Author Spotlight: Dave & Neta Jackson


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 the last Author Spotlight giveaway is PEN METTERT! Please email info {at} suzannewoodsfisher {dot} com with your mailing address to claim your prize.

Welcome Dave & Neta Jackson, authors of Penny Wise to Author Spotlight! To enter to win a copy, 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?

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 8.08.14 AMNeta & Dave: We are a “writing couple” . . . which means neither of us has a job with a salary (we’ve got calluses on our prayer knees!). But that also means we have the joy and companionship and support of writing together (or “writing separately together” as the case may be, depending on the project). We have two grown kids with families of their own, so we have four delightful grandkids whom we can “love ‘em, spoil ‘em, and send ‘em home!” We’ve been writing freelance for almost 30 years (yikes! Has it been that long?!) which has been a challenging but thoroughly rewarding journey! It sure helps that we not only love each other (been married almost 48 years) but we really, really like each other too!

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

Neta & Dave: We write contemporary urban fiction, and most of our stories are set in Chicago (our web site is called “Windy City Stories”). Years ago God challenged our hearts about racial reconciliation, and we have been blessed beyond measure by the relationships God has given us in the multi-cultural churches and in-home Bible study groups we have been part of for years. Most of our novels have grown out of experiences and relationships God has brought to us in this exciting city, enlarging our understanding of what it means to be the Body of Christ with many equally valuable parts.

In spite of living in the city, Dave is a country boy at heart and loves to “farm” his big vegetable garden in the back yard. Neta keeps family diaries and photo albums, and loves to dream up projects and games for the weekly “grandkids sleepover” on Friday nights. We enjoy camping, fishing (well, Neta reads in the canoe while Dave fishes), and Dave enjoys cooking the vegetables he grows!

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

Neta had an active imagination as a kid, which eventually took the form of stories she wrote just for herself. But when one of her stories won first place in a Scholastic Magazine writing contest for teens, she bought a typewriter (what’s that??—ha ha) with her prize money and set out for college wanting to be a creative writer.

Dave, on the other hand, never thought about being a writer (though he loved to read). But in college he worked on the school paper under a great journalism professor, and decided to get his BA degree in journalism.

For many years both of us worked as editors for various publications—but what we both really wanted to do was write stories. And so eventually we took the leap . . .

After you started writing seriously—how long was it before you were published?

Neta’s short story, “The Sacrifice,” which won first place in the Scholastic Magazine contest when she was still a teenager, was published first in Scholastic Magazine and then later in a Scholastic Book titled Discovery, which was a compilation of some of the “best from recent writing and art awards.” After college graduation in 1966, I had many magazine articles published until our first book was published in 1973.

Dave: After college graduation, I had many opportunities as an editor to write articles, columns, and curriculum until . . .

Dave & Neta: Our first book (written together) was Living Together in a World Falling Apart, published in 1973, about the growing movement of Christian communities across the United States.

Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well?

o   Deadlines.

o   Reading good books.

o   Watching good movies.

o   Brainstorming ideas with each other.

o   Our bright sunny upstairs office that says “Get to work.”

o   Knowing that if we don’t write, we don’t eat.

Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?

Neta & Dave: We follow a usual routine every day: Devotions, Exercise at the Fitness Center, Breakfast and Chores (e.g. starting the laundry, watering the garden, etc.), then we “go to work” in our office about 10 a.m. and work till about 6 p.m. We take turns cooking supper. We don’t go back to work in the evening if we can help it, and we generally go to bed about 10:30 (taking a good book to read). We have found it important to keep to this general schedule if we want to pace ourselves.

Note: “Work” not only involves writing, but the business side of writing too: correspondence (mostly email); promotion; paying the bills; etc. which we often do first, then settle down to writing 4-5 hours a 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?

o   Each other. We bring different writing strengths to our writing and have helped each other grow. We function as each other’s “first editor” so that when we turn in a manuscript, it’s clean and has already gone through a first edit and rewrite.

o  Yes, writer’s conferences.

o  Yes, our writer’s group of Christian novelists, which not only shares information and encouragement online during the year, but holds an annual retreat where we learn from one another.

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?

Neta & Dave: Not sure either one of us had any fantasy about what it would be. We had a lot of experience in the publishing world as editors and had published many articles and about six non-fiction books before we took the leap to be fulltime freelance writers. But maybe it’s harder than we thought it would be . . . and also more rewarding than we imagined.

What are your biggest distractions?

Emails to answer (both personal and business).

What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?

A couple of the best moments:

o   When Bethany Publishers gave us a contract for a multiple-book series of historical fiction about great Christian heroes for kids (the TRAILBLAZER series)—and then kept renewing it until we had 40 titles!!!

o  When Integrity Publishers jumped on Neta’s proposal for The Yada Yada Prayer Group—which became a 7-book series, and the launching pad for four more series!

o  When readers began telling us the Yada novels had inspired them to begin their own “Yada Yada prayer groups” across the country. Blessed our socks off!!!

A couple of the worst moments:

o   When a new publisher pulled the plug on a six-book contract after only the first novel had come out! We were stunned (especially since Book #2 was about to be released and we had already written Book #3 and #4!).

o   When our beloved agent died of brain cancer right in the middle of the above disaster—both a personal and professional loss of major proportions.

What do you least like about being a writer?

o   Being “unemployed” every time we finish a project. (That’s why we love multiple-book contracts!!!)

What do you like most about being a writer?PennyWise-pgs

o   The creative process. The excitement of seeing a story take shape.

o  Not having to deal with office politics and meetings.

What is the role and importance of an agent?

Neta & Dave: Years ago we functioned as our own agents, and that was before agents were common in the CBA market. But when we wanted to switch from writing non-fiction books and books for young readers, an agent was very valuable in expanding our horizons, shopping our proposals to markets we were not yet familiar with, and giving us sound professional advice. But it’s important to find a good “match” with your agent—someone who is totally on your side and who believes in you.

What advice would you give to new writers?

o   Keep writing. Write anything: articles, a blog, Sunday school papers.

o   A writer is always learning and improving his or her craft. Always.

o  Attend writer’s conferences and learn from other writers, editors, publishers, agents. Learn from others, but develop your own writing voice.

o   Realize that most successful writers do not write a best seller the first time out.

o   Develop a thick skin when you get critiques. If a reader doesn’t “get it,” you haven’t communicated well yet.

o   Meet your deadlines.

o   Be someone an editor enjoys working with.

o   If a reader writes to you, write back!

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.

Have you ever “tested” God? You might enjoy Michelle Jasper’s “penny test” when her very ordered busy life starts to fall apart in this novel about a typical American neighborhood in the Windy City, where the neighbors are starting to come out of their isolated lives and become a real community . . . for better or worse.

What’s on the book horizon for you?

Neta & Dave: POUND FOOLISH, Book #4 in the Windy City Neighbors series, will be released this fall (2014), and we’re hard at work on the final book in the series, tentatively titled SNOWMAGGEDON.

Last question, how can readers find you and your books?

Neta & Dave: You can find our Windy City Stories web site at:

Our books are also available online at,, and, as well as other online bookstores and by request at any bricks-and-mortar bookstore.



On sale for a limited time! Get a copy of the Amish Proverbs ebook for just $5.99 from AmazonBarnes & Noble, or Christian Book Distributors.

Start the Lancaster County series today! Pick up a copy of The Choice ebook for FREE from AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Christian Book Distributors!

Are you new here? You might want to subscribe to my email updates, or follow me on FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle+, or Instagram.

About Suzanne

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes bestselling, award winning fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. Her interest in the Plain People began with her Old Order German Baptist grandfather, raised in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne's app, Amish Wisdom, delivers a daily Amish proverb to your phone or iPad. She writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. She lives with her family in California and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you can't take life too seriously when a puppy is running through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.


  1. Viv says:

    I love to read these author spotlights. It is so interesting to get a peek behind the book and into the lives of the authors. I’d love to win one of their books.
    Suzanne, as someone who has a service dog partner, thank you so much for raising these puppies so they can help the “disabled”. I know it must be heartbreaking to give up a dog who you worked so closely with for a year, but what you do changes the lives of those of us who are recipients of those dogs. I am not blind. I have other physical difficulties. My first dog rescued me twice from serious situations, but she also rescued me in many more ways during our 10 year partnership. I am working with a new dog now (I forgot how much energy a young dog has!!), so two different families had to part with these beloved animals. It really humbles me to think that they went through all of that for me and others like me. So thank you, and God bless you.

    • Hi Viv! Thanks for leaving your lovely and thoughtful message. So glad to hear about how a service dog has been such a benefit to you! That knowledge fills me with joy. It is hard to say goodbye to a dog…but it’s not like a death. It’s more like seeing a child off to college. Sad, but right. So glad you posted a comment, Viv. You made my day! Warmly, Suzanne

  2. Sharon Holweger says:

    I love reading author spotlight and finding out more about my favorite authors. I just recently discovered Dave and Neta Jackson books and am reading them as fast as I can. would love to win one,

  3. Deanna S says:

    I love how you get to work together. I’ve worked side by side with my husband for 35 years and still love being beside him in retirement. Would love to win one of your books! 🙂

  4. felecia says:

    I would love to read this.

  5. Brenda says:

    Sounds like a great book. I would love to read it.

  6. Nancy Farley says:

    I have not yet had the privilege to read any books from Dave and Neta but would love to do so. Would love the chance to win one of their books. Thanks for bringing a new author to my attention

  7. sharon says:

    A wonderful feature which interests me greatly. Congratulations and best wishes. This book would be a treasure.

  8. Linda McFarland says:

    Author spotlight is a great way to get-to-know authors. Thanks for the opportunity to win…Linda

  9. Renee says:

    I love your Author Spotlights. Penny Wise sounds like a book for me.

  10. Connie Price says:

    The Windy Cities Neighbors books sound like a good ‘new-to-me’ series!! I would love to win and begin to get to know Dave and Neta Jackson!!

  11. Connie Saunders says:

    It is very heartwarming to read about this fantastic marriage and writing partnership. It is very apparent that Christ is at the center of both. Thanks for this interview and giveaway and blessings to all of you!

  12. Pam K. says:

    I’ve read the first two books in this series, plus some of Neta’s other books. I really like the community aspect of these books and how we keep meeting some of the same characters, even when it’s technically a different series.
    The books are fun to read but there’s always something that makes me think.

  13. Debra Stevens says:

    Oh my gosh that was fun!! You are such a joy Neta 😀 I love love love and thoroughly enjoy your Yada Yada series!!! My mother-in-law introduced them to me a several years ago and I am up to #5, so I MUST get the last in the series, which I will definitely be TRYING to complete this year. They have been such an inspiration to me. So hilarious too!! And yes, I have been spurred to start my own group too, lol. But thank you for your time. I enjoyed reading the interview. Getting a look into your “author lifestyle” has both encouraged me to spring my own possible “author aspirations”, find a newfound respect that helped to understand that lifestyle (to keep my author’s in prayer) and remind me that you guys are human too so I don’t feel so alienated when wanting to connect to the authors I follow. I check your website often and always find ways of either having my hubby get your books for me OR finding a way to get them for free! Lol. So yeah, I got super excited when I seen this giveaway!

    Thanks again for your time. I will be sure to connect with you on your social media! 🙂

  14. Danielle Hull says:

    We love the Jackson’s Trailblazer and Heroes books! I didn’t know they wrote fiction, too! Thank you!

  15. Sunnie says:

    Very nice spotlight. I think it would be hard to work on a writing project with my husband. So that is very inspiring to me in it’s self!

  16. Claudia says:

    I always recommended the Jacksons books to my students. I enjoyed them too. Would love to win a copy!

  17. cynthia fernstaedt says:

    I love meeting the authors, old and new, here! Absolutely love a couple who write together!

  18. Dave and Netta–Thanks so much for taking time for this interview! You have both always intrigued me. Such an example of a marriage partnership. Looking forward to reading your book! Warmly, Suzanne

    • Dave & Neta says:

      Suzanne! Thanks for giving us the opportunity to be part of your Author Spotlight! Such great questions! And guess what–my dear hubby turns 70 years young tomorrow!!!! Woo hoo!

  19. Sierra Faith says:

    Always love these author spotlights!!!! Thanks Suzanne!

  20. Merry Z says:

    My children loved the Trailblazer series. I’m excited about the Windy City books, please include me in the drawing. Thanks!

  21. Wendy Phillips says:

    I saw mention of this blog on Dave and Neta’s face book page and am very glad to have read this interview. For those who have not yet read their books, you are in for a treat. I must say that I appreciated that they find it important to answer letters from their readers. Not only do they do that, but they also take phone calls. Thanks you Susanne, I am not sure if I have read any of your books, but I sure intend looking for them. I also was very touch to know that you are a Puppy Raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind because I have had a beautiful guide from that school and am very impressed with the work that they do. In a previous book in the Windy City Series Bently, one of the people in the series pretends to be a blind man on a train and it made me laugh with some of the dogs anticks. Thanks again to both Dave and neta, and to you Susanne for taking the time to do the author spot lights. I wolld like to continue to receive these if possible. Thanks again, Wendy from Canada.

  22. beckie says:

    my husband and I run a business together, that’s every minute of every day together. I still can’t imagine writing a book with him!

  23. Tamara says:

    My family has been reading Dave & Neta Jackson’s books for years and years. I’m happy to see they are still in the book business. Looking forward to checking out their brand new title!

  24. Denise Rustman says:

    I have read all of the Yada Yada Series and loved each and everyone of them. Just finished Penny Wise and can’t wait for the next one. I also have a few of Dave’s books on my shelf waiting to be read. Dave and Neta are an awesome couple. Their books are about real situations and the characters feel as if they are good friends. They have blessed my life!
    Their writing partnership is working very well. Neta has also taken the time to answer my emails and we even have plans to meet at some point for coffee. What author does that? Love them both!!!! Thanks Dave and Neta!

  25. Carole Shearer says:

    I have read the Yada Yada books three times.I love them and I’m always inspired by those ladies. I have also read the House of Hope series twice. My library does not have any of your other books. But Amazon does! Looking forward to reading more of novels.
    Thank you Dave and Neta!

  26. Pastor Bob Turton says:

    LIVING TOGETHER IN A WORLD FALLING APART was our first awareness of Dave and Neta Jackson back when their first book became available. It was a key influence in the early years of Bethany Home in Hightstown, NJ, a fourteen-room house that was purchased by the Gospel Mission Corps and opened in 1972. When the book came out, we had weekly classes on intentional Christian community, and have used its material over the years. We would be interested in buying a supply of this book if it is still available anywhere; please advise us how to obtain it now.

    My wife paid a visit to Reba Place quite a few years ago when she was in Evanston, IL, at the headquarters of the National WCTU. Intentional community is certainly a vital biblical concept of living according the latter parts of Acts chapters 2 and 4. Unfortunately it is so little understood.

    When folk insinuate that it sounds “cultish” and tell me they would never want to “live in community,” I suggest that if they live long enough, there is the possibility they eventually will sleep in the same room with people to whom they are not related, eat at tables with people they had not known previously; their clothes will be washed along with other people’s clothes and may come down the hall on someone’ else’s body. Furthermore, all their money will be surrendered to the system. . . sounds like “intentional community” after all; most likely it will not be Christ-centered, and it will probably be a “life-time commitment” on their part. . . until they are carried out of the place . . . called a “nursing home.”

    Why do they seem so shocked when they realize they may end up “living communally” in spite of their present status. I prefer choosing this lifestyle here and now and on a scriptural basis. If you haven’t read Dave and Neta Jackson’s LIVING TOGETHER. . ., please beg, borrow, or bargain for a copy and read it. College dorms and the military are other communal environments that are not usually so strongly criticized.

    Supposedly heaven will be the ultimate in intentional community. Why not make some preparation here and now? Of course, without the Spirit of Christ this is a hard call. A personal and a corporate “pentecost” are contributing factors for this way of life here and hereafter. Thanks for letting me share on one of my favorite subjects. God bless you all.