Oh, hey there Buckaroos! It’s been far too long since I posted part 1 of my current Pickin’ An Author’s Knows interview with the lovely and talented miss Carmen Peone. (I’ve been dog-diggety-dog busy.) Anyway, miss Carmen is an in real life friend of mine. (In fact, she’ll be here a few hours for some lunch and writerly chit-chat.) All the more reason to get my bumm-diddly in gear and get Part 2 posted.
Miss Carmen is the author of a series called “The Heart Trilogy.” It’s neato-mosquito. It’s packed with Native American history, ways of live, characters, and dialogue. I don’t even wanna venture a guess at how much time she spent interviewing and research her family’s peoples to write an accurate account, albeit fictionalized. Miss Carmen belongs to two writerly associations (Women Writing the West – she is their current secretary and Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Inc.). She also partakes in our (relatively) local Inland Northwest Christian Writers association, as both a writer for their web site and as a participant in their yearly conference. In addition, she has written articles for the John Hopkins School of Education.
11. What is the best advice you can give to an aspiring writer today?
Do something every day, even if it is little. Go out and live, then write about it or fictionalize that experience. Believe in the person God created you to be. And most of all, act like you are already there — take your talent serious, just as serious as God does, because it is His gift to you. Now use it.
12. What is your favorite how-to book on the craft of writing?
I like “Writing For Children & Teenagers” by Lee Wyndham. Also, “Revised” by Arnold Madison has everything one needs to write for youth. And I love “Story Craft” by John R. Erickson, the author of Hank the Cowdog. These books are full of richness of both craft and life.
13. One of mine is “Story Craft” by “Hank the Cowdog” author, John R. Erickson, and in it he says, “Let artists return to the ancient notion that art and literature should nourish the human spirit, not poison it.” (p.106) Do you agree? Why?
I absolutely, one hundred percent agree. This so much ungodly junk out there today that poisons the mind. We need to remain focused on the Lord and all things above — things that nourishe the human spirit. In my young adult stories I always include life lesions about forgiveness, hope, keeping our eyes on Jesus, and the like. Otherwise, what’s the point? I write for teenagers who are at their peak of hormones and peer-pressure. Today’s culture offers them venom that kills the spirit. I suggest hope and a future with the King of kings. Moral righteousness that feeds the spirit is my craft.
14. How do you balance, faith, family, work, and writing?
I keep God first. I try to never write without reading the Word first. I give my work to Him. I can easily get nutty about my daily routine. But then God whispers in my ear, “Get off that blasted computer and go see your grandkids!” My husband travels much of the time, so when he’s home, I don’t like to do much writing related unless I’m on an editing push or he’s off in the woods with our boys or his friends. It’s always a struggle to balance a hectic lifestyle, but in reality, the only things that matter are God, family, and friends. If I don’t get a book out one year, I won’t lose readers. But if I ignore God or my family, there will be heck to pay.
15. Most authors utilize various online social media venues (i.e. websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to promote their books, and essentially themselves. As both a child of God and an author, how do you balance the secular endorsement ideals (that are heavy with pride, vanity, and self-exaltation) with Christ’s traits (that exalt humility, holiness, and surrender)?
This has become simple for me — I do what I can and just leave the rest in God’s hands.
Last spring I went crazy promoting my books with social media sites. I became sad, frustrated, and I hated it. I stepped back and asked myself: “What is the purpose? Who is really in control?” My purpose was not to irritate people, nor was I in control; if fact, I was quickly spiraling out of control. I have learned that many other authors advise against what I was doing. So, I listened. Now I promote a little bit each day and put more energy into living and writing because writing cannot survive without living. There is no vanity in promoting one’s work or competing in contests, it’s part of the game. In fact, we can take those venues and share the fruit of the spirit through proper tactics and reach others in godly love. I have made so many friends while promoting my books at various fairs and festivals and conferences . What better to be with others and to share the love of Jesus?
16. What image or quote hangs on your office wall that helps orient your internal compass?
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” God put the vision for my books in my heart. He tells us to dream and move forward with the talents and gifts he has bestowed upon us. I think we insult God if we neglect to use our talents and gifts on our individual journeys in life. It becomes hard and we cannot receive his blessings, nor can others. Read Matthew 25:14-29. This lesson is not about money, rather it’s about abilities and talents. The passage advice is what we call all use.
I also have large index cards that say: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything I do to the Lord. Trust Him, and he will help you (me)…be still and in His presence and wait patiently for Him to act.” Ps. 37:4-7.
17. Please tell us about your current project.
It’s about a teenage boy and his two friends who go into the wilderness in northeast Washington State in the mid-1800’s; it is set on the same soil as my trilogy series. The trio of boys think their adventure might be a little rough, but doable, and they end up taking on more than they bargained for they have little to no food. Delbert Gardener, the main character, who is just a toddler in The Heart Trilogy, is bound and determined to make his pa proud. He is not the trapper or rancher, like the one his father has became; instead, this young man wants to be a scholar as he loves the world of geology. He has a false impression that his father does not approve of his love of all things rock. Not only that, but his self-concept is only as large as a pea.
After the boys run out of food and his partners become hurt and sick, he sets out to prove himself worthy by constructing a Native American fishing weir to catch their food. All in all, the three go into this journey as boys, but come out men.
Thank you to the moon and back, miss Carmen, for sharing your writerly wisdom with us. I’ve been blessed getting to know you these past few months. I’m superDuper excited to see how and where the Lord is gonna soar your talents for His kingdom.
For more Pickin’ An Author’s Knows, go here. Four other brave authors already have succumbed to my queries.