Where Readers & Writers Connect
• What genres do you read most?
I like mysteries best, but also read light romance novels and biographies.
• Who are your favorite authors, and what makes them special to you?
In the secular market, Mary Higgins Clark; religious market, Max Lucado.
• When did you decide you wanted to write?
I think I always knew. I enjoyed the essay-type questions in school, and wrote my first poems at 9 years old.
• How many books have you written, and how many of them have been published? 29; 21 published, plus edited two anthologies, and self- published 1 writers’ club booklet.
• Can you tell us what you believe has had the greatest influence on your writing?
It would have to be “who”, not “what”, and that would be my mother, our children’s librarian in my hometown public library, my 5th-6th grade teacher, and my book editor boss at the publishing house.
• How do you prepare to write a book? Did you do any special research?
I keep notes for a long time until I get time to sit down and write the book. I also use personal experience and stories from others, plus quotations from books I’ve read.
• How long have you been writing? 65 years.
• What genre do you usually write?
Everything—devotional, how-to, self-help, biography, etc.
• Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
I’d like to mention my last two:
1) A Step in the Write Direction—the Complete How-to Book for Christian Writers is taken from all the conference workshops I’ve taught over the years. I wanted something to offer all the people who called saying, “I want to be a writer. How do I get started?”
2) The idea for The Freedom of Letting Go came from the fact it took me 11 years to let go of my mother after she died. Then I realized it wasn’t just letting go of her, it was the whole principle of letting go of many things: grief, guilt, hurts, success, failure, children, material things, worry, doubt, fear, then the book ends with The Land Beyond Letting Go.
• How do you get an idea for a book?
I have more ideas than I’ll ever have time to write. I see the needs of people around me and would like to help meet those needs.
• What one piece of advice would you give to a beginning writer?
Find a local writers’ group and join. If there isn’t one in your area, start one. Also (and I know this is two!), try to attend a writers conference.
• Do you have any favorite inspirational quotes?
“We are called to write, and I feel we will be held responsible at the Judgment for the people that we could have helped but didn’t because we didn’t write what God laid on our hearts to write” (Harold Ivan Smith).
• What is your writing schedule like? Do you write only when inspired?
I have no schedule, just fit it in when I can. I edit and proofread for publishers and writers and these jobs usually have deadlines. I also care for a disabled husband.
• Did your parents encourage your love for reading and/or writing? If not, where did encouragement come from?
My dad left when I was 11, but he and my mother both gave me a love for reading. My mother should have been a writer. She gave me a lot of ideas for articles and books. But my greatest encouragement came from the children’s librarian at our public library. She introduced me to The Writer magazine when I was 9. Also I was in what would be known as an accelerated class in the 5th and 6th grade, and that teacher encouraged me a lot.
• Do you like the promotional aspect of being a writer? What are your best promotional tools?
That’s my weak spot. I need PR person! I know what to do; just don’t take the time to do it.
• How did you study the craft of writing?
I took journalism one year in the 10th grade. Mostly it was on-the-job training: secretary to a book editor, magazine associate editor, newspaper reporter and columnist, and attending many writers’ conferences.
• Do you read books on the craft of writing? If so, what are your favorites and why?
Not many. Favorite is You Can Tell the World, an out-of-print book by Sherwood Wirt.
• Are you a plotter or a panster? Explain your writing process.
I sort of outline, at least my main ideas. I keep folders for various chapters and drop things in these folders—ideas, personal experiences that fit, quotations, etc.
• What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have any hobbies?
I like music, reading, and crossword puzzles.
• How did you get your first book published? How long did it take? Was this the first book you had written?
I sent 30 puzzles to a Sunday school paper, and they wrote back they’d like to put them in a book. It sold for 29 cents, and before it went out of print, had sold app. 150,000 copies. The first that sold that I actually wrote was Winning Souls Through the Sunday School¸ a devotional book for S.S. teachers.
• Why do you write?
As my nephew says (a gospel songwriter who was sick for 19 years, and has 25 #1 songs to his credit), “I can’t not write.”
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