What led you to the career choice of becoming a writer?
Very simply: GOD, and the deterioration of my health. As a kid, being a writer is all I dreamed about. But I become a single mom very unexpectedly in the early 1980's and I had to find a way to support my daughter. So I became a teacher. Truly loved teaching, too, and used my writing in the classroom.
But between 1990 and 2000, I was diagnosed with six different chronic illnesses that really impacted my strength and mobility. I had to drop to part-time teaching. About that same time, my dad began pestering me to take up the writing again. With a half day to fill, I followed his direction, and began attending Christian writing conferences. Eventually I landed an agent, but despite her best efforts we just couldn't seem to land a contract.
In 2004, I was ready to quit seeking publication, but God made it possible (through scholarships and the kindness of an anonymous angel) for me to attend the ACFW (www.ACFW.com) Conference in Denver. So I went, and while there a fifteen-minute meeting in the prayer room changed my life. He reached down through a prayer warrior named Brandilyn and healed me of every chronic illness as well as an emotional burden that had held me captive since childhood. Then He instructed me to close my classroom door. I did, and He swung wide the door to publication, giving me ten contracts in a six-month period. I've been writing full-time ever since. I see it as my God-ordained ministry, and I love every minute of giving Him glory through the stories I write.
Every reader likes to learn more about characters, as they get further into the story. How do the secrets of your characters come to life?
Secrets are revealed as the story progresses. I learn more and more about the character as I write. I don't plot, although I do get well acquainted with my characters before I write by examining what they want, why they want it, and what stands in the way. But as I write, more pieces of mystery emerge until a well-rounded story results. Actually, it's rather fun!
Some authors report writing 5-10 thousand words a day. Do scenes flow freely from your veins, or do you have to tweeze each word out?
It depends on the day and the place in the story. My beginnings and middles flow. Then I come to last fourth of the book--drawing it to an end--and my writing slows. Not because I don't know where it's going. By that time, I have a fuzzy picture in mind of how everything will come together.
But I grow to love my characters so much, I don't want the book to end. So I drag my feet, write a scene a day rather than two chapters...and then suddenly the deadline is looming over me like a monstrous storm cloud and I make a mad dash to the end. Very rarely do encounter true "writer's block"--it mostly life interruptions or a reluctance to bring things to a close that slow my writing pace.
What is the hardest part after the book is published?
Well, I love the characters in my books. They become friends, and I'm protective of my friends. So when someone posts a negative review, it can really hurt. It's very difficult not to take it personally. *sad smile* It can also be tough for me to let the characters go. I write stand-alone novels, with the occasional sequel (Where the Heart Leads (Waiting for Summer's Return Series #2) is a follow-up to Waiting for Summer's Return, and this fall In Every Heartbeat will give another glimpse into the lives of the Gallagher children from My Heart Remembers) so I really do have to bid them farewell. That's hard on my tender heart.
Why historical and particularly, Historical Romance?
Even as a child, I loved escaping into another time and place. I enjoy historical writing because I'm a history nut (I taught history to fifth graders), and I'm fascinated by the changes our country has undergone. I don't want to say it was a simpler time a hundred years ago because people had to work a whole lot harder in a lot of ways, but in some ways it was a simpler, sweeter, gentler time.
It can be pleasant to step back and relive the days when everyone knew their neighbors and lent a helping hand, or the excitement of forging into unknown territories, depending only on your family and your God to offer assistance. As for romance...God is the original writer of romance. He created love, and He is glorified when a man and a woman create a family that serves Him.
What are you working on right now?
At the moment, I am "in" an Alaskan Athabascan village in 1898 where Clay Selby is struggling to build a mission school and facing the disapproval of one very determined Athabascan woman named Lizzie. And I'm having a great time!
What other books of yours are coming out soon?
Also releasing in 2010 are Book 2 in the Katy Lambright Series, Katy's Debate, which is a young adult novel with Zondervan. Then in September, I hope readers will enjoy the follow-up story to My Heart Remembers from Bethany House, which is titled In Every Heartbeat.
What three things do you know now about the publishing world that you wish you knew when you first started?
1) You have to do more than write. There's editing (who knew someone would suggest changes???), marketing, speaking, book signings... All of those things are important and enjoyable, but they take away from the writing time. So a person needs to balance her time wisely.
2) Publishing, while rewarding, is NOT the key to endless joy and fulfillment. For most of my childhood and young adult years, I thought, "If I can be a published writer, I will always be happy." While publishing certainly brings me great joy and has moments of fulfillment, it isn't the end-all of happiness. Only my relationship with God brings me eternal joy and fulfillment. He had to give me a few good hard head-bumps to get that through my thick skull, but I certainly see the truth of it now. My writing is my way of serving HIM, not satisfying my need for happiness.
3) Go back and read #2 again. ;o)
If time and money did not enter in the equation, what would be your dream?
I'ld love to visit every country in the world. So far I've seen parts of Europe (England and Germany), a good portion of the U.S. including Hawaii and Alaska, and Canada. But I would love to do more traveling. Maybe someday.
What can you tell authors who have been receiving only rejections from publishers?
Don't let disappointment become disaster. Try to look at rejection as a stepping stone--that one didn't work, so aim for another one. Continue to hone your craft, learn more about the industry, and try again.
If God has called you to this, He has a reason, so keep marching forward. In HIS time, His purpose will prevail and you will be a better, stronger writer/Christian because of our faithfulness.
If you could recommend only one How-To Writing Book, what would it be?
I love A Novel Idea because it is the cumulative work of several well-known, well-respected authors and it covers everything from craft to personal advice. I wish I'd had it in hand six years ago--could've saved me some wear and tear.
What gave you the inspiration for this story?
In August of 2008, my parents, husband, and I went on an Alaska cruise to celebrate my folks' 50th anniversary. While on the cruise ship, we met a woman who, upon learning we were from Kansas, said she'd spent a summer in Kansas at a herdsman school. She'd married a rancher, but he didn't have time to teach her ranching skills, so he sent her to herdsman school. I'd never heard of such a thing as a herdsman school, so the brief exchange stayed with me. Weeks later, I shared this tidbit with a group of writers, and one of them laughingly said it would be fun to use that premise in a mail-order brides type story--bring inept women from the east to learn ranching skills and then match them with western men. I loved the idea!
How did you choose your characters’ names?
Tressa was named after a sweet young girl who attended a book signing in New York. She was such a darling, and I loved her unique name, so I asked if I could use it. She was delighted to say yes. Abel is a Bible name, and I love Bible names. Aunt Hattie told me what her name should be (when you meet her, you'll understand), and other names were chosen to fit their personalities. I also borrowed each of my grandsons' names for secondary characters, which was fun.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
I mostly write Kansas settings because I've lived in Kansas all but one year of my life, so it's "home" to me. It's also a prairie state, which makes for a great place to put a "prairie-type" story.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
Nearly all of the characters in A Hopeful Heart are holding to a hurt from their past with such tenacity they're finding it hard to face the future with peace or security. How many of us cling to past regrets or heartaches that stifle how we reach out today? As the characters learn to heal and release those long-held hurts, I hope readers will also find the courage to discard the coverings of shame, self-recrimination, or mistrust and walk confidently into the future God has planned for them.
And what kinds of things can readers expect from your books?
When I started writing seriously in the early 1980's, I made two promises. 1) I wouldn't write anything that would embarrass my mother; and 2) I wouldn't write anything I'd be embarrassed to have my children or grandchildren read someday. So readers can be assured my stories are not rife with innuendo or improper language. Each of my stories is laden with God's grace, showing how He works in human lives. My stories have been tagged "gentle stories of hope," and the designation is not one I take lightly.
Give us a preview of your story.
Kim Vogel SawyerCan she turn her second-best chance into a golden opportunity? Dowryless and desperate, Tressa Neill applies to the inaugural class of Wyatt Herdsman School in Barnett, Kansas. The school's one-of-a-kind program teaches young women from the East the skills needed to become a rancher--or the wife of one. But will Tressa have what it takes to survive Hattie Wyatt's hands-on instruction in skills such as milking a cow, branding a calf, and cooking up a mess of grub for hungry ranch hands?
Abel Samms wants nothing to do with the passel of potential brides his neighbor brought to town. He was smitten with an eastern girl once--and he got his heart broken. But there's something about quiet Tressa and her bumbling ways that makes him take notice. When trouble strikes, will Abel risk his life--and his heart--to help this eastern girl?
Where can we find you on the web?
www.KimVogelSawyer.com or www.KatyLambrightSeries.com.
I also blog weekly at www.writespassage.blogspot.com with five other historical writers.
Kim Vogel Sawyer
Thanks for visiting with us Kim.
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