Friday Five: Kim Vogel Sawyer

Christmas is the time when a lot of folks take some time off to rest and catch up on their favorite novels. Today I have the privilege of featuring bestselling novelist, Kim Vogel Sawyer. Kim’s books have received numerous fiction awards, including: ACFW Carol Award
Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Inspirational Readers Choice Award, Heartsong Presents Contemporary Story of the Year (2006), and the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence. Her latest books are A Whisper of Peace and Katy’s Decision

Today, Kim was kind enough to stop by and chat about fiction and the writing life:

How did you get your start as a writer?

I actually entered publishing through a rather unusual route. I’d always wanted to be a writer, but a series of rejections in the mid-1990s discouraged me and I threw myself into teaching. But midway through my teaching career, my health plummeted to the point that I couldn’t teach full-time. About the same time, my dad chose to self-publish one of my books so I could see my publishing dream come true. The reader feedback from that novel gave me the confidence to purse publishing again, and the part-time teaching schedule gave me the time to write. Between March and November of 2005, I signed contracts for ten books with three different publishing lines. I’ve been writing full-time ever since.

What is the most valuable part of your background that has helped you in writing such great stories?

I think being an avid reader and being painfully shy helped me a great deal as a writer. I always told my students, the best readers are the best writers because they’re exposed to vocabulary, grammar, and story elements. You rarely found me without a book in one hand and a notebook in the other when I was growing up. Being shy, I stood on the fringes and became a keen observer of people. That contributed greatly toward character development. As a child, I often lost myself in story worlds–writing tales with strong, confident heroines very unlike myself and now as an adult I have the opportunity to bring story-worlds to life…but not to lose myself. Now, my goal is to point readers toward a deeper relationship with God.

Bestselling author Janette Oke has endorsed your work. Tell us about what how her endorsement came to be, and/or how she influenced your work. 

When my novel, which I called Summer’s Joy, landed on an editor’s desk at Bethany House, she shared it with Carol Johnson, who had originally signed Janette Oke. Carol felt my writing style gave her the same feeling as a Janette Oke novel–a peaceful, uplifting feeling. So she shared it with Janette, who offered to endorse it. I was unaware of all of this until after Janette committed to endorsing it, which is probably good. Had I known JANETTE OKE was reading MY story, I probably would have had a nervous breakdown. LOL I truly feel blessed to have been kindly received by the woman I consider the “queen” of Christian fiction. I hope my stories are as full of warmth and Spirit as hers.

You are extremely productive and keep up a high quality of work. Can you offer tips for new writers on how to accomplish this?

I hope I maintain a high quality of work! That’s important to me. With the arrival of contracts came the realization that stories had to be completed by a certain date (i.e.–deadline). To meet the obligation, I began treating my writing as my “job”–a rather awkward transition for all of us after all the years of writing for fun–but I had to set aside a certain number of hours each day for WRITING. I enter my home writing studio at the same time I used to enter my classroom. I start with Bible-study and prayer to get my thoughts centered, and then I write. I am in my office a minimum of six hours a day. I encourage writers trying to break into publishing to establish a habit of consistent writing now, because when the contracts come, they’ll be ready to meet the challenge.

You talk a lot about your grandchildren. Tell us about them:

I have a quiverful of grandkiddos–six Sweeties, two Bugaboos, and one little Wugmump. They range in age from third grade to four months old, and when they’re all here at the same time it is happy chaos! I can’t wait for Christmas. Please feel free to visit my Facebook page.