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, I am so happy to introduce you to Ruth Kyser. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of Ruth’s responses to the interview questions, and hope that you enjoy getting to know her as much as I did! Plus, Ruth is giving away a paperback of her latest release, so read on to see how you can enter to win!
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I’m a native Michigander–wife, mother, and grandmother–who writes Christian Inspirational Romance. I’m a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and I enjoy reading almost as much as I love writing!
When you grow up reading everything you can get your hands on, wanting to be a writer seems automatic. I didn’t actively embrace the notion, though, until I reached my forties. That was when I decided if I was going to write something worthwhile, I needed to get busy.
Over the years I’ve worked at a wide variety of jobs. I’ve been an accountant, secretary, co-owned a retail business with my husband for many years, worked as an office manager at a children’s summer camp, and was a professional insurance agent for twenty years. Currently, I’m working part-time as a church secretary. My current plant is to retire in mid-2017 to have more time to write.
Several years ago I wrote a mission statement that sums up my purpose for writing: “My goal is to write stories that entertain, but more importantly, educate readers about Jesus Christ and His love for them.”
Tell us about your current release: My most current release is a full-length novel entitled Without Regrets. It’s a Christian Romance and tells the story of Rachel King. After her husband dies unexpectedly and leaves her with financial troubles, she loses their home and business–everything. She struggles for months to put her life back together and is just starting to feel as if she might survive when she receives a letter from an attorney—a letter that totally turns her life upside down. The book is set in Toledo, Ohio, and the Charlotte, North Carolina area–both places I’m very familiar with.
As for where the story line came from…Well, we’ve all have that ‘first love’ in our past–that one person we loved and lost. Even as we go on with our lives, we might wonder what life would have been like if we had married that person instead of our current spouse–or perhaps we never married at all. Without Regrets takes you on a journey of faith, back into Rachel’s past, and through the heart-wrenching ordeal of one woman’s journey to forgiveness as she struggles with the “what ifs” of life. She knows she has God’s forgiveness, but can she forgive herself for past decisions that hurt others, and open her heart to love again?
2016 was a tough year for me. In a matter of six weeks, I had four dear friends (all my age or younger) pass away–which made me think about how precious life is, and how special our memories are. They were the only people that shared some of my memories, and they were gone.
That was when the idea for this story came to me. I was pretty sure others had gone through this same type of experience and loss as well or something similar and would be able to relate to a story along this line, so that is why I wrote it.
After all, who doesn’t remember their first love?
What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? As I read other author’s books, my personal feeling is that there is not enough true spiritual growth of the main characters in many of the stories out there. Some of the writing leaves me not caring much about the person at all–I don’t feel I’ve really gotten to know the real person. My prayer is that I’m able to get the readers into the hearts and minds of my characters in such a way that the readers feel as if they have a new friend when they finish the books.
I also don’t feel there is enough scripture shared within many of the books written today. Stories don’t have to be preachy to get the message out, but briefly mentioning in a story that the main character goes to church isn’t enough. I’ve been told my writing has the Christian beliefs so much a part of who the characters are, that it doesn’t come across as preachy at all. I take that as a real compliment.
Whats the first major news headline that you can remember and what do you remember? Okay. This is going to age me, but the most major news headline I can remember clearly from my childhood is the day President Kennedy was assassinated. I was in school that day, and we had just come back from a short recess/break. One of my friends was crying and said what I thought was “Kenny’s been shot.” We had a young man in our classroom named Kenny, and I was struggling with understanding how he could have been shot when our teacher came into the room in tears and announced the President had been shot and killed. It was difficult to believe it was true.
However, when I arrived at home from school I remember finding my mother and sister sitting in front of our small black and white television set, watching news coverage of it all. This was rare as we never had the TV on during the day, but we spent the rest of the day and evening, and the ensuing days sitting in front of that TV as what is now history unfolded in front of us. It was a time of great grief and shock in our country, and the only thing I can compare it to for the younger generations is to compare it to how we all felt on 9/11 when the twin towers were hit and the Pentagon attacked. It’s something you never forget.
How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher? For MANY years I submitted my works to traditional publishers, and I have the stacks of rejection letters to prove it. The last time I sent one of my manuscripts to a publisher, the managing editor had it in his possession for almost a year before I finally emailed him to find out if he was interested or not. He sent me back a very polite and helpful email, filled with nice things about my manuscript, but then added those dreaded words: “I’m sorry to say it doesn’t fit with what we’re looking for at this time.”
I have to tell you, I was very discouraged. But shortly after that, I received a Kindle from my husband. I went to Amazon to check out what books I could download and found tons of ebooks–some of them free. I downloaded several from well-known Christian authors, and a few from authors I had never heard of. I quickly discovered they were ‘independently published’ or self-published. Some of the books were very well written; others not so much. That is when I decided I had nothing to lose by jumping on the independent publishing train. I uploaded two of my completed manuscripts to Amazon and priced them at 99 cents each. After all, no one knew who I was.
Surprisingly, they began selling, and it wasn’t long and I was getting emails from readers wondering what I was writing next. So I started writing, and I’ve never stopped! Currently, I have eleven full-length novels published, and one novella (a brand new Christmas story–published the end of 2016.) They have all been published in paperback too, other than the novella. I hope to sometime add several other novellas to it and publish it as a book of shorts novels.
Even though it’s a ton of work, I’ve never been sorry I decided not to go the traditional route. Some people might need the validation of a publisher’s contract to know they are an author. I consider the reviews and emails I receive from my readers to be all the validation I need. And I love the freedom and independence self-publishing has given me. I decide what the title of the book is going to be; I decide what the cover will look like; I decide if a scene gets cut or not. True, I also do all the marketing, selling, and work involved, but that’s okay. I guess I’m a little bit of a maverick!
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? Unlike a lot of authors, I never outline. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have the whole story line in my head (at least the bones of the story–beginning, middle, and end) before I ever type a word. I’ve learned, however, that I have to really start writing the story before I know exactly what is going to happen and how it’s all going to play out. And there are always those secondary characters that appear I never even know about when I started. Makes it exciting!
I’m currently working on a couple of different story ideas. It usually takes about six months to complete a project, so the one I’m writing now should be available for release sometime in the summer of 2017. Then I hope to have another one ready to release around Christmas. At least, that’s the plan right now.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Read, read, and read some more. Read the classics, read the genre of books you want to write. Study how they are written, research and learn the proper way to build a story and keep the reader interested. You can never read too much.Then get busy and write, and write some more. Once you get a completed draft, then the real work begins. Because your first draft is always terrible. So you’ll need to learn how to edit and re-write, and re-write again, and then proofread.
And then have someone else read it to catch all the mistakes you missed the twelve times you went through it!
If you don’t have the skills, then spend the money to have it professionally edited. Nothing is worse than reading a book that is poorly written. Don’t rush to put your work out there until it’s ready.
And if you really want to be a writer, don’t quit!
What is your preferred method of writing? (computer, pen & paper, etc.): When I started out (more years ago than I want to discuss…) I wrote everything in longhand on paper first, then painstakingly typed it onto paper with a typewriter. (Yes. I’m THAT old!) Now, I find it much faster and easier to type it into my computer. I type much faster than I write by hand, and the faster I can get my thoughts down, the better.
I do write my personal Bible studies and journaling all by hand, though. There is something special about holding a pen in your hand and putting your thoughts down on paper in your own handwriting.
Do you write your books for your own enjoyment or more for what you think people would want to read? I write books in the genre I like to read, and I write books that I hope and pray other people will also enjoy and want to read. I read a lot (last year (2016) I read 130 books, and I know what I like and what I don’t like. There is no way I can write a book that I wouldn’t enjoy reading. I’m just thankful that others seem to enjoy reading my stories too.
There’s nothing more exciting for a writer to read a favorable review or receive an email or note from a reader who was touched by something you wrote. THAT is what keeps me writing.
What is one thing that you “never saw yourself doing” and either do it now or have done?: Oh, this is an easy one. I have said for YEARS that I am NOT A PUBLIC SPEAKER!! I was the shy girl in school who almost became physically ill at the thought of standing up in front of the classroom to read a report.
I haven’t really figured out why, but for some reason as soon as you become an author, people automatically assume you would be ‘more than happy to come speak to our group’ about your books. The first time I received a request for a speaking engagement, I wanted to run away and hide. No way could I do that, I told myself. But I went ahead and scheduled the date, and started working on what I was going to say.
I practiced that little fifteen minute speech for months–fine-tuning it, and re-writing it, and memorizing it, until I prayed I was ready. The day of the event came, and I discovered something. Talking about my books–the characters that I create, and the stories I write–wasn’t nearly as scary as I had thought it would be. And I also discovered that my most favorite part of the whole thing was the question/answer part at the end of my talk. I loved answering people’s questions about how I started writing, what I thought about the future of the publishing industry, and where my story ideas came from.
Just goes to show–you can teach an old dog new tricks. And sometimes we need to get out of our comfort zone to find out what we’re really capable of.
God has truly blessed me with many new friends through my speaking engagements–in addition to being able to talk about my books.
Find Ruth online:
Blog, Facebook page, Website, Twitter, Pinterest
Find Ruth’s latest release!
Ruth is giving away an autographed paperback of Without Regrets! Enter here!
I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
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Thank you so much for by this opportunity, Hallee. It was such fun!
Another author who doesn’t plan everything beforehand! Most of the books I’ve written were started with just a thought and grew from there. And some I didn’t even know how the ending was going to happen until just before it did.
Thanks for sharing this interview.
Ruth, thank you for being so transparent. Your answers are both inspirational and thought provoking. Keep up the great work.
I love the story of how you got started being published. You had nothing to lose! Awesome!