Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, Biblical fiction author Barbara M. Britton as my guest. Barbara is giving away a copy of her WWI romance Until June. I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did! Read on to see how you can enter to win.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m a Boomer who likes to think she has a lot of life left in her. I’ve been married for over three decades and have two young adult sons. I enjoy teaching the Bible and have taught Bible stories to children for many years. My husband keeps telling me to get rid of my puppets and props, but they are still in my basement.
I’m published in biblical fiction (what else) and historical fiction. I never dreamed of being an author. After praying for creativity for my chapel lessons, I had a prompting to write stories. I was in my early forties and had a busy household, but I sat down and started writing about the characters in my head. My fourth manuscript sold to a Christian publisher and that story was my first work of biblical fiction.
Tell us about your current release. This has been a whirlwind of a year for me—pandemic included. I finished my daughters of Zelophehad series with the final two books about these faith-filled girls and released a WWI Historical. I thought my publisher would give me a break and release Until June in the fall, but it came out one month after my last biblical. No rest for the weary. My historical was influenced by a story I heard on a cruise ship excursion about a veteran and his caregiver living in a remote lodge in Alaska. A man and a woman alone in a lodge? My brain started working on a story about a wounded warrior and his spunky seamstress caregiver.
Book blurb for Until June:
When seventeen-year-old seamstress, Josephine Nimetz, agrees to take care of a WWI amputee in a remote Alaskan lodge to escape the influenza of 1918, there’s enough friction to melt the Mendenhall Glacier. Her position is only until June, and it pays well enough to overlook the hardship of managing a rustic home and a shell-shocked veteran, Geoff Chambers.
Geoff makes it clear that he isn’t too fond of the “runt” sent to take care of his needs, nor of her painful mistakes. Dealing with a depressed and addicted amputee, pushes Josephine to the brink of leaving, if not for the money her salary brings.
But Josephine is a perfectionist, determined to get Geoff back on his feet—figuratively. Though, sending a rich, handsome veteran back into society may cost Josephine the man she has grown to love.
Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? I’m laughing at this right now because I write biblical fiction. If I wanted to reach a larger audience, I would have chosen to write contemporary romance. The Bible is God’s Word—powerful, life-changing, and controversial. Someone who doesn’t know God will probably avoid reading anything associated with the Bible. Some might think the Bible is old and boring—they haven’t read God’s amazing stories. I always say, God has the best storylines.
In my first pitch session with an agent at my first ACFW Conference, I was told that the agent couldn’t sell biblical fiction and would I consider writing contemporary romance. I declined. God had given me a passion for teaching the Bible and writing about His Word. I wasn’t going to change what I wrote to earn more money. Someone else may have made the switch, but I stuck to my passion.
If you read what agents and editors are looking for at Christian conferences, you can see the call for more general audience stories. The general market is larger and more lucrative than the Christian market. More sales means more money for agents and authors. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not, but we shouldn’t abandon stories that speak to God and His redemption. How about we consider writing Christian Fiction AND general market instead of Christian Fiction OR general market. I met a lady at church who came to faith by reading Christian Fiction. She wanted to know more about the “God” in the story.
I was at a book event where a woman whispered to me, “Are you a Christian?” I would hope so since I write biblical fiction. I thought it was sad that she had to whisper about faith. I love singing God’s praises. My books cry out about God all on their own.
What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? I didn’t know there was a Christian publishing industry until I sold my first novel. I came in the back door of publishing through a mentoring program. I believe a lot of Christians are like me and don’t realize there are a variety of well-written books from a faith perspective. People may have a misconception about Christian Fiction and think it’s very theological. We need to inform believers that Christian books come in all genres and reading levels.
I believe we need to write fiction that reaches the world for Christ. If Christians don’t write those stories, who will? We can write “sweet” books, too, but we shouldn’t abandon Christian stories. We just need to market them to a broader audience and let readers know that Christian Fiction rocks!
How do you push past the fear of your writing being average and be bold enough to sell it to a publisher (or agent or audience if you self-publish)? Even after publishing several books, doubt creeps into my psyche. How do I know if a book is good enough? I have critique partners help me along my writing journey. I have beta-readers give me an honest assessment of my story. I have to trust the many years of learning and practicing my craft. I also ask God to help me write to the best of my ability.
Writing shouldn’t be a solitary endeavor. I’ve heard people say they are worried about other writers stealing their work. Well, story tropes have been around for centuries. You should trade pages with people you trust. If you are worried about your story being stolen, don’t post about it on social media. Have a small band of writers encourage you and push you to be the best writer you can be.
You’ve probably heard “You have to be in it, to win it.” You will never know if your story is good enough if you don’t send it out to agents or publishers. You may receive a revise and resubmit from industry professionals, but at least you will know what needs to be fixed.
How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher? I’m not tech savvy. Technology can actually scare me. When someone tells me to learn new software by “playing with it,” I panic. My goal was to traditionally publish because I didn’t want to learn the formatting of books, the uploading, and do all the design work. I also wanted wider distribution channels. Now, there are companies to help an author do all the formatting and book graphics, so it’s a lot easier to indie-publish today. We also see hybrid authors that are traditionally published and launch books on their own. The publishing industry offers more paths to get your book out into the world than when I first started writing over a decade ago.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? I will pass on the advice that was given to me as a new writer. I was encouraged to join professional writing organizations and to attend writing conferences. With everything going virtual due to the virus, many conferences have gone online. I also encourage writers to get involved in local writing groups so they can meet fellow writers and build friendships. Wonderful information on the industry and writing craft can be found on blogs and social media, too.
Always keep writing. Be prepared for the question “What are you working on now.” You never know what story plot will sell. Don’t delete stories either. Older manuscripts may become popular.
Until June was a story I tried to sell and couldn’t find a buyer. Years later, my son texted me that someone had stolen my story. What? He had seen a movie trailer for “Me Before You.” That story has a similar trope, but my story has a happy ending, not a tragic one. I dusted my manuscript off (I had worked on it over the years) and sold the story to my publisher. God’s timing may not be our timing, but His timing is the best.
Barbara M. Britton lives in Southeast Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. She is published in Biblical fiction and enjoys bringing little-known Bible characters to light in her stories. Look for Barb to venture into Christian Historical fiction in 2020 with Until June. Barb is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America, and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Find out more about Barb’s books at http://www.barbarambritton.com/books.html
Here is where you can find Barb online:
Barb is giving a copy of Until June to a reader! See below how to enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway