What People Ask

Being a writer is an odd job, especially here in Eugene.  When people hear what I do, I get a lot of funny reactions.  “So is that what you, like, do?”

And I’m one of lucky ones, because the answer is yes.  Most writers need a day job to stay fed.  I am blessed to have a patron of the arts, which means I get to write full-time.  My hat goes off to anyone pulling double duty, because writing fiction can be very mentally taxing!

A lot of people ask if Plain Jayne is my first book; it’s not, but it is my first book to be released.  I wrote a novel about artists and musicians and hippies in Eugene.  While it’s not published, it did open doors for me to do Plain Jayne and its follow-up novel (of indeterminate title) for Harvest House.

Here are some other things people ask –

So, did you go to Pennsylvania to research the Amish?

No, because I had a $20 budget at the time.  But I have a journalism degree, which taught me (among other things) how to research.  I spent a month learning everything I could about the Amish.  I checked out a ton of books and films from the library.  For the first month, I panicked over getting every detail correct in the community I’d created.  That’s tricky, because there are a lot of different ways to be Amish, just as Christians have multiple denominations.  By the time I learned that there are 1,400 different ways to be Amish…I relaxed.

A couple months later, I did have the opportunity to visit an Amish store and an Amish woodshop in North Carolina.  You can read that trip here

Do you have a laptop you can take to coffee shops?

I do have a laptop, but I don’t do the coffee shop things very often.  I’m easily distracted, and it’s easier to stay home, where I know where all the power outlets are.  Some days I don’t leave the house at all.

Are you afraid to read other people’s books when you’re writing?

Not at all!  I read constantly, all sorts of fiction.  Reading other people’s words helps me to launch my own.  Not that I’m stealing passages or concepts, but sometimes I’ll read a word and think, “that’s a great word, I should use that,” or contrast how the character in the book is feeling/responding versus how my character is responding.  It can be a springboard, or just a nudge to remind me to do my own work.  Consider that journalists read magazines and newspapers, doctors read medical journals, and businessmen read the Wall Street Journal and Business Week.  Fiction writers get to read fiction.  I think we get the best end of the deal.

Do you work normal business hours?

Ha ha.  No.  I work 6-7 days a week, generally in the afternoons and evenings.  If I take more than two days off, it’s much harder to get going again.

Speaking of getting going, I need to get back to my chapter.  The very last chapter – which means I need to figure out how we’re going to celebrate!

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