Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Interview for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

I recently was invited along with seven other authors to answer some questions for an upcoming article that will appear in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. The article, geared for teens, tackles the
Me wearing my granddaughter's
at a Bar-b-q restaurant
age-old question, "So, you want to be a Writer?" Once the article appears, I will post the link below. In the meantime, I thought it would be good for you, my readers, and the teen readers of this article to see my full responses to the questions asked.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
It really kind of grew into a passion. There really wasn’t one “Aha!” moment. No shooting star, skywriting finger of God, message in a bottle, nothing like that. I just started getting ideas, and the urge to get them down on paper would not relinquish.

What is your educational background?
I have a B.A. from Houghton College (Houghton, NY) in Bible, with a minor in theology. I have an M.A. in Christian Studies from Wesley Biblical Seminary (Jackson, MS), and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from National-Louis University (Wheeling, IL). I also have taken several courses from the School of Hard Knocks. J

How long did you write before you considered yourself professional?
I still feel that’s an ongoing pursuit. My friends and fellow writers probably see me as a professional, now with five books published, three more on the way and contracted, and a literary agent. However, there is always room to grow, learn, and gain perspective on your own writing, for you’re never quite as good as you think you are.  

What were some of the milestones on the way?
I currently have Book 4 of my Blake Meyer Thriller Series available in pre-order! It releases April 25. I also have the last two books of the series and another standalone novel contracted. All three will be out between Dec. 2019 and the fall of 2020. I have also submitted the first two novels I wrote (The Serpent’s Grasp & 30 Days Hath Revenge) to contests, because I wanted to see how my writing measured up. The Serpent’s Grasp was my debut novel, and it won the 2013 Selah Award at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for First Fiction. My second novel (30 Days) was a Silver Medalist in the 2013 Reader’s Favorite competition in the Christian Fiction category. So, with that success, I’m planning on submitting my standalone novel, The Letters, to any and every Christian contest out there when it comes out in January 2020.

What is the most rewarding?
Most rewarding? To see my grandchildren take an interest in reading and writing because “Papa T” is an author. That’s better than any review I could receive, although good reviews are like the dessert!

What advice do you have for a high school student who is considering a career in writing?   
Pay very close attention in English class. As an assistant principal in a high school, I know what I’m talking about. The writer’s tools are words. His nailing, her sawing becomes the sentence. The sentences are pieced together to make a structure we call story. However, the story is the blueprint, from which all the other parts are derived. So, listen to your English teachers. Learn the language. Subjects. Verbs. Strong verbs. Weak verbs. Direct and indirect objects. All those things that cause your classmates’ eyes to glaze over are the diamonds, the pearls, for a budding writer. Then, pay attention in your other classes, too, for you never know what bit of information from a science class or a history lesson may spark something in your imagination that causes a story to emerge.

Please give a brief statement of the kind of writing you do and who you write for.  
I write suspense thrillers. The Serpent’s Grasp is a Jurassic Park meets Jaws kind of book. The Blake Meyer Series is for those who love the TV show 24 with Jack Bauer. Yet, my upcoming book, The Letters, is set at Christmas, and has been called “A Christmas Carol-esque” by some readers with a strong, redemptive message. As for who I write for, I write for everybody. But mostly, I write for me. It’s what I love to do. Some people like gardening. Others like fishing. I like writing. 

Until next time!

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