Creating Compelling Characters: Know Their Past… Beth Vogt

Creating Compelling Characters: 
Know Their Past
to Write Their Now

by Beth Vogt

As I crossed over from the nonfiction side of the writing road to
the fiction side – a.k.a. the Dark Side – I needed to master new rules
of the road. Even as a novice novelist, I knew a can’t-put-it-down
book needs compelling characters. But how did I go about developing
captivating imaginary people? I found an online “character questionnaire,”
pages and pages of getting-to-know-you information deemed vital to my
hero and heroine.

When I was done filling in the blanks, I had a severe case of writer’s
cramp, a worn-out favorite pen, and all sorts of Intel about my main
characters: birth dates, professions, political affiliations, church
denominations, favorite snack foods, favorite colors, favorite movies
… you get the idea.

I was ready for a game of character trivia – and nothing more.

My Book Therapy, best-selling author Susan May Warren’s writing
community, provided the first key to developing true-to-life characters:
the Dark Moment. The Dark Moment is a specific
negative event in your character’s past that shapes them into the
person they are today, i.e. at the beginning of your novel.

Why is the Dark Moment so important to developing your hero and heroine?
The Dark Moment leads to a:

  • Wound – which causes them to act a certain way
  • Lie – that they believe is true (usually some sort of lie about themselves)

How to develop the Dark Moment

When you mull over your character’s past, their Dark Moment has
to be s-p-e-c-i-f-i-c. You can’t just say,
“My hero had a rough childhood” or “My heroine feels like her
father doesn’t love her.” You need to know why the character says
and does the things they do – and to accomplish that, you have to
go back to the Dark Moment and experience it with your character. When
you write out the Dark Moment, include things like:

  • Date – How old was your character when the Dark Moment happened? Hint: It should happen early in their life – no later than the end of high school or very early college. The Dark
    Moment event has to influence who your character becomes, so they have to be young
    enough for the event to shape their personality and beliefs.
  • People – Who was involved in the Dark Moment?
  • Location – Where was your character when the Dark Moment happened?
  • Details – What happened? Add in Storyworld, five senses and dialogue.
  • Results – Why was the Dark Moment so hurtful to your character?

Here’s an example of how you could be specific about a heroine’s
Dark Moment: When Adele Smith was 12, her family vacationed in Destin,
FL. Her parents told her to keep an eye on Jill, her 6-year-old sister.
They were playing in the waves – and Adele was watching the cute lifeguard
– and before she knew it, they both got caught in a riptide. The lifeguard
rescued Adele – but Jill drowned. 
Dark Moment, yes? I would go into even more detail if I were plotting
an actual novel, but for the sake of today’s word count, I kept it
brief. Even so, I did hit date, people, location, details and results.
The Dark Moment is powerful because it affects your character –
they say the things they say, make certain choices – because of that
particular negative past experience.
The Power of the Dark Moment
Why is the Dark Moment such a potent way to create gripping characters?
Because we are taking a real-life truth and weaving it into our fiction.
Each of us has our own Dark Moment – a hurtful experience that influences
who we are today. Here’s an example I often share during writers workshops:
In 2007, I had a life-threatening illness. My husband, who is a family
physician, shut down his practice for a number of days, and took care
of me at home so that I didn’t have to be admitted to the hospital.
I was so sick that he rarely left my side. What we didn’t realize
at the time was that our then six-year-old daughter sat outside our
bedroom door, waiting for him to come out and tell her that I had died. 
Dark Moment? For my daughter, yes.
Six years later, she is still affected by that event. When we found
out what had happened (and we only found out about it two years ago)
we talked with her, prayed with her. The memory influences her actions
when I get sick now or when I leave for a conference. She worries. She
gets tearful. And as her parents, we have to remind her of the truth
that we can trust God with my life – and with hers.
Is it fun to weave quirky things into your novel? Absolutely! In my
just-released novel, Catch a Falling Star, both of my main characters
are Jeep lovers, a fact I used to bring them together – and push them
apart. I’ve written a character who has a linen closet full of OPI
nail polish and another who noshes on beef jerky. But I’ve learned
to go past these details and get to the heart of my characters so that
my readers care about them.
What about you? When you start your novel on page one, chapter one,
have you figured out what experiences in your main characters’ 
past have made them the (imaginary) people they are when your readers
meet them

Beth K. Vogt knows all about her plans and God’s plans not being the same. There was a time when as
a non-fiction author and editor, she said she’d never write fiction.
She’s the wife of an Air Force physician (now in solo practice) who said
she’d never marry a doctor or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of
four who said she’d never have kids. Vogt has discovered that God’s best
often waits behind the doors marked “Never.”
Released earlier this month, Catch a Falling Star is her second novel, following her fiction debut Wish You Were Here, which hit bookstore shelves last year.

Visit Beth Vogt’s website at to learn more about her books, sign-up for her newsletter, and read her blog

Fancy Schmancy ~ by Tamela Hancock Murray

Tamela Hancock Murray
joined The Steve Laube Agency after serving as an agent with Hartline Literary
Agency for a decade. A bestselling, award-winning author of twenty novels,
novellas, and nonfiction books, Tamela brings the perspective of a working
writer to her role as a literary agent. As an agent she represents many top
authors and continues to develop new talent. She earned her BA with honors in
Journalism from Lynchburg College in Virginia. Today she enjoys living in
Northern Virginia with her family. She can often be found reading books on her
This article is reposted form the Steve Laube Agency blog
with permission.
I just saw a funny short video about how to go from
boring to fancy. Examples included labeling the same bread as “bread” and then
“artisan bread” and the identical “cheddar” as “aged cheddar.”
I would have gone with “artisan” cheddar, myself. The
last time our family dined in a restaurant with my in-laws in Connecticut,
“Cheese made by Vermont artisans,” was offered as an appetizer.
How about adding letters to an ordinary word? An
example: Ye Olde Shoppe. Would you rather shoppe there than shop at Nordstrom?
Does drinking water out of a crystal goblet make the
water seem fancier than drinking the same water out of an everyday glass?
How about paying money for water that comes bottled
instead of from the tap? I have read articles that claim some bottled water is,
in reality, tap water. I don’t know if that’s true.
Since I’m a literary agent, I’m always about two steps
from putting just about anything into the context of books. As I watched the
video, I couldn’t help but think about character markers. How “fancy” are your
Is your current WIP populated with suburbanites paying
plenty to dine on artisan cheese or cowgirls sprinkling store-brand shredded
cheddar on tuna casserole they made themselves? I suppose this example comes to
mind since though I’m not a cowgirl, I’ll be sprinkling lots of Harris Teeter
shredded cheddar on my homemade tuna casserole tonight.
Better yet, how do you keep your character markers
fresh? The “beat-up Chevy” is an easy marker for a character of limited means,
but I don’t find it especially original. Neither is a rich person driving a
Ferrari. Give me character markers — yes. Those are great shortcuts to show us
your character’s values. But don’t just give a rich character a Rolex, Dolce
and Gabbanna perfume, Bulgari sunglasses, Christian Louboutin shoes, a Prada
purse, a Bentley, and a Tiffany ring.
Likewise, don’t just give your poor characters clunker
cars. You can, but perhaps also let us know that Dad gave them the car as a
graduation present. And away from the car issue, you might show us how creative
they are with thrift store and yard sale finds. Or perhaps show the character
spending where she needs to spend and being thrifty when she can. Perhaps she
splurged on a string of cultured pearls or gold hoop earrings on sale at the
local family jeweler, and wears them every day as a signature.
Even more interesting is why those markers mean
something to the character. For instance, when I was a little girl, Grandma
Hancock liked to wear a fox stole. The kind where the foxes bite each others’
My mother thinks it’s creepy. But my grandmother left it
to me in her will because I was always so fascinated with the stole when I was
a little girl. I don’t wear the stole, despite my husband’s jokes I should wear
it to the ACFW banquet, but it means a lot to me.
My other grandmother, “Precious,” gave me two coats with
fox fur collars. I don’t wear them because the cut and colors are out of
style, but they mean a lot to me. Why? Not only are they from my grandmothers,
but the items represent luxury enjoyed by rural women who were richer in love
than money.
If you give a character a possession marker, say, a
Rolex watch, why does he own it? Is because the name is famous and he has
recently become wealthy? Or did his father own a Rolex? Or three?
Or does your hero wear a Timex and wouldn’t buy a Rolex
if he had the money? Or he has the money but chooses to not to buy traditional
markers of the wealthy?
Let me give a word of caution on characters with
designer knockoffs. The fashion industry considers knockoffs a form of
stealing. By “knockoff” I do not mean a Chanel-inspired bag your character bought
at Macys. I refer to an item that’s a direct imitation, meant to deceive.
Of course, you never want to get too bogged down with
your characters’ possessions. But having her share a story about a key item can
be fun and enlightening. Just like learning about a real-life friend you want
to know.
Your turn:
Do you wear a signature piece of jewelry or perfume?
Have you thought of giving a character this type of marker?
What is the most memorable character marker you have
In the context of a great story, do you prefer to read
about characters who are extremely rich or extremely poor?

Research ~ the Fun Way

S. Dionne Moore resides in South Central Pennsylvania with her
family. She is a weekly contributor to The Borrowed Book blog where she offers
tips on the writing life, posts recipes, and teaches on various writing-related
subjects. She has a passion for history and obscure fact that can be spun into
a story and also enjoys gardening, piano and wants everyone to know that if you
get to Sharpsburg, MD, you MUST stop at Burkholder’s Bakery and try the best
chocolate covered, cream filled donuts on the face of the earth. No
exaggeration. You’re welcome.

One of the reasons I write historical romance is that I love conducting the research. For my May 2013 release, A Heartbeat Away, I traveled to Sharpsburg, Maryland, the setting for the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg, for you southerners).

Sharpsburg is a very small town, unscathed by commercial development, a true gem of history frozen in time by the town’s refusal to allow commercialism to mar what they have worked so hard to preserve.

I was taken on a private tour by Bob Murphy of RCM History Tours (RCM Twitter). His prices are very reasonable and he accommodated my desire to walk some of the tour. I stayed at the snug and very clean Mary Hill House.

Now for the pics…

Outside of the church. This is the church Gerta Bumgartner would have attended if not for the battle raging on the top of South Mountain that Sunday.

The inside of the famous Dunker Church

Piper Farm was the model for the house neighboring Gerta’s fictional home. This farm became the headquarters for Confederates Longstreet and Hill during the battle.
Mumma Farm was the only farm burned up during the battle. The springhouse didn’t burn and was my inspiration for Gerta’s spring house where the reader first encounters the injured Joe.

Roulette Farm–in
my story, the Roulette’s are escaping to the caves along the Potomac. 
that are real, I might add.

Bloody Lane, called Hog Trough Lane before the battle
Burnside Bridge from the Confederate side. 
With only 300-400 soldiers holding off over 2K because they held the higher ground.

Antietam National Cemetery
Grove House, Lee’s Headquarters in Sharpsburg during Confederate occupation

Do you see the shell stuck in the side of this house? 
Every house in Sharpsburg was used to shelter the wounded. 

McClellan’s command was centered at Pry House. Not open for tour at the time of my trip. 🙁

Uh, this wasn’t part of the tour, but was part of the recovery. 
Nutter’s Ice-Cream. 4 scoops for $2.95. I was sold!

Have you visited a Civil War battlefield or historic site? If you could visit one historic site anywhere in the world, where would it be? Please join the conversation below in the comment section.

A Heartbeat Away

When a band of runaway slaves brings Union-loyal Elizabeth “Beth” Bumgartner a wounded Confederate soldier named “Joe”, it is the catalyst that pushes her to defy her pacifist parents and become a nurse during the Battle of Antietam.

Her mother’s mysterious good-bye gift is filled with quilt blocks that bring comfort to Beth during the hard days and lonely nights, but as she sews each block, she realizes there is a hidden message of faith within the pattern that encourages and sustains her.

Reunited with Joe, Beth learns his secret and puts the quilt’s message to its greatest test–but can betrayal be forgiven?

Sandra D. Moore is a transplanted city girl and glad of it! She enjoys ferreting out little-known historical details and crafting a story around them. Her new releases include Promise Brides (3-in-1 historical romances set in PA) of which two stories are ACFW Carol Award Finalists. In May 2013, A Heartbeat Away, Book 7 in Abingdon Press’s Quilts of Love series, releases. Murder on the Ol’ Bunions released from Smashwords as an ebook in March 2012 followed by Polly Dent Loses Grip and for the first time ever, Your Goose is Cooked, the third and final book in the LaTisha Barnhart Mystery series. To learn more about Sandra and her cozy mysteries and historical romances, visit her website here, Twitter or Pinterest

Interview with Khaled Hosseini

Photo Credit: John Dolan

With more than ten million copies sold in the United States of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, and more than thirty-eight million copies sold worldwide in more than seventy countries, Khaled Hosseini is one of most widely read and beloved novelists in the entire world. The Kite Runner spent 103 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and A Thousand Splendid Suns debuted as a #1 New York Times bestseller, remaining in the #1 spot for fifteen weeks, and spending nearly an entire year on the bestseller list. Hosseini is a Goodwill Envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Refugee Agency, and the founder of The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a nonprofit which provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.

l Being as in demand as you are, you get a lot of media requests. What interview questions do you enjoy answering the most?
I don’t have any favorite questions, per se.  But I find that sometimes readers’ questions reveal something about the story or the characters that will even take me by surprise.  Every reader brings his or her own past and perspectives into the reading experience.  No two people read the same book the same way.  Sometimes what people discover in my stories is amusing, sometimes puzzling, but at times revealing and insightful.  So it is always interesting to me to see where my writing has led people and what sorts of questions it has stirred in them.  Of course, I always appreciate the opportunity to speak about my foundation, especially when young people contact me and want to find ways to partner with the foundation to help people in Afghanistan.  So those questions I always welcome as well.
lWhen just starting out, what made you think you could write a novel?
I always loved stories and dreamed of being a writer, but I never imagined that anyone besides my family and a few friends would be interested in my writing. I wrote my first novel, The Kite Runner, while I was still working full-time as a physician. I did it because I was completely mesmerized by the relationship between the two boys and the father character and simply wanted to see it through.  I wasn’t sure I could do it, until I realized that writing a novel is largely an act of perseverance and determination, of outlasting fatigue and doubt.  And in a way, the demanding medical training in my past helped with that quite a lot.  So I rose at 5 AM each day and wrote until I had to go see patients at nine, and I looked forward to the next morning when I could re-enter that world.
lI had read that you received something like thirty rejection letters from agents before one enthusiastically accepted. One rejection stands out among them. One agent told you that Afghanistan was passee and no one wanted to read about it. It strikes me incredibly funny how subjective this business is and how wrong that agent turned out to be. What advice might you have for writers who are where you were… they believe in their story, but are facing an uphill and seemingly never-ending battle with rejection?
Like many writers, I received a large number of letters of rejections, many from agents who, I suspect, had not read the pages I had sent. My advice is not to take it personally. Rejections are part of the process, but they don’t have to be the endgame.   You only need one agent to find something unique in you. 
lYour debut, Kite Runner, is among the best novels I’ve ever read. The craft, the story, the characters, dialogue, everything, was perfection. How did you learn to write that well and how heavily edited was this book?

Everything I know about writing I know from writing and reading.  I have no formal training at all, but I have loved writing since I was a boy, and have had a voice in my head wanting to create for as long as I can recall.  I believe writers are born, not made.  Programs like MFA’s (Master of Fine Arts) can make you into a better writer, but cannot turn you into one if the compulsion, the need, and the talent to do it is not there to begin with.  The editing of The Kite Runner was largely done in the middle section, and some toward the end.  I was personally unhappy with the middle, the Fremont section, and told my editor I wanted to rewrite it, and she agreed.  We were both pleased with the new middle. 
lMost writers seem to suffer with their sophomore novel. I, myself, struggled greatly with mine. You, on the other hand, wrote another phenomenal book. Did you feel any debilitating pressure because of how critically acclaimed your first novel was? Were you nervous the second wouldn’t be as well received?
Well, when I was writing The Kite Runner, no one was waiting for it! The difficulty of writing a second novel is directly proportional to how successful the first novel was, or so it seems to me. For me, at the outset, there was a period of self-doubt and hesitation, as well as a recurring tendency to question and reassess my own literary capabilities and limitations. This was especially so when I was aware of the people who were eagerly awaiting the book: booksellers, my publisher, and of course, the reading public. This is wonderful—after all, you want your work to be anticipated—and daunting—your work is anticipated!
Though I did experience some of these apprehensions, as my wife will surely attest, I gradually learned to view them as natural and not unique to me. And as I began to write, as the story picked up pace and I found myself immersed in the world of Mariam and Laila in A Thousand Splendid Suns, these apprehensions vanished on their own. The developing story captured me and enabled me to tune out the background noise and get on with the business of inhabiting the world I was creating.
lI learned to write by reading every how-to book I could get my hands on, and just as importantly, by reading great writers—among them, you. Did you find any how-to books on the craft of writing particularly helpful and what novelists have you learned from?
Released May, 2013

With regard to publishing and writing, I bought and read two books; the first was a basic how to on how to publish your first novel, which instructed me that I needed to find an agent. The second, not surprisingly, was a marketplace guide to finding literary agents.

I have always loved to read and was raised in a household in which classic Persian literature and poetry was revered and prized. Among those we read were Saadi and Hafez and Omar Khayyam and Rumi. When I was eight or nine, I discovered Western novels at a little bookshop in Kabul. I read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and I was in wonderland. I recall reading abridged young adult editions of classics like Don Quixote and Ivanhoe and Treasure Island and falling in love with the format.
I admire many contemporary authors and make it a point to read them; though I would stop short of saying they are my inspiration.  I do learn something from each of them, but they do not influence me directly, at least I don’t believe they do.  They include Alice Munro, J.M Coetzee, Ian McEwen, Jennifer Egan, Jhumpa Lahiri, Salman Rushdie, and many more.
lWhen you sit down to write a book, how much of the story do you know going in? Please take us through your process.
I don’t outline at all, I don’t find it useful, and I don’t like the way it boxes me in. I like the element of surprise and spontaneity, of letting the story find its own way. For this reason, I find that writing a first draft is very difficult, and often quite disappointing. It hardly ever turns out to be what you thought it was, and it usually falls quite short of the ideal you held in your mind when you began writing it. But what I would say is that a first draft is really just a sketch on which you can add layer and dimension and shade and nuance and color. Writing for me is largely about rewriting. I struggle writing the first draft, but love writing subsequent drafts because I can see the story getting closer to what my original hopes for it were.
lWhere do you do the bulk of your writing and do you still wake up at 5 am to write?
I work from a small office inside my home.  These days I work from about 8AM to 2PM.
lWhat, in your opinion, are the components of a great novel, vs. a good one?
A great novel doesn’t just entertain; it speaks to something universal in all of us.  It articulates complex truths and holds up old ones in new lights.  It enlightens, surprises, delights, moves, shocks, and in the end leaves us envying those who have not read it and still have the opportunity to explore it for the first time.
lThe astronomical success of Kite Runner seems to have as much to do with the timing of 9-11 and the war in Afghanistan as it did with how great the novel is. Were you initially concerned that timing might work against you?
Yes.  I was two-thirds of the way through writing a first draft when the 9/11 attacks occurred.  For a couple of months after that, I felt uncomfortable moving forward—fearful that there would be a perception that I was trying to capitalize on a terrible tragedy, and suspicious that, as an Afghan-born writer, I would be rejected out of hand.
My wife argued that, given the events of 9/11, this story was important, that it was a way to allow readers to hear about the people of Afghanistan rather than the Taliban and Bin Laden. She also persuaded me that well-written stories about family, love, betrayal, and friendship are never ill timed. With her encouragement, I finished the novel and began submitting the manuscript to agents in June 2002.  I have no doubt that the events of 9/11 created an interest in my book.  To deny that would be naive.  But I believe that once an interest has been created, sustaining it depends on the merits of the work itself.  And so I think The Kite Runner continues to resonate not because of 9/11 but because it connects with readers on a common, human level.
lWhat challenges and rewards has success given you?
I travel a great deal more than I did before. I have seen places that I might not have otherwise—something that kept recurring to me when I was on the movie set in Kashgar, in remote western China. I have a slew of new friends in the literary and publishing community and have had the honor of meeting and speaking with writers whose work I had admired for a long time. As I mentioned earlier, I also have the privilege of serving as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UNHCR to raise awareness about refugee issues. This work, and the work I am able to do with my foundation, have become very important to me and have enriched my life immeasurably.
lI read that you went into the medical field for the same reason I did, practicality of making a sustainable living. If you knew how successful you’d be as a writer, would you have taken that same path? Also, do you still practice medicine?
When we came as political refugees to the United States, my family had to begin again. We had a suitcase of clothes and initially relied on welfare and food stamps. This was difficult for my parents given the success they had enjoyed in Afghanistan.  It was understood early on, that while our parents worked, we had to make a success of ourselves, my siblings and I.  I chose medicine for the reasons you mention, it was not something I can name a lifelong calling.  Pursuing a career as a writer, frankly, under those circumstances was unthinkable and even irresponsible, no matter how much I loved writing. I am grateful that I was able to earn a medical degree and work as a physician for the time I did. But I don’t look back with any regret at having left the field. Being able to earn a living as a writer is a dream come true for me. I am grateful for how things have worked out.
lA Thousand Splendid Suns is listed on the IMDb site as being “in development”. Where is it in the moving-making process?
Steve Zaillian, who wrote Schindler’s List and is a wonderful screenwriter, has written a first draft of the screenplay. The producers are in the process of searching for the right director.
lHow were you approached about making The Kite Runner a movie? Were you pleased with the final result? (I found it to be a wonderful adaptation).
Ian McEwan had a great quote, something about how a screen adaptation of a novel is like a controlled act of vandalism.  I loved film from a very early age, but did not have any misguided romantic notions that my novel would be translated from print to screen without changes.
I was pleased with the film for two reasons. First, I was really proud of the children in the film, particularly since they were amateur actors who had never even seen a movie prior to being in ours. Second, for me the film was a positive step forward for the depiction of that region of the world by those in Hollywood. Usually those films center around political violence, terrorism, things of that nature, and this was a film largely about family, friendship, guilt, betrayal, redemption and regret. Very human things. The characters in the film were Muslim, but they weren’t in the film because they were Muslims. Their faith was incidental to that. And I think that is a really positive development.
lHow were your novels received by the Afghani/Muslim community?
My work hasn’t officially been printed in Afghanistan, though pirate copies are available. The book was “officially” published in Iran, but I was never contacted because there are no copyright agreements between the U.S. and Iran. So some of those Farsi editions, and some in English, have made their way to Kabul.
In Afghanistan today there is, among men, maybe a 70 to 75 percent illiteracy rate. Among women it’s probably higher than 80 percent. So the people who tend to read novels are the educated, urban, progressive, affluent professionals. So it’s a skewed pool of readers to begin with. Among them, I think the opinion is divided, though I believe on the side of being supportive –this I base on the e-mails I receive.  I do have my critics in my community, no doubt.  The common theme among them is that some things are better left unsaid, kept in house, for instance the issue of ethnic tensions and treatment of women and violence against children.  But I think novels ought not to be propaganda tools, but rather conduits for open, honest discussion of difficult, sensitive, even taboo subjects.
lWhat part does faith play when you write?
Very little.
lAre you affected by negative reviews? Do you even read them?
It’s never easy to see unkind things said about your writing, but one has to develop a bit of a thick skin—to try not to take things personally unless -and this is rare- the review is a personal attack. I have been lucky that most of the reviews of my books have been generous. It’s a privilege to be published, and reviews—good and bad—come with the territory.
lIf you could go back to that green writer you were and give him any piece of advice, what would it be?
I would tell him not to spend so much time absorbed in self-doubt. I would also tell him that he was correct to believe that stubborn perseverance is the key to finishing a manuscript.
lWhere do you see yourself writing-wise in the future? Do you plan to continue writing in the genre you are in or would you someday like to do something different?
Right now, I am focused on finishing my third novel. I have no idea what I will write after that.  But I have no doubt that at some point I will approach a wholly different topic.
lParting words, encouragement or advice for your fellow novelists?
I have met so many people who say they’ve got a book in them, but they’ve never written a word. To be a writer –this may seem trite, I realize- you have to actually write. You have to write every day, and you have to write whether you feel like it or don’t. Perhaps most importantly, write for an audience of one—yourself. Write the story you need to tell and want to read. It’s impossible to know what others want so don’t waste time trying to guess. Just write about the things that get under your skin and keep you up at night. You also have to read a lot—and pay attention. Read the kinds of things you want to write, read the kinds of things you would never write. Learn something from every writer you read.


Interviewer, Gina Holmes is the founder of and award-winning novelist. Her debut novel, Crossing Oceans was a Gold Medallion, Book of the Year and Christy Finalist and winner of the Carol Award. Holmes’ sophomore novel, Dry as Rain was also a Christy Award Finalist. Her latest novel, Wings of Glass released in 2013. You can learn more about her at

Released 2013