Inspire Christian Writers, a writing group I'm proud to be a member of, is having their first conference on August 26 - 27 in association with ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).
Guest speaker at the Write To Inspire Conference will be author, Ginny Yttrup. She will focus on two subjects: Finding Your Voice and Marketing For Writers. Visit the Inspire Christian Writers conference page to sign-up.
Here's a little background on Ginny to get to know her:
When did you first want to write a book?
I co-authored my first book when I was in the fourth grade. The title was GINNIE AND THE JUNKYARD. I co-authored it with my best friend at the time, Ginny Bridges. We were allowed time in the teachers lounge to write and illustrate the book. My memory of that experience was more time spent bouncing erasers on the floor and convulsing in fits of laughter than actual time spent writing. The second book I attempted to write was WORDS.
What are two of your favorite writing/craft books?
I love James Scott Bell's PLOT AND STRUCTURE. It's a fiction writing book and I learned all I know about the structure of a novel by reading that book as I was writing WORDS. I refer to it regularly. I also love BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott. Her language isn't always appropriate but her insights are wise and I love her humor. When I'm feeling discouraged with my writing, I pick up BIRD BY BIRD.
How important is goal-setting to you? Do you set daily/weekly word counts? How do you stay on track?
I set word-count goals, but I rarely keep them. By nature, I'm not a goal-setter or keeper. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants until I'm close to a deadline! Then I figure out what I need to do, how many words I need to write each day, and I keep the goal. In other words, I work best under pressure-unfortunately. I don't recommend this method.
How and when did you first grab the attention of an agent/editor? What was that experience like for you?
I began attending writers conferences when my sons were toddlers-about 18 years ago. I learned everything I know about writing from those conferences and from reading voraciously. At year 15 (!), I submitted, through the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, a proposal for WORDS to agent Steve Laube. The evening before the conference began, I received an email from Steve asking me to find him the minute I stepped foot on the Mount Hermon property. I found him within the first five minutes of the conference and listened in awe as he talked on and on about my proposal. When he likened my protagonist, Kaylee, to Scout in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, I knew I'd arrived. :-) It was a surreal experience and is still one of my favorite memories. My writing journey was one of faith and of perseverance.
What advice do you offer to new writers who are just getting started? What about for writers that are seeking representation/publication?
First and foremost: read, read, read. Read in the genre you want to write. Read books that make your heart beat fast—books that stir your passion. And read with a critical eye—learn from the books you read. Also read books on the craft of writing and, if possible, attend writers conferences. When seeking representation or publication, do your research. Before approaching an agent or editor, make sure you know they're interested in the genre you write and are accepting proposals. Be professional and personable. Know your project and prepare a brief pitch that touches on the highlights of that project. Most agents and publishers have submission guidelines on their websites—pay attention to what they want and how they wanted it submitted.
How do you go about plotting your stories? Are you a meticulous outliner? Do you just write? Or do you use some other method?
Typically, I come up with an issue I want to address, then a protagonist comes knocking on my mind and heart. I spend time creating that character-figuring them out. And somewhere in there, I come up with a spiritual theme for the book. All of that seems to happen together. Then I sit down to write. I don't plot. Instead, I let the story unfold as I write. I re-write my first chapters over and over and over as a means of finding my characters voices. Then I write sequentially from chapter one to the end. I write one draft—editing and making changes along the way.
What do you believe is the best thing about being a published author?
First, interacting with readers who God has touched in some way as they've read my book. I am awed by the way God works through the written word. Second, I love getting paid for writing!
How does it feel to have your story called "a masterpiece?"
It feels unbelievable. Literally. I think it's hard to believe because I know myself. I know who I am and who I'm not. I'm not the writer of masterpieces—I'm simply a gal who loves God and followed His call in faith even when all seemed hopeless. He is the One who created the masterpiece and gave me the gift of doing it through me.
Now you've met Ginny in her own words, come out to hear her in person at Write to Inspire on August 26 and 27 at First Baptist Church in Elk Grove, California. And don't forget to check out Ginny's book Words.
Thanks to Lacie Nezbeth for the original interview of Ginny Yttrup.