Monday, April 11, 2011

I -- Interview with Rebecca Irvine




Rebecca Irvine is a graduate of Brigham Young University where she earned both Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Communications. She served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in England. In addition to a love of writing, Irvine followed in her father's footsteps and became a college professor. Rebecca is married and the mother of three fabulous kids. Other works by Irvine include 'Adventures with the Word of God' (Horizon/CFI 2008) and 'Family Home Evening Adventures' (Horizon/CFI 2009).


Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Rebecca: I wanted to be a writer from a very young age, but never really equated that thought with being an author. My father is a marketing professor, which beget in me a love of advertising from a very young age--I wanted to be a copywriter from about age 13 on. In college I majored in advertising communications; I loved it so much I never had to switch.

Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?

Rebecca: I have a bachelor's and master's degree in communications, both from BYU. And I have spent 15 years writing market research reports for various clients (no, I never found a job as a copywriter!). So, much of my writing background is quite technical. As a result I have found that writing non-fiction comes much more easily to me (not that I don't have an interest in trying my hand at fiction, though).

Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?

Rebecca: I love the thought that my writing helps to improve other people's lives--that somewhere out there a child is learning to love the scriptures, or a mom is finding a way to hold family home evening or scripture study and still remain sane!

Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Rebecca: I have always loved to read and enjoyed books, but I kind of stumbled into being an author. My first book was a set of scripture study aides I had developed for use with my own children. Too often I had seen my kids' eyes gloss over during family scripture study. I wanted to help them be more interested. After developing a number of monthly themes that seemed to work well, I decided to make a book of them and see if I could get it published. After being turned down by one publisher, the manuscript was picked up by Horizon (CFI).

Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

Rebecca: Yes, I get discouraged often. My schedule gets busy with work and family, making it difficult to find time to fit my writing in. And then when a manuscript gets rejected I get even more discouraged. I have found two things that have really helped me in times like these. First, I have friends or family read my work and give me feedback. Their support and encouragement helps me to plug along. And second, I found attending writer's conferences are a real boost. I came away from the recently held ANWA conference feeling so excited and renewed in my writing.

Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?

Rebecca: This is one of the areas with which I struggle. In addition to being a mom of three (four if you count my dh ;-), I work two part-time jobs. So my schedule for writing is often here and there. When I am in a good groove I spend an hour a day, usually from 2 to 3 pm before the kids get home from school, with the goal to get about 1,000 words down. I also do a lot of writing on the weekends (Friday nights work great for me).

Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?

Rebecca: A book has to be marketable to be picked up by a publisher, so that is one of my major points. I look to see who might buy this book and if that target market is large enough to make it feasible for a publisher to invest in. Of the books I have written that are lessons, I have people beta test them for me and then give feedback. This helps me to know if the concept is good enough or not. I have had a number of ideas I have not pursued because they just were not interesting or marketable.


Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about "Family Home Evening Adventures."

Rebecca: Family Home Evening Adventures is a set of lessons designed to have fun using the scriptures; it can also be used, much like my first book, as a scripture study aide book. There are 12 lessons, most of which coordinate with holiday themes for the month. For example, there is a lesson on love at home for February, coordinating with Valentine's Day. The lessons are all very hands on and involve games and crafts.

Deirdra: What kinds of challenges do you face while managing both writing and illustrating.

Rebecca: The illustrations are more challenging for me than the writing, and often makes completing a manuscript a much more time-consuming project. I can spend up to eight hours working on one illustration. One challenge I am in the middle of currently is learning to use Illustrator software. I want to improve the quality of my illustrations, but to do so is requiring the use of technology. I love drawing, but have to admit illustrating turns this love into work. I have provided illustrations with my manuscripts as a bonus for publishers (it is more cost effective for them that way). But I would gladly relinquish the illustrating if asked.

Deirdra: How many beta readers do you have review your manuscript before you send it to your editor?

Rebecca: I have four different beta readers I use. Three are good friends with strong editing skills and a passion for reading. And one is my brother who has published a number of magazine articles.

Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?

Rebecca: I want them to have positive family experiences learning and growing together, hopefully in a way that creates fun memories and builds testimonies of Christ.

Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?

Rebecca: Sometimes I have outlined, but not all of my manuscripts have needed it because the chapters do not necessarily have to flow. I do a lot of brainstorming and bounce ideas off of my husband. When a concept clicks in my brain--when I can visualize exactly what I am going for--then I start researching and writing.

Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?

Rebecca: Although having it quiet is very helpful, I do not need silence to write. My kids are often in and out or have the television on in the family room. The family computer is right next to my laptop, so frequently there is even someone sitting next to me while I work. I often listen to the soundtrack of Pride and Prejudice (2005) while writing.

Deirdra: What authors do you admire, and why?

Rebecca: Oh, there are so many! Jane Austen, Mark Twain, and Shakespeare are my three favorite classical authors. I love their use of language and humor. Additionally, I collect Emilie Loring novels, which are some favorites from my youth. As for authors currently living, I greatly admire Janette Rallison. Her work is laugh-out-loud funny, yet clean and uplifting. I have also followed the careers of Annette Lyon, Heather Moore, and just finished Heidi Ashcroft's new book (Miss Delacourt Has Her Day), which I enjoyed immensely. These three inspire me because I see their path as successful authors as something I can relate to and would like to emulate.

Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

Rebecca: If I had my druthers I would snack on cheese and crackers; however, I actually use writing as a way to distract myself from eating. I lost 43 lbs. a few years ago and am working on maintaining a healthy weight. Unfortunately, cheese and crackers is not very conducive to an author's sedentary lifestyle!

Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?

Rebecca: I read a lot, love blogging, going to Zumba class, and walking.

Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?

Rebecca: Look for marketable ideas and keep trying!

Deirdra: What are you working on now?

Rebecca: I have a manuscript I am madly working on with the goal to finish it by the end of April. It is a book of Family Home Evening lessons based on the life experiences of latter-day prophets. I also have a novel I am working on--my first ever--based loosely on the lives of my husband's grandparents. I am not sure if anything will ever come of it since fiction is not what I typically write, but I am having fun writing it.

Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

Rebecca: Both Family Home Evening Adventures and Adventures with the Word of God are available on Amazon.com or on Cedarfort.com.



Family Home Evening Adventures synopsis: Scripture study during family home evening is no longer stressful! Family Home Evening Adventures is the perfect way to help your children stay focused on the scriptures while building their testimonies. Filled with 12 fun seasonal activities and lessons, this book will help you effectively plan for the year by setting up a theme for each month. Learn more about the Atonement, feasting upon the word, preparing for baptism, having reverence, and feeling love in the home. Together, your family can have a testimony-building family home evening based on the scriptures without all the stress, boredom, and inattention. This handy aide is sure to help your children to actively learn from and appreciate the scriptures while also increasing their faith.

Adventures with the Word of God book cover link: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_rfdZ0r2-3kM/SGK1OoOMNnI/AAAAAAAAAOg/sCh9rArU9OU/S259/cover.jpg

Adventures with the Word of God synopsis: Do your children's eyes gloss over as soon as family scripture study starts? Adventures with the Word of God is exactly what you need to get them excited about scripture study. Interactive scripture reading makes family study fun for the whole family. Help your children learn and understand gospel principles directly from the scriptures with a year's worth of scripture study themes, such as: * The family proclamation * Pioneers * President Hinckley's "Be's" * Charity * Testimony Together, your family can study and learn from sets of verses on similar topics, which helps children to better understand the language of the scriptures. Helpful hints are included to provide additional ways to encourage children to pay closer attention during family study time. With this handy helper, children can gain the tools they need to begin personal scripture study and increase their individual testimonies.

Visit Rebecca's blog at www.rebeccairvine.blogspot.com

25 comments:

  1. Great interview Dierdra. What is a Zumba class? Or have I missed something somewhere.

    Thanks for the lovely Award. My acceptance speech is the subject of my latest post :)

    Grandpa
    Life on The Farm

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  2. Grandpa if its anything like we have here in South Africa then its a combination of aerobics and South American dancing like the salsa.

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  3. Wonderful interview. I'm new to your blog. love it! can't wait to read more in the future.

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  4. Writing interviews are always interesting. I find I learnt not only about the author but also things I had forgotten. Nice post.

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  5. Great job Deirdra; nice to meet you, Rebecca~ Very informative!

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  6. Nice post and interview. Very nice to meet Rebecca. You have a beautiful blog. I'm a new follower. And, thank you for the Strong Woman Award. It's my very first award, and I feel a little giddy!

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  7. Opps! I mean the Powerful Woman Writer Award. I'm so embarrassed! The art work is gorgeous.

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  8. Which part of England did Rebecca serve in?? I live in England... so it would be interesting to see...

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  9. Please visit my blog to I'm a friend of Ruthietootie!!:D xx Thankyou... xx

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  10. Thanks so much Deirdra! I had fun with this interview.

    Cami, I served in the London England South Mission

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  11. Wonderful Interview Dierdra. Great reading. Thank you for stopping at my blog and leaving a comment.

    A big thank you for your lovely award!

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  12. Thanks for the beautiful mommy award! I can't wait to add it to my blog. I love your site...probably because I have a little girly interest in fairies and such. I'm excited to follow your blog and see what else you have to post! :)

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  13. Fantastic interview. I love meeting these new-to-me authors through your blog.

    http://fredasvoice.blogspot.com/2011/04/i-is-for-italyitalian.html

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  14. Nice interview-love to get to know the author behind the book.

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  15. Great interview! And thank you very much for the award. :)

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  16. Very interesting interview. You always ask compelling questions that draw the audience in. Julie

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  17. Terrific interview! This: "I actually use writing as a way to distract myself from eating..." cracked me up! :O)


    My “I” post is here: http://www.word-nerd-speaks.com/2011/04/inconspicuous-online.html

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  18. Good interview. I am always interested in hearing more about non-fiction writing, as it is something I never tried my hand at. :-)

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  19. Hi Dierda!
    I love your blog, and your picture header rocks! great interview here! i'll be sure to poke around your website some more to find some hidden treasures :)
    nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  20. Another terrific interview.

    Lucy

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  21. Excellent interview! Full of great information and entertaining.

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  22. Great blog! Love the interviews -what a awesome idea. You are so talented. Thank you for the awards-was off line for a few days and I'm now getting caught up. You made my day! Thanks!

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  23. Fun Interview. It was great to meet you at the ANWA Conference - Deidra and Rebecca!

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  24. Awesome interview! Yay Becky! I learned more about you and i'm so impressed with your accomplishments.

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