Thursday, June 08, 2006

HEART TO HEART: An interview with writer Sharon Hinck

I’ve just started reading Sharon’s debut book, The Secret Life of Becky Miller, and this is a book you need to read. Not only it is hilarious, the spiritual message is powerful.
I recently chatted with Sharon about her book, beginning with her initial reaction when she found out that she’d sold her first book.

SHARON: My whole body went numb and tingly. I think I whooped, but then had a calm discussion with my agent about the contract. After I hung up, I was CONVINCED I’d imagined the entire phone call, and had to check my caller idea to confirm that my agent HAD actually called me.

LISA: Tell us some of the background behind the idea for your story.

SHARON: I’ve noticed in my own life and that of my friends, that we feel immense pressure to be great moms and wives and succeed in a career and/or volunteer in leadership positions at church, school, and community. Yet we never feel like we measure up. You’d think Christians would have more sense of God’s GRACE, but we seem even more driven, because we layer on the expectation to be a “super Christian” as well. I wanted to tell the story of a woman with these struggles who finds out that her life DOES make a difference (and she doesn’t have to be Mother Theresa for that to be true).

LISA: Wow, I can really relate to what you are saying. I find in my own writing that I often grow alongside my characters, especially spiritually. Do you relate to your heroine, Becky Miller, and if so, what kind of impact did she make on your life?

SHARON: Yes. She wrapped up all the crazy expectations into one neurotic bundle and showed me a lot about myself and my drive to do Something Big for God. She also reflects the truth God has been showing me about how His grace is made perfect in my weakness...not in my talents, strengths, accomplishments. In my WEAKNESS. Ugh. I hate weakness. I prefer the heroic, the strong. Letting Becky face failure, rejection, financial struggle, and unanswerable questions regarding some physical/health issues that arise was a little hard for me, because those are all things I continue to confront. Of course the good news is, she’s more of a hero than she realizes—in the small, loving decisions she makes in her “ordinary” life.

Because of Becky Miller’s story, my small group Bible study gals now don’t let me get away with it when I start harping about how I’m not measuring up to all I wish I was accomplishing. They tell me to read this novel called “The Secret Life of Becky Miller.” Gotta love those friends. GRRRR!

LISA: Becky Miller struggles to be the super mom so many of us feel we have to be. What advice to you have to us as women as we strive to juggle life without feeling as if we’ve joined the circus?

SHARON: The biggest trap I fall into is putting God’s responsibilities onto my shoulders. HE has provided salvation for the world. That’s not MY job. Yet often I act as if the entire world will fall apart if I don’t do more, more, more. And I forget that God can work in my husband’s life and my children’s lives, and meet the needs of my friends through many different means. It’s NOT all on me. I’m learning to show up each morning and let God know I’m available for where He wants to use me. I ask Him to guide my steps as the day goes along and alert me to when to step forward, and when to stop to breathe. (I used to show up each morning with my lengthy “To Do” list and tell Him to bless my plans).

LISA: What is the number one thing you’ve learned from your writing journey?

SHARON: I need to write for an audience of One. When I began writing novels, I worried about the time I was spending on something that might not ever see tangible “success.” But as God reassured me that He valued our time together over a keyboard, I decided to accept that IF my writing was proven to be a waste of time, my time was His to waste, and I would be at peace with that.

LISA: Any future plans for your writing you’d like to share? Any specific dreams you’d like to accomplish in the area of writing?

SHARON: I have three more books coming out with Bethany House in the next few years. (A sequel to Becky Miller and two stand-alone novels). I’d like to improve as a writer. My dream is to be at peace with God’s will for my writing life and to neither dig in my heels in fear, nor rush ahead of His plans.

LISA: Because I know where are many aspiring writers out there, can you share any tidbits of wisdom on getting published?

SHARON: Many author’s sites have great general tips, but I’ll share one specific one that I find many aspiring writers could benefit from. After writing your first novel and honing it as best you can, and getting critique from a writer’s group or skilled friends, while you are submitting it, BEGIN THE NEXT NOVEL. Most of the writer’s I know received their first contract on their fourth, fifth, or tenth novel. I know that sounds depressing, but many then were able to go back and get contracts on earlier manuscripts after getting their feet in the door. Meanwhile, you continue to learn so much through each story you complete. Write for the sheer joy of telling the story. Edit for the joy of learning to hone your craft. Submit the finished product out of a generous heart willing to share it, and start the process again. Don’t keep tinkering with one novel for years and years and years. Or if you must, at least write a second one on the side. :-)

So much of getting published is matching the right idea to the right house with the right hole in their list, with the right timing and the right editor who clicks with you. It’s hard to help that happen if you only bring one manuscript to the table.

LISA: I love your tag line--stories for the hero inside of all of us. Who’s your hero?

SHARON: Without a doubt, my husband, Ted. He has shown me depths of Christ-like love that amaze me. His willingness to read my work, encourage me, spend extra time with the kids when I need to write, all enabled me to pursue this dream. I have the typical artist personality—up, down, and inside out. His unwavering strength helps to ground me, and his mature faith in Christ reminds me where to keep my focus.

LISA: Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Sharon! And many blessings as you write for Him!

SHARON: Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog!

If you have any questions you’d like to ask Sharon, please leave a comment for her, and she will get back to you. And don’t forget to pick up a copy of The Secret Life of Becky Miller for yourself!



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