The Things We Knew

It is my privilege to be a member of author Cathy West’s street team. I am currently reading—and loving—her newest novel, The Things We Knew. Cathy graciously agreed to visit with us today. 

ThingsWeKnewThanks so much for coming by, Cathy. First off, what inspired you to write The Things We Knew?

CW: I love big family dramas and knew that was something I wanted to do. I don’t know now how the exact story came about; the first version was written about five years ago! Generally, I end up writing the type of story I like to read.

This story is set in Nantucket. Why did you choose this location?

CW: Living on an island myself, I thought I would enjoy using that kind of setting for a book. Turns out the setting ended up playing an even bigger part than I’d imagined, as the weather, the state of the house, everything sort of fell into place to contribute to the overall strength of the story. I also liked that Nantucket is fairly small. So it was easy to research without actually having been there.

Continue reading “The Things We Knew”

Interview with Author Deborah Ironstand

Deborah Ironstand grew up in the small town of Grandview, Manitoba, on the Valley River Indian Reserve, and in Winnipeg, where she found her first love of her life, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Deborah IronstandDeborah is passionate about Jesus and allowing Him into her daily life. She works in her own community in Southern Ontario and is passionate about sharing the love of God and hope in Jesus with others where there is opportunity.

Deborah believes the Lord God does call each one by name and has great plans and purpose for lives, as she is discovering in her own life. Her goal in writing is to share how faithful God is to His words, as she has discovered in this life. Deborah is excited to be able to tell the truth of how God is in business each new day with His own people, as she is discovering.

With a call on her heart from God to share His love and hope in Him with others,
Deborah has discovered this can only be done through God’s gift of writing.

First Nations writer Deborah Ironstand joins me today to share some thoughts on writing and other topics.

Welcome, Deborah! Thank you so much for joining me today. I’m excited to chat with you.

I understand you lived with your grandparents when you were growing up on the reserve in Manitoba now called Tootinawaziibeeng First Nations. What is your happiest memory of your time there?

The happiest memory of my time on the Indian reserve was when my grandfather, in his traditional Aboriginal way, would play his Indian drum and sing loudly at a feast in our home or at sun dances on our reserve .Those were the times I would dance as a small girl to the rhythm of Aboriginal drums and singing and believed God was there with us. Those were very happy spiritual times.

Were there any particularly challenging times you would like to tell us about?

Yes, one particular challenging time was the racism the Aboriginal children endured during schooldays in town near the reserve. As Aboriginals on the reserve, we were bused into town to go to school, only to encounter name-calling. Even physical fights between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginal children happened in the hallway or during recesses. I recall hearing other students exclaiming,” The principal had the strap out!” (Those were the schooldays when you walked into a school every morning and sang “O Canada” and prayed The Lord’s Prayer.)

Are there one or two stereotypes about living on a reserve that non-Aboriginals may have that you would like to dispel?

I would like to dispel the myths that non-Aboriginals may have about living on a reserve are Aboriginals can’t manage their money and Aboriginals have a lame history.

You discovered the peace of God’s presence when attending church as a child. How did your family feel about this? Did they share your faith in Jesus?

My family felt it was valuable that I had a faith in the Lord God. I was always encouraged to believe in God. My family shared my faith in Jesus as it was them that introduced me to the Lord’s Prayer. I was encouraged to pray it daily before bedtime. The Lord’s Prayer was our family’s daily prayer.

Over the years, who and what played a role in strengthening your faith?

I’ve had a relationship with the Lord God, which is still growing. It was His Word that played a role in strengthening my faith in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ—and the gift of His Holy spirit within me. God’s grace was very real to me in the good and bad times. He allowed friends in my life and for a season.

When did you first begin to write? What topics do you primarily write about?

I first began to write when I was 16 years old in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I discovered I was a writer when an English teacher gave me an A for a story I had written while living on the reserve.

I primarily like to write about how the Lord God kept His eye upon me and drew me closer to Himselt to have a relationship with Him. He was my first love.

Is there one underlying message you want to share with readers through all of your writing? If so, what is it?

Yes, the one underlying message I want to share with readers through all of my writing is this: The Lord God in His love has been faithful to me and carried me throughout my life from the moment I met Him. And it’s my heart desire to bring glory to Him by telling readers He is alive today and true to His Word!

How do you feel about the government’s efforts to bring reconciliation between the First Nations Peoples and the non-Aboriginals?

Our Canadian government has made an effort to bring reconciliation between the First Nations peoples and non-Aboriginals, and I feel it was a positive start. It brought things out into the open, which was good. I believe the Lord God knows that First Nations peoples were the first ones in Canada. And the Lord has a plan and a purpose for them, to give them a future and a hope in the Lord Jesus Christ.

As Christians, the Lord has given us the ministry of reconciliation. How can those of us from different cultural backgrounds work together to bring about reconciliation?

As Christians, we have been freely given the ministry of reconciliation. I think people of different cultural backgrounds can work together to bring reconciliation by first of all allowing the Lord God to reveal Himself to their hearts and not getting offended by His Holy Spirit when He gently convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

What one thought would you like to leave with non-Aboriginal readers?

The Lord God is a loving Lord. He isn’t going to forget First Nations peoples. He didn’t forget His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, on the cross or in the grave. He raised Him up! God has only good thoughts and plans for First Nations peoples as He does for non-Aboriginal people of different cultures.

And Aboriginal readers?

The thought I’d like to leave with Aboriginal readers is this: The Lord God is love and nothing is hidden from Him. Isaiah 57:15 says, “I dwell in the high and holy place with him who has a contrite and humble spirit. To revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

God wants Aboriginal First Nations peoples to soar in His love and forgiveness. It is possible to forgive.

Check out Deborah’s writing in Northern Writers Volume 5, available from Goldrock Press.

Author Interview with Sue Carlisle Part 2

SueBookCoverSue Carlisle is an enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. She grew up on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. She and her husband, Wes, raised their children in Montana and then immigrated to Alberta in 1989.

Sue published several articles in PAOC’s magazine, testimony, and wrote stories for the Canadian Book of Hope. She has written a column in the Indian Life Newspaper for 11 years. Indian Life also published her book, Walking with the Creator Along the Narrow Road, in 2013.

If you missed Part 1 of my interview with Sue, please check out yesterday’s post.

Sue, tell us a bit about your book, Walking with the Creator Along the Narrow Road. 

After coming to Canada, my life fell apart. It had been fraying for years; I just didn’t know it. The book tells a bit of my story and how God encouraged me with amazing truth.

Romans 1:20 tells us that we can see God’s character and nature by observing what He has made. I needed to see something more than the chaos around me. I desperately needed hope. I began to focus on the natural world. I remember the stars and amazing auroras in Alberta. I basked in the peace that the forest and waterfowl gave me. I began to see God in a different light.

Then I began tying scriptures together with science. The fact that the One who spun the galaxies, perfumed the flowers, and flavoured chocolate was the same God who went to the cross for me transformed my thinking. Then I organized my book into the creation story from Genesis and I saw something I had never seen. God planned it from the beginning. God said, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3 ESV). We cannot live without light. Photosynthesis energizes plants to provide food, clothing and even oxygen to breathe. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). We cannot live spiritually without Him.

God divided the waters. We not only have lakes and rivers but clouds to replenish them. We have a 500-mile layer of atmosphere to protect us from outer space and maintain water and temperature variables. We cannot live without water. Jesus invites us to come to Him when we thirst. He gives us refreshing living water. He also washes us with His Word.

The seeds-bearing plants appeared out of the dry ground. We cannot live without seeds. They provide everything from food to habitat. Seeds are miraculous life bundles. Jesus became our seed. He went down into the ground and became the first fruit of many.

Our Creator not only made our planet to reflect who He is but how we can walk with Him. If Jesus is who He says He is, then we have a God whose majesty and glory is way beyond our comprehension. And if we are who He invites us to be, then we have an identity and a purpose that is far beyond our wildest dreams.

Where can readers get a copy?

They can order a copy from Indian Life and Amazon [dot] ca. I have copies for sale also, but I don’t have a website yet to facilitate ordering.

As a licensed pastor with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and now as a full-time volunteer with NorthWind Family Ministries, how have you found time to write? 

Most of my time with NorthWind is spent in preparing messages for Sunday afternoons or for our Ladies’ Friendship Circle. I always like writing messages or teachings.

I also like the opportunity to write for Indian Life.

I have to confess that, since retiring, I find it easy to fritter time away. I am working on that. I want to learn to write fiction and get some other writing projects finished.

Is writing something you’ve always wanted to do?

I remember talking to a counselor when I was in high school because I had no idea what I wanted to do. Her aptitude test revealed that I should be a farmer, a pastor, or a writer. I am delighted to see that God blended all three ideas. I love writing because I love sharing God’s amazing majesty with others so they can be strengthened and encouraged as He encouraged me. I also like sharing testimonies from others. We all need the truth and we need each other.

Why do you think it’s important for First Nations people to write their own stories?

I like to read their stories because they are the ones living them. Many have something important to say. It is important to see beyond the stereotypes. One of my favourite authors is Crying Wind. I laugh, I cry, and I treasure the privilege of catching a glimpse of her heart.

As a member of the Ponca Tribe yourself, what is the #1 thing you would like to say to your fellow First Nations writers? And what is the number #1 thing you would like to say to the readers of their work?

Writers, please share your stories and your history.

Readers, please listen to their hearts. I have read messages from chiefs like Standing Bear of the Ponca’s, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, and Chief Sitting Bull of the Sioux, and I marvel at their wisdom and statesmanship. I like reading the testimonies in Indian Life. Along with Indian Life, Jim Uttley has written the Conquering Indian books 1 and 2. God is still performing miracles in the lives of Native people. I could list many other writers like Craig Smith, who wrote Whiteman’s Gospel.

We can all learn from what they have to teach. They have a story that has been drowned out by the society and media around them.

Thanks again for joining us, Sue. 

Author Interview with Sue Carlisle

SueBookCover

Sue Carlisle is an enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. She grew up on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. She and her husband, Wes, raised their children in Montana and then immigrated to Alberta in 1989.

Sue published several articles in PAOC’s magazine, testimony, and wrote stories for the Canadian Book of Hope. She has written a column in the Indian Life Newspaper for 11 years. Indian Life also published her book, Walking with the Creator Along the Narrow Road, in 2013.

It is my honour to share my interview with Sue over the next couple of days.

Sue, we connected through our mutual friend, Dorene Meyer. Can you tell us how you got to know Dorene and how you became involved with the initiative to promote First Nations writers?

I met Dorene over the phone when she became editor of Indian Life. I had just started writing a column for them. I appreciated her interest in promoting First Nations writers along with her passion to share the gospel. I later enjoyed meeting her in person at a writers’ conference in Guelph, Ontario, about ten years ago. I haven’t had any contact with her except that I bought a couple of her books and applauded her accomplishments in writing novels that express the heart of the people.

You moved from Montana to Alberta and now live in Ontario. Can you tell us what brought you to western Canada and then on to Thunder Bay?

That is a long story! I am part Ponca, but I did not grow up near the Ponca people. I spent my early years on or near the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, which is an Arapaho and Shoshone reservation. Along with some Ponca heritage and the place I grew up, I liked First Nations people and wanted to have them in my life.

A link to the travel puzzle is that we spent nearly 20 years in Montana and belonged to a church that built a house in Lac La Biche, Alberta. That is a long story in itself. It is amazing how God can work bad situations into good ones for His purposes. We went there to housesit and ended up buying an accounting practice.

After a year, our church in Montana blew apart as difficulties began to unravel. We found ourselves in a country with no family or connections, but we felt like God wanted us to stay. Miraculously, purchasing the accounting firm is what gave us the means to stay in Canada. We began a new life, but we were very wounded and broken.

Some of this journey is continued in another question, but I asked God to take us someplace where we could get spiritual help. Within a couple months, we sold the practice, obtained new jobs, and moved to Prince Rupert, BC. We did not know anyone there, but we were in the mood for an adventure. The church we attended there was like a little hospital ship, and we healed spiritually and my husband also received a medical miracle. I thank God for Christian friends.

As soon as we got on our feet, the Lord led us to Saskatchewan. My husband wanted to get into ministry, so we went there to attend Bible College. I remember crying over Saskatoon because it was such a big city. I feared the traffic. So funny! I think the Lord prepared us for the next city, Toronto. We were there for eight years. it was a good time to settle into a healthy church where my husband became the business administrator.

A pastor from Toronto invited my husband to come and help his church. We worked at two different churches in the GTA and were there for ten years. I never got used to the traffic, but I loved getting to know many people from different nations. I wouldn’t want to have missed that great experience. We came to love multitudes of awesome people there, but our hearts still longed to be involved with First Nations people. While we lived in Mississauga, we had the opportunity to volunteer at a camp, primarily for First Nations children, located north of Thunder Bay. We went with teams for about five years and loved it.

My husband retired in 2013, so we moved here to continue helping our friends. The ministry is called NorthWind Family Ministries.

Do you get to spend much time with your eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren?

We enjoyed having our two grandsons and our daughter live with us for a few years. We had been young parents and young grandparents, so we had fun with the boys around. One is married and living in Saskatoon. The other is working in northern Alberta. Our two oldest granddaughters are married and live in Arizona. Two other granddaughters live in Kentucky, another granddaughter lives in Iowa, and our youngest granddaughter lives in Nova Scotia. I like technology. We keep in touch.

You have written magazine articles, a newspaper column, stories, and a book. Do you have a favourite project, other than your book, you would like to tell us about?

I am researching our family history and want to compile a story, including narratives from historical writings of the time. As an example, my great grandfather was in the 84th Indiana Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War. I can follow the battles and know, to some extent, what he lived through. He wrote an autobiography and tells the love story of his grandparents in the 1700s. Again, I am thankful for technology.

Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to join me again tomorrow for Part 2 of my interview with Sue.

Welcome Author Catherine West

I want to welcome Cathy West to my blog today. I am currently re-reading her first novel and am enjoying it even more than I did the first time. The revised version is now available and you can get Yesterday’s Tomorrow here.

Welcome, Cathy. Your protagonist is a reporter. Have you ever entertained ideas of becoming a war correspondent—or a Catherine Westreporter of any kind?

I worked a couple summers as a junior reporter at our local newspaper, but that’s as far as I got in the journalism world. I soon decided I would rather write fiction than go chasing down stories and interviewing people. But I think the war correspondent aspect is pretty fascinating.

Agreed, though I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to put myself into the middle of a hostile situation intentionally.

And why did you choose to re-release this, your first novel?

We made the decision based on various reasons, but I’m pretty excited about dipping my toes in the Indie waters. Yesterday’s Tomorrow was pretty well-received the first time around, so we’re hoping to find a whole lot of new readers this time as well.

I’m sure it will do well. This version is not exactly the same as the original. Can you give us a sneak peak at what’s different?

No.  Haha. This time we did an extensive edit on the story, so the writing is tighter, the plot more concise, and I think it all flows better. No spoilers!

I try not to include spoilers in the reviews I write. I want to entice readers to discover wonderful new books without . . . well . . . without spoiling the experience.

So, Cathy, would you say you write character-driven or a plot-driven books? Which do you look for in the novels you read?

Definitely character-driven. I usually create stories around the characters I come up with so the plot manifests organically out of their journey. They are usually pretty headstrong people with plenty of problems to work through. I enjoy reading similar novels, where the characters’ lives are far from perfect and they have various trials and challenges to work through. I like books that make me think and wonder how I would react in such situations.

And since I’m relationship-driven in all aspects of life, that’s probably one reason I enjoy your books.

So, if you weren’t writing novels, what do you think you would do to fill your days?

Watch soap operas and eat a ton of chocolate.  Seriously, I don’t know what I’d do. I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love writing so much and even though it’s challenging, I truly believe it’s what I’m meant to do.

I love reading about authors who can’t imagine doing anything else. It makes me ask myself, “Am I compelled to write or is it just something I do?” My conclusion is that I’m compelled to communicate and writing is one more way I can do that.

YesterdaysTomorrowLastly, is there anything else you would like to share with my readers—except of course to invite them to purchase Yesterday’s Tomorrow?

Well, sure, buy the book! Ha! But seriously, I hope you do and I hope you love the story as much as I loved writing it. It’s probably still my favorite book. I love connecting with my readers, so please reach out and say hi.

Catherine West is an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Her first novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, released in 2011 and won the INSPY for Romance, a Silver Medal in the Reader’s Favorite Awards, and was a finalist in the Grace Awards. Catherine’s second novel, Hidden in the Heart, released in September 2012, was long listed in the 2012 INSPY’s and was a finalist in the 2013 Grace Awards.

When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her border collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com

Yesterday’s Tomorrow on Amazon

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/CatherineJWest

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Catherine-West/e/B004RWZUHK/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Twitter – https://twitter.com/cathwest

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4715219.Catherine_West

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/cathwest/

Google + – https://plus.google.com/u/0/108781711729974539211/posts

Interview with Sara Davison (Part 2)

The Watcher Cover

Sara Davison, author of The Watcher, is with us again today.

Welcome back, Sara.

We met at The Word Guild’s annual conference, Write Canada. What do you enjoy most about the conference?

There are so many things to love about Canada’s biggest Christian writing conference, I hardly know where to start. Probably my favourite thing is the prevailing attitude of those in attendance. There is such a spirit of camaraderie, support,  and encouragement (and occasionally commiseration) among attendees. It’s something you have to experience to really understand what an incredible thing that is in the midst of what could be a very cutthroat, competitive business. There is nothing like a shared faith and a shared passion to instantly connect people. And now that I’ve attended six or seven times, the conference is like a family reunion or old home week – definitely a highlight of the year.

What writing projects are you currently working on?

I was blessed to sign with an agent in 2013, so she is currently shopping around three of my books, a two-book romantic suspense series, and the first of a trilogy titled Seven. My current works in progress are books two and three of that trilogy, which is a romance set about forty years in the future and describes what I believe life could be like for Christians in Canada at that time.

Where do you like to write?

I’ll write anywhere, whenever inspiration strikes. My usual place to write is in my office, a sunny area just off our kitchen with a view of the woods.

Just for fun, describe your ideal writer’s haven.

Easy – that’s a timber-frame cabin set in the trees with a view of a calm, sheltered lake. The silence of the natural surroundings is broken only by the occasional, haunting cry of a loon. Inside, flames crackle in the wood-burning stove, the warm glow reflecting off the walls lined with floor to ceiling bookshelves. Cozy armchairs face the stove, enticing any who enter the room to choose a book from the shelf and settle in. The aromas of pine, fresh-baked bread and coffee permeate the air.  And, given the relative sparseness of the cabin, a surprisingly large washroom with spa-like whirlpool tub and skylight with the nighttime view of a million twinkling stars graces the master suite in the loft. (Can you tell I’ve given this a lot of thought?) Seriously, who could not write in a setting like that?

. . . one last question. I love Janet Sketchley’s idea for asking her guests random questions. So, that said, where would you go for a vacation if time and money weren’t factors?

I have done so little traveling in my life, that there are many, many places I would love to go and see. Ireland draws me for its beauty and wildness, Greece for its incredible scenery and food. If I could only ever go one place in my life though, it would have to be the Holy Land. I can’t even imagine how overwhelming it would be to walk where Jesus walked. My dad took a trip there once and he said that, while most places are just approximate guesses of where Jesus would have been born, where he would have performed certain acts described in the Bible etc., there is a building still standing that they know was Pilate’s home, and the place Jesus was taken the night before he was killed. Every person in their group was  moved to tears as the knowledge that they were standing in the very building where Jesus once stood washed over them. I can’t imagine a more incredible experience anywhere else on earth.

And now for a quick ROW80 update . . .

ROW Logo

I will be saying goodbye to my son today. Nostalgia and excitement for what the future will bring all swirl together in my heart and mind.

My anticipation grows as I wait to hold Living Beyond My Circumstances in my hand. What an honour: to help a very special woman fulfill yet another dream, one she has had for over 40 years.

Tonight I will be discussing ideas for a client’s blog and the book she’d like to write. Their experiences as a family will touch many lives.

I am revisiting several possibilities: submitting picture book ideas; actively looking for doula clients; fulfilling the requirements of my Pregnancy Fitness Educator certification; completing the requirements to maintain my personal training certification . . .

Life is about making plans but being flexible enough to willingly change course when the Master Navigator says, “There’s a better way.”

Interview with Sara Davison (Part 1)

Sara Davison

Sara Davison, author of The Watcher and fellow The Word Guild member, is with me today (figuratively speaking, at least).

Welcome to SNEI, Sara. So glad you’re here.

When did you first realize you wanted to write?

I honestly can’t pinpoint a time. I think I have always wanted to write. Growing up, I was always the geeky kid with the glasses off reading in the corner, or scribbling stories in a notebook. From the time I could hold a pen, I wrote diary entries,  a newspaper column, letters to the editor, a few (not very good) poems, and short stories and articles for school newsletters. I even did a stint in high school answering letters in an advice column à la Ann Landers. Except, of course, nothing like Ann Landers (unfortunately). In university I majored in English just so I could read and write my way to a degree. After I graduated, I registered for college courses in creative writing and took every other possible opportunity to learn the craft through workshops, seminars and classes. To that point, most of my writing was for fun and my own enjoyment. I do remember the exact moment I decided I was going to start taking it seriously. I’d always wanted to write a book, but found the idea of sitting down and actually doing it far too daunting. Then one Easter Sunday morning in church, about eight years ago now, the idea for my first romantic suspense novel, The Watcher, came to me. By the time I got home, I knew the whole story, the characters, beginning, middle, end, everything. Although the first draft was extremely rough and underwent countless overhauls and revisions before its final, published form, the original storyline and characters never changed. Since that fateful Easter Sunday morning,  I have never looked back. I’ve written three more novels and have two in progress and have finally figured out what I want to do when I grow up.

Where did the inspiration come from for The Watcher?

There’s no doubt in my mind that God is the source of all creativity, and the one who gives the stories, so I’m more than happy to accept the story that came to me that morning in church as a gift from Him. The idea for the invisible narrator was, I believe, influenced in part by my reading of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and the realization that struck me as I did that a narrator doesn’t actually have to be a human being. In toying with that concept, the idea of having the unseen beings in the novel gradually emerged and I just ran with it.

Writers are usually readers. What books are you currently reading?

I just finished reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (again). Very sad, but a beautiful, haunting and thought-provoking love story (if you can get past the bit of language – the British seem to be so much freer about those sorts of things than we are). I also read a lot of Christian suspense since that is my genre. Some favourite authors are Kristen Heitzmann, Angela Hunt, Nancy Rue, Francine Rivers and Irene Hannon.

Do you prefer to read in the genre you write in or in other genres?

Romantic suspense is definitely  my favourite genre to read, so although I didn’t initially set out to write a romantic suspense novel, that’s what came out, and what still comes out every time I begin a new book. I like to read other genres as well, although I mainly stick to contemporary novels. I always return to suspense though, as I like what I’m reading to keep me on the edge of my seat and turning pages as quickly as possible to see what is going to happen.

What is your all-time favourite novel?

Ah, so hard to narrow it down to one. Can I do three? If so, my top three, in no particular order, would be A Wrinkle in Time, The Hobbit, and The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley, one of my favourite authors.

Nonfiction book?

Again, very hard to just say one. I love the classics like The Screwtape Letters, The Practice of the Presence of God and Celebration of Discipline. I like biographies as well; The Glass Castle is my favourite.

What is the number one piece of advice you would give those just beginning their writing journey?

Knowing (now) how very little I knew when I was first starting out, and how much I still have to learn, my biggest piece of advice for beginning writers is to relax and enjoy the journey. And it is a journey, very often a long, meandering one fraught with detours and obstacles, challenges and joys. Always be open to learning new things and to taking the time to hone your craft. As a society, we don’t like to wait for anything, which is reflected in the huge popularity of self-publishing. There are good reasons for self or indie publishing, but not wanting to put in the time and effort to produce a work of excellence is not one of them. Good writing takes time, excellent writing takes a lot of time, so I strongly encourage new writers to settle in for the long haul and not attempt to take shortcuts that will cheat their readers (and them) out of a piece of work that, looking back on, they can truly be proud of.

Check out my review of The Watcher here.

Please visit again tomorrow for Part 2 of my interview with Sara . . . and for a quick ROW update.

Interview with Janet Sketchley

 

Heavens_Prey_Front_Cover 302x468

Blogger, author, and friend Janet Sketchley is here today to tell us about her soon-to-be-released novel.

Welcome, Janet.

I’m so happy for you. Your book, Heaven’s Prey, will soon be available. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to interview you.

Let’s jump right in.

1.       Exactly when can we expect to get our hands on your book?

Release date for Heaven’s Prey is November 1. All Saints’ Day. The Bible calls all Christians “saints,” not just the ones that have been canonized. As such, my heroine, Ruth, is a saint. And All Saints Day may be the perfect time to introduce her to the world. Apparently, it’s also Authors’ Day. I like that!

2.       Can you give us the Reader’s Digest version of your story?

A grieving woman is abducted by a serial killer—and it may be the answer to her prayers.

Despite her husband’s objections, 40-something Ruth Warner finds healing through prayer for Harry Silver, the serial killer who brutally raped and murdered her niece. When a kidnapping-gone-wrong pegs her as his next victim, Harry claims that by destroying the one person who’d pray for him, he proves God can’t—or won’t—look after His own. Can Ruth’s faith sustain her to the end—whatever the cost?

3.       Who do you think will especially enjoy Heaven’s Prey, beyond family and friends, of course?

I’ve already told my family and friends that if it’s not their thing, they don’t need to read it. J Heaven’s Prey is for Christian adults who enjoy suspense, especially women who are interested in prayer or redemption stories. I’ve also included some fun stuff for car racing fans.

4.       Would you say the story is character-driven or plot-driven? How would you explain the difference to non-writers out there?

I struggle a bit with the definitions myself, but this is a plot-driven story. “What happens” drives it, and the characters’ choices and reactions spring from that. That doesn’t mean they’re cardboard cutouts, though. I’ve tried to get to know them and discover how they’d react in the situations they face.

To me, this is plot-driven, while character-driven stories rise more from who the characters are: their choices shape what happens. Whichever drives the narrative, the other needs to be well-developed too.

5.       Over time you got very attached to your characters. Can you tell us how you kept them alive even when earlier drafts of your manuscript were gathering dust?

They kept themselves alive, Stephanie, and sometimes they’d whisper to me. Because this novel went through so many revisions over the years, bits of it are pretty ingrained in my mind. I could go long periods without giving them much thought, like while I was working on another story, but then something would trigger a line of dialogue to pop back into my head—usually from the villain. A couple of years ago this happened a lot and I started talking back, asking him to please be quiet. But I didn’t really mean it. I’m very fond of them all.

6.       From what I’ve read on your blog, your family has been very supportive. How have they helped you keep the dream alive?

They’re amazing. It helps that my husband and sons each have creative streaks; they understand my oddness. My husband has read earlier versions for feedback and even performed a dramatic tech rescue (always make backup files). He and my parents have encouraged me to attend events like the Write! Canada conferences, and the whole extended family have been very positive.

7.       What kept you coming back to your story when “life happened”?

At first, to see how it ended. I did have the final bit of dialogue, which may be the only thing unchanged in this current version, except now there’s an epilogue after it. But I didn’t know how—or if—my characters would get there.

After that? I love these people and I want to do my best for them. My philosophy has been that as long as I can learn how to make it better, I will. Of course, each time I thought it was “done,” I’d go to Write! Canada or somewhere and get a professional critique and see a whole new level of rewriting I had to do.

8.       What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome on the journey to publication?

Not quitting. Discouragement is insidious, as you know, and with no contract in sight, I often wondered why I was spending such a huge amount of time writing fiction. I’ve actually finished a companion story as well, when I thought this one was as good as I could get it (the amazing editors at Choose NOW Publishing proved me wrong on that and it’s better now). Some people know they’re called to write. I just know that writing fiction fulfills me. Eventually, I decided to write anyway, even if it was just for me, and enjoy the gift. I still hoped it would sell, so I could share my imaginary friends with the world.

9.       How did you feel when you first learned Heaven’s Prey was to be published? Paint us a picture of that scene.

It was the weirdest feeling, not at all like I’d imagined. I kept re-reading the email, with a bit of a sinking sense inside. I’ve had lots of practice with rejection. It’s not fun, but I know the drill. Here was a long-held dream, coming true, and what was I supposed to do with acceptance? “Surreal” is the best word for it. But great!

10.   What would you say to unpublished authors out there who are ready to give up on their dream?

The only way you can be sure you’ll never make it is if you quit. If it was a fad and it’s over, quit. If it’s your dream, please don’t. (Or don’t quit for long.)

I’d also say, diversify. The project closest to your heart may not ever sell (sorry!) or it may, but in the future. If you’ve given it your best, let it rest while you work on something else. You’ll keep learning and developing your skill, and perhaps another book or article will find a home sooner. Sometimes the timing just isn’t right, and if you’ve tied all your dreams up in one story, you’re more likely to be hurt. If there’s one story in you, there are probably others.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us today. I look forward to reading your book. It will take its place above hundreds of others in the queue as soon as it’s available. I wish you much success!

Thank you, Stephanie! Your reading list is as long as mine, or longer, and I’m honoured that you’d jump queue for Heaven’s Prey. It’s been a privilege to be here today. God bless you, my friend.

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Janet Sketchley headshot 350x350

Janet Sketchley‘s novel, Heaven’s Prey, released November 1 from Choose NOW Publishing. Feel free to tell your friends! For more information and a free sample chapter, see the Heaven’s Prey page at Janet’s website.