Welcome to the launch of Thursday Interviews featuring fellow writers, missionaries, photographers, and other ordinary people who have a passion to use their talents for Christ. It's such an honor to introduce my first guest: Stephanie Reed. She's an author of two published books, with several more in the works - and she also happens to be an amazing sister-in-law! Join me in welcoming Stephanie.
Maria: Thanks for joining me today! Tell us a bit about yourself:
Stephanie: I’m a follower of Jesus Christ, married thirty-one years, mother of a son, daughter-in-law, and daughter, and sister-in-law of this sweet blogger. I love to read and I think I’m a good cook but am actually only average. I know a bit about flowers and birds, I like history, and I’d much rather visit a park or a historical site than go shopping.
Maria: I can attest to the fact that you're a good cook, so you don't need to be so modest. What sparked your interest in the Underground Railroad? Give us a brief description of your books, Across the Wide River and The Light Across the River:
Maria: Sounds like we can all learn some valuable lessons from your books. How has your relationship with Jesus Christ impacted your writing?
Stephanie: Writing is very humbling. I quickly came to realize that what I write comes from Jesus Christ and must be given back to Him, successful or not. I wish I could say writing has gotten easier as time goes by, but it’s getting harder! I don’t want to know what it would be like to write without the Lord’s help.
Maria: I love your dependence on the Lord! What are you currently working on?
Stephanie: I am working (and working and working) on my first book for women. I call it Amish historical fiction because it’s set in the 1970s. My name for the three-book series is Plain City Peace. The name of the first book is The Bargain. The publication date is dependent on my edits, which are ongoing. Let’s say late next year? My one-sentence summary for this book is: An Amish girl helps an English boy, a shattered survivor of the Kent State Massacre, find real peace in the summer of 1971. I loved writing about the 70s! My publisher is Kregel; shout out to Steve Barclift, managing editor. I am very grateful for his encouraging support.
Maria: I see some must-reads in my near future! As an established author, what do you do to keep your writing fresh?
Stephanie: Don’t neglect to read widely! Lately I’ve downloaded a few free Christian novels on my Kindle because they’re very different from what I usually read. I try to learn something from each author. I don’t mean analyze a book; that makes reading a chore instead of a pleasure. Using this method, I’ve learned that one way to make a character more likeable is to show that the other characters in the book like him/her.
Maria: Great tips. What goals do you have for the future?
Stephanie: When I get to Heaven, I want to turn a perfect cartwheel. In regard to writing, I want each book to be better than the last.
Maria: I can just see you turning that perfect cartwheel! Love your sense of humor, Stephanie! Share some lessons you’ve learned on your journey as a writer:
1 * If you have a critique partner, be helpful, kind, and encouraging. Do not slash and burn (guilty).
2 * It is far better to have an agent on your team pre-publication, if you can manage it (I went it alone for the first two books, so I know). Thanks, Barbara Scott! She greatly encourages me
3 * Think of editing as a second (third, fourth) chance. Before I was published, I thought editing was polishing, sharpening, and refining my own work, at my whim. Now, the editor says, “This doesn’t work; change it.” Editors may offer general suggestions, but it’s up to you to achieve the desired effect, at least until the next editorial letter. You’ve heard, “Don’t try this at home,” but I say, “Don’t try this without God, and even then, it won’t be easy.”
4 * Platform is important, but if you write fiction, focus on your writing. If you blog, write in your own voice. Make friends through your blogging and social media outlets. Bestow sincere compliments on individuals—life’s hard, and we could all use the encouragement. The day I stopped trying to get people to follow me on Twitter and gave it up to the Lord is the day I began a steady increase from 400 to over 800 followers. Roughly 1,000 followers is the springboard for a platform. But what good is a platform if you don’t write a good book? J
Maria: Thanks for passing on these valuable lessons! What words of wisdom would you like to leave with our readers?
Stephanie: In terms of sales, my first book has been reprinted twice (small initial and follow-up print runs) but has sold extremely modestly. You would probably gasp at the miniscule amount of the yearly royalty checks—of the “Pizza’s on me!” variety. The second book, which is much better in my humble opinion, has not sold well. In terms of eternal value, however, I’ve heard some very nice comments from individuals. In the end, God determines what constitutes success, so if God has given you a story to tell, tell it.
Thanks for having me, Maria! Your prayer support and humor are much appreciated. I’m so glad you’re part of my family and I look forward to many successful books from you.
Maria: Appreciate your honesty and your dedication to God and using the gift He's given you to be a blessing to others. Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement, and for always being there to guide me along the writer's pathway. And a BIG thank you for the marvelous interview!
*Connect with Stephanie, and purchase her books: