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Reflecting with Award-Winning Author, Jenny Cote

by Sally Matheny

Jenny L CoteAward-winning author, Jenny Cote developed an early passion for God, history, and young people, and beautifully blends these passions together in her two fantasy fiction series, The Amazing Tales of Max and Liz and Epic Order of the Seven.

What’s amazing are Jenny’s skills and her travels. Her research has taken her to Handel’s composing room in London, to stay in the home of C.S. Lewis, and on to Ireland, Paris, Normandy, Rome, Israel, and Egypt.

Jenny’s own Scottish Terrier, Max, and her black cat, Liz were the inspirations for the characters in Jenny’s books. She posts videos of them on her website at www.epicorderoftheseven.net. Max, who is battling cancer, steals the show during his annual pumpkin roll.

Returning to Write2Ignite this year, Jenny will teach three wonderful workshops: “Give Me Liberty AND Give Me Deadlines!”, “Create,” and “Write.”

In the meantime, she shares a few thoughts with us here.

Jenny, what were three of your favorite moments from 2014?

  • Opening the box of fresh-off-the-press copies of my fifth novel, The Wind, the Road, and the Way in March
  • Standing on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France on June 6th for the 70th anniversary of D-Day
  • The day I finished writing my sixth novel, The Fire, the Revelation, and the Fall in September

What was your first paying job? How old were you?

Besides babysitting, it was working for a gift shop to make bows, arrange merchandise, and be a sales clerk. I was 17 and I worked for them every summer and Christmas throughout college.

At what point in your life did you know you wanted to pursue writing?

After I already had a long career in strategic planning and business development for a children’s hospital, two marketing degrees, and a five-year-old son.

Looking back over your writing journey, what is one thing you wish you had known earlier?

That the publishing world moves at the speed of molasses! It is a long, slow process to write, get published and market books. You must be patient.

What do you hope to learn this year?

How to produce and market audio books.

Oh, that sounds wonderful. Then you can come back and teach that at the next Write2Ignite Conference!

Do you remember one of your favorite books from your childhood? What made it special?

Charlotte’s Web. Talking animals, of course.

Of course! What was one of your favorite books when you were a teen?

The Black Stallion

If awarded one day to talk with three authors (from any time period), whom would you choose?

C.S. Lewis, Margaret Mitchell, Paul

The theme for Write2Ignite 2015 is “Shine.” What three helpful hints would you recommend to writers to make their work shine?

  • The light begins in your heart before it flows out of your pen, so take care to keep your heart light continually burning through daily time with God. Commit your work totally to him, and trust his shut doors as much as his open ones.
  • Write about what you are passionate about. Then you won’t care how many endless hours you must research to know what you’re writing about, and to write with excellence.
  • Don’t settle for good enough. Eliminate mediocrity from your vocabulary. That goes for your writing, your editing, your publishing decisions, your marketing and your public presence. YOUR very best is the goal, not that belonging to someone else.

 

Thank you for sharing with us, Jenny. We look forward to seeing you in March.

Readers, you can connect with Jenny on her website: www.epicorderoftheseven.net and on

Facebook: Jenny L. Cote.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://write2ignite.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Sally-Matheny-1F1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Encouraging others is Sally Matheny’s mission in life. She enjoys “reflecting on ordinary life under God’s extraordinary Light.”

A freelance writer and blogger, Sally’s ordinary days are blessed with her pastor-hubby of 25+ years, three children, and a home that can’t stay clean for more than seventeen minutes. Find encouragement from Sally on her blog: www.sallymatheny.blogspot.com/ and Twitter: @sally_matheny [/author_info] [/author]

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Reflecting with Publisher and Author, Cheri Cowell

Cheri Cowell

This wintery week, we’re catching some rays of joy with Cheri Cowell, owner and publisher of EABooks Publishing. Also a published author and speaker, Cheri will present two workshops at the 2015 Write2Ignite Conference: “How to Evaluate Your Options: Traditional Publishing, Independent Publishing, or a Combination” and “Why You Need an E-book/Audiobook: Taking Advantage of this New Trend.”

The conference is only a few weeks away. Remember to take advantage of that early bird rate before February 28. Until then, let’s get better acquainted with Cheri.

Cheri, we’ve been asking our workshop presenters for three of their favorite 2014 moments. What were yours?

  • My husband I spent two weeks in Hawaii with family and friends.
  • We added a door from our bedroom out to the hot tub–no more traipsing through the kitchen dripping wet.
  • I completed my family ancestry scrapbook–a history of God’s faithfulness through the generations.

I’d love to see how you did the family ancestry scrapbook! How far back did you go in your family? 

I started with me as a baby, then went to my parents, who then have two “trees,” which I traced back through my two sets of grandparents as far as I could go. One I’m able to trace back to the 1700s.  

That’s wonderful. All writers should take time to do that. We’re often so busy with “outside” writing that we forget to write important things like this for our families.

What was your first paying job?

My first job out of high school was a barista—before there was such a word. I had to pass a coffee and tea test every quarter to keep that job.

At what point in your life did you know you wanted to pursue writing?

I have a degree in children’s theatre and then became a youth pastor for 15 years, and when that career ended in 2000, I had no idea what I was qualified to do. Thankfully, God did, and He opened doors I didn’t even lean against.

Looking back over your writing journey, what is one thing you wish you had known earlier?

It’s about the relationships, and relationships take time.

What do you hope to learn this year?

I’m currently studying Nehemiah, and what I’m learning is preparation takes time.

You’ve mentioned learning several things “take time.” Sounds like you’re practicing patience!

The take time message is very strong this year as I have several things that are almost ready to “give birth,” but if I get impatient, they will not be in God’s timing, and I could mess things up. So patience is key.           

Do you remember one of your favorite books from your childhood? What made it special?

I nearly cried when I found a dog-eared copy of Mister God, This Is Anna in a used bookstore because that story about a little girl with a special relationship with God told me that my special relationship with Him could impact lives.

What was one of your favorite books when you were a teen?

I love history, so The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom had a huge impact on me.

If awarded one day to talk with three authors (from any time period), whom would you choose?

Any of the gospel writers, C. S. Lewis, and Os Guinness.

The theme for Write2Ignite 2015 is “Shine.” What three helpful hints would you recommend to writers to make their work shine?

  • One of my favorite tips is to read your work, beginning at the end of the piece, read sentence by sentence, back to the beginning. It is the best way to hear mistakes in grammar and spot mistakes in punctuation.
  • Work on something else, and then come back to your piece with fresh eyes.
  • Find a good critique group/partner who will be honest with you about your work and help you shine as you help them/him or her shine.

Thank you for taking time to share with us, Cheri. We look forward to learning more from you at the Write2Ignite Conference.

Readers, you can connect with Cheri at www.info@eabooksonline.com, EABooksOnline.com and CheriCowell.com.

 

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Reflecting with Speaker and Author, Tim Shoemaker

Tim Photo 2014by Sally Matheny

Eight weeks until “Shine!” time. Are you registered for W2I yet? You don’t want to miss our keynote speaker, Tim Shoemaker. He is the author of eleven books and a regular contributor to Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine.Tim is also a captivating speaker. We’re excited he is teaching several workshops in addition to presenting the keynote address. Today, Tim shares some of his reflections.

 

Tim, tell us three of your favorite moments from 2014.

There were so many good moments… it’s hard to narrow it to three.  Here’s a short list…

  • Finishing Below the Surface… getting the series finale in the hands of friends.
  • Seeing Super Husband, Super Dad come out… and hearing how it helped others.
  • Started speaking at schools in a bigger way… and found I loved it.
  • Youngest son graduated paramedics’ school.
  • Down time with my wife and family on Lake Geneva, WI this past summer.
  • Vacation with the family in Florida.
  • New baby granddaughter born in December… Claire Rose.

Claire Rose. What a beautiful name! Is she your first grandchild?

Claire Rose is our 4th grandchild… which is unbelievable.  But they are all three years old and under… which is a riot when they’re all in the same room.

I bet they are! I’m sure it’s all play and no writing when the grandbabies visit. Tim, at what point in your life did you know you wanted to pursue writing?

When I was younger, I never dreamed I’d pursue writing.  It wasn’t even on my radar.  After I started a family, I used to love telling stories to my kids… and to nieces and nephews.  I’d like watching their faces… seeing when I totally had them wrapped up in the stories.

They often asked me to write the stories down… and at first I resisted.  But when I finally did—I found I loved it.  I wrote more and more on the side… writing for my kids, mostly.  I had one son who struggled with reading… so writing in a way that held his interest (but at his reading level) was a challenge.  Eventually a dream began to develop… I hoped to move to part time status at my work and devote more time to writing.  By God’s grace and in his time, and through circumstances I couldn’t predict, I was able to pursue that writing dream.

Looking back at your writing journey, what is one thing you wish you had known earlier?

There are so many things… but here’s one.  I didn’t realize that writing was a skill that I could strengthen and develop.  I used to think that writing was a “gift”.  It was a talent that was deep inside… something I had or I didn’t have.

When I went to my first writers’ conference and got my first critique… I was devastated.  The chapter I’d sent in was really slashed up with red ink… and at that moment, I thought I didn’t have the “gift” at all.  I thought I’d better just forget about writing and go back to my job… back where I belonged.

I decided to leave the conference early.  Since I didn’t have the “gift” of writing, there was no point staying.  Thankfully, someone caught me in the hall on the way out… and that little encounter changed everything.

Oh, that is something to remember the next time we attend a conference—not only to be encouraged but also to encourage others.

Do you remember one of your favorite books from your childhood? What made it special?

I loved the entire Hardy Boys series.  A bunch of Alfred Hitchcock ones, too.  I loved some of the biographies… guys like Davy Crockett.  I also loved WWII stories… read many of the Landmark series of great battles.  I loved adventure… mystery… suspense… and the way I got swept away with the story as a reader.

What three helpful hints would you recommend to writers to make their work shine?

Here’s a half dozen hints…

  1. Really get your head into the perspective of your POV character and stay there. Don’t write anything other than what your character sees, hears, thinks, feels, etc.
  2. If you’re writing for kids… don’t talk down to them. They’re smarter than you think.  You don’t want to sound like a parent.
  3. If you’re writing Christian fiction… resist the urge to get hokey. Characters  recalling and reflecting on whole sections of a recent sermon, for example.  Keep your spiritual footprint subtle… and real.
  4. If you’re writing fantasy, I’ve got some thoughts to help you relate better to your readers… but too many to write here. Catch me in the hall or at a meal and ask me what I mean by these…
    • “Lose the magic sword.”
    • “Give it to me in English…”
    • “Be fair to readers… ”
  5. Pray. He’s the creative one.  Ask him to help you.
  6. Keep your hands clean. If we aren’t living the life we should… what do we really have to offer others?

Fantastic advice! Thank you, Tim. I look forward to asking you about “losing the magic sword” when I see you at the conference. Thanks for sharing with us.

Readers, you can connect with Tim at the following social media outlets-

Website: http://www.timshoemakersmashedtomatoes.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tim.shoemaker.923

Twitter: @TimShoemaker1 https://twitter.com/TimShoemaker1