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 Kim Sawyer is O. Norman! Please email my assistant Amy with your mailing address (amy@litfusegroup.com)

This week Shirley Brosius, Janine Boyer, and Kim Messinger authors of Turning Guilt Trips Into Joy Rides are in the Spotlight! To win a copy of their book,  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?

Since this book is Janine and Kim’s only writing project, I (Shirley) will answer your questions from my perspective. However let me introduce you to my coauthors. All three of us are married. Kim, an elementary teacher, has two sons—a high school senior and a college freshman. Janine, who works in a family business, has a son and a daughter, both in college. I have two married sons, a daughter waiting in heaven and five grandchildren. Janine, Kim and I share in a speaking ministry called Friends of the Heart. I write as much as I can.

How did the three of you get started writing together?

We began meeting weekly to discuss Christian books in 1998, and a few years later we developed a women’s retreat for Kim’s church. We enjoyed the experience so much we offered to lead women’s retreats to the wider church community. We now speak about 15 times a year and have spoken in five states. At a writer’s conference, an agent suggested that since we speak together, we should write a book together; hence, Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides.

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

For this book we focused on dealing with guilt because we find many women we meet at retreats feel guilty; some, in fact, feel paralyzed by guilt. They think that because of past mistakes, God cannot bless them again. We wanted to write something that would let them know they are not alone in their feelings and would offer ways for them to deal with both real and imagined guilt so they might again enjoy life.

I concentrate on nonfiction and am also the author of Sisterhood of Faith: 365 Life-Changing Stories about Women Who Make a Difference, a devotional book that offers a year of daily profiles of inspirational women. I have also written hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles.

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

I was a former high school business education teacher and a former director of Christian education who needed to make a job change at age 53. I had always had a yen to write, and my husband encouraged me to try it for a year. Once I wrote that first newspaper story about elementary students making valentines for residents of a nursing home, I was hooked.

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

A few months after I began writing, I began working on assignment for a city newspaper. I also attended a writer’s conference and submitted a devotional writing for a compilation book. It was accepted. The funny thing was that when I finally had a book manuscript ready, the editor of that compilation book was working as an agent and took me as a client. She found a major publisher for my first book.

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? 

My daily routine is to get up, read my Bible and pray, eat breakfast and head to my office. No coffee; I’m a self starter. I work probably six or seven hours a day except when I leave for doctors’ appointments, grandkids’ activities, etc. At my age, I am more flexible than I used to be, but I usually get to my upstairs office between 9 and 10 and stay there most of the day. I’d rather write than cook or clean, so that helps a lot.

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 have attended many writers conferences, and they are always highly motivational and helpful. I have subscribed to Writer’s Digest almost every year since I started writing, and I have dozens and dozens of books on writing. For newspaper writing, I especially appreciated David Fryxell’s How to Write Fast (While Writing Well). I also took about 20 credits of graduate journalism courses, which were most helpful.

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be? (Explain your answer) 

I really thought if I worked “full time” I would earn a full-time salary. Not so. If I were not married, I could not afford to write. Other than that, my writer’s life is as I expected. I spend most of my time alone in my “upper room,” and that’s OK with me. ☺

What are your biggest distractions? 

I could say my husband; but really, if he did not pop in every now and then, I might not like this solitary life so well.

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

One of the biggest moments in my career was when I got that call from my agent saying she had found a publisher for my first book. Kim and Janine rented a limousine and took me out to dinner. They know how to celebrate. The worse, when that publisher decided I should check with the women I wrote about who were still living to see if they approved what I had written. Thirteen of them did not want to be included in the book, and I had to scramble to substitute others before my deadline.

What do you least like about being a writer? 

Trying to develop social networks, such as Facebook.

Most like? 

Interviewing people. Just love it. Oh and one more thing that I like about being a writer—indirectly, it has led to the speaking engagements we so enjoy. You have more credibility as an author.

What is the role and importance of an agent? 

The main role of an agent is to get you a publisher, and my first agent did that. She has retired, and I was not able to find an agent to take this second book. However, I did get feedback on this book from agents who I approached, and their input was invaluable. Our book ended up totally different from the way it started and is much stronger for it.

What advice would you give to new writers? 

Read all you can, write all you can, take classes, read books on writing and go to writers conferences.

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. 

Our book will let you know you are not alone with your feelings of guilt. It will help you deal with both real and imagined guilt in a godly way so that you may enjoy a happier life. Each day offers a “Guilt Trip to Avoid,” a scripture verse, a personal experience story and a way to “Take the Joy Ride.”

Last question, how can readers find you and your books? Through our website (www.friendsoftheheart.us), at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and WestbowPress.com. My personal website is www.shirleybrosius.com. You may call me at 717-692-2721. I’m on Facebook and Blogspot (www.shirleybrosius.blogspot.com).

Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)

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