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 Beth Wiseman is Mary Levie! Please email my assistant Christen with your mailing address. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This week please welcome Donna Fletcher Crow in the spotlight! To win a copy her book An Unholy Communion (Lion Fiction, 2013) , leave a comment on this post.
Hi Suzanne, thank you so much for inviting me to your Monday Author Spotlight!
A married empty nester. Stan and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary next December. The trouble with being not just an empty nester, but a scattered nester is trying to gather our 4 children and 12 grand children back for a celebration since they live in Calgary, Boston, Kentucky and Los Angeles.
I work full-time—at my writing. I try to get to my desk about 10:00 every morning and stay until 3:00 when Stan (who also works from home) and I both break for afternoon tea.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
English Christian history is my passion, so all of my 43 books, even my Idaho pioneer family saga, has something to do with English history. My best-known work is GLASTONBURY, The Novel of Christian England, which covers 1500 years through Celtic, Roman, Arthurian, Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Tudor England.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I was an English teacher and avid reader. I fell in love with a minor character in a Georgette Heyer novel who demanded that I tell the rest of his story. BRANDLEY’S SEARCH, which became book three in my six-book Cambridge Chronicles, was the result.
After you started writing seriously, how long was it before you were published?
It seemed like forever at the time. Several years while I attended writers’ conferences, got to know the business and honed my skills. I finally got a contract for the book, but the publisher was slow to bring it out. Then I was sitting with Carole Streeter from Victor Books at a writer’s conference when I got the news that that publisher was going out of business.
“What do I do now?” I asked Carole.
“Send it to us,” she said.
“You don’t publish fiction,” was my reply (surely one of the world’s all-time hard sells).
“We’re just starting a new fiction line,” she said. That launched the Cambridge Collection series which was later reprinted by Crossway Books as The Cambridge Chronicles.
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?
Make that a good strong cup of English Breakfast tea. It helps a great deal if I have an outline, or at least some scattered notes to remind me where the story is going. Notes and pictures from my research trips are absolutely essential for putting me in the scene. My goal is to write a minimum of 5 pages a day. The next morning, after Morning Prayers and the above-mentioned tea, I do a few stretching exercises while my computer boots, check my email, and begin work by rereading what I wrote the day before. Hopefully the story will flow from there for another 5 hours or so.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
Writers’ conferences, definitely. The Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference was my “home” for many years. After attending several times I was asked to teach and was twice given their “Writer of the Year” award.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
Since I rather fell into it I’m not sure what I expected, but I never could have imagined anything being so much fun. Of course the struggles are terrific but I’ve been in the business for more than 30 years and every day I thank God for the joy of being allowed to do this.
What are your biggest distractions?
Biggest distraction is my greatest joy—my grandchildren. When I was writing with children at home I thought it would be easier when they were out on their own. Not so. As I mentioned above we are scattered to the four corners of the continent and getting to visit them is a challenge. It was much easier when our children were home in their own beds—even when I was changing diapers.
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
Two bests: First, the satisfaction of writing and the publication of my epic GLASTONBURY.
Then the worst, a ten-year hiatus from 2000 to 2010 when I had nothing published—which led to another best—the publication of A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE, first of my Monastery Murders which has led to an almost all-new career at the age when my more sensible friends are retiring. Life is definitely never dull!
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
I dislike feeling overwhelmed by the amount of writing and promoting I feel I should be doing. I love doing those things, but I dislike the feeling that I’m never done because there’s always so much more than could be done.
Research is one of my favorite parts of the process. Because one of my goals as a writer is to give my readers a “you are there” experience I try never to write about a place I haven’t visited first. That means a wonderful research trip for every book. You can see pictures from some of my more recent trips on my website.
What is the role and importance of an agent?
Ah, without Janet Benrey I certainly wouldn’t be here today. Janet, who is English, really understood my Monastery Murders series and sold them to an English Publisher Monarch Books. That restarted my career, as I recounted above. Now Janet and her husband Ron have their own publishing company, Greenbrier Books and they have published several of my books in ebook format, including GLASTONBURY, my Daughters of Courage pioneer saga and The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series. A TINCTURE OF MURDER is my newest release with them.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Read, read, read! Read the classics and the very best in your favorite genre. Then write from your passion.
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.
Would you like to take a trip to Wales? AN UNHOLY COMMUNION takes you across the idyllic landscape of mystical Wales with history, mystery and romance to keep the pages turning.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
I am just finishing A JANE AUSTEN ENCOUNTER, Book 3 in my Elizabeth and Richard literary suspense series. After that I’ll be back to the Monastery Murders with A MUFFLED TOLLING. This time Felicity is going to Oxford to help some nuns with a publishing project. “Now don’t get into trouble,” Antony warns. If you know Felicity like I do, you know that’s a laugh line.
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, Suzanne. It’s a pleasure to be here today. I love meeting new readers. If anyone has any questions, leave them in the comments below and I’ll drop by to respond.