional one. It has been my experience that we tend to get those two confused sometimes.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I always thought it would be cool to be published, but I don’t think it was ever a dream of mine. In high school and college I enjoyed writing, but I didn’t discover my passion for it until more recently. I began by starting a blog. Then, I started sharing some of those blogs with my radio listeners. We got a great response, and the rest is history.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
My story is going to make some people mad, so I apologize in advance. I wrote a blog in November of 2009 that was the foundation for my first book, Branded. I began querying agents in December, signed with Greg Johnson at WordServe Literary in January, and had a contract signed with Kregel Publications in April.
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 find that most of my writing happens when I’m not in front of a computer. My brain tends to pre-write everything – while I’m mowing the lawn, commuting to work, in the shower, etc. Then, I head off to Panera or Starbucks and get it all “on paper.” Some days it takes three hours…some days it takes ten minutes.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’
conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
My wife is my best filter/sounding board. She graciously lets me read new material out loud to her, which I’m sure (at times) is mind-numbing. She’s also very good at calling my bluffs, and isn’t afraid to tell me when I’m forcing something versus letting it flow naturally. I read her three chapters of a book I had been working on once and she said, “That doesn’t sound like you at all.” And she was right.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
The dream of being an author and the job of being an author are certainly two different things. The dream tells us that authors get handsomely paid to live in the country, wake up late, write for a few hours, and then fish until sundown. The reality, of course, is that being an author is a lot of work…and there is no sure-fire road to success. Early on in the process, it doesn’t pay very well either. I’ve also not been able to do much fishing.
What are your biggest distractions?
There are good distractions and bad distractions. The good ones are my wife and kids. I can’t write at home when they’re around. It’s too easy to go play with trucks or take a walk or watch Curious George. The bad distractions are Facebook, Angry Birds, and the rest of the internet. Those instant messages are too pressing and those birds are too angry to ignore sometimes.
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
So far, my writing career has been pretty short. However, I cried a little when I read my first endorsement. It was from a highly respected pastor and author who was genuinely moved by my book. My worst moment came just weeks after signing my contract with Kregel. Despite the fact that only a few chapters of the book had even been written (and none of them had been read), an industry blog listed Branded as “the pit” in their “Cherry and the Pit” section. I was a little disheartened by that. And when I say disheartened, I mean crushed…and angry…and bitter.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
I’m struggling with the idea that, in Christian non-fiction especially, the people who truly need the information in your book likely won’t read it. It’s been difficult to create content that potential readers feel like they need to read, not just what they do need to read. On the flip side, I love communicating ideas and truths in compelling, unique, and convincing ways. We do it on the radio every day, and writing is another extension of that idea for me. Plus, the written word survives much longer than the spoken word – allowing people to digest it, pore over it, and (most importantly) remember it.
What is the role and importance of an agent?
As a new author, I’ve leaned on my agent heavily. From deciding which publishers to pitch to hammering out the contract to helping shape the focus of my future work, I’ve fully put the ball in Greg’s hands. He is an expert at those things. I am not. I have no problem giving him control of that part of my career. I just wish I didn’t have to pay him for it.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Since I am a new writer myself, I don’t necessarily feel qualified to answer the question. However, I’ll give it a shot anyway. It’s important to spend virtually all of your time creating content rather than trying to get your content recognized. The more time you and I spend working on writing great stuff, the more likely others (agents, publishers, readers, etc.) will eventually recognize that work.
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.
The church spends $1.5 million dollars for every one new follower of Jesus, while Apple sells 26 iPads every minute. Something is wrong with the way Christians are sharing Jesus, and it’s time to fix it.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
My agent and I are currently pitching a book about finding focus in life. The working title is Less: Finding Just the Right Amount of Not Enough.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
Pretty much everything about my books, blogs, speaking, and social networking can be found at http://www.tim-sinclair.com.