We're having a different kind of interview today. Rhonda Gibson and Jeanie Kincaid are both friends of mine. Shelter in Seattle is Jeanie's first published book. Welcome, Rhonda and Jeanie. How did your story come about?
Rhonda: I have always liked the Asa Mercer stories. So I decided to tell what might have happened to one of the girls’ that traveled with him to Seattle. The story grew from there. Asa is mentioned but the story really belongs to Caleb and Julianne.
Jeanie (in the white hat): This was Rhonda’s story idea and I fell in love with it. I added what I thought would define the love between Caleb and Julianne, flushed out a few paragraphs for an already great story.
What are you reading right now?
Rhonda: Fiction: Fancy Pants by Cathy Marie Hake Non-Fiction: The Everyday Visionary by Jesse Duplantis
Jeanie: I just finished Deep in the Heart of Trouble by Deeanne Gist. Fantastic story.
I've read Deep in the Heart of Trouble. It's wonderful. Now s this book a standalone or part of a series? If series, what are the other books in the series?
It’s a standalone.
What is the hardest thing about writing as part of a team?
Rhonda: Jean and I live in two different states, so everything we did was by email or chats online. We did call from time to time. I think it would have been easier if we could have “seen” each other while we were plotting out the story and later during edits. But, Jean was so easy to work with; nothing seemed hard about this book.
Jeanie: Rhonda was simply wonderful to work with. She didn’t even complain when I agonized over every little detail.
How did collaborating with this team impact you?
Rhonda: I think it bonded our friendship even tighter, and that was quite an accomplishment.
Jeanie: It’s made a few things more difficult. For instance, now I tend to want to write all her stories with her. When I critique her work, I want to put my two cents in. I have to pull back and go, “whoa, this is not yours.” But, yes, it has been a wonderful experience.
How did you choose your characters’ names?
Rhonda: Jean is very gracious and allowed me to name the characters. I have always liked the name Caleb and I think it is a strong name, I wanted this character to be strong and full of the Lord. Julianne was named after a cousin of mine. I used to tease her with a song that had the words, “it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to” in it. Julianne is a character that has had more then her share of hard knocks and the book opens with her facing the hardest one yet. But, she remains strong. My cousin is a lot like Julianne, life has dealt out some hard knocks but she remained strong and is now a successful business woman, a wonderful mother and grandmother.
Jeanie: Rhonda chose them. She did well.
What did you want the reader to take away from your story?
Rhonda: The knowledge that God is with us in all circumstances.
Jeanie: That it’s always better to tell the truth. That it’s a wonderful thing when people come to know the Lord.
Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?
Rhonda: I am. For me, American Christian Fiction Writers isn’t just a group, it’s my writing family. I have met so many loving people through this organization. I met both Jean and you in person for the first time at an ACFW conference.
Jeanie: Yes, I’m a member. Most of what I know of writing, I learned from ACFW conferences, online courses, and critique groups.
What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?
Rhonda: In 2002, I was struggling with my writing and wondering if I should continue to write. Bruce Wilkinson has a book out titled, THE DREAM GIVER. The advice in the book is, if you have a dream, work toward it with all you have. Don’t let others stand in your way or discourage you. Don’t be afraid to follow the dream of your heart, God put it there and you have a purpose. That was the best advice for me as an author. I grabbed those words and pushed forward. Thanks Bruce!
Jeanie: I was told by a critique group many years before the advent of ACFW that I added too much description in my stories. A well known male author, (undiscovered at that time) told me not to stop my descriptions, just to hone them and to think of that as a talent. It has worked to my advantage.
Someone recommended that Bruce Wilkerson book to me several years ago. It's meant a lot to me, too. Where can we find you on the Internet?
Rhonda: http://www.rhondagibson.com/, http://www.rhondagibson.blogspot.com/
Jeanie: http://www.jeankincaid.com/ http://grammaspace.blogspot.com/
Thank you, Rhonda and Jeanie, for spending this time with us.
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