I met Elizabeth at the first writers’ meeting that I’d ever attended. Not long after that, she volunteered to speak to my Creative Writing class about well, writing of course. My students were so impressed that a “real” writer would come sit in a desk and share with them. After class, unfortunately for Elizabeth, was a planning period for me; translation=I held Elizabeth hostage, so I could ask her questions of my own! She sold me on the idea of starting a blog and a website with her enthusiasm and encouragement. (I tell my husband that this blogging thing is all her fault!) Seriously, she motivated/challenged me to take myself seriously as a writer. Her blog is Elizabeth Writes. Visit her website to experience a great example of design reflecting genre.
How do you manage your time for writing with a full-time job and a full-time family?
Thanks for interviewing me, Christa.
One of things I’ve learned over time is that I need to be very organized. Also, learning to say no has become a necessity for me. I used to take on way too much—over commit myself to many different projects that pulled me away from home and family. Now, I only take on those things that we can do together.
Second, I try not spend a lot time in front of the T.V. I was amazed at how much time opened up to write when I stopped tuning in.
Third, when I’m on a deadline, I won’t let myself answer email or go online until I’ve met my goal for that day. It’s too much of a distraction.
And lastly, accept no excuses. I look at my writing as being just as valuable as anything else I do, so I do it with vigor, as unto the Lord.
I go through times when I wonder if writing is really my gift or if it’s just a present I want to give myself. When and how did you decide that you’d been called to write?
It was 2003 and I had just left to attend my first writer’s conference (ACFW, and it was fantastic, btw). The first day during one of the worship sessions, the speaker asked if there was anyone in the audience who wanted to commit their writing to God. I stood up and made way to the front. A wonderful lady waited for me there. She laid her hands on me and began to pray. Suddenly, I felt as though the theme for that conference, which was based on Habakkuk 2:2-3, was specifically for me. Here’s how the Scripture reads:
2 Then the LORD replied:
“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come and will not delay.
These became my life verses, though it was not until a year later that I fully accepted God’s call to write, which also meant believing in the call. Also, verse three speaks on waiting. I came to realize that God was telling me I would need to be patient, and in fact, it took another three years before I sold my first book.
One of the first times we met, you sold me on the idea of the importance of having a website and a blog. What or who convinced you of marketing ourselves this way?
I was always of the opinion that I wouldn’t need to worry about having a website until I sold my first book. It was at a workshop that I learned that publishers want authors who can market themselves well. For example, if a publishers holds two manuscript proposals, both from unpublished authors, but one of them has a large internet following, which one will he buy? The answer is obvious. I decided not to put it off any longer, but as it turned out, my book sold shortly after I registered my domain so the point was moot. Still, I always recommend that authors use the time before they become published to learn the tricks of marketing themselves. Figure out what things work on your website BEFORE your publisher asks you for a marketing strategy.
Tell us about your first book. How did you and Janelle start as partners?
Janelle and I were crit partners long before we became co-authors. I was familiar with her writing and vice versa. The key to co-authoring, I believe, is to know your partner well. Figure out if your friendship can handle disagreement or even a bit of dissension and go from there. Janelle is like a sister to me, so we can squabble and still get over it. Not that we did, mind you <wink>.
What do you know now that you wish you would have known then?
I wish, wish, wish, I had taken the time to learn the importance of goal, motivation, and conflict. Over and over, I heard people say my writing was strong, beautiful, but my story was rejected because something was missing. I did not figure what that “something” was until I had my manuscript professionally edited.
“What does your main character want,” my editor asked over and over.
I finally threw my hands in the air and said, “I don’t know!” That’s when I realized that my character lacked a goal and a driving motivation. Every new story I start now, I ask myself what the character wants, what drives her to want it, and what conflict will arise along the way to keep her from getting it.
I plan on attending the ACFW conference, and it will be the first time I’ve ever attended a writing conference. In addition to making sure I don’t have spinach between my teeth when I talk, what else should a new writer do while there?
Attend as many classes as you can, but don’t overdo it. I felt like I had to attend every workshop, devotional, and late night chat at my first conference. I came home exhausted and discouraged by all the other authors there who knew so much more than I did. Finally, two years ago, our fantastic keynote speaker gave these words of wisdom:
“Don’t be so focused on the goal, that you miss the journey.”
That’s when I realized I had been doing exactly that! Writing is a journey, and I had been so focused on getting published that I was missing all the wonderful learning experiences along the way. I’d been so focused on the rejections that I forgot to count all the things I’d learned from those rejections.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of writing?
Without a doubt, the biggest challenge for me is staying focused. I let other things rob me of my writing time, or put off meeting my weekly word counts. Setting aside time to write has helped me with this. Now, I leave an hour everyday to sit down and write, when I’m not editing that is. I have my own freelance editing business which has really taken off in recent months. One more thing I need to balance, I suppose, yet it’s something l love, so I do it with a passion.
Fill in the blank: If I couldn’t write, I would___________________.
If I couldn’t write, I believe I would edit full time. I love the process of correcting, strengthening someone else’s work. The problem is, the rules change all the time, so I’m forced to stay current on changes in style, etc. Still, I love it, and wouldn’t have any problem making this my primary goal.
Elizabeth Ludwig has written a number of historical books, and two romantic suspense novels including A Walk of Faith, a finalist in ACFW’s 2004 Noble Theme Contest. Other notable accomplishments include two top ten finishes in ACFW’s 2005 Noble Theme Contest, General Historical and Historical Romance categories, respectively. Her first novel, Where the Truth Lies, which she co-authored with Janelle Mowery, is scheduled for release in spring of 2007 from Heartsong Presents: Mysteries, an imprint of Barbour Publishing.