Today I’m delighted to introduce to you Janet Sketchley, author of the Redemption’s Edge Christian suspense series and the devotional collection, A Year of Tenacity. She’s an Atlantic Canadian writer who loves Jesus and her family, and enjoys reading, worship music, and tea. You can find Janet online at janetsketchley.ca.
Welcome to my interview corner, Janet. Thank you for taking the time to do this. Please tell us a little about yourself.
Well, I don’t think I’m very interesting… that’s why I write about my imaginary friends. I like my life, though, and wouldn’t trade it: I’m blessed with a wonderful husband and three adult sons, I get to live in Nova Scotia, and I love the beauty of nature, especially rivers and the ocean.
I fully understand your love of Nova Scotia’s beauty and the ocean never far from us here. 🙂 When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Who or what inspired you?
I have memories from childhood of writing some spectacularly bad stories, or at least the openings of stories. My earliest inspiration probably came from the Anne of Green Gables and Black Stallion books.
As a writer, do you do much reading? Who were/are your favourite authors or books or genres?
I read way too much! I’ve gone through phases of different genres, and now I read fairly widely but most enjoy clean or Christian mysteries, science fiction, and fantasy.
Have you ever felt like giving up? When did you finally believe in yourself so you can say “I am a writer”?
I’ve quit a few times ** God always nudges me back to it, and when I’m not writing, there’s a part of me that’s miserable. I think the turning point for me was realizing that I need to write, whether I’m published or not. The freedom to embrace the gift and do what makes me feel alive without needing to show proof of “success” was crucial.
I appreciate what you said as I’m still sorting out how it all fits together for me. Do you have a favourite motto or quote or Bible verse that you try to live by and that helps to keep you going?
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” That’s my life verse (and it’ll take a lifetime to fully apply it!).
Agreed! What support groups do you have in place that help keep you inspired?
I’m part of a local writers’ group who meet face to face for encouragement and critiquing, plus I’m connected to writers across Canada through The Word Guild and InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. I’m also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, despite being Canadian. Interacting with other writers encourages me, and I learn from those with more experience.
Great reminder. What do you remember about the very first time you were published? How did that come about?
I don’t remember much about my very first time in print, with a short article, but I was always excited to receive a printed copy of my submission. Publication of my first novel was a very surreal feeling. After so many rejections, I didn’t know what to do with a “yes.” It was a thrill to receive a box of my books and to actually be able to hold a copy of what had been a dream for so long.
How exciting! What have you had published thus far, and of those what have you most enjoyed writing?
My Redemption’s Edge series is three novels plus a bonus feature book. Each of the novels had parts I enjoyed – those moments when inspiration flows and I type as fast as I can to keep up. Also, this year I released a non-fiction book, A Year of Tenacity: 365 Daily Devotions.
Bravo! I like having a daily inspirational reading, so my copy of Tenacity will be arriving soon from Amazon. What process do you go through when writing and perfecting your work?
This is still evolving. I’m becoming more of a plotter, more aware of the underlying structure of fiction and how best to build on it. Not that writing should ever be mechanical, but the better foundation I can lay in the planning and early draft, the stronger the final work will be, and the simpler the rewrites. For me, there will always be rewrites…
What method do you use to keep track of your writing ideas?
I’m a big fan of Microsoft’s OneNote software. It’s like a virtual binder, and it lets me keep track of ideas, links, images… everything that inspires me.
Sounds very convenient. What inspired you to write the Redemption’s Edge novels?
Essentially, I started writing book one, Heaven’s Prey, because it wouldn’t leave me alone and I wanted to get it out of my head. The following books in the series grew from seeds of ideas that stuck with me over the years.
How long did it take you to write each of the three books, approximately? Did you have to do much research for any of them?
From my earliest notes to the actual publication of Heaven’s Prey was almost 20 years. A lot of that was rewriting again and again, plus writing a few drafts of book two, Secrets and Lies. Book three, Without Proof, took about a year, and I would like to have had longer with it. I’m not fast at this. Each one took some research, most of which I was able to do online. Sometimes that had me wondering if I’d trigger some government agency to come check on me! I’d been a Formula One racing fan for years, so I’d already absorbed most of the racing information I needed for Heaven’s Prey.
Wow! Twenty years! It certainly paid off as Heaven’s Prey is a gripping story. I’m glad you still have your freedom after Without Proof. 😉 Did you find any of the stories difficult to write, or more so than the others? If so, how did you stick with it and why?
Heaven’s Prey was definitely the hardest. As I said, this one came to me, I didn’t go looking for it. One of the challenges in each rewrite was to deepen the hard places where I wanted to stay on the surface. I had to be true to the characters and their story without traumatizing the reader. It’s still too much for the most sensitive, although other readers tell me it’s not as dark as I say it is. This sounds crazy, but I stuck with it for the characters. I said as long as I could learn how to make their story better, I’d do it for them. That’s why I kept going back to the story even after taking a break to write the next one. If writing a novel is a form of birth, this one definitely had the longest gestation.
I find it amazing how characters we write seem to take on a life of their own and have to be heard. Heaven’s Prey is the hardest one of the three to read, but it’s worth staying with until the end. How did you go about finding a publisher? an editor? and do you have an agent?
I’ve attended the Write Canada conference for many years, and connected with my agent there. I received a couple of invitations to submit my manuscripts that way, too, although the timing (and quality!) wasn’t right. My agent and I had pretty much lost hope when I heard about a new start-up publisher in the US. I submitted my proposal with my agent’s approval, and was shocked to be accepted. The second shock was working through the editorial process and discovering how much work still needed to be done. The third was my publisher closing its fiction line, and my taking the plunge into indie publishing.
Good for you for your determination and passion! Please tell us, what honours your books have received thus far.
I’m pleased that each of the novels has been short-listed for The Word Awards in the suspense category. They didn’t win, but being a finalist is an affirmation in its own right.
Congratulations for the recognition. How do you consistently write? Do you have writing goals .. daily? weekly? monthly? long-range?
This past year, I’ve been terrible at this. I do have writing goals, but have not been meeting them. Consistent, daily writing time with a solid, three-hour chunk of focus is what I need to regain.
What other interests do you have for a change from writing?
I’ve already confessed that I read too much. A special, relaxing treat is to spend time cross-stitching or knitting, often with my favourite music playing. Less relaxing but important to my health is exercise. I run twice a week, and join my husband for a couple of gym classes as well. This is not my idea of fun, but writing is sedentary and I was developing some aches and creaks.
Oh, do I hear ya regarding those aches and creaks! I get so involved in what I’m doing I forget to get up and walk around, and then I pay for it. Do you have other projects in the works? If so, can you give our readers any hints?
Fiction-wise, I’m working on a new series, the Green Dory Inn Mysteries set just outside of Lunenburg, NS. It starts with a novella that will release in the new year, followed by a full-length novel I’m writing now.
Sounds interesting! Is being a writer/author all you had hoped or thought it would be?
It’s different than I imagined when I started writing seriously as an adult, but by the time my novels were published, I’d spent enough time around more advanced writers to know they’re still human like the rest of us. It’s not glamorous or exciting, it’s long hours slogging to craft the best story we can, while balancing life’s regular responsibilities. It’s definitely not making me rich. But those moments when I hear from a reader that something has made a difference in her life? Those are priceless.
The balancing act is its own challenge, I think. Do you have any advice for hopefuls?
Involve yourself in a writers’ group with people farther ahead of you on the journey. That can be in person, but it can also be online. Listen to them and learn what to expect. Keep writing, every day if possible. Little bits add up. Give yourself permission to enjoy the process, because it’s a long one. Strive for excellence, but don’t let that paralyze you. If you can, attend a conference. It’s amazing the difference to your mindset, just being around other writers and learning with them. And like any other dream, don’t let it own you. You are more than this one aspect of who you want to be. Don’t miss the rest of life while working toward the dream.
What excellent advice, Janet, and helpful to me. Thank you! This has been a wonderful interview; I’m impressed with your … tenacity.
I’ve enjoyed all the books in your Redemption’s Edge series, and now we get to the fun stuff … the offer of one of your books to one of our readers!
Readers, and writers who read 🙂 – check out my reviews of the above three books by Janet: Heaven’s Prey Secrets & Lies Without Proof
Janet is giving you the chance to win one of her novels depicted above — winner’s choice. One person will win a print copy if you are within Canada or continental US, or an ebook if you are elsewhere in the world. How cool is that!
If you’d like a chance to win one of the three suspense novels shown above, simply leave a comment about anything that stood out to you in the interview, and also say which book would be your choice should you be the fortunate winner. Using random name picker I’ll be selecting one name at 9:00 PM EST on November 30, so you have a little over a week as of this posting. If your name is chosen you’ll receive an email in which I’ll ask for your information so a book can be sent to you.
And PLEASE … PASS THE WORD ALONG!
Janet’s writing is professional and enjoyable to read. You can go to Amazon (.com or .ca) to find all her books mentioned in this interview. Just type “Janet Sketchley” into their search bar to see them all.
Remember, you only have until November 30 to enter the draw, and please send your friends this way. 🙂
Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂 ♥