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Interview With Gail Gaymer Martin

Hi Gail, How about we start with you telling us a little about yourself. Married/single, children, how many books authored, etc.

I live in Michigan with my husband and best friend, Bob. He does everything and more, so I can write. Besides household choirs, he is my webmaster and proofreader. Many friends have asked me to will Bob to them when I die. I only smile. I have two stepchildren Brenda and Dave. Both are adults and have their own homes. I have one grandchild who lives in Oklahoma. To date I have 35 contracted books in fiction and 23 books in worship resource books. These are programs, skits and short plays for church and Sunday school. I also heave hundreds of articles and short stories published in national Christian magazines and Sunday school take home papers.

How many years have you been writing?

I’ve written all my life but only began writing for publication in 1995. I wrote poetry as a child and still do. I wrote Nancy Drew-type stories when I was a pre-teen and teen romances with unhappy endings in my teens. Little did I know romance had to have a happy ending. While in high school, I was a reporter and columnist for the school newspaper, and I had a column in one large community paper and another in a small city paper. Once I went to college, I did no creative writing other than poetry. When I worked as a teacher and after my masters degree as a guidance counselor, my writing was mainly professional papers and reports. I did, on occasion, write humorous skits for the teachers to perform at assemblies. I also wrote for my church–newsletter, puppet skirts and worship programs. When I retired from high school education in 1995 and began teaching at the Davenport University, I started submitting articles to magazines on parenting and teen problems, devotionals, poetry, short stories and as I said about I began fiction in 1997 and sold to Barbour Publishing in 1998.

How much time do you spend writing daily? (Do you consider yourself full-time or part-time? Do you write in the mornings or evenings?)

I am a full-time author. I work morning to night most every day. Writing is only part of my work as any author knows. I am busy updating my web site, doing research, answering reader mail, keeping up with my writers’ groups on email, preparing presentations for speaking engagements, doing book signings, preparing promotional materials, creating workshops for conference or for on-line classes. I try to take breaks during the day to exercise and my evenings are sometimes involved with church meetings, rehearsals for handbells or handchimes, choir practice, solo practice and rehearsal for the large Christian choral group of which I am a member. Sometimes I even sleep.

Do you set daily goals for your writing? (Number of hours, pages, word count tell us how you set your goals)

I do not set daily writing goals. I write fast so I aim for 15 to 20 pages a day - but if I don’t make it one day, I’ll write 30 the next. Occasionally I’ll only write ten pages.

Where do you write? (Do you have an office or a corner? Tell us about your space and what makes you most comfortable.)

I have a lovely office that’s about 16 X 13 square feet. I have four floor to ceiling book shelves, a lower bookshelf which holds a CD player, CD’s a bouquet of silk roses which I receive from my local RWA chapter for each book I sell, one tall file cabinet, two lateral file cabinets (one holds my printer), a fax table, a work table, a stand that holds my copy machine, a regular desk and a computer desk. I also have a small shelf on rollers next to my computer which holds my research materials for my WIP. I have two large closets with built in shelves to hold my office supplies and books. I do not like to write on a laptop, so I’m most happy in my comfy office chair.

Do you plot or not? (Expound briefly on your methods or theories in the plotting department)

I write a detailed synopsis for every book along with a character sketch of my main characters. The sketch includes their backstory, their hopes and dreams, their conflicts, goals and motivation. Though I have a detailed synopsis, I leave plenty of room for creativity. I use phrases like–as time passes or as they get to know each other. This allows me space to let my characters take their own journeys. Sometimes they head off in an unexpected path, and I will revise my synopsis as I go, as long as it ends where I said it would. If the story’s change is major, I will talk with my editor before pursuing the direction.

Is your first draft rough or do you aim for a polished manuscript the first time through? How much time do you spend on rewrites?

I edit as I go. I write a full chapter or two. After I walk away from the computer, upon return, I will read what I’ve written and edit. I do this throughout the writing process. After about five or six chapters, I will often print them and edit. I see more problems on paper than I do on a monitor. By the time I complete the novel, it has been edited many times. I still do one or two reads before it goes to my proofreader - who is my husband. He is excellent with spelling, punctuation, sentences structure, redundancy and continuity - and he knows enough by fiction now to spot technical writing problems.

How does your Christian walk influence your writing? (Any advice for integrated God and writing)

I am a Christian with many flaws, failures and sins so I write about people who are also hurting Christians who have conflicts. My writing directly relates to my faith. I cannot separate the two. The faith message must be woven into the fabric of the story. When I give my characters flaws and shames, I will usually connect the problem to a faith issue. I think as Christians, we struggle with our failures and flaws more than others because we know what God expects. When we fail ourselves, we also fail God. This is the way I weave my faith into my stories.

What was your biggest obstacle in regards to writing and/or getting published? How did you overcome it?

My biggest problem getting published is I didn’t know how to write a novel. I just wrote one and thought it was great. So did my mother. Needless to say the editors didn’t. I had to work hard to hone my craft. I had a natural talent of creativity and naturally a strong language background, but I didn’t know a thing about plotting, pacing, POV, effective use of setting, creating good dialogue, tags and beats. I had to learn all that like anyone else. I worked very hard to learn quickly. I attended conference and read books on writing. I met authors and ate up everything they said. I sold in a year so I must have done something right.

Do you have any advice for a new writer?

My advice for new writers is don’t panic. Be patient. Persevere. Hone your craft before you try to submit novels that aren’t ready to go out. Accept rejection and learn from it. Rejection is a big part of the business, and if you ask any published author, you will learn that we are still rejected, sometimes even by our own publishing houses. They just don’t like the story or they’ve recently bought one that’s too similar. We are writing for the Lord, and the Lord deserves our best. I feel strongly about providing help to new writers on my web site. I have a tab called For Writers which provides logs from classes and workshop I’ve taught on-line. I also have included articles on writing that have been previously published, and a list of frequently asked questions about writing and getting published. I also blog almost daily about writing as well as personal stories of faith and life.

Do you have a website?

My web site is:
My blog site is:

Any recent or upcoming releases you¹d like to mention?

Recent releases:
Finding Christmas, Steeple Hill single title, October release, a romantic suspense
Loving Tenderness, Steeple Hill Love Inspired, November release, a romantic suspense
That Christmas Feeling, Steeple Hill, reissue to paperback November release with Catherine Palmer.
Home for Christmas, Barbour anthology in Collector’s Edition Hardcover at Wal-mart and Sam’s Club

Upcoming releases:
Mackinac Island, Barbour Anthology, May 2006 release
In His Eyes, (Michigan Island Series) Steeple Hill Love Inspired, Aug 2006 release
With Christmas In His Heart (MI Island Series) Steeple Hill Love Inspired, Dec 2006 release

Thanks Gail for this chance to chat. I’ve enjoyed our time together.

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