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.