Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Meet my Writing Friend,
Connie Cameron

 Don't forget to leave a comment, with your email address, for a chance to win a copy of Connie's "God's Gentle Nudges." 
A wonderful devotional you will love!

How long have you known that you were a writer?

Actually I was first published in the third grade. It was a poem about a snowman whose “hat blew away on a cold winter day”. They printed it in our school newspaper and I didn’t even know it had been selected until I read it in the paper. I think it was at that moment that the thrill of getting published took hold.

Although I have always loved to read and have admired published authors, it really wasn’t until my early thirties that I resumed that desire to write and get published. My children were around five and seven years old at that time and I read them bedtime children’s books. I clearly remember one evening after reading them what I thought was a poorly written book, saying to my husband, “I think I could write better than this.”

He challenged me with, “Why don’t you try?”

But writing for children proved to be harder than I realized, so I enrolled in a home study course with the Institute of Children’s Literature. I completed both the beginning and the advanced courses and it was well worth the time and money as it taught me the discipline of writing, along with how to market my work.

That's interesting, Connie. What is the genre that you now write in?

Well, at my book signings (especially at art/craft shows), I like to tell people that I write “inspirational non-fiction chicken soupy God stories”. If I just say “inspirational non-fiction,” they don’t always get it. But as soon as I reference “Chicken Soup”, a look of understanding crosses over their face and they usually perk up and show some interest.

But I really do love writing true modern-day God stories that readers can relate to, and that point them to Jesus. It is a wonderful feeling knowing you are doing what you were created for. And, I am so blessed to have a husband who (quite literally!) supports me.

So were any of your children’s manuscripts ever published?

No, none of my children’s manuscripts were published. I was frustrated by this at first, yet my desire to be a writer continued to increase. When I attended my first writer’s conference I changed my course. I heard the instructor state, “You should write what you like to read”. Since my children were growing up I no longer read children’s books; however the Chicken Soup for the Soul books were just hitting the market and I thoroughly enjoyed them, along with reading daily devotionals and Guidepost stories.

So, after trying my hand at true, short, inspirational stories, I was hooked – and I haven’t looked back since!

God knows where we should go, doesn't he? How do you spend your writing days?

I am a morning person so I am at my creative best before the sun comes up. I have found that from about 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. is my prime time to work on any fresh, new writing (lots of peace and quiet and not many interruptions). Later in the day I usually spend a few hours editing, social networking, and marketing my short stories to anthologies and periodicals. I currently have two book proposals circulating so I stay in touch with my awesome agent, Diana Flegal of Hartline Literary, on a regular basis.

I love the mornings, too! Please tell us more about your published writings.

My latest writing publications have been contributions to compilations. The Cup of Comfort Book of Bible Promises just came out in March 2010, and that story is about my personal struggle with grief after my stepson was tragically killed in an accident.

I have also been published in five other Cup of Comfort books, including A Cup of Comfort Women of the Bible Devotional, where I have seven devotionals in that book. But most of the anthologies have one story of mine, including the four Chicken Soup books that I have been published in.

In 2005 God’s Gentle Nudges was published with the Pleasant Word division of Winepress Publishers. It has 31 of my short stories in it, and most of them were previously published in compilations, periodicals, and Sunday school take home papers.

The order that the stories are grouped in depict my first recollection of faith-in-action as a child, followed by my adult search for “truth”, and then culminating in my becoming a Christian and developing my Christian walk. Readers tell me that they like seeing how God has worked throughout one person’s life in these short stories. Unlike anthologies (groupings of short stories by different authors) the reader does not have to become acquainted with new main characters in each story. It has been selling well and I continue to receive positive feedback from readers.

You make it easy for us to understand. Can you give some examples of the everyday “slice-of-life” happenings that you write about?

Sure. I write about things that most people can relate to, such as the mix of fear and excitement that revolves around moving to a new home and location. For instance, when we had to leave a beautifully remodeled suburban house that was in an area with good schools, and head to the country to a 150-year-old farmhouse, we faced many challenges. Besides the anxiety of new schools for our pre-teen kids, we also had to adapt to all kinds of critters (both indoors and out). It was lonely with no neighbors in sight, however very conducive to writing. I never lacked for material as I wrote about how a pond populated with muskrats challenged us “city folk”, and how irises popping up at the end of our country lane had greatly comforted me in the spring.

I’ve written a few sad stories, some about the death of my seventeen year old stepson. Even though I share the loss and the way it impacted me and my family, I always try to give God glory by revealing how He comes through for us and ministers to us. Grief stories need to be dealt with delicately so as to not bog the reader down emotionally. Sadly, death is something we all have to deal with, and it can be especially challenging to write about it in an inspirational way. Yet, knowing that my writing can help others to have a healthy grieving process, gives me the extra incentive to tackle such heavy subjects.

One of my goals in publishing God’s Gentle Nudges was to show readers how God can work consistently throughout one person’s life. Unlike an anthology of various authors where the reader must get used to a new main character in each story, they could stick with the same person and family.

I have been told by several people that I have a gift of being able to see God in the small stuff, and then express it in a way that touches the heart. I give God all the credit because outside of those home study courses and a college English course, I’ve had no other formal training.

Wonderful. What one thing about being an author do you wish non-writers would understand?

Actually there are two things, and they would probably sound petty to readers but I think authors would relate to them. The first is that authors are not rich. For some reason, as soon as someone knows you have published a book, they think you are rolling in the dough – far from it!

And the second thing I would like non-writers to know is that authors do not get their books for free. If we’re fortunate, we get a reduced rate. Or maybe we get a handful of books free, but family members usually get those or we give them out as promotions. Otherwise we pay full price, too.

So true. Anything else about you that you would like us to know?

Yes, there is. Probably the main reason it took me so long to finally get a book out there was that I knew that writing and speaking went together like a hand and glove - and I was terrified of speaking. What changed that? Well, that in itself is a God story, and in the essence of time and space, I’ll give the short version.

An inmate read a story of mine in a Chicken Soup book and wrote to me. Not knowing prison rules, I wrote back to her and included a copy of God’s Gentle Nudges. The timing of its (disallowed) arrival resulted in literally saving the inmates’ life. We are now close friends and I write and visit her regularly. An article about us was published in a local newspaper and a member of the board of our local jail ministry contacted me about getting involved in our local jail. Full of fear, yet knowing it was God’s will, and “if He brings you to it, He will see you through it” (a favorite quote of mine that I love to share with inmates), I stepped out in faith and the rest is “His” story.

My heart has been filled with compassion for these hurting female inmates ever since. Most know very little about the truth of God’s love and forgiveness. Many have hit bottom and yearn for a true friend to share God’s love with them. I now speak regularly to groups of women both inside and outside prison walls, giving them hope and encouragement in Christ.

I know that feeling of fear. Public speaking is one of the most feared in the world. Would you give us your blog and web page so everyone can check it out?


Don’t forget to leave your comment for a free copy of God’s Gentle Nudges.

Thank you, Carole for having me!

And, thank you, Connie, for joining me today. I've loved learning more about your writing career. Best wishes for more success!

Blessings, dear readers!


Kathryn Page Camp said...

There's nothing better than having a supporting husband. (If you are married.) I thank God for mine every day.

Carmen7351 said...

I would love to be included for the giveaway for this devotional. I certainly am not a 4 a.m. person! Please enter me. Thanks.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

denise said...

I can always use a nudge from God. Would love to have your book.

MoziEsmé said...

Thanks for the intro! This looks like a lovely book...

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

We posted about this giveaway at Winning Readings:

Caroline said...

I have a book of Connie's & have given them as gifts. She is a lovely and talented writer. I'm honored to have her on my blog.

Linda Kish said...

I would love to read this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Giveaway Roundup said...

This sounds wonderful. Please enter me in the giveaway.
ludeluh at yahoo dot com

Cheryl said...

Great interview! Sounds like a great book too! I'd love to be included in the drawing. Thanks!

Buukluvr81 said...

I would love to be entered for a chance to win this!

Mollydawn1981 AT aol DOT com

Trinity Rose said...

Sounds like a book I would like to have. Please enter me.
Thanks and blessings,
Trinity Rose

wandaelaine at gmail dot com

Cindy W. said...

I would love to win a copy of God's Gentle Nudges. Please include me in your giveaway and thank you for the opportunity.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


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