Friday, September 8, 2017

Jeanne M. Dickson {Writer Friday}

A little bit about Jeanne...

Jeanne M. Dickson was born into an Irish American family, the only girl surrounded by four brothers. Her grandmother lived with them and was a constant source of stories about life in Ireland and the saints and ancestors long gone from this earth. She credits her mother, her aunts, and her grandmother with her love of storytelling.

Connect with Jeanne...

Purchase: Grounded Hearts

Get to know Jeanne...

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself and writing...

I was born into an Irish-American family. I have four brothers and no sisters. My Irish grandmother lived with us, and she had a way of telling stories that could either make us laugh or scare the daylights out of us. I started writing in sixth grade because I was so angry with my brothers that I wanted to kill them off in a murder mystery. It only took one page. But it was satisfying.

After a brief career as a ballet dancer, I returned to college and earned an undergraduate and masters degree in business administration. I worked in the high-tech industry until I got the writing bug. Once I started my family, I put writing on hold to enjoy motherhood—actually, I was too done-in at the end of the day to write. I admire women who can do both! Once the girls were in grade school, I started working on my writing again. And here I am, finally a published writer.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book...

Why did you write it?
My father was stationed in England during WWII. Issued with a weekend pass, he decided to fly to the U.S. Army base in Northern Ireland, and then visit family who lived nearby. Once there, he borrowed a bicycle and peddled across the border into Eire, “Free Ireland.” A few minutes into his ride, a member of the Garda, the Irish National Police, stopped him. The officer told him to turn his army jacket inside out, or he’d have to arrest him as a combatant and send him to the K-Lines internment camp. My father did as directed and continued on his way without further incident, which was fortunate because 240 soldiers from both sides of the conflict faced internment in Ireland during the war.

Remembering the story, I started the “what if” game. The more I researched the period the Irish called “The Emergency,” the more fascinated I became, and a WWII romance between a downed RAF pilot and a feisty midwife emerged.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
When we receive forgiveness from God for our sins, we need to accept His amazing grace and not keep punishing ourselves.

Was there a passage of scripture you came across or used while writing it that you’d like to share?
You have turned my mourning into dance. Psalms 30:11. When my heroine Nan opened the door to flyboy Dutch, she had no idea he would help her escape her mourning.

What made you choose the setting for the book?
There are many books set in Ireland, but not many set during WWII. It was a fascinating time for a newly formed country.


Let’s talk about your writing life...

What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”? We hear this a lot, but dig deeper. Is there something else that helped you?
Connect with other writers. Find a supportive writing community. Other writers know what you’re going through. I write romance, so I joined RWA and ACFW. Both organizations proved a place to learn and meet wonderful mentors and lifelong friends.

Go to conferences. Listen to what agents and editors are seeking for their lists, and then ask questions. Meet authors and hear their stories.

Above all, learn your craft and trust in the Lord.

How many rejection letters did you get before being accepted by a publisher?
I lost count after twenty. It took me seven full manuscripts before I sold Grounded Hearts. I was in for the long game.

What does your writing process look like?
In my first draft, I allow myself to write junk. I’m the only one who will see it (thank goodness). My second draft is the hardest. It’s where I narrow down character arcs and emotions and plot points, and then I start refining the writing. The next drafts—there can be up to six—I continue to refine and define and improve how the story flows.

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters?
Family stories and research, plus photographs of people and places.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, have a favorite artist or playlist to share?

I usually need music in the background so that I can concentrate on writing. Instrumentals only though or I’ll start listening to the words. My go-to is Yo-Yo Ma’s Bach: Unaccompanied Cello Suites.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
Besides finding a writing community and going to conferences, enter writing contests. It’s a thrill to final and/or win, plus the comments will toughen you up. There’s a lot of rejection in the writing world. Set a goal that’s realistic such as “I’ll finish this scene” or “I’ll write 1,000 words.” Don’t set yourself up for failure with goals that are impossible to meet or you’ll give up and get discouraged.

Are there any books or resources you could recommend to younger writers looking to grow in their craft?
Join RWA and ACFW. Both organizations offer online classes and depending on where you live, these organizations have chapters that meet on a regular basis with outstanding speakers.

How do you grow in your writing craft?

Reading and listening to audio books, I attend workshops from the masters. Margie Lawson comes to mind along with James Scott Bell. And writing is like any other art form. Practice, practice, practice—I show up. Breakthroughs only come to those who work.


Have you ever attended a writer’s conference? If so, which one(s) and what were most helpful about it?

I’ve attended many conferences, but two stand out-- Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. Both conferences offer excellent opportunities to meet editors and agents, learn more about the craft of writing, and how to tackle social media. Plus, it’s fun to meet up with fellow writers.

Apparently August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day (who knew). What is your favorite dessert?
I’m going to pull a Californian reply—Acai Roots Sorbet. See you in yoga class.

What are you currently reading?
I’m listening to In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen. I’m reading When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin.

Emilie here: Thank you so much for being on my blog again Jeanne! Reader friends, don't miss out on getting to know Jeanne better in her Author Chat interview as well. You can read it here. 

PLUS the Kindle edition of Grounded Hearts is currently on SALE for just $1.99 for the month of September! 

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