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Interview with Beth Wiseman

2011 is ramping up to be a busy year for author Beth Wiseman. Plain Proposal (the fifth book in the Daughters of the Promise series) released in March, a collection of her novellas releases in July, Book #2 in the Land of Canaan series (The Wonder of Your Love) will release in October, and An Amish Wedding (a novella collection with authors Kathleen Fuller and Kelly Long) will release in Dec. 2011.

Whew! You’ve been busy, Beth! Although I have several questions ready to fire, one stands out above the others: What are your secrets for being uber-productive and staying on top of all those deadlines?

I don’t know that I have any ‘secrets’, but more of a reward program…lol. For example, I love to paint. It sooths my soul and quiets the voices in my head. When I’m painting, it’s all about the canvas and what I can create. But I can only paint on the weekend if I hit word count for the week. Same goes for daily ice cream at 3:00 – gotta hit word count by then. Trip to the mall – gotta be up on that word count. Plus, it’s worth a mention to say that I write fulltime from home, my children are grown, and I live out in the country with no one around for miles – peaceful and quiet.

Your website says you worked as a journalist until 2008. How did working in the world of journalism help your career as a novelist?
Without a doubt, my years as a journalist were a primer for deadlines. Newspapers must go out. There is no asking for an extension. And I covered several beats for the newspaper I worked for, including investigative reporting, so that was also a nice primer for book research. I already had a system in place. Sometimes it’s hard to be on the other side—like this interview, lol. In the past, I was the one asking the questions.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities? Do you follow a set writing schedule?
It’s not so much balancing my time with other responsibilities, but balancing my time with my family and friends. My relationships are important to me, and they must be nurtured. Sometimes, I just have to step away from the computer—whether I’ve hit word count or not—because all work and no play makes Beth an unhappy girl, and what better way to rejuvenate than through the love of family and friends.

And how do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
Every story I write comes directly from God, and when I get off-track, He lets me know. With each book, I pray that just one life will be positively affected. Then I know I have done my job for Him.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
A couple of years ago, I would have said the day I “got the call.” But now, I can’t really say there has been one greatest moment, but instead an accumulation of spectacular blessings, particularly letters and emails from readers. All I ever wanted to do was to publish ONE book, possibly make a difference in ONE person’s life. The fact that I am contracted to write books well into 2015 is a blessing beyond anything I could have ever imagined—and my days are filled with greatest moments.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
I don’t go looking for stories or characters. I’m not one of those authors who says, “Watch out, you could end up in my book.” If anything, quite the opposite. I have to work hard to clear my head of the voices that seem to find me, even in the middle of the night. Characters just pop up, introduce themselves, tell me their stories, and demand to be written. In any other profession, I’d be deemed a crazy person.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
I wear my heart on my shoulder, always have. And I’m an ‘open book’. My publicist probably cringes every time I have a speaking engagement because there’s no telling what might come out of my mouth. At this point in my life, I’ve made plenty of mistakes and bad decisions. I can’t apologize because it’s made me who I am today and in many ways given me the insight to write about hard topics. If my stories are unique, I think it is because the reader is able to step into my characters’ head and heart with ease.

As part of your process of developing authentic characters and plots, you’ve cultivated friendships within Amish and Mennonite communities in Pennsylvania and Colorado. What do you most love about this oft-misunderstood group of people? Any great lessons you can pass on to the rest of us?
The one thing I would like to say about these people is—they are human. They cry, laugh, argue, make mistakes, and struggle just like the rest of us. I think there is a stereotype as to what an Amish person is or should be. Yes, they are strong in their faith, but they face daily challenges just like the rest of us. But, the gentle way they handle these challenges is what I love most about them.

Any parting words?

As we speak, I am working on my first non-Amish book – women’s fiction, due for release in Spring 2011. It’s titled Need You Now, and I’m super excited that my publisher, Thomas Nelson, is allowing me to spread my wings a bit. ☺

Thanks for sharing with us, Beth!

Thank you so much for having me!

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