Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?
This is such a loaded question that I could write an entire book about, but the overview is that I have always loved writing. I hate that that sounds cliché, but it’s the truth. Growing up I was told it wasn’t a realistic profession, so while I always hoped to have a book published, I didn’t think it would ever happen. But God stepped in. In December of 2007 I gave birth to twin girls, and became a stay-at-home mom. Since I was home, I started volunteering for a few online ministries. Partly to help others and partly to help me feel like I was still a productive member of society (nothing against stay-at-home moms, I am one after all, but I wasn’t raised that way and it took some getting used to).
In 2009 two of the ministries sort of overlapped. One of the moms in the moms group that I led asked about devotionals for teen girls–it just so happened that I also volunteered for a teen girl’s ministry, but I didn’t think they had any devotionals. So I asked.
I got an e-mail back saying they didn’t, but it would be a great addition to the ministry and they wanted to know if I could help get it started. Me. They wanted me to write! I was beyond giddy and started right away. It took a while to get everything up and going, but our first devotional book (a book with my name right there on the cover) was published in 2010.
I’ve been writing professionally ever since, and in every capacity I could find. I love writing, and I love that I can do it in real life.
How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?
When my kids were little, I wrote after they were all in bed, but now that they are all older (my twins just turned 9!), I usually write in the day while they are at school. I’d love to tell you that I write from 1pm-3pm every day or something official like that, but I don’t. During the seven hours they are gone I work my hardest to squeeze in writing, marketing, cleaning, eating, fitness, errands, etc. and some days I don’t get it all in. I’m hoping to have a better schedule going into 2017, but for now, I just do the best I can with the time that I have.
How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or some other method of getting your words down?
Really, it’s not the place that matters as much as having a keyboard. Writing my thoughts out by hand isn’t fast enough and I like to make edits while I type and I can’t do that by hand or when I dictate. Most often I write on my desk top computer in my home office. But I do have a laptop that I use on the go or in other places in my home or back yard. I love writing at my picnic table out back when the weather is just right.
What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?
I love the written word. I love forming ideas and penning them down to be read by others. I love crafting phrases that can impact lives and bring glory to God.
My least favorite part about writing? Typos. I hate it when I spend hours and hours working on a piece only to have it published being less than perfect. Drives. Me. Nuts. But, it also brings me back to Jesus because I know that people aren’t looking at me thinking I’m the best author ever, but they can usually still glean that Jesus is King, and that’s what matters anyways. I love the gospel and I always try to see how it works in the corners of real life. And that includes my typos, because no matter how many words I misspell or commas I miss, Jesus loves me anyways.
How did you come up with your book idea? How long did it take you to write your book?
My newest book, Mirror Mirror… Am I Beautiful? was actually originally written by Shelley Hitz in 2007. She approached me about coming on as the co-author of the second edition in early 2016, and I was honored. I had read her book in 2009 and loved it. It was the book I wish I would have had when I was a teen. It was like the perfect handbook for Christian girls living in the real world. It didn’t just cover the pretty Christian topics, but the real-life, nitty-gritty issues that girls are faced with in high school: Insecurities. Guys. Fashion. Evolution. Faith. Sex. It was all there.
And it was about a decade too late for me.
As my own daughters approach their teen years, I didn’t want it to be too late for them. So, when Shelley asked me about it I jumped at the chance to make it relevant for today's teens. I added much of my own story to give an added perspective to the book, updated any facts or content that were out of date, and added a chapter on social media.
All in all, I worked on the second edition of the book for around 9 months. It’s actually available free on my website. You can find out more at TrueBeautyBook.com
What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?
I use social media a lot. It seems to be great for driving traffic to sales pages and blog posts and for engaging my audience. I also have a large email list that I utilize on a regular basis. I’ve found email marketing to be one of the most rewarding avenues. So, blogging, social media, email, it’s just a little bit of everything really. They all work together to make one big book marketing web to snag my ideal readers.
What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?
My newest book, Mirror Mirror… Am I Beautiful? that I mentioned above released December 8th, and I’m already moving on to my next project. It’s an anthology for Christian women called Candid Conversations. Over a dozen other women have sent in testimonies about how God has helped them through the struggles of real life. I am in the process of weaving all the stories together in one seamless book.
I guess you could say it’s not your traditional anthology, it won’t be just a bunch of stories thrown together, but I am writing the bulk of the book and sprinkling it with the words of other Christian women. I am both super excited and humbled by this book.
Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.
*Hangs head* Too many to count. I have a couple devotional books for teen girls, a couple of Bible study books, and a few books for authors. The one closest to being finished is a book on email marketing. I just have two chapters left and it will be ready to send back to the co-author to finalize and send for edits. I am so thankful to have gracious writing partners who let me set the time line for our projects.
The email book is part of The Book Marketing Survival Guide Series published by Body and Soul Publishing. We also have a book on book launches for that series on the back burner as well.
What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?
My writing has improved so much since I started. Seriously. When I go back and read articles I wrote when I first started I shudder and wonder why anyone thought I was worth publishing. But I never would have improved if I hadn’t gotten started. Working with an editor really helped me grow. But, also just practice and research. It’s just like training for any other job. You get to work, research what you need to know and keep at it. You’ll improve as you move forward, but you’ll never make it anywhere if you are too afraid to try.
A Question For Kathryn:
Thanks for having me Kathryn, real quick before I go, I do have a question for you. What do you think the biggest mistake most authors make is? Would you say it’s in the editing, writing, marketing? I’d love to know.
Good question. I would say that editing is king. And I only say that because that seems to be the biggest hang-up for writers. They've written a book, think it's great, and try to get it published themselves before the editing is done. I know they're excited; I was pretty darn excited when my first book came out, but there needs to be some tweaking, maybe even entire scenes removed before the book travels out there.
I realize that there will be things that will be missed - there may be one or two grammar issues in a book once released despite multiple editors, but it's always a good idea to have a few beta readers and even an editor look at your book before you put it out there. Yes, even if you want to be traditionally published, it doesn't hurt to have some editing done before you send it off.
With that said, I also think that even with superb editing, the story needs to be good to great in the first place. And I think that marketing needs to be done on a daily basis to really see some sales in your books. That also means plenty of booksignings, book talks and the like.
I like to balance my writing and editing with my marketing, but it isn't always easy. Sometimes I find that I'm am writing, writing, writing and forgetting to market the books already out there. Sometimes I get caught in the marketing trap and forget to write.
The important thing is to make time for all of the aspects of writing. A great book will not sell unless readers know it's there. By the same token, a book that's highly marketed but is not written very well will eventually show its true colors.
Heather is an internationally best-selling and award-winning author who has an unquenchable passion for Jesus. Her desire is to help women of all ages embrace who they were created to be and find their true beauty in Christ. She currently resides in a small Texas town with her husband and their four quickly growing children. You can learn more about her teen ministry visiting www.FindYourTrueBeauty.com and learn more about her women's ministry at www.CandidlyChristian.com.