3 Questions Wednesday with Julie Cosgrove

Today we are joined by Julie Cosgrove, an award-winning novelist of 15 books. Let’s get to know her better with three questions. Our first question, what do you love most about the writing process? The least?

Julie: The thing I love most about the writing process is the rough draft. I’m mostly a panster, meaning I have a basic idea of my plot, but develop it as I go. It is fun to see the twists and turns emerge as I go along. It’s similar to piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. I get stoked when the story comes together, and the ending make sense! (And surprise my readers, too.)

I used to say the editing process was the least favorite, but I have come to appreciate my editors and see that it’s like polishing silver. We all apply hours of elbow grease in order to make the manuscript shine and I am truly indebted to them.

Marketing is my least favorite because with so many books out there, and many so unfortunately poorly written, I think readers are inundated. It’s hard to persuade them to buy mine when it is the 50th post on that particular Facebook book lovers’ page that day or the 1,500th tweet. I find targeting Christian and mystery readers helps, but even then, I often feel as if I am shouting in the wind. So, I greatly appreciate guest blogs like this. Thank you!!

You are right, the rough draft can be like a puzzle, but in the end there is a beautiful story told. Next question, give a shout out to a writer friend and your favorite book they’ve written.

Julie: Oh, that is so hard because there are quite a few faith-based authors who I have come to know and love professionally and personally. Each has been so supportive of my books. I have thoroughly enjoyed every one of Anna Kittrell’s books and her newest, The Commandment, is thrilling. I honestly stayed up into the wee hours to finish it. She is also an amazing Christian poet.

It is so encouraging on this journey to surround ourselves with other authors who will encourage us along the way. Final question, were you a young writer, late-bloomer, or somewhere in-between?

Julie: Young. I took creative writing in school, won awards, and was actually published in a national magazine. Then life, marriage, work, churchwork, and child-rearing wrestled for my time. Then I bloomed again eleven years ago at the age of 55 when three friends suggested I try writing for a living. But, that’s still young, right?? Since 60 is the new 40, I figure I am entering my prime.

That’s great. I’m sure the years of child-rearing gave you wisdom and inspiration for your writing. Thanks for sharing with us today.


Click to tweet: The thing I love most about the writing process is the rough draft. I’m mostly a panster, meaning I have a basic idea of my plot, but develop it as I go. It is fun to see the twists and turns emerge as I go along. It’s similar to piecing together a jigsaw puzzle.


Julie Cosgrove Bio

In addition to being an award-winning novelist of fifteen published books, Julie writes devotionals for several publications and websites. Her own blog, Where Did You Find God Today? has readership in over 50 countries. She is a professional speaker for women’s and writers’ groups. Visit her website at www.juliebcosgrove.com.


Book give-away! Comment on this post and if your name is drawn, Julie will send you the book of your choice.

If you would like to connect with Julie, here’s how:


Book Overview

Book 3 in the Relatively Seeking Mysteries: Leaf Me Alone. Four days ago, the biggest worry for Shannon Johnson, owner of Pampered Pets & Plants, was Fluffy eating a fizzy antacid while under her care. Then, her bible study teacher enters hospice and asks Shannon and her hubby, Jayden, to locate her long-lost nephew. But doing so not only put’s Jayden’s job at risk, but possibly their lives as well.

3 Questions Wednesday with Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is an amazing woman who was faithful enough after sustaining a spinal cord injury to ask, “how will God use this?” God has used Jenny in many ways. Today we chat with her about her writing journey. Enjoy getting to know her.

Our first question, what do you love most about the writing process? The least?

Jenny: I love the opportunity to really dig deep. I actually love to research. (Yep. I’m a nerd!) But I’ve come to appreciate the self-examination I derive through exploring the opinions I have on a topic. I also enjoy sharing my life experience with others. If I can educate or encourage one person through my writing, then it’s worth it.

The most difficult part about writing is when I have a deadline and feel completely uninspired. Sometimes I just wait it out. But other times I try to put something – anything – down on paper. The fun part about the process is seeing what the end product is. On multiple occasions I have completed an article and said, “It just happened.”

We all know that good writing doesn’t “just happen.” Way to embrace those hard moments when it’s just you, a looming deadline and a blank screen. Next question, what was the best money you ever spent as a writer concerning craft? How about marketing?

Jenny: Two things immediately come to mind. The first was two online classes I took through our county’s Adult & Continuing Education Online Learning program: How to Make Money from Your Writing and Write Your Life Story. I became more confident in my writing by receiving both positive feedback and constructive criticism. But it was during the second class when God gently tapped me on the shoulder and said, “It’s time.”

The other best investment was taking Platform University. After completing my manuscript, I was ready to submit my work to literary agents. After approaching nearly two dozen agents, the first question I received was, “What’s your platform? How many people can you reach?” Every agent who responded to my query or proposal asked me this question.

I didn’t even know what a platform was. One agent was kind enough to recommend Platform University. It was a significant financial investment and time commitment. But after two years of building my platform, I have secured a literary agent. It’s a good lesson in the state of traditional publishing: your writing may be great, but without an existing audience, you don’t have much to offer a publisher.

Building a platform is a challenge. Sounds like you’ve gotten a good start. For our readers, below is a list of where you can connect with Jenny online. Final question, were you a young writer, late-bloomer, or somewhere in-between?

Jenny: I was definitely a late-bloomer. I fell into writing by chance. A friend asked if I would be willing to write a few articles about living life with a spinal cord injury with BardCare. Even though I was (and still am) working full-time, I thought it sounded interesting. But I didn’t expect to fall in love with it.

Although I’ve been a strong technical writer since high school (shout out to my high school English teacher, Mrs. Record!), I despised the required creative writing course in college. Through my work with BardCare and writing on my website JennySmithRollsOn.com, I have found freedom and – dare I say – a bit of creativity in writing I never expected. If someone would have told me I’d be doing this 20 years ago, I would have laughed.

The call to write can come at anytime! Thanks for sharing with us today.


Click to tweet: I didn’t even know what a platform was. One agent was kind enough to recommend Platform University. It was a significant financial investment and time commitment. But after two years of building my platform, I have secured a literary agent.


Jenny Smith Bio

When she was 16 years old, Jenny sustained a C6-7 spinal cord injury, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down. After completing a master’s degree in counseling psychology, she distributed wheelchairs for eight years in developing countries. Currently, Jenny works with an international non-profit organization supporting their workers while they live overseas. She has completed her memoir Keep on Rolling: How a Wheelchair Has Taken Me Places I Never Dared to Imagine. Hopefully, the book will be published in the near future. In the meantime, you can find her at JennySmithRollsOn.com or speaking at an event near you. You’ll also see Jenny rowing on the Ohio River and playing tennis and wheelchair rugby as a means to stay physically active.


If you would like to connect with Jenny, here’s how:


Book Overview

Keep on Rolling: How a Wheelchair Has Taken Me Places I Never Dared to Imagine

How do you respond when the unimaginable happens? When a single moment changes the course of your whole life? Many people never have to answer that question. Jenny Smith answered it when she was 16 years old.

Until the summer before her junior year in high school, Jenny was a typical teenager. She played in a band with her friends. She loved big bangs and make-up. She was a determined and talented gymnast. And she found her anchor in her friends, her family, and her faith. And then, while she was tumbling on wet grass one morning, the course of Jenny’s life changed forever.

In Keep on Rolling, Jenny explores how one moment redefined her future. After her spinal injury, most of the roles that she used to identify herself were shattered, but the core of what defined her remained. In the 30 years since her injury, Jenny has learned how to redirect her passions and gifts into new outlets—going farther and doing more with her life than she ever would have predicted.

In a wheelchair, Jenny has traveled the world. She’s played competitively in numerous sports. Jenny has been a runway model and a pageant winner. She ziplined through a rainforest. She has delivered wheelchairs and hope in developing countries and she’s counseled and cared for countless missionaries, helping them to stay healthy and thrive in the roles God has given them.

Jenny also discovered a deeper faith in God that could sustain her through the darkest valley. In the book, Jenny doesn’t shy away from the hardships that came with her paralysis. She explains the physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual challenges that she’s navigated since her injury. She examines how the suffering and reward often go together.

With an intensely honest and refreshingly humorous storytelling style, Jenny uncovers what it looks like to live with a spinal injury, from the everyday details that most people never think about to the countless interesting people Jenny has met along the way.

Keep on Rolling is ultimately a book about learning who you are, regardless of the roles that try to define you. When everything changed in a single moment, Jenny began a journey that helped her learn to live outside her comfort zone and that God is faithful even when it doesn’t feel that way.

And in the process, Jenny discovered that she could travel thousands of miles further in a wheelchair than she ever dared to imagine. She just had to keep on rolling.

Stay in touch with Jenny and where Keep On Rolling is in the publishing process through her website, JennySmithRollsOn. com.

3 Questions Wednesday with Tracy Ruckman

Tracy Ruckman has many talents, among them are being an author, artist and publisher. Today we will learn more about her. Our first question for Tracy is if you could give a novice writer one piece of advice, what would it be?

Tracy: Get your ideas, stories, articles, essays, devotionals, screenplays down on paper, fleshed out as much as possible before you start the editing process, because once you start editing, your left brain kicks into gear and interferes with the creative right brain process. Outlining before you write is helpful for some, but don’t set your outline in stone – let it be fluid and changeable as you write. Editing can come later, after the story/idea is tangible.

Wow, great advice. Next question, what do you love best and least about the writing process?

Tracy: I had the opportunity to take a screenwriting class as I sought my bachelor’s degree, and I fell in love with the entire screenwriting process. I loved it so much, I sought my MFA in screenwriting. Writing in screenplay format seems to come naturally for me in some ways – my thought processes and imagination develop a story visually. For example, I always thought I’d be a novelist since I devoured them my entire life, but when I began writing novels, critique partners told me time and again that I was skipping details, that I needed to add more layers to fill in details I usually skipped over as I sped read books. I learned that’s because my imagination filled in the details for me, without having to read about them. With screenplays, tiny details aren’t always necessary, because other people, like casting, set designers, location scouts, producers, directors, decide the details  – my job is to create and write the best story I possibly can within the framework of a script.

With screenwriting, I haven’t found any part of the process to be unlikable – the planning process excites me, the writing process fulfills me, the editing process challenges me.

Sounds like you have some insightful critique partners. Our final question for Tracy is describe your writing space.

Tracy: In 2019, Tim and I spent 189 days tent-camping our way around the country, so my writing space has included picnic tables in campgrounds or rest areas, dozens of libraries, restaurant booths, the passenger seat of our SUV, and even a rec center or two. As I write this, we’re helping out with family, so my writing space is a folding card table in our bedroom.

You are a great example of how to create great stories. Thank you for stopping by.


Click to Tweet: Writing in screenplay format seems to come naturally for me in some ways – my thought processes and imagination develop a story visually.


Tracy Ruckman Bio

Tracy Ruckman is an author, artist, and book publisher. Her book, Go West, His Momma Said, released January 8, details the first leg of the Ruckman’s tent-camping journey. The book is available on Amazon. Tracy’s artwork is available for purchase on FineArt America.


If you would like to connect with Tracy, here’s how:


 

3 Questions Wednesday with Janalyn Voigt

Janalyn Voigt fell in love with literature at an early age when her father read classics to her as bedtime stories. Let’s get to know her. Our first question for Janalyn is what do you love most about the writing process? The least?

Janalyn: Writing allows me to live vicariously in a fictional world I create. That’s amazing for any genre but especially when writing medieval epic fantasy. It’s heady to realize that you can write about anything you can dream up. In Tales of Faeraven, readers can experience what it’s like to climb onto a winged horse and lift into the sky. They can walk through a vanishing gateway into a place between worlds, seek salvation in the Vale of Shadows, wield a two-edged sword, and reach into another soul.

I’ll call upon the late Walt Disney to answer the second part of your question. The famed founder of Disneyland once confessed that he resented the limits of his imagination. I share his frustration. The options for what I can create within a fantasy story world are endless, but my mind is finite. There’s almost too much freedom, and it’s easy to become intimidated.

I counter that feeling by establishing parameters for my world. I follow the advice of Orson Scott Card, bestselling author of Ender’s Game (and many other books), who explained in an article that the best fantasy worlds are most like our own. If a book has ever jarred you with its unfamiliarity, you already understand why. Readers relate to a world containing cool elements not found on Earth, but without being distracted by unnecessary strangeness. Adopting this philosophy helped establish parameters. I researched 13th-century Europe when writing Tales of Faeraven.

Wow, you have thought this through thoroughly! Next question, if you could give a novice writer one piece of advice, what would it be?

Janalyn: This might seem hackneyed, but it’s the truest advice I can give: believe in yourself as a writer. If you don’t, no one else will. That’s so hard in the beginning when no one acknowledges you. I can remember being embarrassed to call myself a writer. I still don’t announce it except for a specific reason, but shyness no longer holds me back. I just prefer not to be stared at as if I’ve sprouted a second head or gazed at with awe. Unless the other person is another author or aspires to be one, others can’t relate anyway. But I digress.

While researching a post for Live Write Breathe, my website for writers, I discovered that I suffered from the very affliction about which I was writing. Impostor Syndrome is when you sabotage your efforts due to the misguided belief that you don’t deserve success. I felt like I was fooling everyone by claiming to be a writer, even though I had several books published and contracts with two publishers. The good news is that simply identifying Impostor Syndrome is the first step to eliminating the problem. That is proving true more and more as I leave self-doubt behind.

I’ve had to apply this advice in my writing also. Trusting that the story will tell itself, even when I think I’ve painted myself into a corner has saved me many times. This mindset produces authentic stories that aren’t predictable, and what’s not to love about that?

You are right, we do second guess our own talent many times before moving forward boldly. Final question, who is your favorite fictional hero or heroine? Villain?

Janalyn: I love Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings books. His curiosity gets him into hot water with Gandolf and carries him into adventure. Ah, but loyalty makes him stay. I can relate to that, which is why Kai in Tales of Faeraven has an overweening sense of duty. In this, Kai is most like his author.

George Warleggon from the Poldark Saga is by far my favorite villain. His flaws make George a complex character I want to hate but just can’t. I’m in awe of that kind of writing. So far, I’ve only seen the Masterpiece Theater production, but I plan to read the Poldark books by Winston Graham. I’ve learned a lot about storytelling from reading classics that have stood the test of time.

Strong choices in characters. Thanks for chatting with us.


Click to Tweet: My favorite fictional character: I love Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings books. His curiosity gets him into hot water with Gandolf and carries him into adventure. Ah, but loyalty makes him stay.


Janalyn Voigt Bio

Janalyn Voigt fell in love with literature at an early age when her father read classics to her as bedtime stories. When Janalyn grew older, she put herself to sleep with her own made-up tales. Her sixth-grade teacher noticed her love of storytelling and encouraged her to become a writer. Today Janalyn is a multi-genre author. Janalyn writes the kind of novels she likes to read – epic adventures brimming with romance, mystery, history, and whimsy. She is praised for her unpredictable plots and the lyrical, descriptive prose that transports readers into breathtaking storyworlds. Janalyn Voigt is represented by Wordserve Literary. Learn more about Janalyn and her books at http://janalynvoigt.com.


Thanks so much, Janalyn, for dropping by!  If you would like to connect with Janalyn, here’s how:


 

3 Questions Wednesday with Leeann Betts

This week we hear from Leeann Betts, who writes contemporary romantic suspense. Pique your interest? Read on.

Leeann Betts writes contemporary romantic suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical romantic suspense. Missing Deposits is the 11th title in her cozy mystery series, and together she and Donna have published more than 30 novellas and full-length novels. They ghostwrite, judge writing contests, edit, facilitate a critique group, and are members of American Christian Fiction Writers, Writers on the Rock, Christian Authors Network, and Sisters in Crime. Leeann travels extensively to research her stories, and is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary LLC.


Our first question for Leeann, if you could give a novice writer one piece of advice, what would it be?

Leeann: I think it would be the same piece my husband gave to me, although it wasn’t advice so much as it was a question: “If you knew right now that you’d never be published, would you quit?” My answer was “no”. And he said, “Then it doesn’t matter how many rejections you get.” I think if my answer had been, “yes”, he’d have said to me, “Then you’d better move on now and do something else.”

Staying power! Authors have to be ready for the rejections and the acceptances. Next Leeann described her writing space.  

Leeann: I write at a desk in my home office in my basement. My husband sits about five feet away. Every day. My space is uncluttered, most of the time, because I can’t stand piles of stuff. His space looks like Mount Kilimanjaro about to collapse under its own weight, because he likes to have everything close to hand. But once a week, I have an appointment at a local coffee shop to write with friends. Or by myself. Doesn’t matter. I just need to get out and be around people once in a while. Not to actually interact with them—the introvert in me shrinks at the thought—but just to be able to pretend I’m a little normal.

A little time out and about with others sometimes spurs writing ideas. Last question, were you a young writer, late-bloomer, or somewhere in-between?

Leeann: I was a late bloomer. In most things. I graduated college at 36, got married at 40, wrote my first novel at 44, published my first book at 57. Now, at 61, I’m just hitting my stride.

Click to Tweet: Advice I would give a novice writer would be the same piece my husband gave to me, although it wasn’t advice so much as it was a question: “If you knew right now that you’d never be published, would you quit?” My answer was “no”. And he said, “Then it doesn’t matter how many rejections you get.”

Thanks so much, Leeann, for dropping by!  If you would like to connect with Leeann, here’s how:


About her book Missing Deposits

Carly looks forward to a vacation when Mike is hired to assist a rancher family in western Colorado catalogue their various mineral rights following the discovery of a large copper field on their property. However, Carly soon learns that the real wealth—and the real danger—aren’t below ground. Someone is out to keep a secret bigger and more profitable than copper. And they’re willing to kill for it.