How long have you been writing?
I started writing since I was old enough to hold a crayon. But as far as writing seriously, with hopes of publication? That began in 2002. I was offered my first publishing contract in 2011.
When did you feel called to write?
See above. It was in February. Two of my four kids were grown and on their own, the younger two were in school, and my hours at work had recently been cut to twelve hours a week. And, we’d just gotten a new computer. While cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast, it occurred to me that everything had fallen into place for me; it was time to write that book that had been in the back of my mind for the past couple of decades. I tried to brush away the idea, but eventually I realized it wasn’t just an idea, it was the Holy Spirit nudging me. I prayed about it, and the urge persisted. I’ve prayed about it every day since. I don’t want to waste my time doing this if the Lord wants me to do something else instead, but every day, He gives me the green light to go ahead. And so I plod on.
Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
I have no idea. They spring up like weeds, and I don’t usually know what sort of critter dropped the seeds there.
What are your thoughts on critique groups?
A good critique group is invaluable. Better than a MFA. I can’t sing their praises enough.
Was it hard to develop a writing style?
Who is your favorite author?
I have no favorite author. Nor favorite color, food, movie, book, etc. I don’t think I’m wishy-washy, I just enjoy too many things to narrow it down.
Have you dealt with writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?
I can’t say as I’ve ever struggled with writer’s block. If I feel stuck on one thing, I drop it and go on to something else. Most of my struggles, especially at first, were trying to find the time to write, not trying to decide what to write.
Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?
Yes, I think this is inevitable, though I try to counteract it by making my characters do things I never would.
Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?
The scenes I feel most strongly about are the most difficult to write. Yes, scenes have made me cry sometimes, but they’ve never made me angry. Anger results from loss of control, but I have complete control over everything that happens in my story world.
Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?
I’m a seat-of-the-pants plotter. However, before I start writing, I know the beginning, the end, and two pivotal events that will take place along the way, as well as the major characters. But other than that, I’m as surprised about what happens as the reader is. It’s fun.
What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?
I want people to enjoy my books and find things in them to think about after they’re through. Mostly, though, I hope they’ll see God’s truth reflected in my stories.
Can you share any upcoming projects with us?
In January 2011 I signed a three-book contract with Risen Books for a space fantasy series, Gateway to Gannah. The first book, The Story in the Stars, was released in June; Book #2 will probably come out in December, and I expect the third to be released in the middle of 2012. I’m currently revising #3 in preparation for submitting it to the publisher, and I also have a good idea in my mind of what’s going to happen in Book #4. I have no contract for anything beyond the third book, but I expect I’ll keep writing more in the series for the next few years, because I have several story ideas still to work out.
How do you respond when someone comments that certain elements (magic, vampires, zombies, etc.) in your story do not fit in what they consider to be Christian?
If someone told me that, I’d agree with him. I don’t incorporate those elements in my stories.
– With a full schedule, how do you find time to write?
I used to squeeze it in whenever I could, and it was very frustrating. Thankfully, I’m now in a position to write full time. It’s not like having a full-time job, because I don’t get a paycheck. But at least my time is my own.
When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?
Yes, I give my characters a history, but I tend to work backward. That is, I decide first what I want the character to do, and then I figure out what her background and motivation is, and build her history that way. That’s all done mentally before I start writing. Then once I get started, she’ll sometimes react in ways I hadn’t anticipated, but it’s always consistent with the backstory I gave her early on.
Can you share one or two nuggets of wisdom to those wanting to travel down the writing road?
I have five nuggets to share, but I’m not sure what they’re nuggets of:
1. If you’re a Christ-follower, pray about this. You’re looking at a huge investment of time and energy, not to mention money if you go to conferences and such. So you should be sure you’re doing what the Lord wants you to do. (If you’re not a Christ-follower, I have no advice for you other than that you consider changing that situation.)
2. Be patient; be diligent; be humble; learn as much as you can, make as many contacts as you can, and be aware that you’re just starting out. You have much to learn.
3. Pray about it.
4. Be patient; be diligent; be humble; learn as much as you can, make as many contacts as you can, and know that the Lord is God.
5. Pray about it. Maybe now that you’re getting the hang of it, He wants you to write a different sort of story or to change genres, as He did with me. I never even read science fiction when He put me to work writing it. You never know what He’s going to lead you to do.
– Where can readers find your books and contact information?
Readers can connect with me through my blog at www.YsWords.com. The Story in the Stars (and later, subsequent titles in the series) can be purchased in paperback or e-book formats at Amazon or through the publisher’s website (www.RisenFiction.com/store).
Do you spend time in prayer before you write or begin a project?
What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?
It takes me a little while to get into the story each time I go back to it, and I need to be isolated from distracting things like TV, music, conversation, etc. I don’t need complete silence, though. I do a lot of writing sitting on the front porch with the world going past the house. But those sounds, I can block out.