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 of A Road Unknown is KAREN HALL! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address to claim your prize.
This week we are featuring Terri Blackstock! To enter to win a copy of her book, Distortion (Zondervan), 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?
My husband and I are empty nesters. We have three children and four grandchildren, three of whom were born last year. I have worked full-time at writing for thirty years.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
I write Christian suspense novels.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I have been writing since I was in seventh grade, and yes, I dreamed of being a published author. My mother sent one of my poems to the local newspaper when I was a young teen, and they published it. After that, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I majored in English in college, then got involved in a writers’ group in my area, where I learned the actual business of writing. I wrote two books that never sold (thank goodness!), but when I was twenty-five, I sold my first novel. I’ve been writing professionally ever since.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
I guess I’ll start that countdown from the time I graduated from college, so it was about three years. But before that I’d been writing since the age of twelve and had been seriously trying to learn the craft.
Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well?
I’m not a coffee drinker, but a nice cup of tea gets me going. Then I run to my favorite fast food place to get a Diet Coke in a styrofoam cup (which I sip on all day), and that seems to get my brain into gear.
Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write?
I do better when I start the day with Bible study and prayer. Then I make my daily run to get my Diet Coke. I often do some writing in my car when I get home. The car is one of my favorite places to write, even though I have a nice study, which I love.
How many hours a day do you spend writing?
For most of my career I’ve kept school hours, since I could only write while my children were at school. Now that they’re grown, I do allow myself to sleep a little later, but once I get started, I try to write for about six hours each 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?
Writers’ conferences played a huge part in helping me get published. I made my earliest and most important contacts at RWA conferences, and I always recommend that aspiring writers attend conferences where they can get meetings with editors and agents. I got my first agent from one of those pitch sessions, and that ultimately led to my first sale.
I have also enjoyed the writers’ groups I belong to. It’s so helpful to have friends who are on the same journey. Writers don’t think like normal people, so it’s important to have people who “get” me.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
I don’t think I had huge expectations, because it wasn’t my goal to “be an Author.” I just wanted to write. I didn’t expect to be rich or famous. I just hoped there would be someone out there who would want to read what I’d written, and that I’d be able to make at least a modest living while doing that. That was my best-case scenario, and that’s how it’s turned out.
What are your biggest distractions?
Family, email . . . Honestly, life can be a huge distraction. I have to work hard to build distraction-free days so I can meet my deadlines.
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
The worst was this past year, when my beloved agent, Lee Hough, died of brain cancer after a two-year-battle. He was a fabulous agent and always looked out for me. He worked hard for his clients, yet he did it with great integrity. I still feel a little stunned at the thought that I can’t pick up the phone and call him.
The best was when I got that phone call that the first book had sold. I remember holding the phone to my ear as my knees buckled and I wound up sitting on the floor. I felt I was finally vindicated to all those who doubted I could do this. By then I’d finished two more books, so I knew this was going to be the beginning of a career.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
I most like hearing from readers that something in my books impacted their lives. What I like least is the business aspect of writing—the paperwork and ancillary stuff that has to be done.
What is the role and importance of an agent?
I’ve been spoiled in that area, because I’ve been very well represented. Lee looked out for me (and his other clients) in every way, protected my best interests, negotiated excellent contracts with good advances and royalty rates, helped with career strategies, and handled things that might have been awkward for me to handle with the publisher. He knew what was going on throughout the industry, and he was able to advise me accordingly. He was a constant support and always encouraged me. I was blessed to call him my agent and friend.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Focus more on the writing of the book than on the marketing, and don’t rush to self-publish before a book is ready. In the past, writing was a profession that required lots of patience, and before a novel was published, it had been vetted by professionals like agents, editors and publishers. Today writers have other options, so they get impatient, and they’re uploading books that will not help their careers in the long run. Learning your craft takes time, and it isn’t something that happens with one book.
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.
A husband’s lies can have deadly consequences.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
I’ve just finished the third book in the Moonlighters Series, and we’re about to start the editorial process on that. Meanwhile, I’ve started working on my next series, which has been in my head for a couple of years. I had to finish the last series before I could start on this one, so I’m really excited to finally have the opportunity to dig into a new set of characters.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
Web Site: http://www.terriblackstock.com
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Love Terri’s Books. I thnk “Last Light” is my favorite so far. Can’t wait to read her latest as well! Thanks got such great books!
Great author and great books! Thank you so much for sharing your talent.
melback at cebridge.net
I started reading Terri’s books from our church library, that’s how I discovered her wonderful books. I’d love to win her latest book. After I read it, then I would donate it to our church library so someone else could “discover” her books!
I have not yet read any of Terri’s books, I enjoyed the interview and will definitely add her books to my reading list.
Thank you for featuring her.
Excellent interview with an author I haven’t yet read. I love finding new authors–thanks for the introduction!
I would love to win this book,,as I haven’t read this authors books before.. Always looking for good clean reading material.. 🙂
I LOVE Terri’s books! I know not to start them just before I go to bed! (cuz I can’t put them down!)
Thanks for sharing a little bit about yourself!
I read Blacklight and fell hard for all her books! Great author!
Thank you for sharing this delightful interview! I can’t wait to start reading Terri’s books!!
I love suspense stories and would very much appreciate receiving this book.
Thank you for this opportunity.
Great post. I love learning about authors I’m not familiar with. I haven’t read any books by this author. Sounds very interesting! Thanks.
What advice would Terri give to those of us(like me) who have heard she writes great books, but are such scared-y-cat readers that we have never found that to be true for ourselves?
I would like very much to win a copy of Terri Blackstock’s new book, “Distortion”. Thank you for the opportunity!
I read one of Terri’s books by chance, and really enjoyed reading it. Have read most of her books and have recommended them to several friends.
Want to win a copy of distortion
Thanks for the interview, Suzanne, and thanks to everyone who commented. Linda, you need to join Brandilyn’ Collins’ “Big Honkin’ Chicken Club.” LOL! However, you might start with one of my less suspenseful books like COVENANT CHILD or my Seasons Series–which aren’t suspense–then work your way into my suspense novels if you like my writing. To those of you who love suspense, I have a lot of books that can keep you reading. Thanks to those of you who are already loyal readers!
I love Terri’s books. I am also an author writing fiction that is yet unpublished. I agree with what she said about learning your craft.
I’ve had other nonfiction books published, but it is my hope to break into fiction. Terri is someone I admire and respect! Keep on giving us those books!
I love Terri’s books and would love to win a copy of this one.
I have read all of Terri’s books! My favorite series so far has been the Restoration Series!! I can’t wait to read Distortion!! Thanks for this chance to win it here!
I have been reading Teri’s books for about 8 years. I think that I have written all of them. I love them!
I love Terri Blackstock books. I own them all. As a suspense writer, I study her (among a number of different writers)writing to make me a better storyteller. o
Love Teri Blackstock books…love to have them in my school library in our Mississippi Author section!!
Your stories are a blessing. So glad you followed God’s leading and dedicated your gift to Christian writing. The wisdom of following Christian principles through even hard times are clearly seen. I especially like your books that include thought provoking questions for study. What a unique way to study the Bible! Thank you for sharing your spiritual heart and insights with us through each book. 🙂
I am so excited for Distortion! I read Truth Stained Lies months ago without realizing that I would have to wait so long for the sequel. Can’t wait to get my hands on it!
I love reading Teri’s books it doesn’t take me long to read them because I find it hard to put them (or my kindle) down once I start reading.
I love Terri Blackstocks books!! Would love to win Distoration!!
I love @terriblackstock books! My favorite so far are the Restoration Series.
I can’t wait to read this book. It looks very interesting
Terri is one of my favorite authors! I love her books & usually can’t put the books down until I finish – even if I have to stay up all night!
Just started reading Terri’s books, that are very good.
I met Terri Blackstock at an ACFW conference a few years back. Her talk on suspense opened my eyes to how my newly-finished novel, which was fairly mediocre, could really shine with some great plot twists and unexpected elements. I understand what she says here about life being a distraction. After that conference, I ended up quickly getting married, working three jobs to get my husband through almost two years of unemployment (he’s underemployed now, so I’m still hopping between two jobs), and being slammed with health problems. My mind continues to work on ideas during my long commutes, but the writing has mostly stalled. I’ve been spending my commute time listening to books on audio, especially my new favorite, the Newpointe 911 series. Thanks to a Master’s degree in English and so much absorbed training from conferences and writing books, I can analyze a book pretty quickly and am finding it harder to be stumped in a suspense. I usually end up saying, “Here, now that’s the unassuming background character I’d pick to be the bad guy in the end”…and I end up right. While I’ve figured things out a few times with Terri Blackstock’s books, about 70% keep me guessing or at least second-guessing myself throughout the ride. She’s been a wonderful influence on me and I hope one day, when I can finally return to my love of writing and finish those 15+ WIPs, people will read my work and think, “Terri Blackstock must have inspired her.” It’ll be the truth, and one I’ll be eternally grateful for. 🙂
Thank you for this great comment, Tamara! I’m honored that you feel this way!
Love reading Terri’s books. I think I’ve read most of them.
Love reading Terri’s books. I think I’ve read most of them. Can’t wait to read this new one
Terri Blackstock’s books keep me interested and involved as I read. I am a labored reader and cherish the enjoyment I receive while reading her books. Thanks for the chance to win this latest book.
Love Teri Blackstock books and would love a copy of her new book also. crystalbluern at onlineok dot com
Thanks for all the affirmation and encouragement, everybody! I’d answer individually but I’m trying to finish revisions on one book while preparing for the launch of next week’s book. But you all rock! I needed that boost to get through this challenging week.
Besides winning a book here, you might also enter to win my Kindle Fire giveaway. Winner will be announced at my Facebook party on March 11 at 8pm EST. You can enter the Kindle giveaway at http://prmo.me/urZmKV and sign up for the FB party at https://www.facebook.com/tblackstock/events.
Good interview! I’m a longtime fan of Terri’s and have read all of her books! It would be next to impossible to pick a favorite! I agree with those who’ve said they can’t put them down… I’m the same way! 🙂 I’m my church’s librarian so I’ve made sure they’re all available. This new one will be going in there as well!
I so enjoyed this interviewed. When I first discovered Christian fiction, I soon became a fan of Terri’s. I love mystery and intrigue and she delivered. Thanks for this chance to win her book.
Thanks for sharing the interview on Terri Blackstock. I’m always looking for good Christian authors. Distortion sounds like it would be a great book!! Please enter me in this contest. Thanks again. Judy F
I enjoyed the interview questions and answers. I’m behind on my Terri Blackstock reading but have enjoyed each one I have read. I recommend her books when people ask for suggestions.
I have read Terri’s books & really enjoyed them, thank you Terri for being a good Christian author, I don’t read anything but Christian books, don’t want to read all that garbage they put in books nowadays. Please enter me in the contest to win your book, I’d love to win!
my favorite books is the Last light First Light series.. They were suspenseful and really made you think what our life is like now and so easily it could be gone. love the writing
Love the pitch line you gave! Sounds like a good book. Terri Blackstock was my introduction to Christian Suspense novels which I now devour as fast as I can get them via the library!! Would love to read new one!
Great interview! Great books, Terri!
I really like Terri’s books and enjoyed the interview. I would like to win her new book. Thanks and God Bless.
So sorry about your agent. I know a lot of people loved him, on FB authors spoke highly of him. I’d love to read one of your books.
I love reading books that hold my interest all the way through.
I had no idea about your agent. I am sorry to hear that. Good interview – thanks for sharing 😉
I haven’t read any of Terri’s books yet. But always looking for another great Author.
I have done a Terri Blackstock marathon Lol! And now I’m up for “Distortion”! Thanks for the great interview!
Love, love, love Terri’s books. I’ve read them all I think. Can’t wait to read this one.
LOVE Terri Blackstock books! Discovered her books through a friend recommending the “911” series. I couldn’t put them down! My father-in-law actually found salvation in Jesus Christ just months before he died because he started reading Terri’s “Cape Refuge” series. Thank you Terri for sharing your gift of writing!!!
Have not had the chance to read any of Terri’s books, but as always, I look forward to reading a great Christian book by a talented author.best of luck in your book writing Terri, and may god bless.
I love getting and reading Terri’s books, because my husband also likes to read them when I finish.
Suspense mixed with Christian themes is difficult to find and Terri Blackstock does this well. I really liked the part that she enjoys writing in her car, in spite of a beautiful study, she writes in her car. Amazing.
I have read/ listened to all of her books and would love a chance to read this one.
I would love to win your book…love suspense and a good Christian read! So sorry to hear about the passing of your dear friend and agent, Lee. I am sure you will always remember his direction in your life. God bless!
It was fun getting to know more about Terri. I can’t wait to read her book.
I have never read any of Terri’s books but would love to. I read the review and found it interesting that she started writing at age 12. Distortion sounds like a book I would love to win and read.
I have not read anything by Teri, that doesn’t mean I won’t as I will write her name in my list of authors so I can read a book by her. I loved reading about her and I am so sorry to hear about the loss of her agent. I would love to win this contest, as Distortion sound like it would be a wonderful read!
I love Terri Blackstock’s books! Even though I am a Christian, before I found Terri’s books, I didn’t read a lot of Christian fiction. Most of what I found were romances, Amish fiction, etc. Nothing to feed my love of suspense. Then my sister loaned me one of the Newpoint 911 books. I was hooked! I have been collecting her books ever since. I can’t wait for her next one to come out.
I have read just about every book Terri Blackstock has written. I absolutely love reading the books she has written. I would love a chance at winning Distortion. I am so sorry she has lost her agent to such a harsh disease. Sending prayers that she continues to find comfort in the wonderful memories she has or her friend.
I also have read every book Terri has written – many times, even! I love the genre and usually finish a book in 1-2 sittings because they draw me in so much. Loved the interview and hope she keeps writing for many more years.
Love, love, love Terri Blackstock books!!
Terri is a new author to me. Glad to have found her and her books. Thank you. 🙂
I have never read one of Terri’s books. Would love to win one.
Thanks Suzanne for having Terri here. Loved the interview. Terri sorry about your agent . Congratulations on your new little ones. I’ve heard the other authors talk about writing in the car while waiting for someone, but you are the first to say it is one of your favorite places to write. I would love to win this book. Thanks!
I would love to win this book,,,always looking for good clean books to read.. Thank you
I love Terri’s books! thanks for the great interview!!!
chendryx (at) nctv (dot) com
I grew up on a farm and NEVER had enough reading material. As an adult living in the city, entering the public library is always a thrill. Walking out with an armful of “inspirational fiction” is priceless,, and I hope the decision-makers will be encouraged to invest even more in quality material. Thanks to those who introduce me to new friends and take me to new places through their creative story-telling.
I love Terri’s books. They always keep me turning pages to the end and eager for the next one!
I have not read Terri Blackstock books but I have heard great things about them. I would love to win this book and get started reading her works.
Today is launch day for DISTORTION, and I want to thank all of you for helping my insecurities. It’s always hard to debut one of my babies, but you have all encouraged me so much. Thank you again, Suzanne!