Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Featuring Jerry B. Jenkins

Those who walk the path before us have much to share. I love learning from them, don't you? One day, maybe I'll walk in their shoes. 

Today Jerry B. Jenkins, author of more than 175 books including the Left Behind Series, walks with us on the Writers Alley to share insights of his successful writing career, his recent purchase of the Christian Writers' Market Guide from Sally Stuart, and up-to-date information for writers and authors.

Thank you for joining us today, Jerry.  

Several on the Alley have asked about your recent purchase of Sally Stuart's Christian Writers' Market Guide, can you tell us what will remain the same and what will change? Will you honor previous subscriptions? We'd like to know your future plans for this valuable resource.

We’re slightly changing the title to The Christian Writer’s Market Guide, but our plan is to continue the stellar work Sally did for so many years. We might add a few features that relate to writers at all stages of their careers, and of course we will be adapting to the new face of publishing, which is increasingly going electronic. We also plan to streamline the compiling of information for the guide, moving toward electronic submissions as much as possible.

Having the new Christian Writer's Market Guide will help with ideas and our WIP, but we'd like to have direction to find the next blockbuster idea. What do you think will be the big Christian fiction trend on the horizon?
Chicken Soup for the Left Behind Amish Vampire.
The truth is, no one knows.  We are seeing more publishers willing to take chances on speculative, sci-fi, and fantasy. The big hits are often titles that go against the trends.

Going against the trends, eh? Sounds exciting yet challenging. A calling for great writers. Could you tell us what characteristics separate a good writer from a great writer?
The writing. Regardless the distribution vehicle – whether the printed page or the electronic screen – books and articles still have to be written and edited with excellence. The cream rises. 

Since you've successfully written in many genres, what advice would you give to unpublished writers who struggle to find their focused genre?
Don’t let people force you into a genre. If you’re wedded to one, go for it, immerse yourself in it, read it exhaustively. But if you’re a writer interested in eclectic areas, write what you’re most passionate about at the time – fiction, non-fiction, history, philosophy, current events, whatever.
Thanks for the encouragement. Do you have a favorite genre to write?
I used to say it was whatever I wasn’t working on currently. But I have learned that my sweet spot is adult fiction, though I like to switch historical periods. Biblical, contemporary, futuristic—it’s all fun for me.
Writers naturally enjoy reading, and having books suggested. What is your favorite book?
All Over but the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg. Many authors make me aspire to write like they do. Rick Bragg makes me just surrender and enjoy.
We have a few questions about the publishing field. What significant changes have you seen in the publishing industry since the Left Behind series and where do you see publishing going from here?
It’s harder to be legitimately published these days (where the publisher pays you and not the other way around). Publishers are demanding that authors come with built-in platforms (spheres of influence). And we have become a screen generation. More books and articles will appear electronically than on paper soon, but as I say, things still have to be written and edited well.
Interesting. What can we as writers do specifically to be prepared for these changes?
Use social networking to help build your platform. Hone your skills. Develop your craft. Read every day. Write every day.
We persistently work on our craft, yet sometimes get the rejection letter or call. How have you handled rejection or disappointment in your career?
I avoid it like the plague. I don’t consider the rejection of a proposal or query as failure. It’s just a business transaction. And I don’t write something until someone has responded positively to the proposal. Then I work my tail off to deliver.
On the flip side, what has contributed to your greatest successes?
I have passionately centered on my one gift. I don’t sing or dance or preach. Writing is what I do.

Jerry B. Jenkins   
719.495.5835 ● 

Thank you for walking beside us on the Writers Alley today, Jerry.
Words from experienced authors like Jerry B. Jenkins inspire me. I appreciate when those who walk ahead choose to guide those in the footsteps. Thanks again, Jerry.

Can you relate to the answers above?

I'll start...

Jerry's answer to number 10 speaks volumes. I tend to divide my interest in many ways. Perhaps if I removed some other interests, I would advance my writing skills at a faster pace.

Your turn...


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Like Mary, I can relate to having to divide my interest in too many directions. I wonder if that is a female thing? We have to wear so many hats as mothers, wives, coworkers, etc...

Great interview! Thank you for being here, Jerry, and may God bless you in your work.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Awesome interview, Mary and Jerry! (Okay, that sounds like a rhymey kids show) :)

I really appreciate Jerry's urging to focus on the one thing that we do best. There's so much pressure to be great at everything, but in doing that, we miss out on opportunities to truly be great.

Thank you so much for visiting us today, Jerry! Your words inspired me.

Beth K. Vogt said...

I've attended many Writing for the Soul conferences--the most recent one as an editor! And I pitched my first book idea at one of Jerry's conferences--and he and his staff celebrated with me when I landed a contract. So I know Jerry truly believes in the ministry of the Writers Guild and in encouraging new writers to hone their craft. He is passionate about his gift--and about helping others pursue theirs too! Thanks for highlighting him today at the Writers Alley.
Now excuse me while I go work on my rough draft of "I was an Amish Vampire But I Won't Be Left Behind."

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I love that--the cream rises.

That genre question really helped me w/ something I've been tossing and turning about lately.

~ Wendy

Pepper said...

Great interview Mary and Jerry!
I'm a protege of CWG and loved the process. I haven't rummaged up enough money to complete the Craftsman course yet, but it's certainly on my wishlist :-)

Thanks for your words of wisdom about writing. I have a tendency to write in all sorts of genre, mostly within fiction, but some nonfiction. and the whole Amish Vampire Soup for the Soul - that was hilarious!!
It's nice to know that thinking-outside-the-box is a good step, well it seems to be for me anyway.
We're so happy to have you visit The Alley, Jerry. Thanks for taking the time.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

What a great interview, how great to hear such wonderful advice from someone so experienced! I love the message of perseverance and hard work. I particularly like the advice about focusing on genres. There are times I get so focused on one thing, I don't see much else, and others when I can seem to narrow down which direction I want to go. I love the encouragement to delve into whatever your interest is at the time. Thanks for visiting The Alley, Jerry!

Casey said...

GREAT interview, encouraging and inspiring as I just went through another section of my WIP and saw some big sections that totally need to go. :-/

Let that cream start rising! :)

Joanne Sher said...

Fabulous interview. So much to ponder. I may have to write a story for that Chicken Soup book LOL

Mary Vee Writer said...

I like your thinking. But I suppose I need to "guy it up" and focus. I probably could find kernels of time to devote completely to writing. I can hear my dad speaking to me..aack!

Mary Vee Writer said...

I like Jerry's words: "I have passionately centered on my one gift. I don’t sing or dance or preach. Writing is what I do."
It gives permission to say "No" to things. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Beth and Pepper,
I have had the privilege to take the apprentice course with CWG. I learned volumes and realized Jerry's committment to helping new writers. Still hoping to attend the Writing for the Soul conference some day:)
Congrats Beth on landing the contract:)

Ralene said...

I took the apprenticeship as well. Between that and my fantastic mentor (Sandra Byrd), I learned more than I would have ever thought. :)

I've been struggling with the genre thing as I move into a new novel, but Jerry's response about genres helped to clear some things in my head. Thanks, Mr. Jenkins!

Angie Dicken said...

Great interview! I love his last comment. Focus!! It's what I need. :)
Thanks so much for this post.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I find that comments from the experienced help to right the tossing and turning. Great ideas flood into the mind...and words fly on the page. Hopefully this is what has happened for you, because of Jerry's visit today:)