I’ve had a number of people ask when I plan on answering the questions I put to my interview subjects so here goes.
Where did you grow up? Golden Valley, a first-ring suburb of Minneapolis on the west side. Up through third grade we lived in a tiny house on Kyle Avenue, then from third grade on we lived two blocks north, still on Kyle Avenue. It made it easy to at least remember my street name, if not my house number!
What are some memories you have of that area? We lived on the actual valley part of Golden Valley so all four of us kids spent countless hours exploring in the woods. A train track ran through there (it’s still active) so we were warned to watch out for “hobos.” Since we weren’t sure what a hobo looked like, we always kept our eyes open for anyone suspicious looking. (And no, we never saw anyone like that.)
One memory sticks out vividly. In junior high, we were playing some sort of chasing game through the woods when one of the girls tried to jump over a log. Instead of going over, her leg got caught in the V part of the log and she let out one heck of a scream. She’d broken her leg. Of course, like all good junior high girls, we panicked and flailed around until one of us was smart enough to run for a neighbor. He carried her up the long hill to the waiting ambulance. She was in a cast for a long time.
What do you love about living in Minnesota? What are you not particularly fond of living here? I love the change of seasons; my favorites are spring and fall. I even like the change into winter – I’m just ready for spring about January 10th! I don’t like the cold so I’m happy to hibernate all winter happily (and warmly) writing away in my office.
Tell us about your writing journey. Like many writers, I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember. I’d make up families with 26 kids just so I could name them all! I’d even design a floor plan of the “house” so I knew where everyone slept.
In high school, I wrote my first full-length story with help from a group of friends. I’d write to a certain point, then they’d read it and give me ideas of where the story should go from there. Little did I know it was my very first critique group! Sad to say, I tossed that story when I got into college, although my mother warned me I’d want to read it someday. She was right!
I never told anyone, once I was out of high school, how much I wanted to be a writer. I even let my college advisor talk me into a social work degree instead of the English degree I wanted. So for many years, while staying home to raise our two kids, I was a closet writer.
Then, about six years ago, I was home early from work, having picked up my dad from cataract surgery. He was watching Oprah while I sat at the computer working on a story. That particular segment happened to be about midlife crises – what they were calling midlife opportunities. There was story after story about women my age deciding to go after what they truly wanted. By the time the show ended, I was sitting on the couch with my dad, tears on my cheeks, telling him I was supposed to start writing seriously.
Within days, my hubby encouraged me to find a writing class (which I did – at The Loft) and get serious about my lifelong dream. So I did!
What is a lesson you’ve learned during that journey? What was something that surprised you? I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by all the wonderful friendships that have developed over the past six years. I’ve met fabulous writers with big hearts who are quick to encourage, and also to give a kick in the pants when necessary.
The lesson I’m still learning is patience. Now that I’ve told people I’m a writer, they ask constantly “Are you published yet?” I try to explain that it’s just not that quick or easy, while trying not to feel like a failure that I haven’t yet produced the book they’re waiting for!
I’ve also learned that while it’s essential to get feedback on your writing, it’s just as essential to know who you are as a writer, and what you want to write. At one point, I listened to and acted on feedback from so many sources, I lost my own voice in the story. I was writing a book to please everyone else. When God pointed that out to me, I realized it was okay to consider the feedback I was getting, weigh it against how I wanted to tell the story, and then either utilize it or toss it. I’m a much happier writer now!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received so far? To write what I believe God wants ME to write. It’s so easy to compare myself to other writers, especially friends who are or are becoming published while I still wait. I’ve found that when I compare myself to others, I always come up short. But that’s not how God sees me. He’s called me to follow a specific trail that He created just for me, so that’s what I want to follow. But it’s not easy.
Tell us about your current work. I have three books completed, and several others in development. This winter I entered the ACFW Genesis contest for unpublished writers, and was stunned to learn that both of the books I entered were in the semi-final round! That was very fun news. Maybe one of them will go on to final – or maybe not. There are some really good writers in the mix.
Do you do any writing other than fiction? Well, obviously I have this blog, which has been SUCH fun getting to shine the spotlight on other writers. I’m part of a fabulous group of women who write the Inkspirational Messages blog (I’m on for every other Tuesday), and I write monthly for The Barn Door. I’m also doing some freelance work, which has stretched and developed my writing skills. I’ve done web content, articles for community magazines (such as Plymouth, Maple Grove, and an ongoing 55+ article in Deephaven Life), and for professional newsletters.
What are your future plans and goals around writing? To keep on keeping on! There have been times, when the road seemed so long and aimless, that I seriously considered giving up the idea of being published and just going back to write for myself. But each time that’s occurred, something has happened to make it clear that I wasn’t to stop. At least not yet. So I’ll continue attending conferences (when I can afford it), meeting with other writers (yay, MN-NICE!), learning, and growing as a writer of inspirational stories. I love telling the story, but I especially love showing God at work in what seems to be ordinary life.
Here’s a fabulous idea if you want to connect with other writers for a weekend of fabulous teaching and wonderful fellowship. It’s the MN-NICE Great Lakes Get-Away. Check out this link for more details. It will be a wonderful weekend in Duluth with the amazing Susan May Warren teaching some powerful craft lessons.
Thanks so much for stopping by Land of 10,000 Words. It’s been a fun journey so far. I have some fabulous interviews lined up so be sure to come back!