My third grade teacher submitted a pet story about my dog to the local newspaper, and it was published. This motivated me to write. In later years, my first college essay was published in another local newspaper, and my first penned short story won first prize in Southeastern Louisiana University's fiction-writing competition and was published in their literary magazine, Gambit. This served as validation for me, and I continued to pen poems, short stories, and articles. I developed Southern Superstitions from that prize-winning short story years later. I wrote devotionals and had 12 published in one year. My early success spurred me to continue, and the Lord placed inspiring people along life's path to help encourage me with my writing journey, such as my college creative-writing teacher, my American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) critique group, my Long Ridge writing instructor, and my Christian Writers Guild mentor. I continue to strive to hone my skills and further develop my craft. Learning is a lifelong process.
WHAT AUTHORS HAVE INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE?
I love Jerry B. Jenkins, Lynn Austin, Eva Marie Everson, and Chris Fabry. Naomi Musch and Shawna K. Williams are two colleagues at Desert Breeze who inspire me the most. I love their writing styles, and the recent authors who have influenced me are those two. As an avid reader, there are too many to name, but I devour books over the summer months. Though I read and review books year round, I have more time for reading during the summer.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING AUTHORS?
Write what you know and love. Get your story down on paper. Join a great critique group and be ready to edit, layer, and rewrite. When you have finished your story for the first time, you have a rough draft, a great start, but you're not finished. Put the work-in-progress (WIP) away for awhile. Go back to it with fresh eyes and you'll do a much better job of editing and layering. You need conflict, or you don't have a story. Don't be afraid to allow your characters to go through an obstacle course. Continue to hone your skills and craft. Attend writing workshops and conferences. Online classes are offered. I enjoyed taking mine with Christian Writers Guild (CWG).
WHAT DOES YOUR WRITING SCHEDULE LOOK LIKE?
I write every chance I get, in my spare time, since I work Monday through Friday. I'm a morning person and that's when I do my best writing. I write weekends, holidays, summer vacations, and early mornings. If I'm pushed for a deadline, I write evenings and at night.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR MOST RECENT RELEASE.
My most recent release, Southern Superstitions, published January 15, 2012, by Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc., is a sweet inspirational romantic suspense novel set in Louisiana, developed from my first prize-winning short story in fiction-writing competition at Southeastern Louisiana University in 1988.
Prayer versus Southern superstitions when a woman's husband mysteriously disappears in the swamp on a deer-hunting trip. As steamy as the hot, thick, sticky heat of Louisiana, this page-turner will keep readers in suspense, as the author spins a tale of love, loss, superstition, pain, heartache, and faith in God. Reviewer Kathy Boswell says, "Very good! She never gives up hope that Andy will return to her someday. She puts it all in God's hands like she's done every crisis in her life. She knows He will take care of this for her." God and the power of prayer versus Southern superstitions. Through belief, faith, hard work, the power of prayer, and God's help, this powerful, moving story is a thought-provoking Christian romantic suspense about a young couple who fall in love, but have to change her mother's mind in more ways than one, if their relationship is to survive. Can Andy convince June there's more to their relationship than friends? Will he win the approval of Mrs. Myrtle, her mother, and can love survive strawberry season and an April flood? Will June be able to give Andy a child?
Favorite sentences: It was faith in God that would bring her husband home. Even a lucky penny or dime declared, "In God we trust."
Rod joined the search party to help investigate his dad's disappearance. It'd disbanded at
nightfall and picked up the search again at daybreak, but they'd found no sign of his dad. Rod
guided a canoe deep into the marshes and swamps. He'd hunted with his father many times in
these wetlands so he knew where to check. No word or sign of his father made the cold,
Christmas season stab like an ice pick, and his heart ached for his mother, left alone.
He slid the canoe through a wall of cypress trees, deeper and deeper into the heart of the
swamp. He figured his father headed for the hills. White cranes flew from the cypress limbs. The
canoe hit a cypress knee, and Rod gently eased it around a few more. The way they stuck out of
the shallow water, like protruding nubs, they reminded him of his grandmother's warning finger
wagging in his face. They could tear a hole in the bottom of a boat. Thank God my boat survived
the lick. Maybe that's what happened to Dad.
Finally, after twelve hours of searching, Rod spotted his dad's pirogue on the side of the
hill, where they'd hunted the previous year. He tied his canoe to a tree limb. "Dad!" He raced to
the dome tent and unzipped the door. "Dad?" The tent looked as if his dad made camp, but hadn't
yet used it. The sleeping bag was still rolled up in a corner. The butt of his dad's 30-30 stuck out
from under a sleeping bag. The supplies were still there. Outside, there was no sign of a
campfire. It looked as though he never got to hunt. There was no sign of him. Where was he?
Rod picked up the rifle and carried it back to his canoe. He left the other items in case his
dad returned looking for them.
They searched until dark. Rod dreaded giving his mother the disappointing news. She'd
worry even more, because the pirogue was in perfect condition and so was the tent. No leaking
pirogue kept him from coming home. The campsite looked peaceful and serene, not like anything
bad had happened, but still there was no sign of his father.
Mom's on pins and needles, yet she clings to her faith and trust in God. I hear her
faithfully pray for Dad's safe return. Maybe she won't fall apart when she hears the news but oh,
how I dread having to tell her.
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SPEND IN RESEARCH BEFORE YOU WRITE A STORY?
That depends on what type of novel I'm writing and where it's set. When I wrote Southern Superstitions, I had to do very little research since I'm familiar with the areas I wrote about. I lived in Louisiana, and I'm a Florida transplant, so I can write about those areas. I also write about areas I've vacationed in and part of my research is done while traveling and visiting. If I'm writing about a place I haven't lived or visited, it requires more research. Since I don't write pure historical fiction, I don't complete as much research as someone who does. I may have to research certain items from time to time.
WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM YOUR RESEARCH?
I've learned research can be fun. While writing Southern Superstitions I discovered Louisiana had its own Alcatraz. The state prison is called "The Alcatraz of the South" or "The Farm," but until I read about it, I wasn't aware of its nicknames. I'd heard of Alcatraz and even read about it in books in school, but I'd lived in Louisiana most of my life unaware we had our own. I'd always heard it referred to as Angola. I did very little research for this novel, so this was the most interesting new fact. I wrote most of the novel from previous life experience, such as picking strawberries as a teen to earn extra spending money. I picked them before school in the morning for a local schoolteacher and on my aunt's strawberry farm in Springfield, Louisiana, on Saturdays. As an adult, I gained experience picking edible mushrooms and other edible plants in the woods and hunting box turtles, so I didn't have to research those areas. I chose to write about what I knew to create realistic fiction.
HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN?
I have two published at this time, Last Resort and Southern Superstitions, one releasing August 15, and another releasing October 15. The first three are all inspirational, romantic suspense. The last one is a YA. My novels are available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, Kobo, Sony, etc.
HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SPEND YOUR TIME WHEN YOU'RE NOT WRITING?
Reading. I'm an avid reader and when I'm not working on my own WIP, I'm reading another author's great book. I review them on my blog and Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com, etc. I also submit them to Long Ridge Writers Group where they gain exposure in a weekly newsletter. I enjoy gardening, traveling, camping, and visiting theme parks.
HOW CAN READERS CONTACT YOU AND/OR LEARN MORE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR WRITING?
Please visit me at my blog where I review books and post updates about my own, http://barbarajrobinson.
blogspot.com. Blog readers have an opportunity to win free books from time-to-time by commenting on the posts. I'm also on Facebook,
B.J. Robinson is a multi-published, award-winning author of two Christian romantic suspense novels, Southern Superstitions and Last Resort. She makes her home in Florida with her husband and pets, blessed with children, grandchildren, and faith. She's an avid reader and passionate writer. Visit her at http://barbarajrobinson.
blogspot.com. Visit her author page at http://stores. desertbreezepublishing.com/- strse-template/BJRobinson/ Page.bok