Please introduce yourself.
- When did you start writing?
The first real memory I have of falling in love with writing came in the fifth grade. We were told to make a journal as though we were pioneers telling of our experiences moving to the western US along the Oregon Trail. It was so much fun to be inside someone else’s mind – someone who was on a grand adventure. The more I wrote, the more ideas came to me. Everyone else turned in three or four pages. I think mine was something like twenty six pages long. I would have kept going if I’d had the time!
After that I started writing all the time. I had binders full of short stories, and I’d turn in math worksheets with stories on the back. A friend from high school once said, “I’m not surprised you wrote a book. Every memory I have of you in school you were writing in the margins of your homework.”
I’m not sure why everyone doesn’t aspire to be an author!
- What motivates you to write?
It’s like a super power! When you write you get to see the world through the eyes of others. You can travel to the future, or back in time, or to a whole new universe, never before discovered. There are so many things you can ask or say through the wonderful medium of story that you could never get away with in life. You can explore big questions and taboos and those things that one culture accepts as normal, while another thinks it’s completely strange.
I have a great belief in the power of story. Imagine how many people were challenged to consider their worldview by a book like, “To Kill A Mockingbird.” We are all better for Harper Lee having written it. Anne Rice’s book, “Memnoch the Devil” completely changed the way I think of God and my own ideas about worship. It’s a vampire book, for goodness sake! Who would have ever thought? But story is powerful that way.
One of the themes that runs through my Heaven and Earth series has to do with the importance of a culture’s stories and what happens if the people don’t maintain proper respect for them.
That’s what motivates me to write – my belief that stories make us better human beings.
- What genre do you write in and what made you chose this particular genre?
I primarily write fantasy because I love the lack of boundaries. My “author motto” on my website is, “exploring the wonder of creation, seen and unseen.” There are so many legends and myths with a common thread that runs all the way around the world. Nearly every culture has stories of immortal blood drinkers, tiny people with magic powers, creatures that influence dreams, creatures that harvest the souls of the dead; I can’t help but wonder if those things are so much more than just stories. Something in our racial memory connects to those ideas. When I write fantasy I can bring those characters in to our modern world and see what happens.
- What is your goal in writing? Do you have dreams where your writing should take you?
Personally, my goal at this point is to write at least two novels per year: one from the Heaven and Earth series, and one outside of it. I’d dearly love to see those books (at least some of them) become wildly famous and made into movies. I’m doing everything I know how to make that happen. That said, every time I see my little thumbnail on Amazon, I realize all over again that I’ve already earned the title of “author” and that’s pretty awesome, even if I never make it to the NY Times best seller list.
- Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if yes, how do you deal with it?
I think everyone experiences times when creativity is flowing and times when you just want to lay on the couch and drool because there are no more thoughts to be thunk. For me there are three things that need to happen when I reach that place. One, I need to allow myself the grace to lay on the couch and drool. Sometimes the mind gets tired and you need to rest, and that’s OK. Even God rested on the seventh day. The trick is to get back in motion after a bit.
That’s my second thing. I need to move: take a walk, work in the garden, clean the house, and generally find a change of scenery. I had one story I couldn’t write sitting in my usual spot, but at my dining room table it flowed out of me. I don’t know why one room was better than the other, but there it is. I had to move.
Third, as cheesy as it sounds, I write. It’s usually trash at that point. I might write about the items on the shelf next to me, or what the weather is like, but the act of putting words on paper will usually, in time, lead me back to where I need to be.
- What advice would you like to give new, hopeful authors?
Learn the fundamentals of the craft. Join writing groups and LISTEN to their advice. They are objective and you are not. Understand why adverbs are not as good as verbs, and what a passive sentence looks like. Learn about point of view and narrative distance. Once you master the fundamentals, remain humble enough to honestly consider the advice of others in regard to your work, but confident enough to know when you are right and they are not.
Also, be prepared to be tenacious.
Remember when I said everybody should be a writer? Scrap that. Writing is a horrible business that will drive you to drink.
This industry is ridiculous. There is no other business where you ask a professional a question and they respond with a form letter that says, “If I want to work with you, I’ll get back to you sometime in the next three months. If not, I just won’t ever respond to you at all.” And authors who have spent years lovingly crafting a manuscript and months perfecting a query are supposed to accept that with grace.
The waiting and the rejection can make you insane. Hold on to your dream and fight for your own success. I have heard it said that less than 2% of people who set out to write a book get traditionally published, but that’s not because it’s the lottery. Only 2% are willing to hold on long enough to make it to the end. If you write one story and query five or ten agents and get a poor response and give up, you didn’t fail. You quit.
- Please, tell us about your work.
My first novel, More Things in Heaven and Earth will be released in September of this year and is available for pre-order on Amazon now. It’s the story of a housewife who has battled against voices in her head her whole life. One day an angel comes to her and tells her she’s not mentally ill. She’s hearing the chatter of the spirit realm and, as one who has the ability to hear both humans and spirit creatures, she must act as an intercessor to bring peace among creation before God decides to wipe the slate clean and start over again.
It’s really the story of her personal journey of faith and inner strength, and there are some pretty intense parts, but it was an adventure to write. It’s definitely written from the point of view of a Judeo-Christian main character, but she has to re-think her definition of truth when everyone from a Nordic goddess to a Lakota shape-shifter come in to her world.
The second book in the series, Dwelling in Heaven and Earth, will be released next July.
Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!!
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