I’m very excited to introduce you to the lovely Connie Lounsbury.
Where did you grow up? Our family moved around a great deal as I was growing up, mostly within Minnesota. I attended 17 different schools before college. Many of my memories are of always being the “new girl” at school. My memoir, Thrift Store Shoes, is about growing up in poverty and how God has worked in my life.
Seventeen? Wow. What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to go to college and become a marriage counselor. I don’t know why I wanted to be a marriage counselor, but that is the desire I carried around with me while I was in high school. My mother told me to forget about it because they couldn’t afford to send me to college.
So, I got married before finishing high school; and I had four children before I took GED exams and attended college. I received my Associate Degree while my children were still young, but didn’t earn my Bachelor of Arts Degree in communication until I was 50 years old. I never did become a marriage counselor, but for several years I was a volunteer mediator in Anoka County mediating with couples about marriage and parenting, as well as many other issues.
Talk about perseverance! What do you love about living in Minnesota? I love the many different landscapes Minnesota offers. Vast fields of corn and soy beans surround us, but we have only to travel a short distance to enjoy sparkling blue lakes. While we live on flat lands, many parts of Minnesota offer beautiful rolling hills, craggy cliffs, or thick forests of maple, oak, or pine. Spring energizes us with fresh, lush new green growth, while fall mellows us with relinquishing red, yellow, and orange leaves falling around our feet.
Winter slows us with a hush of gently falling white snow cover, and sometimes makes us grateful for a warm house and family gathered safely together by sending us a furious blizzard of blowing snow or sleet. One never gets bored with the weather or the scenery in Minnesota. However, I could easily skip the winter part of the year here and go somewhere warmer. But I would always want to come back in the spring.
After that lovely description, I think everyone should live here (but I’m with you on skipping winter)! When did you know you wanted to be a writer? I still remember a poem I wrote in the third grade. I won a writing contest when I was twelve. So, I guess I have always been a writer, although I didn’t know it. Most of my jobs included a lot of writing, but I didn’t become a “writer” until I quit my job in 1990 to pursue writing as a career.
When I wrote my memoir, Thrift Store Shoes, I was surprised to learn that my mother was not the weak woman I always believed her to be. You really do learn more about yourself and others by writing your life.
Anything that has surprised you on your journey? The most surprising thing I learned writing fiction is that your characters really do sometimes take over and write themselves. And I never knew writing fiction could be such fun. Writing other people’s stories is a lot of hard work.
That’s so true. Tell us about your writing journey. My first book was Quit Your Job and Make Ends Meet. It’s out of print now, but I am beginning to update and revise it for a new publication because people keep asking for it. (I’m looking for new examples, so if you have made a change in your life by leaving one job (laid off or quit) and are now earning money doing something you like; I’d love to hear from you.)
I’ve written three memoirs for other people. The first was Reaching Past the Wire: A Nurse at Abu Ghraib for Deanna Germain, an Army Reserve nurse who was deployed to Iraq to care for the Iraqi prisoners shackled to their beds. The Minnesota Historical Society Press published that book and it was nominated for the Minnesota Book Award.
Then I ghostwrote Heaven is Near When a Child Dies for Lori Hoflen, dealing with the death of her son. Last year I wrote Eyes of Hope, Caring for Orphans and Widows in Africa for Fred Scaife who started an orphanage in Africa.
I have been awarded several writing awards including First Place in the inspirational category of the 2001 Writer’s Digests Writing Competition and the Guideposts Writing Competition in 1998. I have had 30 short stories published in the United States and Japan.
Those are some deep topics, and sound like stories that needed to be shared. Congrats on the awards! Have you written any fictions titles? My debut novel Kathleen Creek was published by OakTara and released this April. It is sent in Annandale, Minnesota in the early 1920s and is based on a true life event. It has been so well received that I am hoping this is the book that will make me a best-selling author! (One can hope.) My second novel, Yellow Curtains, is currently seeking an agent.Stonecroft Ministry
While updating Quit Your Job is at the top of my priority list, I have another novel that wants to get out of my head (I keep saying, “I’m not ready for you yet, quit bugging me.”). Also, I want to write a gift book for mothers to buy for their daughters. I have raised four wonderful daughters; have six beautiful granddaughters, and one awesome great-granddaughter, so I have a bit of experience in that area.
I also have two more speeches I want to write. I do a lot of public speaking on various topics but I have a second speech I would like to write for Stonecroft Ministry events and I want to inspire others to do prison ministry, so I’d like to write a speech for that. (I have done prison ministry at Sandstone Federal Prison for five years.)
What are some things on your bucket list? At the top of my list is visiting Maine. As a young girl I read the book, My Love Affair with the State of Maine, and I’ve wanted to see Maine ever since. My husband and I do some traveling in our pickup camper, but I can’t get him to go east. I don’t know anyone in Maine. A writer’s conference perhaps? I’m 72. How much longer am I going to put it off?
The most fun I’m having now is watching our flock of two dozen Buff Orpington chickens run around our farmyard. They are beautiful, curious creatures. I can hardly wait for them to start laying eggs in a few weeks.
My wish is for longer days and more energy. I have so much more work to do for God. I must remind myself to just let God lead me and I’ll get done what He wants me to do. Everything is done in God’s timing and it is always perfect. I know that; it’s just a little hard to be patient sometimes. Okay, so I’m not perfect. I’m trying.
Thanks for stopping by, Connie. So fun to hear some of your story. If you’d like to know more about Connie, check out her contact info below, or leave her a comment here.
Connie’s website: www.connielounsbury.com
Find Connie on FB: https://www.facebook.com/ConnieLounsburyAuthorSpeaker?fref=ts
on Twitter: @connielounsbury
and on LinkedIn