Today I welcome author Ann Harrison-Barnes onto my blog, to do an author interview. Check out her answers to my questions.
Big thanks to Ann for being today’s guest poster, please make sure to check out her links and details at the end of this post.
Q01 – When did you decide you wanted to become a writer?
I’ve dabbled in writing from the time I was in the middle grades on up through high school, but nothing ever really got published outside of my school newspaper.
However, in 2003, I read the 2001 edition of New Stories of the South. In this edition, Lee Smith talks about how one of her students couldn’t write.
She demonstrated her teaching method for helping her student write her first story. That was my aha moment, the pivotal moment that made me think that if that student could write a story, so could I.
Q02 – How did your family react when you told them you wanted to be a writer?
I got some moral support from my immediate family, but when I was married to my first husband, his family kept knocking me down, telling me that I wouldn’t make anything as a writer.
However, years later, after I separated from my first husband due to being verbally and emotionally abused, and using music as part of my healing process, I felt the urge to start writing once again.
I received moral support from my family and friends at that point. Over the last nine years (give or take a few months), I’ve met some great writing friends and got back into an organization for writers with disabilities.
Q03 – Do you use any specific writing software for drafting your manuscript?
Since I am legally blind, with light perception in my left eye only, I use a screen reader on my laptop called JAWS, which stands for Job Access with Speech.
As for specific writing software, I use Microsoft Word, unless I’m jotting down notes when I’m out and about. If I do that, I use an iPhone with apple’s Voiceover screen reader and the notes app.
Q04 – Do you have a writing routine?
I don’t have a rigid writing routine; however, writing isn’t done at the computer only. On warm days, I’ll spend part of the mornings or afternoons sitting on the front porch brainstorming. When I do this, I listen to the windchimes and allow my characters to speak to me.
When I’m actually sitting down to write, I like to write during the day, but there are times when I’ll be up for over an hour at night working on a story idea that won’t leave me alone. This especially holds true during NaNoWriMo.
Q05 – What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Sometimes it’s the revision that I struggle with, but I’m learning to love this part of the process.
However, formatting my book is difficult, because there are certain formatting steps you must follow, which a blind person is unable to do.
When I get stuck in this rut, I ask a friend to help me with formatting and cover design, as I can’t create pictures on my own.
Q06 – From your writing, who is your all-time favourite character and why?
It’s funny you should ask this question because Win Charles asked me a similar question on her Ask Win podcast. I’ll start off by saying that picking a favorite character, like picking a favorite book is like picking your favorite Baby.
Depending on which story I’m working on, my protagonist at the time is my favorite. For example, when I wrote A Journey of Faith: A Stepping Stones Mystery, Becca Martin was my favorite character, because she’s the one I saw in my dreams, she’s the one who also beckoned me to follow her as she took her journey.
However, now I’m working on a fantasy novel. Choosing my favorite character in this book is even harder because I have some mythical creatures, three humans, one of which has a guide dog, and a gnome.
In a situation where you have a number of varying characters in a fantasy world, they all tend to be my favorites.
Q07 – Are there any genres you would never write?
Yes, as a matter of fact, there are. As for fiction, I would never write horror and romance. Horror, because I don’t like writing something that would scare the daylights out of me when I read it or make me sick to my stomach in the process.
I tried to write a romance, but it turned into a mystery and it was all over the place, so I think I’ll leave that one alone, but don’t hold me to that, because my creative prowess may change as my writing career develops.
As for non-fiction, I don’t mind writing freelance articles and blog posts, but long-form books don’t work for me.
If it’s a subject I’m passionate about, I can write it like I can a novel or shorter work of fiction. However, in the editing process, the work falls flat and I feel like I’m writing it for everyone else and not for me.
Q08 – What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
The first draft! I think I build up a story in my head so clearly, that actually writing down what happens seems tedious and unsatisfying.
That’s why I love the revision process so much- the hardest stuff is over, now I can polish and refine until the story more closely resembles what was originally in my head.
Q09 – What fun things do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing or sitting out on the porch brainstorming, I like to listen to podcasts, crochet and read via audiobooks, having Alexa read my Kindles, or sometimes I’ll read a magazine in Braille, which is another reading format for the blind made up of six-dot braille cells to form letters and words.
I also love spending time with my family and hanging out with my daughter, nieces and nephew. I also started a podcast of my own called Inspirational Journeys about four and a half months ago.
Q10 – If you had to choose one of your characters to be your avatar in a fighting game, who would you pick?
I don’t play fighting games, or role-playing games much anymore, but if I had to pick one character to be my avatar, I would choose Malaya from my current WIP, because she can destroy dragons with ice water.
Q11 – What was the last book you read?
“The last book I read was Make Me No Grave by Hayley Stone. The guy who narrated her audiobook did an exceptional job! I also finished Folsom Untold, an Audible Original program. Journalist Danny Robinson was searching for the true story behind Jonny Cash’s album At Folsom.
One more Audible Original drama I finished listening too was Killer by Nature. This is a Psychological thriller drama that had at least one of the characters from Downton Abbey in it.
The audio quality of the drama was so good that you didn’t need to see what was going on to keep up with the story.
I highly recommend that you subscribe to Audible because you not only get a credit each month, but you also get to pick two audible original books from six recordings that Audible has for you to choose from each month.
Q12 – Are there any authors you’d love to meet in person?
I’d love to meet Karen Kingsbury, Janette Oke, and so many of my favorites in person.
I can’t name them all here, because I’ve read thousands of books in my lifetime and listened to so many author interviews and have conducted several interviews of my own, where I have met some fabulous people.
Q12 – What’s the best piece of advice you could give new writers?
Write about what you want to read. Don’t worry about what the market wants when you’re writing your first draft.
It’s better to write the book that answers the burning question deep within your heart and soul and write the stories your characters want to tell than to write what the market is looking for.
One more piece of advice, it’s okay to read your draft as you’re working on it, to get inspiration. You may find that you’re adding to your chapters as you go. This method I call onioning or layering is what keeps me working on my books.
However, you don’t want to do a big-time edit to make scenes perfect that you’ll probably end up cutting out later, but I do recommend that a bit of light editing as you go through each chapter, is okay. One more thing, learn from the experts but figure out what works for you
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Ann Harrison-Barnes is the author of four books: A Journey of Faith, A Stepping Stones Mystery, Stories Outside the Box: An Electric Eclectic book, Maggie’s Gravy Train Adventure, an Electric Eclectic Book, and Inner Vision, an Electric Eclectic Book. She has also been published in several anthologies.
Aside from her work as a Christian fiction author, Ann is a professional freelance writer.
She also hosts the Inspirational Journeys Podcast, where she gives authors, creative artists and entrepreneurs a platform to share their stories.
When she’s not interviewing special guests, she hosts solo episodes providing book reviews, reading selected poems, and sharing tips and encouragement for aspiring authors.
“The past is but a whirlwind of memories,
there are those you want to capture,
and those you want to forget.
Hold on to the precious ones and let the rest spin away into the abyss.”
These are the words Kelly Dobson wrote after learning how to use her Inner Vision in order to do the creative work God has called her to do.
After awakening in an unusual hospital from an operation she never had, Kelly and her physician, DR. Markey Andrews, work together to find the reason why she ended up in a hospital resembling a hotel, rather than a medical facility.
During the process of solving the mystery at hand, Kelly has strange dreams of being carried away in a whirlwind to places which hold memories she’d rather not relive. In order for her to face her fear of her Charles Bonnet syndrome and the accident that caused her blindness six years before.
After being released from the hospital, Kelly gets a brilliant idea to draw the images she sees in her heart and mind. As she does so, her mother stands in awe as the talent her daughter once had as a child returns in full swing, regardless of her blindness.
Even though Kelly’s father doesn’t want to believe in her talent at first, through the power of prayer and her faith in God, she teaches him how to use his own inner vision.
This post was written by a guest writer. Please check out their details above.