Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Surprise Interview and Giveaway

Guess who's coming to talk with us today.

Guess!

Betcha didn't guess right! :)  We are having... *drumroll* ROBIN JONES GUNN! Yes, the very author of the amazing Christy Miller series and all those that follow - the author of Praying for Your Future Husband - the author of the Sisterchick series!  She's actually here!

She brought something special for one lucky reader... but first, our mini interview. :)

Welcome to Struggles of a (Maybe) Teen Author!  I can't tell you how glad I am to have you.  I know you're a very busy and sought-after woman, so I've narrowed down my usual interview to three questions that aren't found on your website.  First off, What keeps you motivated while writing?

Deadlines are a great motivator. So is feedback from readers or input from a critique group.

My guess is that most creative types can become easily sidetracked in the middle of a project. I sure am.  The initial enthusiasm fades. The ideas that were once crystal clear become murky. Instead of fun and frolicking the project feels like work. Lots of work. That’s why a deadline – even a self-imposed deadline – becomes a necessary finish line to motivate me to keep on moving around in the murkiness and to keep on working even though my shoulders ache and I want to go back to bed.


I can definitely relate.  With this past November being my first time with NaNoWriMo, I was surprised how much the deadline helped me stay writing  (even though I didn't make it).  There's always next year.... anyway, moving on!

Who or what has had the most influence on you as a writer?

I’ve been writing for almost 30 years so the influences have changed over the decades. In the beginning years there were two British writers whose work I dearly loved; C.S. Lewis and Christina Rossetti.

After I had a few articles and children’s books published the most life-changing influence came from another author, Ethel Herr. I met Ethel at a writer’s conference and she allowed me to join the critique group she hosted at her home even though it was a closed group and I wasn’t at the same level as the other writers. For six years I drove an hour each way on the first Wednesday of each month just to have the privilege of putting my feet beneath her kitchen table along with several other dedicated writers. We met for six hours each time and went over each other’s work line by line. That was my apprenticeship and I will forever be grateful for Ethel’s influence and the many hours she spent mentoring me.

Over the past twenty years my agent, Janet Grant, has had a profound influence on my life and on everything I’ve written. From the very first Christy Miller book on, we have worked together as a team. I never would have made it through all the ups and downs in this industry if it weren’t for Janet. She has been and still is a very precious gift to me from God.


Wow.  Talk about valuable friendships.

Do you have any advice for aspiring teen authors like myself - or any age, for that matter?

Here are a few key thoughts:
-          Dedicate your work to the Lord. Do it for Him and His Kingdom and not for yourself or what you hope to get out of it. I do this with every book I write. Before I start, I handwrite a love letter to the Lord and offer up the book to Him as a gift. Then I ask Him to give me the story – to infuse my heart and mind with the tale He wants me to tell.  Without this foundation my writing efforts would have crumbled long ago.

-          Keep a journal. Capture your thoughts, ideas, feelings, descriptions, insights and questions. Write them down. Play with your words. Open up your imagination and cultivate creativity.

-          Listen to poetry. I have several volumes of classical British poetry downloaded on my IPod and I listen to them when I’m on long flights. Try listening instead of only reading great works of literature. I like poetry the most because it goes deep and leaves a lasting impression. Soak up the sound of the English language that has been shaped into prose by a talented wordsmith. It will make you a better writer.

-          Don’t stop just because it’s hard or you get discouraged. If you were created to be a crafter of words and a teller of stories then that instinct wired inside of you will never go away. Make peace with the process early on. Use the same measuring spoon for praise and criticism and only add a half a teaspoon of each to your recipe no matter what you’re writing.

Thanks for thinking of me with this interview, Emily. May the Lord bless the work of your hands!

Thank you so much for dropping in!  I enjoyed speaking with you.

Readers, how would you like a copy of Christy's Diary?  Robin has graciously offered one copy of this book for a giveaway.

Giveaway Rules:
- US only, please
- You must be at least 13 years old to qualify
- Non-followers welcome!

To Enter:
Please leave a comment to enter.  If your email address is not listed on your Blogger profile, or you don't have a Blogger profile, please leave an email address so I can contact you if you win.

7 comments:

  1. Wow, that's some good advice. Thank you so much for coming today, Ms. Jones Gunn! It was really great to read this interview! I especially like the part about not stopping. I love telling stories, and have been telling them since I was about six. Sometimes, though, I would get discouraged and not write for weeks at a time. However, those weeks were usually really hard for me, so now I know I have to be working on something. :)

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  2. I absolutely heart the Christy Miller books and all the rest of them! Have you read the latest Sierra one? It's great. :D Awesome interview! I actually had Robin over at my blog once upon a time, too. Isn't she just amazing?

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  3. Hello ladies! No, Emii, I haven't read the new Sierra book ~ Sierra was never my favorite. I was too eager to finish the series and move on to The College Years :o) I am, however, going crazy waiting for Finally and Forever to be released. I can't wait to read about Katie in AFRICA! And Eli had better be with her, but not necessarily physically, if you know what I mean ;) And yes, Robin *is* absolutely amazing. She was my first ever author hero, which is part of what made this interview such a big deal for me.
    Becki, I definitely know what you mean. I tend to go write-crazy for a few days or a week or two, then go for a couple weeks or even months with little writing. I do much better when I stick with it. :)

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  4. I honestly hate writing...it's not one of my strong points even though I do it well. However, the one thing that has helped me a lot with my writing is keeping a journal. Oh, and just writing down my thoughts THEN editing. I have to squash my perfectionist side for a while until I've got everything down on paper. :D

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  5. Abigail, I absolutely understand the perfectionist thing. I struggled horribly with that until I participated in National Novel Writing Month this past November!

    I also understand hating something you're good at. That's how I am with math. :\

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  6. I really enjoyed the interview. Thanks for the giveaway.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  7. eek.. dear me! I totally forgot to enter...lovely interview, defiantly some wise words there.

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