CHRISTMAS OF HOPE is an exciting new collection of Christian inspirational novellas featuring women who struggle to make their dreams come true and find faith, hope, and love along the way. Coached by multi-published author, Darlene Panzera, the group of contributing authors met every two weeks for nearly two years as they learned to craft their fictional stories and polish them into perfection.
Jeri, you’re new to the field of writing. What happened that changed writing from a dream to a reality?
I had a long held dream to be an author for many years, but I didn’t know how to make it a reality. My days were full with home schooling, chauffeuring, music lessons, and sports for the kids, but that season of my life was coming to an end. I was praying about what God would have me do next when my friend, Beverly Basille, told me about the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal in the Seattle area. She and I had no idea that we both wanted to write.
What impact did the writers conference have on you?
We were overwhelmed with information from workshops, speakers, and panels. We networked with authors and sat in on editorial appointments. Even though there was a steep learning curve that required me to leave my comfort zone, I was inspired, encouraged, and motivated to move forward with my writing.
What happened after the conference?
I started two different books and got stuck at a certain point. I just didn’t understand story structure and character development, and I didn’t know what I was doing wrong.
I think that’s a common struggle for beginning writers. How did you learn story structure and character development?
At the same writers conference the following year, Beverly and I met a handful of authors from our area, Kitsap County, Washington. We all had a desire to have a local writers’ group, so we started a group called Penning on the Peninsula that fall. It was a major turning point for me.
We have published authors in our group, so we were learning from those who have more experience with writing. Then, Darlene Panzera, a published author with Avon, offered to teach a writers workshop to those who would commit to the yearlong (or longer) process of learning to write a short story From Start To Finish. I jumped at the opportunity. This was an answer to prayer for me. And Darlene has been a tremendous teacher!
What has been the result of being part of Darlene’s workshop?
The growth I’ve experienced as an individual and as a writer has been immeasurable. I’ve seen in others and myself how we’ve learned to support each other in our work, critique others’ writing, accept with humility editing that bleeds red ink all over our pages, and freely share what we’ve learned with others. The workshop covered what we needed to know to write a story. For me personally, story structure was the eye opener, but I learned from every class, and I’m still learning. We had homework every meeting, and we put in a lot of hours and hard work to complete our stories.
Tell us a little about your story, Christmas Gone Awry.
My main character, Emma, needs to stand up to a slew of opposition if she is to land the open teacher position she longs for. Her friend, Angie, and new love interest, Nathan, help her see God has it all under control. It is a story filled with hope—just right for the Christmas season!
Sounds like an inspirational story, Jeri. What’s next for CHRISTMAS OF HOPE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF SEVEN CHRISTIAN INSPIRATIONAL HOLIDAY STORIES?
We released the anthology in e-book format on October 24 through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. A paperback version will be available soon.
Congratulations! You are officially a published author. What are your future writing plans?
First of all, I need to keep learning and put into practice the things that we’ve been taught. Darlene is planning to teach another workshop that I hope to participate in. I have been working on the background information to write a sequel to Christmas Gone Awry
. I also have ideas for a third book in the series, as well as a few short stories for spin-off characters. I’m considering what I can do to revive the two books I began when I didn’t understand story structure. They are both historical fiction based on individuals within my family tree.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Go to a writers’ conference. Network. Find like-minded people to join on your journey. And be prepared for hard work. Follow God’s leading and let it be your passion. You can do this!
Great advice, Jeri. Thank you for taking time to chat today and congratulations again on your success of completing your first novella.
Inspired to read this book? Go to
Barnes & Noble: bit.ly/bnchristmasofhope