C.J. Welcome to Homeschool Authors. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My pleasure, Sarah! Thanks for having me.
I was homeschooled through all my schooling years (Grades 1-12), and kindergarten might even count too as my mom was one of my teachers. I’ve always loved reading, and as a girl I often made up little stories about animals or my pets. I was eight when I began my epic “The Horse’s Story” about Joshua of the Bible’s horse. LOL
But the writing bug bit stronger in my teens. I had no idea God would use it as I grew older---I just knew I wanted to write. I began what would become my first published novel Thicker than Blood as a fifteen-year-old. It went through MANY edits and revisions but was published the year I turned thirty! Just goes to show you can never give up.
What was your favorite part of being homeschooled?
I loved how homeschooling gave me the freedom (thanks to my parents) to actively pursue the things that interested me. We of course learned all the subjects, but Mom made it a point to foster our creativity. It also allowed me to learn at my own pace, something that is sadly missing from many of today’s classrooms.
How does being homeschooled still impact you?
Homeschooling taught me how to teach myself. I’m so thankful for this. I know that if I come across something in my adult life now which I need to learn, I can research and discover. It’s invaluable!
What caused you to start writing?
I think my writing stemmed from my love of reading. It came naturally to want to tell stories like those I read. Having an active imagination helped too! My sister and I would make up stories with our friends and then act them out. We created several characters this way, and actually, I stole their names and some of their personalities for my first novel!
Also, I see my writing as a way to share the gospel (good news) with people in a way they’ll receive. If I do my job right, I’ll be able to share truth without coming across preachy through stories about characters like us struggling through life.
What inspired 112 Christian Authors and Publishing Professionals Share Their Best Advice for Novelists?
Several years ago I ran a blog series where I asked various publishing professionals and authors for their responses to the question, “If you could say one thing to aspiring novelists, what would you say?” It was very popular. Fast forward to now, and I realized their wisdom would make the perfect ebook as all of it was still just as inspiring today. So I asked some new folks and received permission from those I’d already asked to collect their responses in this new ebook. I was just reading through some of their responses again last night---it was truly an honor to put together.
What was the biggest challenge to compiling it?
Formatting an ebook was a new venture for me, but here we come back to how homeschooling taught me how to teach myself! I read through blogs about the subject, purchased ebooks on formatting, and did a great deal of experimenting on my computer to get it just the way I wanted it. There was definitely a learning curve, but next time will be much easier, I’m sure.
Where can people get it?
The ebook is available on all the ebook sites: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, etc. I have the links up at my website: http://www.cjdarlington.com/excerpts/advice-for-novelists-excerpt.htm
You can also read an excerpt there.
You also have written some wonderful fiction books. Tell us a little bit about those?
Why thank you, Sarah! My first novel Thicker than Blood was published by Tyndale House after it won the 2008 Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel Contest. Let me tell you---that was the biggest surprise and blessing of my entire life and truly jump-started my novel writing career. I was incredibly blessed when Tyndale decided to publish my second novel Bound by Guilt as well.
Thicker than Blood is a story about two estranged sisters who haven’t seen each other for fifteen years. There’s been a lot of hurt and misunderstanding between them. Christy, the oldest, is an alcoholic in an abusive relationship. When she hits rock bottom she lands on her sister May’s doorstep. Throw in a rare first edition of Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, and a struggling cattle ranch, and I hope you have the recipe for a compelling tale. As of today there are 133 Amazon reviews, which I think is incredible and such an honor.
Bound by Guilt takes place a year and a half after the events in Thicker than Blood. It’s a sequel in some ways, but it stands by itself too. Shuttled between foster homes, Roxi Gold will do anything to fit in. Soon she’s traveling the country stealing rare books from unsuspecting bookstores. Police officer Abby Dawson has seen the worst of society—and not just at work. One fateful night, both their lives are changed forever. One searches for justice, the other finds herself on the run.
I had a lot of fun connecting these stories. Roxi ends up on the ranch that adjoins May’s (from Thicker than Blood) and Christy teams up with Abby. A first edition of The Great Gatsby plays a pivotal role in this one!
Who is your favorite author and why?
Oh, boy. I have so many! I’ve always loved Frank Peretti, James Scott Bell, and Sibella Giorello. I’m a huge fan of character-driven suspense novels.
If you could give one piece of advice to a beginning writer, what would it be?
I still have to remind myself of this---write the book of your heart. This is something I mentioned in my piece of advice for the ebook. It’s so important! Sometimes we put the cart before the horse, you know? We worry about publishing, editors, marketing, etc. when we haven’t even finished our books. More and more I’m realizing that without a good book, nothing else matters. So first write that book which moves YOU. Chances are, if you enjoy writing it your readers will enjoy reading it. The passion will show. Everything else will come later. And it will if you never give up. Commit your work to the Lord, and He’ll make a way. It might take fifteen years, like it did for me, but the wait is worth it.
Do you have any final thoughts?
Never stop learning! Whether it be in your writing or something else that you’re passionate about. The moment you think you’ve arrived, warning bells should start clanging in your head. We never arrive. That’s what makes the writing journey so exciting! I’m learning to embrace that truth.