Interview with Ethel Herr

» Posted on Feb 25, 2010 in Blog | Comments Off on Interview with Ethel Herr

This week I’m hosting Robin Miller with Deliver Us From Evil and Ethel Herr with An Introduction to Christian Writing. If you want to enter the drawing for the books, 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 The drawings end Sunday (Feb. 28th) evening.

Interview with Ethel Herr:

1.What made you start writing?

I believe I was born to write. When I first learned to put letters on paper, I loved it instantly. I recall all the way through school, when we were given options for special projects, if one of them involved writing, that was my choice.

My mother had been a rather voracious writer in her young adult years. She never had her stories published, but typed them up and bound them with constructions paper covers and illustrated them with magazine cutouts. One summer, when we stayed with my grandmother in preparation for a move, I read all her books. I think that was the time when I decided I would write.

2.How long have you been writing?

I never thought seriously about being a writer however, until I was almost 30 years old. Then I began taking correspondence courses, since my husband was military and we moved around a lot.

3.When did you sell your first book?

My first publication was a Halloween tract called “The Friendly Ghost.” It was the story of Jesus walking on water looking very much like a ghost. From there I went to magazine articles. It took about ten years of this before my first book came out.

Chosen Women of the Bible grew out of some studies I’d written for a neighborhood Bible study. It saw the light of day in 1976 and finally went out of print in 2005—almost 30 years.
I know that this book sold all around the world. In 1989, I had the privilege of meeting a woman in India who brought me her well-worn copy of the book for an autograph. She’d been teaching from it for years and was thrilled to meet the author. I genuinely melted before God with gratitude.

I’ve written a number of different kinds of books through the years—a couple of parenting books, a Bible study how-to, three novels, and some devotional material. The book I am giving away today, An Introduction to Christian Writing, is still in print after 27 years. I wrote it after teaching the materials to hundreds of beginners in private classes and conferences around the country.

I asked myself, “If I were a brand new writer, what are the most important things I would want someone to teach me in order to launch my writing career or ministry?” Those things are all in this book. It is based on learning to write a story—either true or fictional. No matter what else we write, we need to use story as at least a part of every piece. We need to understand structure and conflict and color and research. Plus an introduction to marketing. It’s all here.

4.How do you handle rejections?

First I cry a bit. Then I ask God where to send it next. And unless it is obviously in need of massive changes, I try to get it out in the mail again ASAP—preferably before I go to bed that night. I learned a little saying, “Never let the sun go down on a rejected manuscript.” Simple. Once it’s back in the mail, it’s no longer rejected, just getting started one more time.

5.Why do you write?

I cannot NOT write. Besides, God is filling me so full of Himself that He just has to spill out somehow, and this is the most delightful way I know to “spill.”

6.What are you working on right now?

Several things are calling to me at the moment. I’ve had to slow way down on the actual writing over the past year or so since I was diagnosed with metastatic cancer, had surgery in early 2009, and have been in remission now for almost a year. It took me awhile to actually get back to it at all. My major project at the moment is a collection of Memoirs of an Unexpected Journey—a record of what it feels like to have cancer and how if affects my relationship to God and to others around me.

A couple of other things are in the back of my mind as well, including some interesting dialogues with a Jewish friend. But these are difficult days of trying to find just where God wants me to dedicate my pen for Him—no, it’s my computer now, isn’t it? I don’t have the energy I used to have and much time is taken up by doctor visits and the like. Life has changed drastically, and I must go with the flow.

One fascinating thing I am learning from all this is that I need not know where I am going. All He calls me to do is to walk with Him one step at a time and write when and as He leads. Lots of times these days that includes letters of encouragement to other cancer survivors in my support group.

7.Do you have any advice for other writers?

Often folks ask me if they should be writing. My answer is this. Try it. Study it. Then if you can put it away and hang up your computer and go on, you are not a writer. If you are a writer, you cannot let it go. It will hound you till you give yourself to it.

BUT always hold it as a gift in an open palm before God. Don’t grasp it, or God will have to peel your fingers away from it and perhaps take it away completely. It will always be His. Let Him be the master and guide. Write what He gives you. Write what stimulates you to think and ask questions. Write what brings you His greatest joy! And never let a rejection letter kill your passion.

8.How important is faith in your books?

Essential! That doesn’t mean everything I write preaches about faith. But it all illustrates faith. And Faith is the one energizing force that empowers everything I write, even if it’s a haiku about some dandelion in my husband’s lawn.

I want all my writing to show the world who I am because I am His and He is mine.

9.What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?

In 2003, Lord, Show Me Your Glory was released. I had dreamt for years of writing this book. It is a book of devotional literature. Not meaning that it follows what has come to be known as the devotional form such as you find in the Upper Room or My Daily Bread. When I say devotional, I mean it is writing that leads the reader directly to God Himself. Since I believe that a passion for God is the single most important place to begin to handle all of life’s problems, I want my reader to have that passion. That’s what my “Glory book” is all about. In fact, that’s what my writing of all kinds and genres is about.