I'm tickled to have Janet Sketchley visiting this week! Read on to find out about Janet's writing journey:
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 a child, I turned part of my closet into a "writing office" and wrote some admittedly awful stuff that has not survived. University papers "cured" me of writing until I became an at-home mom without enough time to read. I started making up stories to amuse myself, and when the seeds of Heaven's Prey came along I didn't want to daydream them, so I started writing the story.
I've been blogging for about five and a half years, and every week God gives me an idea for a devotional post. Sometimes it's the night before, but it always comes. I still have to write them, and any errors are mine, but I believe His ongoing provision is proof of His desire for me to keep writing weekly devotionals. That's as close as I have to a calling, and there have been plenty of times I've wished for something clear for my fiction. All I can say about that is, I love it too much to give it up, but I do hope to share it with others.
What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?
I write Christian fiction in contemporary settings, and I guess it fits into the "issue-driven" part of the genre because of the content. I didn't set out to write about an issue, or to prove a point, but that's what happens when you follow the story question of "is anyone too bad for God to forgive?" and "what if you came face to face with a serial killer?" My intent was to write a novel of suspense and redemption, and that's in there too.
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?
On my best days, I have a target word count, which I set on the low side so I can pass it. If I can't write on a given day, I double the next day's goal or if possible I work extra before that day to cover it. Ideally, I'd write for a couple of hours after lunch. The harder goals are when I'm revising, because I could spend a long time on a short section, or fly through a whole chapter if there's not much that needs attention.
I really can't say how long it will take me to write future novels. Heaven's Prey took years, because I was learning as I went and I started without any form of outline or plan. The next book in the series, Secrets and Lies, took much less time and is still in revisions. I'm learning to plan more, but also to guard my writing time more intentionally. Before, without a contract, it was too easy to let everything else come ahead of the writing. Now I have an excuse to write!
What is the spiritual message in your latest book? What can readers expect to get from reading it?
Whatever happens, Jesus will be there. That's something I tell myself whenever fearful "what if" questions try to steal my peace. Ruth's experiences in Heaven's Prey prove to her heart what her head has already known about God: He is trustworthy and He never
You recently had a book published. Would you take this time to describe it to us? How and where can readers buy your books?
Heaven's Prey is my first novel, and I'd love to tell you about it!
A grieving woman is abducted by a serial killer—and it may be the answer to her prayers.
Despite her husband’s objections, 40-something Ruth Warner finds healing through prayer for Harry Silver, the serial killer who brutally raped and murdered her niece. When a kidnapping-gone-wrong pegs her as his next victim, Harry claims that by destroying the one person who’d pray for him, he proves God can’t—or won’t—look after His own. Can Ruth’s faith sustain her to the end—whatever the cost?
The novel releases November 1, 2013 in print and e-book format, and since the purchase links are still being added, the best place to go is the Heaven's Prey page on the Choose NOW Publishing site. That has links to everywhere else as they go live.
Where do you get ideas? Character names? Do you find your characters similar to you in any way?
So far the ideas have come to me, and I've taken time to let them grow. Asking "what if" helps. I have a file of names that I like, and I keep another file of names I've used, so I can avoid too many similar names in one story. As for similarities, they probably all have a bit of me in them. It helps me relate J
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?
Feel like giving up? Often. I've even quit a few times, but my imagination always gets me started again. Where this is my first novel to be published, my struggles to date have been with motivation but mostly with "am I wasting my time?"
I know God has given me a gift to write, even to write fiction, but there's been a lot of second-guessing about whether to keep on with my current stories or to switch to something else. Eventually I decided to embrace the gift, write what I enjoyed, and be content with the process of writing, whether I got published or not.
There have been moments throughout the process where God has positioned me in a spot to be encouraged to keep on. Perhaps most memorably, when I was at a low ebb, He nudged me into attending the 2012 Write! Canada conference even though I didn't think I should go. I was feeling discouraged and directionless, but the conference challenged me to renew my sense of wonder and to carry on.
So I took that and ran, right? No, I forgot and got discouraged again. Here's the part I love: instead of letting me sulk, He got my attention while I was listening to Peter Furler's song, "All in Your Head." I'm sure that song was written for more important assignments than my writing, but God used it to challenge me. If you like rock music and need a bit of encouragement, here's a YouTube link:
Would you roughly explain how you “chose” (or was chosen) 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?
Oh, they were lined up waiting for me J Actually, my agent, Leslie Stobbe, sent the proposal to the most likely publishers. My story's more issue-oriented than most wanted, especially from a debut author, so it took a while to match up with Choose NOW Publishing, where they thrive on issue-type stories. I love working with this publisher, and it's been well worth the wait.
As for sitting back, I'm busier than ever learning about (and doing) promotion for Heaven's Prey and getting my website upgraded. I'm giving myself until after launch date, but soon I need to get back to working on the next book in the series.
Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel if you could?
I love to read (surprise!), and when I have some quiet time I like to knit or cross-stitch. Love my tea—hot, because I'm not in the South. I've been blessed to travel a bit, but the top things on my wish list now are a river cruise (North America or Europe), to see the Badlands of Alberta, and to visit the Grand Canyon. Australia, New Zealand and Scotland are on that list too.
Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you’d like to share? Promotional information?
I'd love to have readers visit my website (janetsketchley.ca). The Heaven's Prey page has a link to read chapter 1 for free, and I'll be adding more tidbits as time goes by. My blog, Tenacity, is part of the site, and I post weekly reviews, devotionals and features (including an interview with author Carole Brown on Nov. 8)
Thanks so much for hosting me, Carole, and congratulations on the release of your own novel!
Janet Sketchley's novel, Heaven's Prey, released November 1 from Choose NOW Publishing. Feel free to tell your friends! For more information and a free sample chapter, see the Heaven's Prey page at Choose NOW Publishing.
Thank you for joining us, Janet.