Friday, July 24, 2009

What I Wish I'd Known - Robin Jones Gunn

Just seven more days to get your contest entries in for our "Audience With An Agent" contest! The entries are coming in daily now.
Congratulations to Sharon Souza for being recognized as a finalist in both the Women's Fiction and Debut Novel categories for the American Christian Fiction Writer's Book of the Year contest for her book Every Good and Perfect Gift! At the risk of sounding like I'm 'tooting my own horn' I will add that my book, Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon is a also a finalist in the Women's category, but I bow to Sharon's incredible book. You go, girl!

I had the pleasure of dining with Janet Grant and Wendy Lawton along with the Books and Such Christy Award finalists at ICRS several weeks ago, where Robin shared some things she wished she'd known when she first began writing. Robin has published 70 books, has 3 Christy Awards, is a finalist in the Gold Medallion and was awarded Mount Hermon's Pacesetters and Writer of the year awards. Her books have sold 4 million copies worldwide. So I scooched a little closer to hear her better...

1)Keep a list of all your characters' names. After writing so many books, I run the risk of repeating names and readers will definitely recognize them. It's a major task to go back and try to do it later.

2)Be content. Regardless of the number of rewrites and improvements, no book ever feels "done" to me. (after 70 books!) I always think it needs a little more or an adjustment here or a change there. Just as Paul said that he "learned to be content" in whatever state he was in, after 24 years at this I'm trying to learn to be content with the finished book and not fret over what I would have done differently if I'd had more time to rewrite it.

3) Observe the Sabbath. When the opportunity comes to get away, I must getaway. It's the law of the sabbath. Stop once a week and several times during the year in order to do something different than what you do for your work. God gave us this law so that our spirit, mind and body can be restored. One day a week I must not do anything that has to do with writing or emails or interviews. I must rest and in that rest be restored to a place of worship in my spirit. So, if my husband and I have a getaway weekend scheduled and I'm planning to take the laptop along to met a deadline, it's better to postpone the getaway, finish the work on deadline and then getaway sans laptop.

Thank you, Robin, for sharing these pearls of wisdom with us! Please check out Robin's website and see her many fabulous books at

Now, we'd love for you to share your wisdom with us. What have you learned that would have been helpful to know from the get-go?


Nichole Osborn said...

I think the most important thing that I'm learning through all of this is to be patient. The one thing that I wish I would have known in the beginging is: how to manage time better and to prioritize. I'm not a list person by nature but more and more I'm becoming one.

Patti Hill said...

Very good, Nichole. I can add an amen to all that. Also, I wish I'd understood the business end of things. Being at ICRS last week made it all fresh that we are in a ministry/art/business combination. Do I understand how it all works now? Not so much, but I'm getting better.

Kathleen Popa said...

Oh yes, keep a list of the characters' names, and their cars, and their hair color...

I especially love it that you still find it hard to let go, Robin. I avoid opening my own books, because inevitably I start editing right off the bat. Can be frustrating.

Thank you, Robin, for your great post!

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Something I now realize should have been a no-brainer was that I didn't keep a running list of people to include in the acknowledgments. When I started the manuscript, I had no idea just how many people would provide input for the story and I thought it would be easy to assemble a list at the end. Wrong! (And their addresses to mail a copy of the book).

Nichole, I agree that patience is hard when you feel such an urgency to get your book published. I look back on opportunities that I felt had passed me by which I now realize would have been possibly disastrous. But that's little consolation until the book's placed.

M. L. Kiner said...

"The Hong Kong Connection" is a legal thriller about a gutsy female attorney who takes on high ranking International officials. It's a taut, rollercoaster of a ride from New York to Palm Beach to Washington D.C. to Hong Kong. The plot is expertly woven, the characters persuasive, and the dialogue snappy and spot on.