When I hung up the phone after my interview with Robin Jones Gunn, I thought, "She is such an incredible person - a beautiful soul, a kindred spirit. I would totally ask her to go out to coffee with me if I were in Portland, Oregon."
I have always admired Robin Gunn. There is something captivating about her easy-to-read, humorous, and light writing style. I love the way that she infuses positive messages into the text of her books with such grace.
There's a difference, however, when you admire someone from afar and when you actually talk to them. Sometimes the person behind the pen can be disappointing. But that was not the case with Robin Gunn. She was exactly how I imagined she would be. Warm. Kind. Content.
It is my pleasure to introduce you to Robin Jones Gunn this evening.
Q. I know you've written 63 books, 47 of which are novels, but how long have you been a "Full Time" writer?
A. I made that transition thirteen years ago. I know it was at that point because we moved up here (to Portland) for my husband to go to Seminary. I knew that he really just needed to be doing school. I also knew I could write and I knew I could write faster. For a season, my writing became the sole income for our family. I had to be really on-track – to sign for more books and keep up with more deadlines. (Robin's husband is now a Counselor in private practice).
Q. Can you really make a living as a writer?
A. You really can, but it was a lot more work than I ever thought it would be. I had to give up a lot more than I thought I would. I really had to have a schedule, a discipline, and a rhythm because I also wanted to be available to my kids and to prioritize them. I also supplemented with articles here and there. Those were faster to write. And I also did some speaking and promotions.
Q. What are your top tips for moms who are writing during the early years?
A. I wrote between 3:00 a.m. and 7:00 or 7:30 a.m., three days a week. I’d go to bed at 8:30 or 9:00 on those nights. The things that I cut out were things I would have been doing from 8-11 p.m...watching TV, talking on the phone, etc. Because of this schedule, I was able to do the bulk of my work when it wasn’t taking away from my family. I consider it to be a high calling to be a mom and a wife. I asked myself: What are the sacrifices that I will have to make (not that my family will have to make on my behalf)?
I also developed a system with my children during the day where it was really clear that I was going to go make some phone calls. They knew to not come into my room or bother me. I think it was important for them to learn that the reason that I wrote was to support the family.
Q. What are the top writing conferences you have attended?
A. I just got back from the Jerry Jenkins’ Writing for the Soul conference in Colorado. This year, I did five workshops and the key note on Saturday nights. It was a really stellar conference all around.
Mount Hermon is a premiere writers conference held every year over Palm Sunday weekend in Northern California. That conference provides such a wide variety of workshops. They offer workshops for someone who is just beginning and wants to write an article. But they also offer a career track for people who have published two or more books. That's the beauty of Mount Hermon. It's great for any level.
Sally Stewart’s Christian Writers' Market lists a number of one day workshops. Those are great because it’s one day. It’s a small financial investment.
The strongest conference for fiction writers is the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, which is held every fall. There is a lot of creativity, a lot of energy, and a lot of connecting.
When it comes down to it, every writing conference that I have ever attended has been very beneficial.
Q. What are your top tips for other moms who want to publish a book?
A. One thing that helped me immensely is that I joined a critique group that met once a month. My best friend Donna would take my kids from 9:00 in the morning until 3 or 4 in the afternoon (this was before either of them were in school). They loved that they got to see their friends once a month. It helped me to be with other writers. There were no interruptions. It was great to be able to get away and be fully vested in the writing process. We always would work at least four hours and bring our sack lunch.
It's also important to get to some of these writers conferences.
Q. How many children do you have and what are their ages?
A. Two. I have one son and one daughter, ages 26 and 22.
Thanks so much, Robbin. I'm already looking forward to the second Katie Weldon book!
NOTE: I'm taking Robbin's advice about writing conferences and heading to the BookExpo/Writer's Diget Book Writers Conference this May. Anyone else going?
WIN IT! One winner will receive a copy of Robin's newest book - Peculiar Treasures (read my full review here). To enter, simply leave a comment on this post prior to Wednesday, April 23 at midnight (don’t forget to follow the rules). The winner will be announced and contacted on Thursday, April 24. * Winner must provide a U.S. mailing address.
*UPDATE* The winner is #60 Brandy. Congratulations!