I actually can’t remember when I started writing. My mother is a writer and so I just grew up writing down ideas and stories. In fact, I still have a notebook full of stories from when I was seven or eight.
What other work of yours has been published?
Your published books are non-fiction. Do you have fiction projects inside you?
I am very comfortable writing non-fiction, but as a reader I am addicted to fiction. I have tons of ideas in my head. I am learning more every day on how to craft a good story, and I am actually almost finished with my first novel. It’s been fun!
Your mother was your co-author on your previous book and had input on your new one. What is it like working with a collaborator who is your mom?
My mom and I are already very close, so working on writing projects together just gives us more to talk about! It is wonderful to have someone who cares as much about the details as you do to bounce ideas off of. As collaborators we can bring different experiences to the table to give the book more depth. I have loved working with her.
How do you decide what topics to write about? Does your publisher make suggestions?
I once attended a leadership meeting where a successful BYU professor and author spoke. He was a very engaging speaker with a great sense of humor. I can't recall the topic he discussed, but I can remember a flippant comment he made at the beginning of his talk. He said if you want to really know how to do something, write a book about it. So my first two books came about because I needed to figure out something in my own life. My publisher doesn’t make suggestions, but will tell me what they think when I approach them with a possible topic.
How do you research your topics?
I always do extensive research as the first step of my writing. In fact, for this most recent book I have three huge binders full of talks and articles that I first sifted through. And that doesn’t count all that I still have saved in folders on my computer (because I was tired of using so much ink). It is really through research that I figure out what the framework of my book will be. I will look into almost anything that comes to my mind and see what direction it takes me.
What type of writing schedule do you have and how do you handle life's interruptions?
I wish I had a writing schedule. I fit it around my family’s crazy schedule to the best that I can. Luckily, I have three days a week where all three of my children are in school for a few hours. I also try to write after my kids are in bed for the night. I have cut out any time I might watch TV and use that for writing instead. My husband is great at taking over and ordering me to go work, too. The best thing for me in handling life’s interruptions is to make sure my attitude is in the right place. I write when I can, but when life gets in the way, I don’t wail and beat my chest. I just take care of what comes up, and then get back to writing as soon as I can.
What have you always dreamed of writing, but haven't yet?
I have always dreamed about writing a really good fiction novel, the kind that people will stay up to read. I also want to write stories that make children’s eyes shine. I just love the faraway look children get when gripped by a good story.
What one thing do you like most about writing? Least?
The thing I like most about writing is looking at the finished product and realizing that I did that. And better yet, that other people want to read it too. The thing I like the least about writing are the days when you get tired of looking at your own words, when every letter on the keyboard feels like you are pushing through mud to get it there. Writing has its good days and bad days.
Tell us about your new book. I love the joyful cover!
My new book is called Enjoying the Journey: Steps to finding joy now. As Latter-day Saints we strive for joy in eternal life, but there came a time when I realized that I was not finding that promised joy on the way there. We all know people who glow with joy, and who attract others because of it. The Lord wants us to be happy—right here and right now. There are many good books on joy, but I had heard from many people that they wish that those inspiring messages would go a step further and tell them how to apply the ideas in life. So, each chapter of Enjoying the Journey guides you through important principles with specific steps to help you apply what you learn to your feelings, thoughts, and actions. It is my hope that my book helps others reach for their full potential as a child of God and find the joy the Lord intends for each of us during our journey back to His presence.
What is your next project?
My next project is children’s fantasy, which I plan to send off in the next few months. I also have a couple more non-fiction ideas bouncing around, but they’re still nebulous at this point.
What is your advice for other writers?
The most liberating thing for my writing has been to understand and embrace the fact that rough drafts are usually pretty bad. Most of us don’t have the most wonderful work of art pour from our fingers from the starting gate. It is through the rewriting that the polish and shine of your work comes through. So my advice is to keep going!
Thank you for being my guest, Jaime.