I knew Shellie Neumeier many years before she became a writer (we used to attend church together when our kids were knee-high to grasshoppers). I had been a writing buddy with her husband Russ, when we would do NaNoWriMo together. One year Shellie joined us on that wild, wacky journey and the rest is history. Within months she had a publishing contract. She was the first writer I ever connected with to meet for tea and talk about writing and life. She encouraged me and connected me to other writers she had met and that was a huge blessing. Then she abandoned us Wisconsin authors and took off for the wilds of Cincinnati to be with her hubby, Russ, her children and a a few really big skinny dogs. I hope you’ll love my friend Shellie as much as I do!
When did you decided that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to… ?
My penchant for power tools coupled with my knack for accidents inspired my husband’s campaign to get me writing. I guess that happens when a stay-at-home mom watches her children grow and finds herself with far too much free time. Of course a good sprinkle of literary frustration doesn’t hurt. You know the old rant, “why aren’t there any good books for my kids to read,” bit. Of course there’s tons of great fiction for young adults and tweens already available, but it’s fun to see if I can add to the growing list.
What’s with greyhounds?
Dasher and Mary
Sweetest, lazy beasts ever. What’s not to love? J
What’s your pet peeve?
In writing, pesky passive verbs drive me nuts. They pop up in my writing everywhere. Nasty beasts! In life, those commercials that make you roll your eyes, they’re so silly. Of course those are the ones they play over and over and over during your favorite show, right? Ugh.
What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?
The hardest part of writing for me is creating great sentences that don’t always start with “he” or “she.” I have a nasty habit of starting everything with the same drab structure. I spend several days editing those silly things until they sound more interesting. Regarding the hardest industry issue, I’d have to go with the ever-present feeling of failure. As an author, I’m constantly battling other’s opinions, judgments, interpretations of my work and it’s hard not to internalize random comments. It’s hard not to believe the bad stuff. Easier to dismiss the good…weird, isn’t it?
How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?
The first few minutes after I read negative feedback, I fuss, wine whine, and sometimes cry. The next day (time is soooo important in this process) I reread the feedback and use what I can and discard what I can’t. It’s a fine balance, but well worth the work. I mean, I’m not the ultimate audience for my writing. Others gotta love it. There’s value in others’ opinions.
What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?
Building the life-long friendships among other writers. Authors are a special breed. Unique, creative, and so amazing. I’m truly blessed to have met so many wonderful people through the writer’s journey!
What would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up and coming authors?
Hmm. One piece of advice…I’d have to say it was to persevere. This career choice isn’t one for the faint of heart or for the person who needs much encouragement. It can be painful (like when you first open the freshly critiqued manuscript and see all the red mess) and discouraging (like when rejections far outnumber any acceptances), but it can be filled with tremendous fulfillment as you close the word doc to your finished piece and know you’ve done your best. For that brief moment your story is the best thing ever written and will become a best-seller. You just know it. You may even go to bed that night, dreaming of the awards it will win.
Then you wake up the next morning, grab a cup of tea, and reopen the doc file. In the light of day, your commas are askew, your characters flat and wimpy, and your middle saggy. You want to stop. I want to stop.
That’s when I listen to that little voice that once told me to keep going. Just finish it. Or in her words, “Aren’t you done yet, Mommy?”
As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?
I like to think there’s always good inside, whether that’s my books, my characters, my life…it’s just a matter of searching deep enough to find it. I hope and pray that’s what my readers discover as they read my stories. Despite the darkness, the struggles, the wickedness life may hold, somewhere there’s hope, there’s light. But to find it, you have to persevere, forgive, be flexible, be patient.
What is your current work in process?
I’m on a bit of a sabbatical right now. We have a wedding, college, graduation, and so much more flying at us in the next year. I’m not completely finished with my author’s journey, but I’m writing for fun when I can—which isn’t nearly as often as it used to be. Someday… J
A Summer in Oakville, co-written with Lisa Lickel. Releasing this August in Large Print
The Wishing Ring (Adventures of Ally and Cory Series, book 1)
The Kings Seal, (Adventures of Ally and Cory Series, book 2)
Grudges Not Included