I am delighted to have Author B.J. Robinson here on the blog today for an interview, B.J. is the author of several novels including her latest civil war era romance – Azalea Plantation.1.) When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?
I wrote a story in the third grade about my pet dog, and it was published in the local newspaper. After that, I wrote poems and played at writing songs. In college, my first essay was published in another local newspaper, and I won first prize in fiction-writing competition. My short story was published in the university’s literary magazine. That influenced me to write more and confirmed for me that I could.
2.) Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from?
Life. Family. Friends. News. Music. Nature. Scripture. Experience. Vacations. Travel. Reading other books. Why do you write what you do? I enjoy writing romantic suspense because it combines romance and mystery. I read every Nancy Drew mystery I could get my hands on as a young girl and loved mysteries. I also enjoy writing historical romance because it combines romance and history, and I love the antebellum era.
3.) Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you?
I never outline. I like writing by the seat of my pants and seeing where an idea takes me, but I do have a vague plot in my head when I begin. I might write a couple of paragraphs about my characters and setting and their main conflict and go from there. How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I am experiencing with using a storyboard though I have not used one before. I’m trying the process on my WIP. Though writers never arrive and are always evolving, I have broadened into research with my historical romance novels, and I use more details. I enjoy books with multiple viewpoints because I find them more interesting and deeper, and those are the ones I like to write. When I look back at my older writing, I can see how far I’ve come.
4.) What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing?
I don’t find the creative process of writing hard in itself because I love to write, but there are times just getting started is hard. I don’t mean starting the first chapter, but just sitting down and starting. There are times I can find a million other things I need to do instead of write. I have to make myself get started and once I do, the writing usually flows.
If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future?
I couldn’t write a book and leave God out of it. Yes, I’m a Christian. I believe Christians face the greatest challenge of hooking a reader in the beginning because so many won’t give a Christian book a chance unless they’re other Christians. The world is turned off to our books and many will not buy them because they’re a Christian book, so they don’t even give your book or your writing a chance. Readers may not read enough of a novel to give it a fair chance or may shut the book and not read it at all. If you would, please tell us what was the hardest thing about writing your last book? The hardest thing was making the timing work with the plot and that can be the tricky part of writing historical fiction. I can sit and just write a contemporary or a romantic suspense novel and spin one out, but it takes longer to write historical ones. How long does it typically take you to finish your books? It depends on the type of book. If I am writing contemporary or romantic suspense, and I make myself focus and write every single day, I can complete one of about 50,000 words in a month. If I’m writing a historical novel, I have to research and make the timing and plot work so it takes longer, but I can write one in a couple of months taking my time. If I push myself, I can write one in about six weeks, but I don’t usually do that.
5.) Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.
One is not being able to submit a manuscript without an agent since my writing has improved. Years ago, you could, but back then my writing wasn’t what it is now, and publishers no longer accept manuscripts without an agent. Two, getting an agent can be as hard as finding a publisher. I no longer worry about that since Amazon opened the doors, and I self publish. I did have four novels published by a small publisher before I went into self-publishing, and I learned so much from that experience and from editing them again after an editor had sent back my changes. I also learned from being in a critique group. Three, marketing and advertising are the hardest parts, and I could write more if I didn’t have to spend so much time on those areas, but when you self-publish, you have to do it all. Even authors published with publishers have to.
6.) On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?
I love being able to just cast out all worries, sit down, and let the words flow as they may, using a spiral notebook and blue medium-point pen. That’s when I am really creative. I don’t seem to be as creative sitting in front of the computer and keying in words. So, I might take to the notebook a bit in the middle of a novel to spice it up. That is when I really have fun writing, when I can just sit down and write.
7.) What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?
Pamela King Cable, you’re one of my favorite authors because of your southern writing. I loved Southern Fried Women. Televenge was awesome, and I can’t wait for The Sanctum. Readers are in for a real treat with it. I love the way you take a person back and make them feel like they’re in that time and place, and I love southern writing. Chris Fabry’s writing attracted me with his novel Dogwood. I’ve enjoyed Eva Marie Everson’s work because she also writes southern fiction. Naomi Musch writes books using nature, and she’s a wonderful writer. Stephenia H. McGee writes historical romances I’ve enjoyed. There are really too many to name them all, and I have an iPad full of great books I haven’t even had the time to get to. I keep buying them because I’m a reader as well as a writer, and I usually take some time off between books and read. I am reading The Sanctum as soon as I can get it on my iPad. I’ve read Rita Geralch’s After the Rain, and really enjoyed it. I’ve read Sid Frost’s series about a mobile library and loved them. One of the most recent ones I’ve read and really enjoyed because of the writing style was The Badge and the Bible by Terry Burns. I’ve been busy writing my own series and have been reading Christian nonfiction lately and reading research. I am not in the middle of a novel at this time, but I am waiting for Stephenia H. McGee’s new historical and The Sanctum to come out so I can read them.
8.) If you would like and have the time, write a paragraph or two about anything you wish.
It was just an eight-dollar Bible, but it was so much more valuable, for it led me back to Jesus. I read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John with a thirst and couldn’t get enough. Through tears, I felt God’s Comforter, the Holy Ghost, like a hand on my right shoulder, and I knew I’d never be alone again. (Nonfiction)
Lexie stood at the balcony railing with Mary in her arms watching a trail of smoke curl into the cloudless blue sky. Her heart thudded. She wanted to scream, but the sound didn’t come. The explosion shook the ground so hard windows rattled in the southern mansion. (From the beginning of Plantation Restored, Book 3 in the Azalea Plantation Series, which will release early summer or sooner.)
B. J. Robinson loves reading and penning Civil War era historical romance as well as various other genres to provide choice for readers. She’s an Amazon best-selling author and has written over twenty books. Blessed with five children, thirteen grandchildren, and pets, her three dogs and one cat are part of the family. Visit her on Amazon, her Facebook for Historical Romance, her Facebook for Inspirational and Romantic Suspense, Twitter and her Blog