Well, enough of the doom and gloom. We'll survive. We'll rebuild. We'll move on. Such is life in FLA. Like I always say, "What did you think you were going to get by invading a swamp and building house after house?" :-)
I'm excited, though, to have as my guest one of my writing friends and fellow authors, Dawn Kinzer. We have never met face-to-face, but because of the wonderful world of the internet, we have gotten to know each other as I write blog posts for a serious writing blog called Seriously Write. Dawn is one of the five people who started it and have watched it grow over the years. Please welcome, Dawn!
Dawn, give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Dawn Kinzer?
I’m a freelance editor and author who believes the written word can change lives, and I’m doing everything in my power to prove it. I’m also a wife, mother, and grandmother. Favorite things include dark chocolate, cinnamon, popcorn, strong coffee, good wine, the mountains, family time, and Masterpiece Theatre.
Before you ever got a notion of becoming a writer/author, how old were you, and what were you doing in that time of your life?
Prior to focusing on writing, I raised two girls and worked at a variety of jobs. Four years were spent with the sexual assault services in my county (advocate, support counselor, support group leader, community ed speaker, and assistant to the director). Following several years as a church secretary, I worked in administration for a large car dealership.
I didn’t get serious about writing until I was forty-seven (I’m now sixty) because I didn’t believe enough in myself. I later figured out that talent is part of being a successful writer, but most achievements in publishing come from having tenacity and the willingness to work hard.
For years, I’d sought God on what he wanted me to do with my life. I had a hunger to make a difference, and although various ministries and charities offered opportunities, I just couldn’t find the “thing” that felt right long-term.
But while co-directing a teen drama group at my church, I was challenged to write an original play with a friend. We ended up writing three full-length plays, and I knew then that writing fulfilled a creative need that nothing else matched.
A very varied life you have had. And with some similarities to mine (starting writing late in life, for example). Makes you wonder what would have happened if we started writing sooner, huh? What educational background do you have?
I grew up in a small, farming town in Wisconsin called Prairie Farm. It was established in 1848, and the population has never gone over five hundred. The high school is the center of much of the town’s activities. My elementary school days were spent in the same building where my parents attended high school. Their high school band director was my high school English teacher—and she was amazing!
I graduated with a BS from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. I majored in biology and minored in chemistry. I loved science and thought I’d go into some field of medicine or research, but that never happened—long story.
Well, then, may I interest you in a book that could be right up your alley of biology? It's called The Serpent's Grasp, and it has received awards and many great reviews, and it has a bibliography! (Sorry for the shameless plug.) Okay, enough with the commercial, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
You already mentioned you are married, have children, and have grandchildren (aren't they wonderful?). Do you mind sharing a little about this?
I experienced divorce after many years of marriage. But God carried me through that season, and I’ve been married to a wonderful man for fifteen years. I have two grown daughters and one grown stepdaughter. My oldest daughter has a little girl (18 months). My youngest daughter has a boy (3 ½) and a little girl (8 months). I LOVE being a nana, and I spend a lot of time with the two grandchildren who live in our area. My other granddaughter lives out-of-state, and time away from her is difficult. I’m so grateful for Facebook and Facetime because I receive photos and videos throughout the week.
I know you mentioned a few favorites already, but I’m going to give you a shotgun list of several favorites. List your favorite in each category and then tell us in one sentence why it is your favorite.
Favorite Food: Popcorn – I could eat it every day. I never get tired of it.
Favorite Drink: Don’t judge me – red wine. I like the taste—seriously. (I always say, if it was good enough for Jesus at the Wedding in Cana, why not for us? My wife would agree, too. Moderation, moderation, moderation...)
Favorite Song: Currently it’s “Do It Again” by Elevation Worship because I know so many people who feel like they’re trying to move mountains in their lives.
Favorite Non-Fiction Book (other than your own & besides the Bible): The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman because it helped me better understand my husband and children.
Favorite Bible Verse: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). This has become my life verse because I have clung to it many times during difficult seasons of my life.
Favorite Movie: It changes all the time because I watch a lot of movies, but one of my recent favorites is Hacksaw Ridge because it’s a powerful and inspiring story of one man’s faith and determination to help others while standing on his principles.
Favorite Actor or Actress: Sandra Bullock takes on both serious and comedic roles, and I’ve never been disappointed in her movies.
Favorite Novel (other than your own): Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers changed my life. It made me realize that Christian fiction could be rich without being sweet and sappy.
Favorite Novelist (other than you): Really? You’re making me answer this? LOL! It’s like picking a number one best friend out of a group of best friends. Okay, because of my previous answer, I’ll say Francine Rivers.
Favorite Sport: Martial arts. Years ago, I trained in Tae Kwon Do and got my red belt (the one below black belt).
Favorite Team (Can be any sport, any level): Hey, I live in the Seattle area, so of course my favorite team is the Seahawks! (What about the Ducks? Is it hard to root for Oregon coming from the Badger state? Oregon is a fun team to watch.)
Favorite Subject in School Growing Up: My favorite subject was English because I was an avid reader and enjoyed discussing literature.
Favorite Subject Now: Creative writing is my favorite subject because it’s a part of my daily life, and it’s still important to learn and grow in my craft.
Favorite Teacher in School: My English teacher, Mrs. Peters, challenged me and opened my world to the some of the classics I wouldn’t have read without her requiring it.
Favorite Time of the Year: Fall is the best time of year! I enjoy cooler weather (that we can still enjoy while spending time outside), the changing color of leaves, and having a fire roaring in the fireplace. (Amen.)
Favorite Place to Vacation: Even though I live in Washington State, I still like to vacation here. We have it all—the ocean, the mountains, and the desert.
If you had one person you could meet (think outside the Bible here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be?
I would choose Mother Teresa so I could learn more about having a true servant’s heart.
If you had one person you could meet (think ONLY Bible characters here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be besides Jesus?
I would spend time with Mary, mother of Jesus. Years ago, I read the book Two from Galilee by Marjorie Holmes. It helped me see and understand that Mary was very human—just like me. I think it’s easy for us to forget what a difficult position she was put in when she became pregnant. As a mother, I’d love to know what she felt and experienced as she brought Jesus into the world, helped him grow, and then had to watch him hang on the cross. I’d want to hear how her faith carried her through all those years.
Besides the usual things authors face, has there been an unusual event that changed your perspective about being an author?
After my first novel released, I was contacted by a woman who wanted to read it and write a review. It’s something she does on a regular basis for authors. But when I responded to her message, I didn’t hear from her. After a week had gone by, I tried to reach her again. She apologized for her lack of communication. She’d been going through a rough time, still grieving over the death of a young grandchild she was close to.
That unexpected admission opened the door to us having more conversation, and it gave me the opportunity to offer empathy, genuine care, and encouragement. The original connection was about a book review, but it turned into a greater purpose.
Connecting with readers isn’t just about books—it’s about building relationships with people themselves. Books can serve as a bridge to help make that happen. Unplanned opportunities to minister to people’s needs may come along, and I want to be open to them.
We know “Readers are leaders, and leaders are readers.” Is there a book you’ve read in the past five years or so that has helped you become a better you? If so, which one was it, and how did it affect your life?
To be honest, I read very little nonfiction that isn’t related to writing or publishing. But one book that has impacted my life is If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg. The book challenged me to face my fears, step out in faith, and face challenges, but to also accept that failure isn’t necessarily the end—it can be an opportunity to grow.
When you are looking for a book to read, what are the things that are important to you?
I read a variety of genres, so I don’t zero in on a specific one. But, I’m a visual person, so covers are extremely important to me. If I don’t like the cover, I usually won’t look further unless I see a large number of positive reviews listed or someone I know has recommended the book. Then if the back cover copy piques my interest, I’ll read some of the reviews before purchasing.
What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most, and why?
The Bible verse is the same one that I listed as my favorite: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).
This verse helped me keep going when I didn’t know what the future would hold.
Like many people, I’ve experienced some pretty rough seasons in life. I went through a divorce after twenty years of marriage. Because of it, I lost some friends, and some relatives were so angry with my decision (because they couldn’t understand at the time) that they didn’t speak to me for over a year. Friendships and family relationships were later healed, but it was very painful at the time. I was also trying to take care of two daughters who were hurting.
Several years later, I married my now husband who also had two daughters about the same age. We thought life was going to be good. But two months later, we lost his nineteen-year-old daughter in a freak car accident.
Eight months later, he was laid off from work for two years, along with thousands of other Boeing employees. He couldn’t get a job flipping burgers.
After he was called back to work, I thought all would be well, but three months later, he checked into a thirty-day rehab facility, and my world turned upside down again. He’s been sober for twelve years.
The first three years of marriage were difficult, and we’re very open about those experiences, but the following years have been filled with many blessings.
Other people have gone through far worse than what I have, but I know what is feels like to cling to hope.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover?
I write fiction because I truly believe in the power of story to comfort, challenge, and inspire. And because I’ve seen so many people struggle with finding purpose in different seasons of their lives—or have been afraid to pursue their dreams—those themes find their way into my writing. I understand, because I’ve struggled with them too, and I want to offer encouragement and hope through entertainment.
Dawn, I want to thank you for spending some time with us. And to all my readers, thank you for stopping by. If you'd like to get to know Dawn more, you can find her at these locations:
Dawn's Author Website
Dawn's Blog, The Garden of Dreams
You can find Kevin @ www.ckevinthompson.com.