~ Celebrating the art of writing & dreams of becoming a   published author ~

Interview with novice writer, Cameron Armstrong

Cameron Armstrong was born in the fist pumping state of New Jersey and raised in the country side of Tennessee.  He is currently an undergrad student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, majoring in English: Writing with a minor in Education.  

He hosts three blogs at: 
www.walletmag.blogspot.com, www.purestromance.blogspot.com, and www.utcstudent.blogspot.com

If you’d like to network with him, add him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/the_wallet and Facebook: www.facebook.com/walletmag

When did the desire to write first become real to you?
When I read Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti’s novel “House,” I knew I could write stories like that.

What is the genre you write in?
I write in no specific genre.  I have many stories in mind that could be published in different genres but my current novel will published under paranormal/fantasy

What is your current WIP (work in progress)?  Please tell us about it.  What was the inspiration for this project?
It’s called “The Hollisters” and it’s about good and bad genies battling for human souls.  I didn’t have any inspiration for the story; I came up with a random name and went from there.

Do you belong to any writing critique groups (either local or online)?
I’m a member of www.christianwriters.com

What is your process for editing your work?
I write the chapters in a notebook then revise as I type them in the computer.  Then I print them out and revise again.

Do you have a mentor or writing coach?  Do you have a role model?
Ted Dekker is my role model.

How would you define what being a successful writer means?
A writer is someone who is bold enough to buy a notebook and pens.  A successful writer is someone who is bold enough to put that pen on paper.

Do you have advice for other novice writers?
Laugh at your critics after you finish drying your tears.  It helps.

What is your writing schedule like? When do you find the time to write?
I either wake up at seven in the morning and write, or I’ll write late at night.  I write 1,000 words in my novel (sometime I write 500), and I try to finish an article or two. 
What’s a writer to do when the Internet goes down? 

Depending on how long the internet connection is down for, the withdrawal symptoms will vary.

1.      No more facebook access ~ can’t spend the morning scrolling down the newsfeed…what a disaster.

2.      Forget about updating twitter ~ will the world get by without knowing what I ate for breakfast or how my exercise workout went or where I’m going for lunch?!?!? 

3.      What about my blog ~ my faithful followers are waiting with bated breath for my daily blog…I don’t think they’ll survive without my next blog posting today.

4.      Email’s down ~ how will I make it through the day without email access.  I’m sure I have hundreds of messages, not to mention the messages I didn’t even get through reading yesterday. 

5.      You mean I can’t surf the news sites ~ forget about watching the news on TV…I want to scroll the news sites online.

6.      Online marketing ~ I need to access the Internet to promote my latest book on the local forums, chat rooms and other social media sites. 

Now back to reality.  Our Internet connection at home has been slow and acting up lately and it gave me the idea to blog about our dependence on online activity.  Believe me, I am one of the addicted ones.  Every day after my husband and I get home from the gym, the first thing I do before I start working in my home office is to check my email.  Lately, I’ve been checking facebook and twitter even before my yahoo email account.  Throughout the day, I check back on facebook and twitter, but I tell myself it’s because I also manage various FB and TW accounts for different marketing clients.  Shh…but I do check my personal page also throughout the day.

I finally just got the TweetDeck app for Twitter on my phone, as well as the app for Facebook.  I’m not sure that it’s such a good thing, but now I can update my status from anywhere, just like so many other people are doing.

So, am I saying that the Internet is bad?  No, it’s not bad but our dependence on it can sometimes be bad.  However, it’s great to have Internet access on my phone when my husband and I are out and we need directions or are looking for a specific restaurant’s address to input it into our GPS. 

As writers, we especially need the Internet in this day and age, for marketing and networking with other authors and with our readers and publishers and book reviewers.  The wonderful balancing act of not allowing our access to the Internet to hinder our main goal of writing every day and trying to complete new manuscripts should be the driving force in our daily interaction online.  We use the Internet for research as well and social networking with friends and family, but we must remember that we are using theInternet and not the other way around. 

Now back to my marketing work and then to work on another chapter in my book ~ but I’m sure I’ll see you on Facebook or Twitter not too long from now!  
     “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of     religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I was never one very inclined to politics.  I thought the subject was boring and did not apply to me.  Sure, I learned in school about the different branches of government and I even enjoyed my class on Legal Education.  However, when I came of voting age, I’m embarrassed to admit now that I never registered to vote.  I had the mindset that the Government was a smooth running machine and it didn’t need me to cast a vote.  Would my vote make a difference ~ especially with the institution of the Electoral College and that as a citizen I don’t even have a direct vote for the President and Vice President?  I mean really, these representatives can constitutionally vote for anyone they want to; they don’t have to vote for the candidates that the voters vote for.    

My husband came from a totally different mindset.  I think he was surprised that I was not a registered voter and that I’ve never voted before, but he just explained why he thought it was important to exercise this right as an American.  So, after we got married, I registered to vote ~ and Lol subsequently got called for jury duty four times in the 6 ½ years that we’ve been married.  Maybe, subconsciously, that’s why I never registered to vote!!

I always considered myself a Republican, even though I was not a registered voter.  The one issue that I have been interested in is that I am pro-life.  So, I figured that many Republicans take this stance, especially the conservative ones, and then I should “be” a Republican.  Though still, I didn’t vote.

During the 2008 election, I became very interested in politics and the political campaigning that went on.  My husband and I watch the news a lot and try to keep up to date on what is going on in the government.  We never go to political rallies, but we decided to go to Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor rally on 8/28/10.  It was awesome to see people from all over this great country coming together in peace because they want to restore honor in their lives and turn back to God. 

I believe that everyone has a right to his or her own opinion and that he or she can speak that opinion freely ~ that’s the beauty of FREEDOM of SPEECH.  I love this country and love my God and want to make a difference in this world, even if it’s only something small like expressing my thoughts and ideas in writing. 

That’s why I vote now ~ because I can and because I need to.   If I don’t vote, who will?  That’s the mindset we need to have.  Just imagine if we ALL said oh my vote doesn’t count and no one went to the polls.  What message does that send to the Government?  It says that you can have carte blanche and ram down any laws into our throats that you want to.  Isn’t it time for a voting revolution?  Yes, I did mean revolution, but a peaceful one that takes us back to the principles of our Founding Fathers.  Isn’t it time to get back to the Constitution? 

Regardless of whether or not you and I believe the same thing, it doesn’t matter.  That’s the FREEDOM of living in this great country.  No one can tell you how to live your life in the pursuit of happiness ~ no one can tell you what religion to practice or to believe or not believe in God ~ no one can stop your peaceable assemblies ~ no one can stop you from petitioning the Government for a redress of grievances, even if they think you’re only “astroturf” and not a real grassroots movement. 

Forget all the negative attack ads and do your own research on whom you think is the right candidate for the job.  Not everyone in Washington or those who want to get there are evil.  There has to be someone that you can vote for.  If there isn’t, then maybe the day will come when true people of integrity will rise up and run for office.  Make your vote count!  The Progressive voting machine certainly will make their votes count ~ and that’s okay, because we live in a free country and everyone has their own choices to make.  One man or woman can make all the difference!  Will you be that person?   
I remember when I was a novice writer and I had no idea what I was doing.  My journey has taken me a long way from those days, but I wanted to offer some advice for beginning writers. 

Get an Idea Journal

I still have one to this day.  Did you ever think of some great idea and then forget about it later on because you forgot to write it down?  I keep my journal handy and write down new book ideas and keep adding them to the list because I never know when I’m going to need a new book idea.

Write Every Day

You’re never going to accomplish anything in the writing world unless you put pen or pencil to paper or start typing away.  I know it’s hard and many times life gets in the way, but if becoming a published author is a dream of yours, then you need to write every day.  Now, this includes any type of writing, whether you are working on your WIP (work in progress) or writing a blog or writing articles for publication or just writing in your journal.  Keep the creative juices flowing and write every day.

Set Goals for Yourself

If you don’t set goals, you will have a more difficult time succeeding as an author.  There are immediate, short-term and long-term goals.  Immediate goals are those that will be done right now, like writing every day.  Creating a story outline and developing your characters, then starting the manuscript.  Short-term goals are those goals that will be accomplished in the next 6 months to a year.  Will you finish that manuscript?  Do you know how to edit it yourself and then find a professional editor?  Where are you going to go to look for a publisher?  Long-term goals will happen in the next year and following.  Once you’ve signed your first publishing contract, where do you see yourself?  Will you start work on your next WIP?

Write First, Edit Later

Not everyone is the same when it comes to their own editing process, but let me share what has worked well for me.  I do some story outlining (not always as strict a process for every manuscript) and then begin to write, always keeping in mind, my four main rules of writing and I don’t do a complete edit until I finish the entire manuscript.  If I start editing as I go, I will get discouraged and may never finish what I’ve started.  Now that I’ve gotten my four rules down, I feel more confident about my writing and have been doing an initial edit after each section I write so I won’t have to do a big overhaul at the end. 

So what are my four rules of writing ~ No. 1, Keep your POV (Point of View) straight and don’t head hop.  No. 2, Write in the active and not the passive voice.  No. 3, Make your dialogue action-packed and not stale.  No. 4, Watch for repeated words in your paragraphs, like too many sentences starting with “she” or “he” or other words.

Find a Critique Group or Accountability Partner

You need to join a writers group or have some sort of critique group that you can belong to.  You must have support as you learn the writing craft and go on your journey toward publication.  I am currently a member of the Christian Writers online group and I also have an accountability partner, who is my husband.  He helps me by always encouraging me and making sure that I am working on my WIPs and completing them and continuing on in my writing career. 

Create an Online Presence

Even unpublished writers need a website.  You may not have a lot of content to fill up ten pages, but that doesn’t matter; you need to start somewhere.  There must be a place online where potential readers and publishers and book reviewers can go to find you and your future work.  Once you sign a publishing contract that is not the time to create a website.  You need to create one before then and you will always be evolving and changing as an author and so will your website.  I am currently using www.weebly.com and it’s very user friendly and it’s free. 

You need to also utilize Facebook and Twitter and other social networking sites.  I would hold off on starting a Facebook Fan Page until you have your first book published (you can have unlimited followers there).  In the meantime, I would begin with a regular Facebook profile (I think the limit is 5,000 friends).  Also work on your Twitter profile.  If you have questions on utilizing social networking as a marketing tool, feel free to contact me and I’ll give you more tips.

Keep on Reading and Learning

Good writers are avid readers.  I have always enjoyed reading and I still do today.  The problem is ~ finding a balance between writing and reading.  Once I get in a good writing groove, I sometimes put reading on the backburner.  However, that is okay since if you’re inspired in your writing, you should go for it.  I just need to remember to take a break sometimes and get back into reading as well.  Always be open to constructive criticism from editors, publishers and book reviewers.  Take the good with the bad and don’t let it stop you from achieving your dreams.

Follow other Published Authors

I’m a published author and I still follow other published authors.  By follow I mean on social networking sites as well as their blogs.  Other authors can be a great resource to you.  As you watch what others in your field are doing, you can emulate some of their tactics, process what is good for your goals and what isn’t and then stimulate your own ideas as a catalyst from that interaction. 

Research your Publishing Options

At some point, you are going to need to decide how you want to get published.  Will you self-publish through a subsidy publisher and pay your own way?  Will you self-publish on your own?  Will you try to get published through a small press or mid-level publisher?  Are you shooting for the stars and will you try to get in with a larger, traditional publisher? 

Many smaller presses accept unsolicited manuscripts and you don’t need an agent to get you in the door.  Check the Writer’s Market; it is a great resource towards finding a publisher.  I remember the days of paying for postage and the SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) and snail mailing manuscripts or chapters 1-3 plus a summary out to various publishers.  I’m glad those days are over and you can submit online now (of course there are still some exceptions).  If you want more details on this, just email me.

If you chose an agent, you will need to obviously pay this person.  Some of them get paid only if they get you a publishing contract and others want money upfront.  I signed with an agent once, but I was stuck for six months and could not simultaneous submit my manuscript to publishers while their agency had it; and they never got my manuscript sold anyway.  I like to work on my own, so I don’t have an agent right now.  Once I make the bestseller list, I’m sure I’ll get an agent for promotion, then.  Lol!!      
Never Ever Give Up

If becoming a published author is truly your dream, then don’t ever let anything pull you down.  I received many rejection letters before I signed my first contract.  If you want to become a published author, it will take hard work and discipline, but also determination.  Keep the hope alive!
Ilie Ruby grew up in Rochester, NY and spent her childhood summers on Canandaigua Lake, the setting for her debut novel, THE LANGUAGE OF TREES.  She is the winner of the Edwin L. Moses Award for Fiction, chosen by T.C. Boyle; a Kerr Foundation Fiction Scholarship; and the Phi Kappa Phi Award for Creative Achievement in Fiction.  Ruby is also a recipient of the Wesleyan Writer's Conference Davidoff Scholarship in Nonfiction and the Kemp Award for Outstanding Teaching and Scholarship.  She has worked on PBS archaeology documentaries in Central America, taught 5th grade in Los Angeles on the heels of the Rodney King riots of 1992, and written two children's books.  In 1995, she graduated from the Masters of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California, where she was fiction editor of The Southern California Anthology.  Ruby is a painter, poet and proud adoptive mom to three children from Ethiopia.

Ruby’s website:  www.ilieruby.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ilie-Ruby/200978600608?ref=ts   

Twitter: @ilieruby

Gripping, suspenseful, magical, and richly atmospheric—a story told from several distinct and unforgettable viewpoints—Ilie Ruby’s haunting debut novel, THE LANGUAGE OF TREES is exhilarating fiction that announces the arrival of a truly extraordinary storyteller.

In the sprawling lake region of Canandaigua, New York—a place where two families have secrets they would do anything to keep—little Luke Ellis disappeared.  Now, over a decade later, his teenage sister, Melanie, has vanished, abandoning her infant son.  As the frantic search for Melanie ensues, Grant Shongo, a Seneca healer, is taken up by a spirit that draws him into a world where nature and the spiritual realm are intertwined and nothing is as it seems.  When he reunites with his childhood love, Echo O'Connell, the secrets of the past and the mystery of the Ellis children can be put to rest.

Written in a magic realist vernacular, THE LANGUAGE OF TREES examines the tremulous bonds between parents and children, lovers and friends, and restless spirits—both living and not.  It is a story that will make you believe that the spirits of those we love watch over us, that people can heal each other, and that if you can truly forgive yourself, the world will return to you all of your forgotten dreams.

On Amazon: http://amzn.to/apZOyy

1. Why did you become a writer…was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?

Not a dream, but an assertion, and I say that with humility as an adult. But as a child this was indeed an assertion to the extent that when I was 6, I actually tried to bribe the tooth fairy for a blue plastic typewriter in exchange for one of my front teeth.  My mother just sent me the letter I wrote to the tooth fairy, stating my argument.

2. Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Some are based on real people, some are based on me, and some, well, I’ll never tell. Let’s just say everyone in my family is terrified when I say I’m writing a new book.

3. What was the most interesting research you had to do for any of your books? 

Going back to Canandaigua Lake, where my book is set, and interviewing the Seneca folks at Ganondagon State Historic Site.

4. How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story?  Is the process the same for every book you write?  How long does it take you to write a book? 

It took me ten years to finish The Language of Trees, but that’s only because I fell in love several times during my nomadic 30s and put love before writing.  Now that I’m married it’s just the opposite.  (Can I say LOL, here?)  Sorry, for the irreverence…

5. Are you currently working on any new book projects?

Yes!  A contemporary love story interwoven with a Scottish folktale. This book is brimming with lust and is such fun to write.

6. Do you have any advice for beginning writers on how to write a book?  Do you have any advice for them regarding promoting that book once published?

To beginning writers I say this, begin where there’s heat.  People get stuck on beginnings.  They don’t know where to start.  So I say start where there’s heat, which means where there’s something true and emotional.  And know that you don’t have to write the beginning first.

7. What is your favorite work of literary fiction and why?  Do you have a favorite literary author?

I just love Alice Hoffman’s Turtle Moon.  I could read it 9000 times and never tire of it.

8. What’s your writing schedule like?  When do you find time to write?

I have three young children so I write at night, which suits me perfectly because I’m a night owl.  Always have been.  Always will be.

9. How have your friends and family received your career as an author?  Are they supportive?

Yes, I can’t tell you how many people cried tears of joy when I found out Harper Collins had accepted my book.  It was a day of tears and balloons. 
Today I read a great blog post by Jane Friedman, “The No. 1 Component of an Effective Online Marketing and Promotion Strategy” [http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/]. 

It was very encouraging because Ms. Friedman wrote about how social media and online marketing can help authors in their book promotion, but creating a viable online “hub” (like a website where people can find you and become a follower of your blog) takes discipline and hard work, as well as time.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and your popularity as an author won’t happen overnight (unless you catch a BIG break) ~ but it will happen with discipline and consistency.  She mentioned that as authors continually work at keeping their online presence strong, their efforts will pay off in the long run ~ with more fans / followers and increased publicity and possible new writing jobs and publishing offers.  The crux of the issue is that authors need to be constant and provide interesting content.  If not, then all of their efforts will be in vain.  Just keep working on your blogging and online marketing and don’t give up.  The only way to fail, is to fail to try ~ and to give up trying to succeed if you don’t see immediate results.    

Ms. Friedman calls every time you post a facebook status update, a tweet, a blog post or a comment on a blog or forum or any time you post something online, that you are “making an impression.”  I like that term.  It shows the importance of every time you post online ~ that you need to make it count and be very aware of what you are writing.  There is always going to be someone watching your impressions online. 

Ms. Friedman writes, “If people are entertained, informed, or fascinated by something you’ve done online, they’ll be curious and want to know more about you.”  That is where your hub comes in ~ you need to have a good website or blog where those interested people can find you and start to follow your work and your writing career. 

The advice from Ms. Friedman’s blog posting resonated with me in a strong way.  I have not been blogging very long, but I am trying to stay consistent at it and provide interesting and timely content.  Every day is a new learning experience and I try to view life that way.  I hope you are enjoying the content on my blog and I love to hear from my readers.  Please feel free to comment.  Have a great weekend!    

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.   (Proverbs 18:21)

The way we speak to each other and the tone of our voices is powerful ~ life and death is in the tongue.  How does this apply to the words we, as authors, write?

I believe the same principle applies ~ there is power in our words. 

As authors, we take great pains to make certain that the words we write and the stories that take shape are our best work.  We edit those words and reread them and then edit them again.  We want our finished product to exemplify the story that our imagination birthed.  Does this process apply to everything we write?

It should apply, at least to a lesser degree.  Even when we write emails or texts or post comments on facebook and twitter and when we write our blogs, we need to remember the principle that life and death is in our words.  When you send an email, you can’t take it back.  Are you sure you were happy with the email you sent?  It may not seem like a big deal, but everything we write will come around ~ do you want it to haunt you or bless you?

When you write a blog, try to keep it professional but find the balance with a sense of your personality ~ make your blog inviting to those who follow you.  Remember that you are not only writing to your readers and fellow authors, but also to those publishers and book reviewers who may happen to find your blog.  If you are writing with a negative attitude and bashing other authors or giving a tirade about your noisy neighbors, that won’t seem very professional to them and could turn them off.  Your words could lead to a lost awesome book deal or lost great book review. 

When you do an author interview, if you’re speaking on the radio, be professional, but share your own personality and give the sense that you are a friendly person.  When you are answering interview questions to be posted online on a blog or magazine, remember the same principle ~ there is power in our words.  Just remember that at any point in time, someone out there in the world is or could be soon looking at your interview.  Don’t be negative, but keep that positive tone. 

If you are at a book signing, keep to the same principle.  You don’t want to let a bad day negatively affect how you speak to your fans.  Always keep the filter on your mouth and think before you speak.  This is a lesson we all need to continually learn day by day.  Of course, I’m not telling you to act fake and not who you really are.  It’s just that as an author, you do have a higher responsibility to be careful with your words, if you’re looking to be a blessing to others and not a negative force in this world. 

There are so many instances where we, as authors, will need to write words and speak words.  When you are writing a letter or email to a prospective publisher or agent, keep the tone professional, yet friendly.  Always remain cognizant of the power of life and death in your words.

What do you do when you have blogger’s writer’s block?  You know what I mean ~ when you know you should blog about something but you’ve written everything interesting in the past few days and you can’t possibly think of anything else that someone would want to read.  Then you wonder should you sit at the computer, staring at a blank screen until inspiration hits.  What’s the point to blogging anyway, you think.  Will anyone really care if you don’t blog today? 

Well, there is a point to blogging.  Your readers do want to hear what you have to say.  Don’t waste too much time staring at the blank screen, but walk away and busy yourself with some other task until you find that inspiration.  When you think you are inspired again, go back to the computer and go online.  Read other blogs.  See what other authors are blogging about.  Maybe this will inspire you to find your own blog topic for the day. 

If your blog is usually very informative about writing or editing or marketing your work, it’s okay to take a break from those kinds of posts and write about an interesting experience you’ve had or something that has affected your life.  Your post doesn’t have to be a long essay, but just share your thoughts.  If you don’t have anything profound to say, well then say that and maybe the inspiration will flow and you’ll write a great blog post.

I am using Google Alerts to get notified any time someone searches for my books or my name, but I also utilize it to get notified when inspirational romance novelists post blog entries online.  Of course, you don’t want to plagiarize, but you can read what others are writing in the hopes that you will be inspired to share your own thoughts. 

Do a search online to locate articles on what authors should blog about.  If you are blogging five times a week or more, it’s only natural that you will eventually hit a brick wall and have absolutely nothing to say in your blog.  You have a choice ~ you can either not blog for the day or two or three days ~ or you can try to find your inspiration again and look at things with a new perspective.  However, if you decide not to blog for a few days, make sure it’s only a few because once you stop; you may get into a rut and stop blogging completely.  Chat with your readers and try to find your inspiration. 

You can also add variety to your blog and it doesn’t always have to be you writing the posts.  I post author interviews on Mondays and I am trying to find more authors who are interested in being interviewed for my blog.  I am working on locating novice writers who want to be interviewed.  I am also networking with book reviewers who blog and they’ll be guest bloggers.  Just don’t give up.  Inspiration will come. 


Back in April, my husband hurt his hand while working in the yard and he had to get his wrist / hand in a cast for two months.  We had been consistently going to the gym to work out three to four times a week, but after that injury, we took some time off.  Of course I could have gone to the gym myself, but I didn’t.  We started this as a means to do an activity together.  Anyway, five and a half months flew by and we could have gone back to the gym after he got the cast off, but we didn’t.  We just started going again yesterday.   

Needless to say, my muscles are aching.  My husband wanted to go three days a week and possibly add a fourth day, but I was not too excited about that, until yesterday; then I had the bright idea to go five days a week.  He was excited that I wanted to exercise five days a week.  I was excited until this morning when the alarm went off at 6:30 am and I thought, this is a bad idea to exercise five days a week.  I complained, and my husband happily put up with me.  He’s the morning person, not me.  After day two, I think I’m okay now with exercising five days a week. 

This experience got me thinking today that this is how I need to look at flexing the writing muscle.  If I don’t write something every day, I will get into a rut and slack off and before I know it, five months will go by with no writing accomplished.  I am trying to blog every day and I am trying to be diligent about writing my WIP each day.  Even if I only complete one section and not a whole chapter, I will be happy with that.  At least I’m doing something productive then. 

How do you flex your writing muscle?  Do you set goals and try to write one chapter every day?  Are you more inclined to set a goal on a specific word count that you need to complete each day?  As I mentioned, I focus on trying to at least finish one section of a chapter each time I sit down to write. 

It’s so easy to get distracted with the normal daily routine that we don’t spend any time writing.  If you work a full time job, it can be hard to find the time to write.  I know.  I used to work in an office and spent my lunch hour furiously writing, and then when I got home, I tried to write at least one hour before going to sleep.  Now I work from home as a freelance marketer / writer, so my hours are more flexible.  As long as I complete my set hours and work load each day, I have the freedom to get some more writing done on my WIP than I had before.  After finishing my marketing work, I bring my laptop downstairs and while my husband is watching the news or sports, I spend time writing. 

Flexing the writing muscle is easier when we have accountability.  Find a writing partner or writing group and share your struggles with finding time to write.  You may not realize it, but a good amount of writers struggle with trying to find the time to write.  If you have that accountability, that is great.  I don’t have a writing partner, but I do have an accountability partner, my husband.  He is very interested in my writing career and he loves to know what I’m doing and how things are going and he’s always encouraging me to write. 

As writers, we should never take too much time in between books being published before we start work on our next project.  Keep active in your writing and you will be a prolific writer, but take the time to give it your best.  You should always write, but also keep in mind that you need to keep editing when you’re done.  Keep the fun in writing and you’ll keep on writing and one day look back and see a long line of successful best sellers with your name on the covers.

Sarah Sundin lives in northern California with her husband and three children. When she isn’t ferrying kids to soccer and karate, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school.  She belongs to American Christian Fiction Writers and Christian Authors Network.  She is the author of the Wings of Glory series--A Distant Melody(Revell, March 2010), A Memory Between Us (September 2010), and Blue Skies Tomorrow (August 2011).

Please visit her at:

http://www.sarahsundin.com or http://www.sarahsundin.blogspot.com.

A Memory Between Us is the second book in the Wings of Glory series, which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World War II.  Each book stands alone.

In A Memory Between Us, Major Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge—until he meets army nurse Lieutenant Ruth Doherty.  When Jack lands in the army hospital after a plane crash, he makes winning Ruth's heart a top priority mission. But he has his work cut out for him.  Not only is Ruth focused on her work in order to support her orphaned siblings back home, she carries a shameful secret that keeps her from giving her heart to any man.  Can Jack break down her defenses?  Or are they destined to go their separate ways?

A Memory Between Us can be purchased at:

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/080073422X/sarahsund-20

ChristianBook.com: http://www.christianbook.com/memory-between-us-wings-of-glory/sarah-sundin/9780800734220/pd/734222?event=AFF&p=1152763&

Barnes & Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/A-Memory-Between-Us/Sarah-Sundin/e/9780800734220/?itm=1

Borders: http://www.borders.com/online/store/TitleDetail?sku=080073422X

Why did you become a writer…was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?

Strangely enough, I became a writer because of a dream.  Although I grew up surrounded by books and read everything I could, I didn’t consider a writing career.  Instead, I became a pharmacist and chose to work one day a week so I could stay home with our three children.  On January 6, 2000, I had a dream with such intriguing characters that I felt compelled to write their story. Before that date, I’d never had an idea for a book, and after that, ideas flowed.  It was as if God turned on a writing switch in my brain.  The novel that came from that dream will never be published, nor should it, but it got me started.

What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction? 

My first published novel, A Distant Melody, was originally meant to be a standalone, but while doing research, I became enamored with the Eighth Air Force and wanted to tell the full story to V-E Day.  Since my hero had two pilot brothers, I decided to write a trilogy, with each book focusing on one brother.

About this time, the character of Lt. Ruth Doherty came to me—what if a poor girl made a bad decision in order to feed her family?  What kind of girl would make such a decision?  What would she be like when she grew up?  I mentally put Ruth in the same room with Jack—and sparks flew!

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I don’t base them directly on real people.  I’m not fond of lawsuits.  Because this is historical fiction, real-life characters do pop up, but I “animate” as few as possible, such as commanding officers, and I try to keep the scenes short and stay true to what I know of their personalities.  The fictional characters are truly fictional.  Of course they arise from a lifetime of studying people, so in a way, they’re all conglomerations of my mental database of people I know.

What was the most interesting research you had to do for any of your books? 

It’s all so interesting.  I never thought I’d enjoy researching B-17 bombers, but I did.  I wasn’t looking forward to poring over local newspapers on the microfiche machine, but it was fascinating.  In A Memory Between Us, the heroine is a nurse. Since I’m a pharmacist, I enjoyed learning about medical care.  The most interesting tidbit I found was a picture of nurses washing, drying, and patching latex gloves!  In today’s “Universal Precautions,” disposable society, that intrigued me.  So I included a scene where Ruth and her friend May are washing gloves.

How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story?  Is the process the same for every book you write? 

I’m pretty regimented—that’s the science nerd in me.  Since I write historicals, I do lots of research beforehand.  I also do lots of pre-writing, including detailed character charts, a plot chart to track subplots and story arcs, and scene lists with everything from the date, the weather, outfits, goals and conflict, and scene ideas. Then comes the rough draft.  I’m odd—I still write the first draft longhand, but when I cuddle on my couch with pencil and paper, the writing flows.  I enter each chapter in the computer a few weeks afterward, which serves as my first edit.  These chapters then go to my critique groups.  Once my rough draft is complete, I do a content edit, analyzing the story and characters, and incorporating input from critiques.  Even though I outline beforehand, my characters still surprise me, and changes have to be made.  Finally, I do a thorough copy edit before turning it in to my publisher.

Are you currently working on any new book projects?

The third book in the Wings of Glory series, Blue Skies Tomorrow, is at my publisher—my editor and I just finished the first edit.  That book comes out August 2011.  I’m currently working on a proposal for another series.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers on how to write a book?  Do you have any advice for them regarding promoting that book once published?

How to write a book?  That’s hard—some people are outline-oriented and would benefit from a process like mine, and others are “seat-of-the-pants” writers who are completely stifled by outlines.  I would recommend some great books on writing craft, such as James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure (good for both outline lovers and haters), Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey (the best analysis I’ve ever read on what makes a story work), and Brandilyn Collins Getting into Character (using acting techniques to understand our characters).  I also strongly recommend joining American Christian Fiction Writers (http://www.acfw.org).

As for promotion,I’m still new at this—my first book came out in March.  I’m very thankful that my publisher, Revell, has really supported me with great publicity and marketing.  In addition, I hired a publicist for a contest and blog tour with each launch, and I jump at the chance to do every blog interview I can—like this one.  I spread the word about my books—gently—on Facebook and Twitter.  I also do some speaking, which has been helpful.  In the long run, it comes down to word of mouth, and word of mouth depends on whether people like the books.  I’ve been blessed with wonderful reviews so far, and the response from readers blows me away. When you pick up a book by a debut author, you’re taking a chance, and I appreciate it.


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