Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Writing Sisters {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about The Sisters...

-->The Writing Sisters, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers, were born into a writing family, and began critiquing manuscripts at an early age for their mother, Newbery winner Betsy Byars. They went on to become authors of more than thirty-five children’s novels. Their first book for adults is The Shepherd’s Song, Howard Books, March 2014.
How to connect with The Sisters...

Purchase their book here:The Shepherd's Song: A Story of Second Chances
Author Interview | The Writing Sisters

The Sisters and Writing

Tell us a little bit about "The Writing Sisters": How did you both start writing?
...We are sisters who grew up with a mother who was a writer. As children, we read our mother’s manuscripts but didn’t write our own books until we were adults. Children’s books were the way we both started. Our kids were young and we both wrote books during their naptime. We wrote individually and together for twenty years.

...After years of writing solo we teamed up with Mom to write four children’s books. Collaboration was fun and we all had a great time together. We wrote best at the beach or on weekends away in the mountains! When our mother retired from writing we decided to pray about what was next for us. Faith is important to both of us and we decided to dedicate our writing to God in whatever way He would use us. The result was that our career took a turn taking us from secular publishing to Christian, from children’s books to adults. Following God is always an adventure!

Their Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book. Why did you write it?
...The Shepherd’s Song is the story of a woman who, like a lot of us, wonders if her life has mattered. She writes out Psalm 23 for her son and is in a car accident later that day. As she is rushed to the hospital she prays, “Let my life count.” Her copy of the psalm then begins a journey around the world changing the lives of twelve different people.

...The idea for The Shepherd’s Song began in a small coffee shop in Madison, Georgia, where we meet every week to write. That morning we prayed for God to reveal our next writing project. Up till that time we had written children’s books individually and together and we thought we had come to the coffee shop to plan our next children’s book. Betsy had read the 23rd Psalm that morning in her quiet time and it was on our minds that day. We had both committed our writing to God and began to think the Psalm would be a good subject for a book. The problem was we couldn’t see it as a children’s book. As children’s writers it was hard to imagine writing a book that was longer than 64 pages! We knew that we could only do it with God leading us. The more we talked about the idea the more excited we became and we finished drafts of the first two stories that day.

Do you ladies each have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?

...Our main character Kate reflects a part of us and all people who at some point ask the question, “Has my life mattered?” We could both relate to her question and at different points in our life wondered if our lives had mattered.

Betsy: I relate to Kate the most when I think of the years when my sons left home to start their own lives. It was a time when I had been a mother for so many years and suddenly I was not needed in that role the same way. My life would become very full again as God blessed me with work but those were the times when I asked God to “let my life count” like Kate does in the book.

Laurie: As I have grown through different stages of life my definition of success has changed. Through college, parenting, empty nest my roles have been redefined again and again. Through faith my life has found meaning and eternal significance. More and more I realize how much the small things that we do matter in this life and beyond.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...There are so many powerful themes that flow from the twenty-third Psalm: God’s deep love and care for us and His protection and blessing. The idea of second chances permeates the book. God is constantly seeking us and restoring us. As we read scripture we are continually called into second chances, to start over again, to heal, to restore relationships, to begin to know God. No matter what has happened in our lives or what we have done, God is always ready to welcome us back into the fold. We hope that readers will take-away a fresh understanding of how much God loves them and seeks to have a relationship with them.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...Characters come from all different places. Physical traits can come from someone we know, or a stranger we spot on the street. Personality traits can also come from people we knew when we were children, or someone we read about in the paper. And sometimes characters come straight out of our heads with no connection to anyone. The feelings of the characters come from our own experiences. Grief, pain, love, shame, fear all are in some way and at different levels common experiences for everyone. 

When you write, what is the overall intention with your stories?
...When we decided that we were being called to write for God we took time to pray and reflect on what exactly we were called to do. Psalm 78:4 kept coming to us and we claimed it as our mission statement.
I will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord.
...We thought that meant children at first but as we worked together and followed the ideas that came we began to see this verse in a broader sense. The next generation is also a generation of women and men. We felt that God prepared us to use our ability to write fiction to show the power of His Word in the lives of people.

Do you ladies have any advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?

...If you want to write, write. Don’t give up and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. So many great writers give up at the first rejection. Rejection is a part of the experience and a way that God refines our work. Writing is a lifetime’s work and requires perseverance.

The Sisters

Have either of you ever attended a writer’s conference? If so, which one(s) and what were most helpful about it?
...We when decided to write for God we began to look for a Christian writing conference and found ACFW. Our first conference scared us to death - so many people. We quickly felt at home and made fast friends there. The atmosphere was different than conferences we had attended in the past. There was a feeling of love and grace and no sense of competition. That first conference in St Louis, we learned so much about writing and publishing in the Christian marketplace. Our second ACFW conference in Dallas was where we connected with Greg Johnson who became our agent. Most helpful was the chance to be in an environment where God was working - those divine encounters were what made the difference.

What’s your favorite green food? (In honor of St. Patrick’s Day of course!)

Betsy: Avocado - Everything is better with avocado on it. Just had a BLT with avocado at the OK Cafe.

Laurie: Fresh spinach in a Smoothie, I have one every morning.

If you could travel to any location and stay there for one month (probably spending most of the time writing) where would you go?
...We write best at the beach or mountains. There’s nothing like getting away and writing somewhere beautiful. We might write even better in a small cottage in Tuscany. Coffee and scones each morning on the veranda overlooking a sunflower field would give us inspiration. Long walks in the day would be necessary for developing the ideas. A great Italian dinner could top off the day with time to mull over the writing. When do we leave?
Thank you ladies so much for a wonderful interview. My readers got 'lucky' today and received two for one! I love your combined story - how wonderful to have writing introduced to you at a very early age. I love the verse that you mentioned--Psalm 78:4--and I think most Christian writers could carry this as a mantra for their writing. I'm excited to see where the Lord takes you both next - no doubt he has wonderful things in store. And if you're going to Tuscany...I'm coming with you ;)

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