Monday, May 24, 2010

Interview with author Kim Vogel Sawyer on the Craft of Writing

 I am so thrilled to share an interview that I had the great privilege of having with author, Kim Vogel Sawyer recently. Here is the welcoming from her website, I think it sums Kim up well:

As an author of inspirational Christian fiction, it is my goal to create stories that will edify God's children and offer evidence of the hope we can all possess when we place our hearts and souls in God's very capable hands.

I've been asked..."Why fiction?" And the answer is simple: Even Jesus told stories to help His followers understand Who He was and His purpose for coming to earth. A story can draw one in and make an impact. Before I commit words to paper (or computer!), I spend time in God's Word and in prayer. I believe my stories aren't truly "mine," but are a joint effort between myself and the God I serve.

And now, here is our interview!

1: How long did you work on your writing before you were published?
Are you ready for this? I began writing seriously in 1981. I began submitting manuscripts in 1992. I stopped submitting manuscripts in 1995 because rejection was far too painful. In 2002, my dad insisted I try again and I still refused, so he self-published one of my novels. Reader feedback gave me the courage to once again pursue traditional publication. In 2003, I signed with an agent, and in March of 2005 I signed my first contract; in November of 2005 I signed my tenth contract! So although the journey was long, when the door opened, God pretty much drop-kicked me into publishing. lol

2 What are two mistakes you wish you had never made?
I wish I hadn't let the disappointment of rejection become disaster. Those years of no-writing, although years of joy in many ways thanks to motherhood and teaching wonderful fifth graders, left an empty place in my heart. I regret allowing my fear of rejection to prevent me from working toward something that meant so much to me. I also wish I had come to the realization sooner that God planted the dream in my heart and therefore the writing needed to be done for Him rather than for my own pleasure. Once I committed my writing to Him, the joy was doubled...even without contracts. There is pleasure beyond description when one seeks to glorify God rather than self.

3: What resources did you find the most helpful for learning the craft?
I am sooooo grateful I stumbled upon a group called--in 2002--American Christian Romance Writers (now American Christian Fiction Writers: ). I've received so much from that organization. I gained knowledge in the craft of writing, critique partners and prayers warriors, an agent...and eventually, publication. This is a group that grows writers. I'm thrilled to steer aspiring writers to ACFW where I know they'll be given the same wonderful teaching I received.

4: How does an author "find their voice"?
By writing. I know that sounds simplistic, but truly--the more you write, the more you develop your own style.

5: How do you protect your writing time?
It's taken some time for my family to make the transition from "this is what wife/Mom does for fun" to "this is what wife/Mom does for a living." But I think we're finally there. If I don't get my writing hours in, I don't meet deadlines, so I've had to treat writing as my job, because that's what is it.

6: What are the most common mistakes beginning writers make? 

Too much backstory is the most common error I've seen when critiquing others' works. (Start with the conflict--the story--and drizzle in backstory as it's needed to understand the current conflict.) The second most common error is what I call "detail dumps." We need sensory details in stories to bring the setting to life, but if the description stops the story, then it's too much all at once.

7: What is something you wished you had known before you started writing?
I wish I'd known how much time gets eaten up with non-writing aspects of publishing. I was so silly--I thought I would write a story, turn it in, and the publisher would print it just as I submitted it. But there's editing, and then reading galleys, and participating in marketing... All of those things are necessary, but they are time-consuming. Since I'd always written for my own pleasure on my own timetable, meeting all of these obligations was quite a shock. lol

8: Why did you choose this profession?
To be honest, I'm not sure I made an active decision to be a writer--it is a desire that was always a part of me. I told my kindergarten teacher that someday people would check out my books in the library. Of course, as a 5-year-old, I had no idea 40 years would pass before that dream became reality! But God did some amazing things along the way, and His timing was perfect.

9: What advice/ encouragement do you have for the writers reading this today?
If God has placed the desire to write within you, then write. Even when it's hard and you feel like you're getting no where, write. He has a purpose for what He calls us to do--either for His glory or our good--so heed His voice and write, write, write.

THANK YOU Kim, for the time and attention to put to this interview! Writing is a tough profession and I know from personal experience that any help is always greatly appreciated.

So, readers, was this interview helpful? I would love to hear your thoughts!


  1. I've tried to post this 3 times so please forgive me if you do get multiple mails.

    Great interview, Casey & Kim. Its very encouraging to read about those who have persevered over a long period of time in order to achieve their writing dreams. I admire Kim's honesty about fear of failure, something those of us who haven't been published surely all know. I also appreciate the reminder to make sure its all about God's dreams and not our own, something I need to remind myself of continually.


  2. So glad it was helpful Julia! And your comment came through just fine. :)

  3. Casey & Kim,

    I enjoyed the interview very much! I love when Kim said, "There is pleasure beyond description when one seeks to glorify God rather than self." That is so true, and such a great reminder to how we all should live our lives everyday.

    Thanks for the great interview.


  4. Thanks to both of you for this interview; it was great. Appreciate Kim's insight and your great questions, Casey. I enjoy Kim's books very much.

  5. So glad it was helpful ladies! I love Kim's fiction and she had a great ability to teach about the craft. :)

  6. What a wonderful interview! I always wonder about an author's journey and to see how long she wrote before publishing rather makes me feel better in some ways. I'm not anticipating selling fast, so to know that there is hope after a few or many years is encouraging.

  7. Very encouraging, Casey and Kim. Great interview! I do feel called to write, and I have committed my writing to the Lord, still it was exhortation I needed to hear that you, Kim, spend time in the Word and prayer before committing words to print or computer. My desire and prayer is to publish one or more articles this year, which sounds silly after reading your story, nevertheless, I write because I love it and because I believe God wants me to do it, so published or not, I will keep on writing, and your interview has encouraged me in that resolve. I might have to become more patient, though.
    Blessings to you both,

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this! I'm so grateful for the encouragement, and the reminder to live passionately for God's glory and trust in His timing. It's hard to think about the not-so-fun aspects of being an author, but I love your words, Kim, saying that if we feel God leading us to write, we should do just that!

    Thank you again! :)


  9. I am not a writer, Casey, but loved this interview....great job!
    Kim is one of my favorite authors, and I absolutely love her books!
    Thanks for sharing...really enjoy your blog!

  10. I am so glad you ladies find the interview helpful. I know that the little I have chatted with Kim has been a boost even for me. She is a wonderful lady with a heart for God!

  11. Casey, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to spend a little time with you and your blog readers. It has been a real pleasure and blessing for me!


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