Your bio says that you homeschooled for years. With a houseful of kids, how did you find time out of your busy schedule to write?
I am currently in my twenty-fifth year of homeschooling and I have always found it a challenge to both teach and to write. For many years I blogged intermittently because that was a way to produce work without the pressure of deadlines I could not always meet. I tended to accomplish most of my writing in the evenings or for longer chunks of time on Saturdays.
Now that I am down to only two students who are more independent learners, my schedule has shifted. I now get up and write in the morning for several hours at least three days a week.
What authors inspire you?
I am an avid reader and picking a favorite author is a bit like picking a favorite child. But I guess my favorite is CS Lewis, because he could capture truth in simple, beautiful words. I love the poetic nature of Ann Voskamp’s books as well as the straight-forward approach of Elizabeth Elliot. I tend to flip back and forth between non-fiction and fiction.
How do you write?
I tend to write from inspiration which is why blogging has worked well for me. However, that approach has kept me from concentrating on a particular subject long enough, as my inspiration flits from one subject to another. So, I am now trying to focus on moms and praying for the next year to develop a larger body of work on that particular subject.
For your book, did you start with a concept or did you do an outline?
My book was easily outlined because it followed a passage of Scripture directly. Since I was writing the book verse by verse it had a built-in outline. This book developed from a desire to share what the Lord had taught me from Philippians 1:3-11.
As a Mom, I often fell victim to worry and nagging that resulted in unhealthy ways of dealing with situations. This scripture revolutionized my prayer life and profoundly changed my heart. I want to share the freedom that comes from confidently resting in the Lord while passionately praying for our kids.
What would you like readers to take away from reading your book?
Every time I receive feedback where I get reports that a mom has slept well for the first time in years, or that their prayer life has been radically changed or that they feel for the first time they have a handle on HOW to pray for their child, I am grateful. My deepest desire is to help other women find both that joy and also be equipped to pray for their kids.
What made you decide to indie-publish? Tell me about your process.
I never approached publishers or tried to find an agent. From the beginning, I had a strong desire to self-publish. I studied the self-publishing process extensively and by the time my manuscript was ready I felt at least a little confident in moving forward myself. I hired a professional editor for the manuscript and also contracted an artist for the cover design and inside illustrations. I published through Createspace and on Kindle.
Now I am studying marketing and distribution. Self-publishing has been a great experience but it does require the author to do every step themselves, which is challenging.
What do you know now about writing/publishing now that you wished you had known sooner?
I wished I had known how long the process would be. There are many steps to turning out a quality product and there are no shortcuts. I also wish I had taken the plunge sooner. It took me a few years to talk myself into actually beginning writing the book. I wish I had packed fear away and moved ahead when I was totally un-confident in what I was doing. I learned more as I progressed along with the project than I could have . The key is to just do the work and trust the process.
What type of publicity do you do to promote your book?
I am using social media for my book marketing. I make memes with quotes from the book and put them on Instagram and Facebook. I use my blog to reach people with the subject of prayer. I reach out to my email list from my blog and ask for word of mouth recommendations. I have not yet gone into paid advertisements, but am studying my best options for that now.
What is the best advice you've been given about writing or that you've learned that you would like to pass along?
The most significant piece of advice that affected how I worked was to start calling myself a writer. Even though I wrote on my blog and had even had a few pieces published in magazines, I hesitated to use the title of “writer.” Yet, when I finally began saying that, it changed how I thought of myself. It also gave me the confidence to tell people I was writing a book (after all, that is what writers do, don’t they?), which helped with momentum to work toward completion.
Calling myself a writer also changed how I behaved. I wrote more and I began studying the craft of writing with more diligence. If this is what I did, I needed to be serious. So, I encourage everyone, if you feel called to be a writer, start calling yourself that. Don’t wait until you are published or validated by someone else. If you write, you are a writer! And you get to take it seriously.
What other work do you have in the process?
I am working on a blog series that will come out every day in January. I did this last January (and swore I would never do it again), and looking back I can see the value in the project. So, I am going to blog every day in January as a “starting the New Year with prayer” project.
Besides my blog, I am researching several writing projects and praying about which is the next one to jump into full force. I have begun another prayer book, and two fictional narratives based on Biblical points that I am researching. And I have a few concepts to work out for children’s books. The ideas are there, I just need to decide where to put my focus first.
Are there any other points you’d like to cover?
I can’t think of anything else to add. Thanks- there were fun questions to work through.
That’s all for today’s interview. If you would like to learn more about Susan’s current book or read her blog, here are some links to get you started.