Wednesday, December 02, 2009

An Interview
with my friend . . .

Jennette Levellie
It's so much fun to have Jennette with me today. She's becoming a great writing friend! Read on to find out how she lives her writing career . . .

Jennette, how long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear "call?" Or have you just loved writing all your life?

  • When I was in third grade my favorite hobby was making "books:" stories I’d written and covered with a piece of cardboard folded to make the cover. I wish I still had even one of those early stories. Even if the writing made me groan, it’d be fun to see what was rolling around in my little brain then.
  • I’ve written all my life and have been publishing articles, poems, greeting cards and columns since I was twenty-four. I’ve only begun writing books in the last year and a half.
  • I did receive a "call" at the Indy Writers’ Conference in November of 2008. It hit me as I was walking down our hallway a few days later and I said, "Lord, this is what I want to do with my life." His answer? "You can’t get there by yourself."

What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?

  • Oh dear. Is there a genre called nutty with a dash of meat? I write inspirational non-fiction with as much humor as possible. I use humor as a hook. People need to laugh. If I can make them laugh at me and the stupid things I do, it opens their heart and mind to spiritual truths.
  • I’ve written a column for eight years in our local newspaper called, "God is Bigger." I relate stories of my misadventures as a pastor’s wife, and what I’ve learned about God’s faithfulness in the midst of my fax paus. People love this kind of self-effacing humor with Jesus thrown into the mix.

How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?

  • I spend my writing days praying, crying and eating gummy worms to keep my brain functioning. Honestly, I work a full time job during the day, so I squeeze in writing for about an hour each night—thus the gummy worms—and several hours on the weekends. Sometimes an idea sneaks up on me when I’ve not scheduled any writing time, like while I’m eating breakfast. I jot notes on a slip of paper between bites, and flesh it out later.
  • I set goals, but since I can only write roughly ten hours a week, I try to keep them reasonable. I recently had to push back a goal I’d set for myself because I was stressing over it, and if I’m not having fun, I can’t create well. My angelic agent, Diana has helped me through a few rough inspiration-less days. She's a gift from Jesus.

What is the spiritual message in your latest book? What can readers expect to get from reading it?

  • My two books aren’t published YET, but Diana, God and I—not necessarily in that order—are working on that. My first book is a compilation of my columns form "God is Bigger: Custom Made Grace for Hope Starved Hearts." I explore four aspects of God’s grace: His loving nature, my self-image, relationships, and I forget the fourth. What did I do with those gummy worms?
  • My WIP is entitled, "The Secret Life of a Preacher’s Wife: Always Candid, Sometimes Comical Musings behind the Parsonage Walls." I wanted to add the words, "Sometimes Reluctant" after "Preacher’s Wife" but our parishioners might not buy it then . . .
  • My readers can expect to (a) laugh--hopefully, I've filled the manuscrip so full of chuckles that you'll have to out and buy a second on for your grumpy Uncle Bill; (b) discover that minister’s and their wives are just like them: they fight, they worry, they have problems with their kids; and (c) know God better than before they picked up my book. Hopefully they can fall in love with Him all over again.

You recently had a book published. Would you take this time to describe it to us? How and where can readers buy your books?

  • I doubt I'll have a contract and a book out by the time this interview goes live, but miracles do occur! If so, you won't need to read it here--you'll be able to hear me shouting all the way from Paris, IL.

Where do you get ideas? Character names? Do you find your characters similar to you in any way?

  • I get ideas from observing people, especially the silly things they do. When a friend who makes trophies tells me about a family reunion including a riding mower race, I get a great idea for an article about trophies and Heaven. When I have a pity party, I end up with great ideas for a humor piece on "Ten Rules for the Perfect Pity Party." I waste nothing I experience or see in others. But my family and close friends find themselves in print more often than they’d like, I’m sure. Every situation is fodder for my articles.
  • My favorite person to pick on is myself. I love telling about the stupid things I do and what great lessons God teaches me from them. People feel comfortable with my stories because they see themselves in them, and it gives them hope for their own mistakes and failures.
Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don’t understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you’ve gone through? Who’s inspired you the most?
  • Oh my. This is a constant struggle for me. I feel called to encourage. That is my gift, and humor is the tool I use. Because of this, Satan attacks me most in my thoughts, offering me self-pity, discouragement and depression. I fight his dark thoughts daily. Thoughts that my writing is boring, no one will want to read it, it’s doesn’t sing like others’ writing, etc. You’ve been there.
  • What helps me most is the support of my husband, who believes in me even when I don’t believe in Diana's sunny emails, and writing friends and mentors. I am also lifted up and strengthened by worship music. It gets me out of my little world, which is way too small, and brings me into God’s presence. Everything pales compared to the sweetness of His love.

Would you explain how you "chose" (or was chosen by) a publisher? Do you just go "inny, minny, miny, moe?" Grin. Now, that you're published, can you sit back and relax from the success you've experienced?

  • At this point I'm not going to be picky about finding a publisher. I would like one who appreciates my wacky sense of humor and who will give me enough money for my work that I can keep myself in French chocolate truffles--apart from that, I trust Diana's judgment in finding the best fit for my work.
Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel if you could?
  • My hobbies: I am crazy about cats. I have four, and treat them like children in fur suits. I talk baby talk to them, worry if they’re out too late at night, all the usual stupid things cat addicts do. I love to watch old b & w movies with my husband. And I adore my three grandchildren, who live ten hours away in Tulsa, OK. That’s where I’d travel every weekend if I could. And Ireland. My grandmother was a Kelly. I’ve always wanted to see the isle of a thousand shades of green.

Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you’d like to share? Promotional information?

  • My blog is I post Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, mostly about writing for our "Audience of ONE," which is the blog’s title. My two passions are Jesus and encouraging others. I give away lots of prizes, too.
  • I travel and speak for women’s groups, civic clubs and other organizations. My email is if you’d like to correspond with me or schedule me to speak to your group. I am a trained vocalist and usually include a song or two when I speak.

Thank you, Carole, for inviting me today. I appreciate you! Many blessings on your writing, Jen.

Thank you, Jen, for sharing a little bit of your life with us. It's been a real privilege and I wish you much success in your writing endeavors!

Folks, isn't that an interesting interview full of information about a writer?



Terri Tiffany said...

What a great interview! Now I know where your red hair comes from:)
You have such a sweet heart--God is really using you and will even more through your book.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Oh, dear. What I meant to say in the answer about getting discouraged is that "my husband believes in me even when I don't believe in myself OR Diana's sunny emails," NOT, "even when I don't believe in Diana's emails."

Another boo-boo to write about...

Caroline said...

Did I do that, Jeanette? At least you can laugh at yourself. That's the battle half won!

Good to have you today.

quietspirit said...

I came here from Jeanette's blog.
Thank you for the informative interview with Jeanette. I met her at a writers conference. A mutual friend recommended I 'friend' her on Facebook. She really is a very nice lady.

Jeanette Levellie said...

I don't think you did that boo-boo, Carole. I probably hadn't had enough gummy worms or coffee that day you interviewed me!

Elaine W. Miller said...

Great interview! We are kindred spirits--pastor's wife, comic, encourager, writer of devotionals. I will pray for a publisher for you. What a great Christmas present!

Elaine W. Miller

Rose McCauley said...

Hi Carole, I met Jeanette at the WTP conference this past June, and she is as bubbly and humorous as she sounds here! And I was glad to meet you and your hubby at the OH writers' retreat last month.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jen -

Chocolate truffles, eh? What happened to the housekeeper? LOL!

I can't wait for your book to get snapped up and published. After reading bits and pieces, I want the whole thing. :)


Jeanette Levellie said...

Susan: I must keep the housekeeper, too! I will share my truffles with her...

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Jeanette, I didn't know you had four cats. I now have two and can't imagine any more fur tails swiping across my face for more attention.

Millie Samuelson said...

Such an enjoyable and inspiring interview! Since I met you at WTP last summer, Jeanette, I could hear your lovely voice saying your responses -- fun! You're in my "get a publisher" prayers, and I hope I'm still in yours. . . December CHRISTmas blessings! :-)

Jennifer Shirk said...

Oh, Jeanette, you are too cute! Especially talking baby talk to your cats!

And I LOVE this: is there a genre called nutty with a dash of meat?

I may have to steal that as my tagline! LOL!

Jessica Nelson said...

Great interview! I love learning more about you, even though I knew some, like the cats part. LOL

I think it's so cool that you see an article/story for every situation. What a blessing! I'm so excited for you. Sorry you had to take reluctant out, but I can see how that might pose a problem. LOL!

Thanks for the interview!

Jeanette Levellie said...

Thanks you guys, for the kind comments. You are the best!!!

Jena said...

Great interview, girls! What a treat to read. :-)

A side note: now I'm craving gummy bears.

Caroline said...

Thk you all for the comments. I haven't met Jeanette yet, but am enjoying getting to know her through emails.

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