Jeanne Gowen Dennis’ interview

» Posted on May 21, 2009 in Blog | 5 comments


This week I’m hosting Ramona Richards with her book, The Taking of Carly Bradford and Jeanne Dennis with her book, Running Barefoot on Holy Ground. If you want to enter the drawing for the book, please leave a comment on one of the post during the week with your email address. I will not enter you without an email address (my way to contact you if you win). If you don’t want to leave an email address, another way you can enter is to email me at margaretdaley@gmail.com. The drawings end Sunday (May 24th) evening.

Jeanne Gowen Dennis’ interview:

1. What made you start writing?
I was trying to find something to do at home all day after becoming a stay-at-home mom. The adjustment from working fulltime surrounded by adults to spending all my time with an infant was difficult for me. My favorite part of my job as an extension agent in horticulture had been writing a weekly gardening column for two local newspapers, so I thought I would try freelance writing. I didn’t understand the importance of targeting my market, however, so I didn’t sell anything. About ten years later I attended my first Christian writers conference. The training I received there helped me start selling what I wrote.

2. How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
I have been writing for the Christian market for about twenty years. My first book, Homeschooling High School: Planning Ahead for College Admission came out in 2000. I sold it to the seventh publisher that considered my proposal. It is in its second edition and still in print.

3. How do you handle rejections?
I used to be devastated by rejections. It was difficult not to take them personally. Eventually I decided I wasn’t going to let them get me down. I allowed myself 24 hours to grieve. After that, I had to forget about it and either send out the piece or proposal again, revise it, or work on something else. That was the agreement I made with myself. After a while, I didn’t even need the 24 hours. Rejections just became part of the job.

Projects for which I have a particular passion are different, though. I still sometimes need a day or so to be sad when they are rejected. That doesn’t mean I stop all my work. But I might give myself a break for an hour or two, watch a favorite movie, do something fun with a friend, or read a good book. Always when a rejection comes, I share my feelings and frustrations with the Lord in prayer. Those times always include a time of praise, usually in song. Praising Him in spite of my grief always improves my outlook and my mood. It puts everything back into perspective.

4. Why do you write?
When I first attempted writing, I did not know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. After I came to know Him, I wrote because I felt compelled to write. I wanted to express my love for God and make a difference in the world by helping others know Jesus, the only Truth that sets us free.
Now as a writer and speaker my focus is to encourage women and families to experience the joy of true faith. a life exciting and fulfilling beyond their wildest dreams, as they:

Grow in intimacy with the Creator,
Apply biblical truth to everyday life, and
Pass on the heritage of truth to others.

5. What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?
I honestly can’t imagine not writing. If I were not writing, I would still speak and sing. And I would probably pursue a master’s degree in theology, which I hope to do someday.

For fun I like to swim, read (of course), play piano, watch old or romantic movies (like Jane Austen movies), spend time with friends and family, play with the children in my life, cook, and do jigsaw puzzles.

6. What are you working on right now?
I’m in the early stages of both a contemporary novel and a nonfiction inspirational book. I just launched a monthly newsletter called “Faith Roots and Shoots” to help readers grow deeper in their faith and pass the heritage of faith to upcoming generations. People can sign up for it on my website, www.jeannedennis.com.

7. Do you put yourself into your books/characters?
I don’t think we as authors can help putting something of ourselves into what we write. If we write authentically—which we must if we are to write well—then our books and characters emanate from the deepest part of us. We each write from a lifetime of experiences, ideas, and beliefs. Although we put ourselves into the pages, it’s our common experiences as humans—our pain, joy, hope, compassion, faith, and love—that resonate with readers. We just need to make sure that we don’t make our work so personal that others can’t relate to it.

8. Tell us about the book you have out right now.
Running Barefoot on Holy Ground: Childlike Intimacy with God is the book of my heart. Most people’s idea of God is far too small. If we truly realized who He is and who we are in relationship to Him, our greatest desire would be to love, serve, and worship Him with all our hearts and lives. Our joy would be so great that we couldn’t contain it, and it would overflow to everyone around us. This type of relationship can happen only as we grow in our understanding of the awesome holiness of God and rediscover the joy of loving Him with the abandon and innocence of a child.

9. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Have a teachable spirit. Everyone can learn to write better, and everyone needs editors. Go to writers conferences, learn all you can, and then apply it. Don’t expect to get rich or even to be successful—at least as our culture defines it. As Christians, we are successful when we do God’s will. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Your responsibilities are to hone your craft, write what God calls you to write, and send it where He tells you to send it, but the results are up to God.

10. How important is faith in your books?
My faith is my life, so it is integral to everything I write. Even if the faith element is not obvious, the foundation of biblical truth undergirds and sets the standard for everything I do.

11. What themes do you like to write about?
My passion is threefold: intimacy with God—which is essential for vibrant faith, understanding and applying Scripture to life, and passing on the true faith to upcoming generations.

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?
Running Barefoot on Holy Ground: Childlike Intimacy with God is my favorite of the books I’ve published because it embodies my passion and also encourages readers to know God as He truly is—awesome, fearsome, and just, and at the same time loving, merciful, and kind.

13. What is your writing schedule like?
When I am self-disciplined, which is not all the time, I would get up at seven, exercise, read the Bible and pray and then start writing. My ideal would be to write from about 9 to 12 each day, break for lunch, and then write from about 1 to 5, leaving time to cook dinner and have it ready by 6:00. Sometimes I would also write in the evenings if none of my family members were home. I actually worked that way for several years (but I also worked all night, when necessary, to meet deadlines).

What usually happens now that I have moved to a new state with more family, home, and church obligations is that I write whenever something else doesn’t prevent it. I’m spending a lot more time now studying both the Bible and theological books so that I can teach other women and encourage them to explore God’s Word for themselves.

Where before my priority would have been to protect my writing time, the Lord has prompted me to put other people before my desires and plans. I’m trying to live out what I write—seeking greater intimacy with God, obeying Him enthusiastically and without hesitation, and passing on the heritage of true faith. Although on the surface my new “schedule” doesn’t seem efficient or organized, I believe it will strengthen my writing, because I will have a richer well of experience from which to draw.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts. May God bless you.

5 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed reading Jeanne’s answers to your questions! It is always fun to know how an author came to write and interesting aspects of their lives.
    Many thanks, Cindi
    jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

  2. I especially loved Jeanne’s comment to question #8: Most people’s idea of God is far too small…

    My mom has been here visiting and just this morning she commented that sometimes we don’t get because we aren’t specific.

    Thanks I needed that.

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

  3. Love your threefold themes: intimacy with God—which is essential for vibrant faith, understanding and applying Scripture to life, and passing on the true faith to upcoming generations.
    Interesting how you felt compelled to write when you became a Christian.
    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  4. Sounds like a fine book and I would love to read it and review it.

    mamat2730(at)charter(dot)net

  5. Thank you, Cindi, Abi, Linda, and Edna for posting comments about my interview with Margaret.

    May you be blessed,

    Jeanne Dennis (www.jeannedennis.com)

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