Voni Harris has never not been writing stories. Her mother was a magazine and newspaper editor who taught her the value of red ink, and even taught her at a very young age how to submit for publication. However, Voni was sidetracked by competitive speech and debate and went on to earn a degree in Radio/Television from Drake University, where she spent eighteen months in a radio copywriting internship. It was an epiphany to discover that it was the writing part of Radio/Television that she loved. She homeschooled her daughter from preschool through high school, then returned to her love of storytelling, with a side of tutoring. Voni has been published in two short-story collections, Heart-Stirring Stories of Romance, (Linda Shepherd, editor) and Spiritual Citizens, at http://drawneartochrist.com (Kim Bond, editor). Nothing Hidden won the 2013 ACFW First Impressions contest, and RWA’s 2015 Daphne DuMaurier contest.
Welcome to the blog, Voni! I’m so happy to have you join us today. When did you first start writing?
I have a short story in my files about a red pony. I wrote it when I was five—of course, you have to decipher the penmanship. But Mom let me use her GOOD PAPER to write it, notebook paper with pink flowers down the left side. Plus, as a journalist, editor, and writer, Mom helped me write a query letter. It obviously never got sent in, since I still have it. Makes me smile. Mom opened to me the idea that I could get published, and that my writing was good enough. I wrote short stories for years, and finally one November for NaNoWriMo, I took the plunge into novelling. It’s actually been a tough transition. That first novel ended up with five prologues, two endings and an epilogue. Uh, not exactly the way novels work.
What are you working on right now?
I am finishing up edits on a story called Nothing Matters, involving deep family secrets and political corruption. Let’s just say the last five years have been crazy, so the whole writing process on this one has taken awhile. LOL.
I am also preparing to plot out a series based on the Coast Guard in Alaska. So excited. Here in Kodiak, Alaska, (home of the world’s largest Coast Guard base) I have a wealth of research sources and people with experience to help me make this story come alive. I am excited to push myself to fulfill the possibilities just buzzing in this series.
That sounds amazing! How fun! 🙂
What’s something you love about your home state?
Duh, it’s Alaska! Kodiak is actually considered a rain forest. The Japan Current keeps us mild most of the year, 40s and rain most of the time, so I enjoy the “gear up and go” mentality. If we didn’t gear up and go do the activity in question, we would sit inside our houses most of the year.
The funniest thing is during the summer days of 18 hours of sunlight. It is often cloudy and rainy just until bedtime. Then the clouds go away and the sun shines out. And into our bedroom window. We call it BOB… the Big Orange Blob in the sky.
Oh how funny! I’d love to see Alaska someday. 🙂
What’s one of your favorite books?
So many books, so little time! One (actually, a series) that I read and re-read every few years is the Secret of the Rose series by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella, but my favorite book of the moment really depends on my mood. I want romantic-comedy when I’m not feeling well. I want suspense…well, most of the time. I want historical when I want to dissolve into another world. I want Jan Karon’s Mitford Series when I want to feel homey and comfortable.
What is one of your favorite Scripture verses?
[Jer 18:1-6 NIV] 1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me. 6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel…”
I pray that I will always be as soft clay in Christ’s hands, and thank Him for working on the places in my life where I am marred.
That’s beautiful! Love it.
Can you share with us a special moment from your writing journey so far?
My first ACFW conference was special. My husband, Rich, showed his powerful belief in me when he made the room in our budget and the time in our schedule for me to prepare and attend. Yep. He’s a keeper. I love him. It was breathtaking to take that first, hugantic step toward being a real writer.
What’s been one of the most challenging aspects of writing?
Life! I could write a book about my last five years and the life changes, unexpected challenges and surprises, and just plain old stuff (like a broken finger) of the last five years or so. But I won’t. 😉 Yet the writing continues, and the dream doesn’t fade, and God’s presence is always there in my writing.
That’s wonderful! Supportive husbands are the best! 😉
Name a few authors who inspire you.
Laura Ingalls Wilder taught me I COULD be a writer. It was a real thing, both mind-blowing and exciting.
Madeline L’Engle taught me the value of creativity, intelligence, imagination, and words.
Ronie Kendig, Sandra Bricker, Kristen Heitzman, and many other modern-day authors taught me that my faith can be part of my writing. As Allen Arnold says, “Write WITH God.” Talk about a mind-blowing and exciting concept.
Who gave us our imaginations and our love of words, anyway?
Can you share a word of advice to other writers out there on the road to publication?
Keep on reading and writing. Daily. Don’t put off the writing until “someday” when all your ducks are in a row; they never will be. Some writers write in 15-minute increments in the school car-pool lane. Or on the subway on the way to work. Find a way, even if it just keeps the writing muscles in shape.
If you’re a pre-published writer like me, ENJOY the process. I suppose that goes for published authors, too!
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Voni. I’m so excited to read your work! 🙂 Have a blessed 2016!
Thanks for hosting me, Savanna! It is so much fun to take some time and reflect on the writing journey I’ve been on.
Let’s spread the love, reading friends! You can help encourage and support Voni’s writing by connecting with her on the following sites.
READERS, Voni has a question for you…
“What do you do to keep the writing coming?”
She’d love to hear from you in the COMMENTS below. 😉