She spends her extra time as a professional editor for upcoming and established authors, and creates web pages at affordable prices for authors (as she says, authors can’t afford some of those prices out there). She loves to hear from fans. You can find out more about her here
The book is about MS. It’s a faction, fiction and fact together. It’s my story with a Bible study and truth attached to each chapter. It’s meant to help someone who is going through a struggle of recent diagnosis to acceptance.
Tell us about your publishing journey. How long had you been writing before you got a contract? How did you find out and what went through your mind?
I wrote four years before selling my first novel! I heard that Steeple Hill was starting a new line and actually, I sent it in the next day. I heard back in three weeks, and the story wasn’t done. I sat down and wrote the rest of the story in two weeks, non-stop and within another 3 weeks….well, I heard a message on my answering machine (I still have the tape) to call them. I did and they wanted to buy, but not only that, they told me they wanted me to be one of the premiere authors and wanted to build me into one of their top authors—which they did. That’s a lot to take in on a first call.
All I could think was, wow…I had grocery sacks in my hands when I came in, dropped them by the answering machine. I told Ann Canadeo I would call her back (I wanted an agent before I agreed to what she had offered) called an agent—who had just rejected me—and they took me on. My husband came home; I was still on the phone calling friends. He put up the groceries, fixed hamburgers for dinner and cleaned the kitchen before I got off the phone calling everyone.
Do you ever struggle with writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?
Good heavens yes! I just went through one of the worst years I’ve had. I simply stopped writing. I was so burned out that I simply dreaded coming to the computer to write. I asked God about what to do—he told me to leave where I was writing, and coward that I am, I wasn’t 100% SURE it was Him, so I put out a fleece and boy did God fulfill the fleece. I was so relieved. Then I prayed and I felt God saying He was leading me in a new direction.
So I stayed in prayer and simply waited on God/am still waiting…but I find I am slowly being refilled and actually can write some now. And it doesn’t feel like a chore, like I m forcing myself. The art part of writing is coming back, instead of deadlines and demands and writing for someone who doesn’t like your style (my last editor! LOL)
Where do you write? Do you have a dedicated office or a corner or nook in a room?
Don’t laugh. I write in bed. I have a laptop and find sitting in bed is the best place. It’s too bright outside or you’d probably find me out there writing! I do have an office, but we just moved so we had to combine it with my husband’s and it’s back in our bedroom (where I first started writing—I’ve come full circle)
Do you have a word or page goal you set for each day?
I am a seat of the pants writer. If I really like the story, I can write up to 20-40 pages a day easily. My best selling stories are the ones I wrote in 2 or 3 weeks. My worst selling story took me 4 months to write!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Oh boy…life is crazy. I am in full time ministry, so there are those who call that I am working with. Plus I run an at risk youth center and I am in charge of Wed. Night kids along with my husband. So that is a lot of it. Then add into that writing, editing and webpage creation. I don’t have a slow moment. Did I mention exchange student and MS?
I get up at 7 a.m. I drive Mariko to school at 8 a.m. I come home and have my Bible time and prayer. Clean the house, work on my wed program if it’s the first part of the week, work on my Bible Study for Friday and Sunday if it’s the last half (I teach older girls on sun night and we have a short bible study on Friday’s in our house and a movie).
Then it’s free time. Then Mariko is home and we work on homework. Finally, writing time…evening around 10pm. My husband is asleep in bed; I pull the computer up, open what I am working on and write. I insist on being done with computer time at Midnight because I have to have some sleep at some point!
If the story is really moving then I write also between around 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Otherwise it’s only night time.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?
Rexanne Becnal told me advice she’d once heard from someone. It is that it takes you 4-6 years to get a professional degree. Why in the world would you expect to be published sooner than that?
I add to that: It takes time to learn your craft, the ins and outs, how to edit, etc., and if you work at it for those 4-6 years then that’s the important thing. You are going to have books rejected. But you have to finish that first book, submit it and start a second one, an when the second one is done, start submitting it out…and so forth. You get your name out there. They’ll see improvement in each story—and if you are consistent, eventually they are going to buy you!
What do you wish you’d known early in your career that might have saved you some time and/or frustration in writing? In publishing?
To be more honest with the editors. My all time favorite editor used to say, “I asked the people in the office and they all agree….” About changing something…that would absolutely kill me when she said that. I would go insane at the house…..It would have been so much easier to say Patience, why are you saying that. Just tell me: It’s gotta be changed. I’d be a lot happier.
The second thing is that all editors (except the above mentioned) lie. I don’t think I’ve found a single editor that is honest. They say what they think is going to pacify the author. It drives me insane. But, if I had simply accepted that and learned to shrug it off, I would have saved a lot of hours getting frustrated with them.
How much marketing do you do? What have you found that particularly works well for you?
Well, marketing does work. Putting ads in RT, speaking with online groups. Making up postcards and sending a newsletter. These are all great ideas. I got a quote for my first book from Debbie MacComber. I really think that helped a lot since she is so well known. I mean, when I was a reader, getting a quote front of the book would draw my attention if it was an author I read.
You have to budget it. If you are really wanting to push the book, negotiate with your company (unless it’s steeple hill) about how much they are doing in marketing. Ask them for suggestions. And then get the word out.
Do you have any parting words of advice?
KEEP WRITING. I cannot tell you that enough. And listen to critique partners only when two or three agree to it. I edit books professionally, and one of the things I’ve found is the first three chapters edited to death, and nothing beyond that. Or that’s all they have done of the book, and all they’ll ever have done.
Also, listen to editors. They WANT to buy you. If they give you advice, or actually tell you to resubmit—then that is so absolutely above what they normally do, it means they really LIKE you. So do it! They’re not out there seeing who they can reject.
And finally make sure you make it as EASY for the editor as possible. Be as short and concise with your synopsis as possible and make sure the opening of your book sings! Check the spelling etc. Don’t waste their time and you’ll get a lot further.