2015 Keynote Speaker Stephanie Grace Whitson

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Wordsowers Christian Writers welcomes keynote speaker Stephanie Grace Whitson to its 2015 Writers Conference.

Author Stephanie Grace Whitson

This two-time Christy Award finalist has 20 historical novel credits under her belt, and interests ranging from quilting to motorcycling. Her diverse interests and passion for history bring a unique richness to her work.

Her conference presentation, Precious Stones and Living Words, focuses on the idea that God uses writers to share His living Word through story, not necessarily in spite of, but sometimes because of difficult circumstances.

Jeanie: Stephanie, we’re looking forward to your presentation, “Precious Stones and Living Words.” As keynote speaker, what do you most hope to impart to the audience?

Stephanie: Encouragement to keep on keeping on.

Jeanie: You’re a best selling author with a loyal fan-base. You’ve written twenty historical novels, and are a two-time Christy Award finalist. With that success, what, if anything, would you do differently?

That’s a very difficult question. I think we all do the best with what we know at a given point in time, and I’m very thankful that God isn’t limited by our own mistakes in regards to His blessing and guidance. My life circumstances have changed significantly more than once over the years of my writing life. When I began, I was a homemaker living in the country, gardening, canning, selling produce and crafts at the local farmer’s market, running a home-based business, and home schooling four children. Next I became a young widow and single mother living in town.

I subsequently remarried and welcomed a new son (step-son) into the family. Then came the season of life where the children were growing up, going to college, marrying, and (joy) giving me grandchildren and grand-dogs. At the beginning, my writing life was crowded into a family room and hours were gleaned only after the children were in bed. Now I have a home office dedicated to my writing life and my time is, relatively speaking, my own. All of those changes over the years required sometimes drastic adjustments to my writing life. In retrospect, I sometimes wish I had been more self-disciplined in every area of life. I know that’s a rather vague answer, but I’m not the kind of person who dwells on regret. I have much more to be thankful for than to regret. God’s abundant grace is evident in every part of my past. He has done good things … more often than not in spite of my weakness rather than because of my abilities.
Jeanie: Congratulations on your upcoming release,  Daughter of the Regiment. Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?

Stephanie: Thank you! Daughter of the Regiment releases the end of March. The book is set in Missouri during the Civil War and the heroine was inspired by women honored with the title “Daughter of the Regiment” who traveled with and ministered to men in several Civil War regiments. I dedicated the book to them after reading one historian’s book about women in the Civil War. I came to writing because of studying the history of my home state with my home schooled children, and the “real history” focus of my writing has never changed. My stories are rooted in actual events and the characters are inspired by real people. I love visiting historic sites, museums, attending lectures, and reading diaries and reminiscences and history books. An event or a situation will capture my imagination. I’ll wonder, what kind of woman would have survived that? Adding the what if element to that initial question is often the springboard to my next novel.

Jeanie: If you could only share one piece of information with a writer, what would it be? 

Stephanie: The first thing that comes to mind is a quote from Stephen King. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” The reason that resonates with me is that it’s very down-to-earth. Elsewhere in his book, King speaks to the idea of not waiting for inspiration when he says, “just get up and go to work.” That speaks to the issue of self-discipline for the working writer. The hardest thing in the writing life for me personally is to sit alone in an office and stare at a blank screen and fill it with words that I know I’m not going to like until I’ve rewritten and rewritten and rewritten ad nauseum.

I never like my first draft. But if I don’t create it, I’ve got nothing to work with. I have a quote posted in my office that reminds me, “Planning to write is not writing. Outlining a book is not writing. Researching is not writing. Talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.” That seems simple, doesn’t it? But writers know that while the principles that drive the work may be simple, writing isn’t easy.

Author Stephanie Grace Whitson

Thank you for sharing with us today. 

Connect with Stephanie on her blog or Facebook pageand meet her in person at the 2015 Wordsowers Christian Writers Conference.

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