How have you been able to write so many books? Is writing your full-time career? What does a normal writing day look like to you?
Writing is a full-time job for me as well as my ministry. Years ago when I first got started, I knew that I wanted to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Bible application in each book to offer encouragement to the reader. I also wanted to entertain the reader, as well as educate them. I call it my 3E’s – Entertain – Educate – Encourage. I believe God has given me the creativity and imagination to come up with the various book ideas. Most writers would agree that stories are everywhere around us—you just have to open your eyes and see them. A normal writing day? There’s no such thing. :) I try to start each day with prayer and Bible although that doesn’t always happen and sometimes it comes in the middle or latter part of the day. I try to write a chapter each day – that’s my overall goal when I’m actually writing the book. Usually I have several books going on at once so while I’m writing one, I’m usually researching another, plotting out a third and sometimes reading galleys for a fourth.
When you get a new idea, what usually comes first (spiritual theme, plot, characters, setting, back story, other)?
It just depends on the story – honestly. Some books were born out of settings like Alaska or events like discovering Yogo sapphires. Others came to me via my impression of a strong character in a difficult situation. It always various with each book.
What is the easiest part of writing for you?
Writing the book. The writing is the easiest for me and the most satisfying.
What is the hardest?
Again it really depends on the book or series. Sometimes the research is hard to get my hands on. Other times the characters are difficult to get my mind around. Sometimes plotting out the story gives me a hard time. It really just depends on the story.
Out of the many books you have written, does any book, theme, or series stand out to you as a favorite -- or one that holds a special place in your heart?
They’re all really precious to me, because I know they were given to me by God. One that comes immediately to mind was a book called The Long Awaited Child. I think of this one in particular because of a letter I just received from a reader. The book is about a woman who is struggling with infertility and longs for a child of her own. I’ve never had that problem myself, but I felt led to write about it after hearing the sorrow of others who did. The letter written by this reader left me no doubt that God’s hand orchestrated the story because she said, “I know you must have suffered this heartache like me, because you wrote so clearly about the deep emotional longings and daily problems I faced.”
Do you find your real life reflected on the pages of your novels?
Occasionally. Authors can’t help but put a part of themselves into their characters and conflicts. What’s fun for me is when I think a character is going to respond to a situation in the way I would, but by the time I write the story I can see that a character of this particular nature would never respond that way. It’s fun when characters take over the book.
I’m not sure anything about me is non-writing. However, here are some things I enjoy.
Spinning wool. I just recently took this up so that I would know how my book character felt about spinning and what all was involved. I find it really relaxing and a lot of fun.
I also enjoy what my mom and I call, “porch time”. I have a large porch that wraps ½ of my house. I love to sit out there with my mountain view and read.
Long drives. We live in such a beautiful place and long drives are extremely satisfying as we enjoy the beauty around us. It really gives me a special time to praise God for all He’s given.
When did you realize that writing was your ministry? Was it easy for you to accept this calling, or did you have some struggles?
I always knew I was going to do some sort of ministry for God. Even when I was very young I began to seek this out. I thought for a long time I might be a missionary nurse or doctor as I had an interest in medicine. I always loved writing, but wasn’t really sure how I could use that for God’s glory. When He showed me how, I have to admit I was elated and that joy carries on. I get to do something I love, travel, meet interesting folks, minister about God’s love and give it all to His glory, plus get paid. What more could anyone ask for?
What is the #1 tip you'd give an aspiring writer?
Go to conferences. In this day and age of traditional publishing and even self-publishing, I believe the writer conferences are the best bang for your buck. Many editors and agents attend these conferences along with other authors and almost every conference I’ve ever participated in offered the attendee a fifteen-minute one-on-one appointment with editors and agents. This is a valuable opportunity to present yourself and what you write and while it seldom will net you a contract on the spot, it will often get you past the door in a far more personal way than just sending in a proposal. Added to that are all the great workshops and speakers. It can be expensive, but is definitely going to benefit the career of any aspiring writer.
Second, I encourage writers to read. Someone once said good writers are good readers. I believe that to be true. I have encouraged new authors to read best-sellers as well as books that aren’t best-sellers. I tell them to read the book once for pleasure and then go back through it and tear it apart. Figure out why you think worked and didn’t work for the book. Write out the details of the characters – what they look like, what they do, what they’re afraid of, what their goals are. Write out details about the settings, etc. An aspiring writer can really teach themselves how to create better plots, characters and settings by doing this simple exercise.
Thank you so much!! I love reading about how writing is your ministry! What a blessing to have the focus of God first. I have enjoyed reading your books and look forward to what God allows you to write next!
About TracieTracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than one hundred books. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana.
Visit Tracie's web site at: http://www.traciepeterson.com