I hope that you all have had a chance to check out the upcoming book, Asia: Its People and History from some of my earlier posts. Just as a reminder, the book officially launches on Monday, February 24th. But until then, you can enter the launch giveaway for your chance to win a copy, plus other fantastic prizes. Or, if you want to pre-order a copy of the book, now is a great time to do so, since it is on sale from now until the 23rd. Just click the graphic below to order.
To tell us a bit more about herself and her new book, author Bonnie Rose Hudson has kindly answered a series of questions posed by members of the book launch team. I hope you enjoy reading a little more about this talented author and this excellent study.
An Interview With Author Bonnie Rose Hudson
1. When writing a new book, how do you go about planning for it? Do you have a method you use, or is each one different?
I’m a planner by nature. I love to lay out all the details and know where I’m going before I take the first step. But, I’ve noticed that God often likes to remind me that I’m not the one who is in charge of my life, He is! So I usually start a project with a hook and an outline. I need to know the heart of the project before I start. That’s what gets me excited about writing it. What will its purpose be? What will it illustrate? I write an outline, or have one in my mind, but the story or project always takes lots of unexpected twists and turns. Sometimes the research doesn’t pan out and I have to choose a different direction. Sometimes the outline doesn’t go far enough. I remember working on the first book-length project I tried to write. I had a beautiful outline for the entire book. I had covered the entire outline in four chapters! I had some major re-planning to do on that one!
2. Do you have a certain writing space, somewhere you go *just* to write your books? An office, a lake cabin, a hotel? What do you love about that space? How does it inspire you?
I don’t have a writing space. I do have an office/library that I enjoy sometimes when I write because I can close the door and enjoy being surrounded by books! But I will write anywhere, anytime I get the chance, including on grocery lists at the store, in the car (provided I’m not driving, of course), on a notepad by my bed, it really doesn’t matter. I can get lost in an idea almost anywhere!
3a. What would you say to a young person who aspires to be a writer? What advice would you give?
Don’t give up. Write everything down that you feel God has put on your heart to write about. Twenty years from now, you might look back on a story you wrote and think it was really silly. I did. I started writing my first book when I was around 11 or 12. When I read now what I wrote, I see a lot of mistakes I didn’t see back then. But that’s not what matters. I wrote down the story that was on my heart.
As you learn more about writing, you will probably find yourself feeling frustrated and discouraged at times by all the rules and all the details. You might wonder why something you thought sounded just fine didn’t get published. The most important thing to remember is that being published isn’t what makes you a writer. If you are a writer, it’s because that’s what God has called you to do. You may get published; you may not. You may not make a living by being a professional author. But that doesn’t change God’s call. Listen to Him, grow closer to Him, and obey Him. That’s what matters.
3b. Also, what would you tell his/her parents in order to help them be supportive in their child’s efforts to pursue writing as a career?
4. Would your advice be any different (from question #3) for an adult who would like to break into the business? How?
5. What is your goal with writing? Is it the same with every book?
My prayer is that everything I write would honor God and help whoever reads it know that God loves them and that they are special to Him. There are days we don’t feel special. There are days we feel like no one knows who we are or cares how we are feeling. I want my readers to know that God does know, that He does care, and that they are more precious to Him than they could ever imagine.
6. What other projects will you be working on in the near future?
That’s a hard question to answer. I can tell you what I think I’ll be working on next, but as I said earlier, God likes to surprise me and rearrange my carefully laid plans often! Right now I’m busy writing curriculum for SchoolhouseTeachers.com and an occasional article for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. I wrote a children’s book that is waiting for an agent or editor to pick up so that it can move to publication. I am working on the process of querying agents and editors with it now, but it is a very long process. Meanwhile, my book’s main character, a boy named Jake, blogs every week on my blog Exploring with Jake (http://writebonnierose.wordpress.com/). In the next few weeks Jake will wrap up a study of India and start a series of posts about Christians who are being persecuted today for their faith in places around the world. I’d also like to continue creating copywork and printables for my website, WriteBonnieRose.com.
7. What is one lesson you learned from writing this book?
That God’s plans are far better and wiser than any we could make on our own.
8. What books have most influenced you?
Other than the Bible, that’s a tough question to answer. I have loved to read forever! When I was growing up, I could not get enough of the Mandie series by Lois Gladys Leppard. A little later, I fell in love with the Corrie Belle Hollister series by Michael Phillips, a series about a girl in the old West who wanted to be a writer. As a teenager, I read the Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn. I’ve read dozens of books by authors including Michael Phillips, Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker, Janette Oke, Sharon Hinck, Francine Rivers, T. Davis Bunn, Gilbert Morris, and others that have left permanent impressions on my heart and changed the way I look at things.
9. Who is your favorite author?
All of the above!
10. Is there an author that you would especially like to meet?
T. Davis Bunn, Michael Phillips, and Robin Jones Gunn
11. Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing a book?
Making the time to do it.
12. Did you always have a talent for writing, or is it something you wanted and needed to work harder to achieve?
I think it’s important to realize that there is a difference between a talent and a skill. To me, a talent is a God-given desire and gifting to do something. It’s part of who you are. I can’t not write. It’s part of me. If I don’t take the time to be creative and write down what is going on inside my heart or my mind, I get cranky–just ask my family! But just because I love to write doesn’t mean I automatically know how to do it right or just sit down and write perfect rough drafts! There is always more to learn about how to use the best words to express what you want to communicate, how to craft a story that holds a reader’s attention, how to avoid grammar mistakes, etc. Learning never ends, and most of the time, I wouldn’t want it to.
13. With all of the duties that you juggle, when do you fit in the time to write?
Time is always the biggest factor. The turning point for how I view my time and how it relates to my writing came at my very first writer’s conference. In 2003, I attended the Sandy Cove Christian Writers Conference in Sandy Cove, Maryland. I had no idea what to expect or what to do once I got there. I attended classes, mixed a little, and mostly tried to stay invisible. I felt totally overwhelmed. But in the middle of all of that, one day in my room, I remember praying and talking to God about what He was trying to show me about my writing. What He showed me was that up until that point in time, I had been writing on my terms, when I felt like it. I wrote often, but usually because I felt like it. If I got up some morning and didn’t feel inspired to write, I didn’t. It was my choice. What He was calling me to do at Sandy Cove was to make a change. If I believed He was calling me to write, I had to write on His terms, whatever that meant. If it meant writing when I had the flu or a headache, writing when I’d rather be watching TV, or whatever else, my writing directions needed to come from Him, not what I felt like doing.
I don’t mean that God never wants us to go to bed when we have the flu, enjoy a good television program, or do any of the other dozens of things He uses to bring us joy or rest. I only mean that for me, in that moment, I had to make a shift in priorities. From that point forward, I needed to write because God was calling me to write, not because I felt like it.
Time management looks different for every person. When I have a deadline, I do all the things people usually do—cook quick and easy meals, be extra-vigilante about social media time, let a few household chores go a little longer than I’d like. I always feel behind, and I always worry I’m not doing enough. But that’s where time with God and relishing in His grace are so important. I’ll never do enough to please myself because my expectations are flawed and broken, but by God’s grace, I will do what He is calling me to do.
14. Is your writing style different now than it was when you first began? In what ways have you grown in your writing?
When I started writing, I worked on novels for the Christian adult market. I wrote one historical novel and one contemporary one (both are unpublished). While I pursued writing novels for adults, I was also teaching Sunday School and vacation Bible school programs for the kids in my church. Much of the material we had to use was written for a wide age range. I was teaching mostly young children at the time, so I was always taking the curriculum apart, rewriting it to fit the age range of the kids I was teaching, and finding all kinds of supplemental activities to do with them in class. It never occurred to me until years later that I was learning how to write for kids at the time. When the idea struck me for a children’s book, I sat down and started working on it. I haven’t looked back! I love writing material in all genres for kids, and I found an even deeper passion and calling than I had found before.
That’s not to say I’ll never write another book for adults. I have a novel set in Ireland that has taken root in my heart and shows no sign of leaving! But it’s not something I am working on right now.
15. How did you get your start in writing/getting published?
One key to remember is that writing and getting published are never the same thing. A writer is a writer because that is how God fashioned them to be. Publication is exciting and can feel like a confirmation of that calling, but it’s not what makes you a writer. Alton Gansky recently wrote an incredible blog post about that topic. (HYPERLINK to his blog post: http://altongansky.typepad.com/writersconferences/2014/01/in-praise-of-amateur-writers.html)
The first thing I ever had published was a short story in 2005 called Nick of Time Heroes, which followed a string of rejected short stories and a novel. (HYPERLINK Nick of Time Heroes to http://www.christianwomanspage.org/ArticlesAll.aspx) I continued writing and continued receiving rejections. My next piece was not published until 2011. Shortly after that piece, I began writing for SchoolhouseTeachers.com.
16. What do you recommend for others who are getting started?
Praying and listening to God are the most important. He is the only One who knows the big picture. Work to learn the skills you need to learn, get used to letting other people read and edit your work, and be patient. You will never ever know everything there is to know! And even if you write a perfect piece (if there is such a thing) someone will have suggestions on how to make it better. It comes with the territory. Writing is an art, and just like any other art, there is a certain amount of subjectivity involved in judging whether a piece is the right fit for a publication or assignment.
Another thing that I have found incredibly encouraging is reading the stories of other Christian authors. I have a book that I bought years ago called Behind the Stories by Diane Eble. It shares the stories of dozens of well-known Christian authors. What touched me the most about the stories in the book was that no two stories were the same. God called men and women in all stages of their lives from countless professions and backgrounds. There is no cookie-cutter shape you must fit into as a writer. As I read and reread it, I think, “If God has a place for each of them in His plan, maybe He has a plan for me, too.”
17. Is there anything else that you would like readers to know?
Nothing is impossible with God!
18. What is the 10/40 window, and how did you become interested in it?
The 10/40 Window is a geographical area of the world roughly between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude. The significance of this area is that it is home to over 4.5 billion people, over 8,000 different people groups, and some of the largest groups of unreached people in the entire world. More than 80% of the world’s poorest people live in the 10/40 window. It is an area that many people are taking intentional steps to pray for and reach out to the people who live there. You can read an excellent description of the significance of the 10/40 Window on JoshuaProject.net (HYPERLINK to this page, please: http://www.joshuaproject.net/10-40-window.php)
Several years ago, God began to turn my heart’s attention to the stories of the persecuted Church. I had always had a heart for the persecuted in China, but I never grasped how widespread the persecution of Christians was until much later. I started reading about men and women who lived in Laos and Burma, India and Pakistan, and many other places. They were suffering terribly for their faith in Christ. This wasn’t the stories of the heroes of the faith of yesterday that I had grown up hearing about, or what I had thought were isolated stories from one nation. These were stories of families–including children–who were suffering right at that very moment for their faith.
Reading their stories gave me a burden and broke my heart. I had to do something, but I didn’t know what. Writing and sharing about their stories gave me a way to process what I was reading and feeling and a way to hopefully encourage others to become involved and share their stories as well.