Welcome to The Engrafted Word Janet! It is always so exciting to interview an author, and to be able to introduce you to our lovely readers. Congratulations on your newest book, The Art of Rivers, that was just published!

I usually ask this of everyone, but what inspired you to become a writer?

I wanted to write this one story about a woman dealing with an anxiety disorder, because I had suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. I’m really open about it, but I’d met so many people with various “mental” disorders who, sadly, also suffered from shame over their problem. I wanted them to know that God still can use us all, no matter our weakness, and sometimes because of our weakness. That story became my first novel Leaving Oxford (currently free on Amazon).

Did you know ahead of time what genre of books you wanted to write, or did that decision come later in the journey?

I knew I’d write Christian fiction, but honestly, I write contemporary because historical would take so much more research. And I don’t think I’m gifted with suspense or mystery, ha!

Who are some of your favorite authors, and what books do you enjoy reading?

So many! I critique for Misty Beller, Jennifer Rodewalk, Sarah Monzon, and Heidi McCahan, so obviously, I love their writing! I love pretty much all Francine Rivers, Lisa Wingate, and Charles Martin novels too. And many others!

As a writer, I have always been told to write what you know. Since you are from Mississippi, did that make writing about your home state easier or harder?

Oh, easier! My first three novels are set in Mississippi. I finally ventured out to some coastal areas. I needed to do beach research, LOL!

Like life, writing comes with its share of ups and downs. What have been the best and worst times in your writing career?

On the first book, it was interesting to see what friends bought, read, and supported my writing. At first, that was a bit confusing, maybe disappointing, but then I discovered the joy of finding my own tribe of readers and supporters. Not everyone likes the same foods or the same movies, so not everyone is going to like my style of writing.

The overall writing business isn’t for the thin-skinned. My biggest joy is when someone says God used one of my novels to draw them closer to Him. That’s the whole point of what I do.

Can you share any funny stories in regards to being an author?

I pretended to be one of my quirky characters at the CFRR, and that was fun. I was beside Melissa Tagg and Bethany Turner, also pretending to be one of theirs, so it was a lot of laughs. Another thing that’s so embarrassing is my memory at signings. Oh the names of people that I forget with my old brain. I also can’t multitask well anymore. I accidentally signed a book with my maiden name…

The journey of writing is a long one. What advice would you give to other writers who want to be published one day?

Don’t be in a rush! Be open to advice from people in the industry. Be willing to make changes to your story as long as your message is still intact. I completely rewrote the ending of Leaving Oxford three times. I cut multiple chapters from Going Up South. The stories are so much better because of it. Never stop learning and improving. Read craft books. Take classes with ACFW and other reputable organizations. I enjoyed the Margie Lawson class on visceral reactions. There are lots of free writing blogs and podcasts too. You want to put out your best, professional product, and that takes time and patience and excellent editing!

Thanks for joining us, Janet! Wishing you (and all you readers) a blessed day!