Mentors for Writers – with mentor/writer Kim Peterson

Gleaning Gold: Mentors for Writers

Interview with Mentor/Writer Kim Peterson              by Sally Matheny

Timothy was blessed with mentors. First taught by his grandmother, Lois, and his mother Eunice, they loved him and they loved the Lord.  Their strong faith was essential in teaching Timothy the ways of the Lord.  It formed a solid foundation.

God later sent Paul to build upon that foundation. In Second Timothy, Paul sets a good example of mentoring.

In regards to Timothy, Paul:

  • prayed for him. (2 Timothy 1:3)

  • showed him compassion. (2 Timothy 1:4)

  • reminded him to “stir up the gift of God” in him. (2 Timothy 1:6)

  • encouraged him by saying, “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and of sound mind.” (2 Timothy: 1:7)

  • and taught him by example (2 Timothy 1:13)

Warning Timothy of hardships and temptations, Paul exhorted Timothy to stay true to his calling. Paul was a good mentor.

Writers need good mentors, as well.  We need someone to guide us along the way. Pointing out areas needing improvement and encouraging us to press on.

Hopefully, when someone takes time to mentor us in some way, we’ll be inspired to encourage others in their writing journeys.

Today we’ll glean gold from mentor, Kim Peterson. Writer-at-Large for Bethel College (Indiana), Kim has taught college-level writing for 19 years. She also works as a freelance writer, a freelance editor, a book-reviewer, and speaker. Her writing has appeared in anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Caregivers Soul and Rocking Chair Reader: Family Gatherings. Kim’s words are also published in several magazines and newspapers.

Workshops Kim will be presenting at the Write2Ignite! Conference are: Point of View; Write for Young Adults; and Writing the Young Adult Novel.

Kim, when you were a child/teen, did you enjoy writing? How has your writing career developed throughout the years?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. When I was young, my mom and I wrote stories together. I remembered them as wonderful ideas and great writing. I found them awhile back and they were pretty rough, to put it kindly. LOL! I don’t know if we’ll ever do anything with them. But the love for writing and reading was fostered when I was young and has stayed with me.

My sophomore year, I received the opportunity to represent our high school by writing feature articles for the local newspaper, The Elkhart Truth. My editor taught me to write a lead, craft a cohesive middle, and wrap up by bringing the article full circle. I also learned to interview people I knew well and ones I had barely met. Though I’m still something of an introvert, those interviews forced me to interact with and think about others instead of myself. I haven’t stopped writing since that three-year stint.

If you could recommend two resource books to writers, what would they be?

My first choice would be Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore by Elizabeth Lyon. One of the best books out there about rewriting, which makes up the majority of good writing.

My second choice would be a new self-published book by Jill Elizabeth Nelson called Rivet Your Readers with Deep POV. Many aspiring writers haven’t mastered POV. This book helps writers learn to stay inside the POV character’s head at all times.

Of course, my favorites change frequently. But these two aren’t as well known, yet they are gems.

How do you find time to write while balancing your job(s), family and life in general?

I definitely haven’t found balance yet, but I continue to try. One thing I’ve added recently is a timer. This helps me track the time spent on a project without relying on my memory. I love the stop/start button, which allows me to stop, move around and then return to the project, and hit start. This timer also helps me know when to stop. By a certain time, whether I’m done with a project or not, I may need to move on to something else. If I’ve spent an hour grading, but have a manuscript to evaluate too, the timer helps me set work aside until tomorrow and make progress in another area.

What does a typical “work” day look like for you? What does your work entail with the Jerry Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and as a Writer-at-Large for Bethel College (Indiana)?

After my husband leaves for work, I dive in. On the mornings I don’t teach an online class for Bethel College, I usually start with my own writing. I’ve learned that leaving my words until the end of the day guarantees I won’t fit them in. So, I’m making my romance WIP the priority. Then I move on to reviewing books, mentoring and grading, evaluating manuscripts and planning lessons for my college students. When I finish a task or a portion of a larger project, I reward myself with a few minutes of something I enjoy (like raking or puttering outside or breakfast with my mom) or I attend to home-related chores like scheduling a doctor appointment or tossing in a load of laundry. I try to stay focused, but it’s also good to rest my eyes and move out of that office chair.

I serve as a mentor in my work for the Guild. That means I am encouraging aspiring writers, evaluating the lessons they send me, helping them find markets to pursue, and answering the questions they raise. I thoroughly enjoy working with students in a variety of levels including those beginning their writing journey (Writing Essentials and Apprentice courses), those earning college credit (Academic track), and those pursuing fiction writing (Journeyman and Fiction That Sells). Some of my Guild students have attended Write2Ignite! and some folks I’ve met at Write2Ignite! have become my Guild students. Be sure to check out the Guild’s learning opportunities.

As Writer-at-Large for Bethel College, I teach an online writing course each semester. Sometimes that takes the form of conducting a Private Tutoring of a course or overseeing an Independent Study. I miss the classroom, but I also love the online setting. In addition, I serve as advisor to Bethel’s online writing critique group made up of students, alumni, staff and faculty. We’ve been together for about a decade now. People have come and gone, but a solid core has remained throughout the years pushing each other to set goals, be accountable, continue growing as writers, and pursue publication. This means we interact frequently, edit for each other, help network, share tips, find conferences or workshops that fit our interests, and much more, including celebrating our successes. They are a great group!

Are there others who have mentored you along the way?

Throughout the years, my college and grad school profs and other writers have invested their time in helping me. Even my crit group members help me grow. I have tried to pass that on by mentoring students I’ve taught and contacts from conferences throughout the years. Sometime these are long-term commitments and sometimes just a few weeks of interaction. Long or short the desire is to help each person move a little closer to their writing goals and dreams. I see that modeled every day at the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. I also see it in the informal writing groups I belong to and in professional groups such as American Christian Fiction Writers. I love being a part of that mentoring. I hope we’re each ready to help another writer. I believe God blesses our efforts to help others grow in our writing and editing skills.

It sounds like the mentoring has come full circle. During your childhood your mother helped you write stories. She, along with many others, took time to encourage you and  assist with your writing. Allowing that mentoring to have a ripple effect in your life is a blessing to other writers. Thank you, Kim. We look forward to seeing you at the Write2Ignite! Conference.

  1. Vijaya says:

    We’re all apprentices to the craft, aren’t we? I look forward to meeting you.

  2. Great interview, Kim. Thanks.

  3. Jean says:

    Thanks, Kim! You’re a fountain of knowledge and a river of encouragment to all of us who know you.

    See you in March.


  4. Kathy Rupff says:

    Very interesting interview! Kim, I especially appreciate the books you recommended and look forward to meeting you at the conference!


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