Award Winning Author Winnie Griggs





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May 2015

WG:      Welcome and thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us about yourself.

DL:      Thanks for having me! I grew up in Illinois near Chicago. I was the princess… only daughter with three brothers. I went ot college to become a teacher for the Deaf and hard of hearing. I met my husband when we both stood up at our best friends' wedding. At the wedding, I told my parents I had met the man I was going to marry. And I did. Now we live in rural PA with three kids and menagerie of pets.

WG:      Let's talk about your own personal road to publication: 
Is there some individual, group or event that you can point to as the catalyst/impetus that set you on the road to becoming a writer? Explain.

DL:     I had always dreamed of writing. I remember reading The Outsiders as a young girl and being amazed that S.E. Hinton had written it when she was 17. It inspired me.

WG:      Tell us about your journey.

DL:      Like I said, I always dreamed of being a writer. But as I grew older, that dream seemed to get farther away. I had so much going on. I was married and we were starting a family. I stayed home for a few years to raise my kids. I might have even thought, Ha! Now I'll have some time! Yeah…not so much. I was very busy as a mother of three young children.

The year the youngest went to school, I went back to work. This time as an educational interpreter. I started thinking about writing again. That's when I heard of Harlequin's So You Think You Can Write contest. I decided to enter and wrote my first complete manuscript in six weeks. Whew. It made it to the Top 50 before receiving what's called an R&R…a revise and resubmit invitation. I was encouraged to continue. In the spring, Love Inspired Suspense announced a new contest…The Search for a Killer Voice. I had never really thought of writing suspense before. I decided to try it. And I was hooked! Five months later, I was offered a contract! I still get shivers when I remember getting the call from my editor.

WG:      How many books did you complete before you sold your first? Have all/any of them sold since?

DL:     I guess three. I wrote the first book, then completely rewrote it. Now, I'm revising it for the third time, hoping to pitch it to Love Inspired in the future. I also wrote a short Pride and Prejudice variation novella, An Inconvenient Courtship. I sold it to Astraea Press in March, 2014. It was released in October, 2014.

WG:      Can you tell us something about your experience in getting 'the call'?

DL:      All of the contestants knew that they would hear the fate of their manuscripts by August 8. The first sale was July 1, so I was on pins and needles every time the phone rang. I was at Boy Scout camp when the phone rang. When I saw it was from New York, I almost dropped the phone! I can't remember much about the conversation except my editor saying she wanted to buy my book. Woohoo! I was over the moon excited. And probably not very coherent. It was an experience I will always treasure.

WG:      How has being a published author impacted your life?

DL:      My family takes my writing more seriously now. I have had to make some adjustments in my schedule, because I still have a family to care for and a job to do. So I write in the evening when they are busy, or in the morning when no one else is up. I go to sports practices with my laptop in tow. But it's all worth it.

WG:      What aspect of life as a 'published author' surprised you the most - either in a good or bad way?

DL:      Probably the amount of time I would spend on social media networking and promoting my books. I have to be careful, though. I'm normally very shy in person, but I'm not online. I need to make sure I balance the time spent there with the rest of the obligations that need my attention.

WG:      What about your writing process? Do you maintain a set schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?

DL:      I don't have a set daily schedule. Between my husband, three kids, and my job, we have a lot going on. I do try to write every day. And it is usually at night after the kids go to bed or are doing their homework. If I know that won't work, I try to work before they get up. Summer is great. I have summer's off, so I can write while they are outside.

WG:      Do you set writing goals for yourself?

DL:      I try to write 1,000 words each day. I don't always make it, but that's my goal.

WG:      Do you have a 'mood setter', something (music, ritual, environment, etc) you use to get you going when you sit down to write?

DL:     I grab my coffee or soda and sit at my desk…a.k.a. the dining room table. I do often put music on, though it depends on the scene I'm working on what kind of music it is.

WG:      Do you do a lot of up front plotting before you start or do you just dive in?

DL:     I usually have a basic idea of the opening scene and the basic premise, then I dive in. I write the first three chapters, then I stop and regroup. This helps me get a handle on who my characters are and what motivates them. At this point I do some outlining and revising. Then I write the next few chapters. By the time I have finished the book, I might have totally changed the beginning.

WG:      Do you normally start with storyline or with character or with some combination of the two?

DL:      I always have the hero and heroine. At least their names and what they look like. The whole story evolves from them.

WG:      Do you find certain themes or character archetypes making recurring appearances in your stories? 

DL:      Forgiveness is a big theme for me. And redemption. I'm hoping to include my love for Deaf Culture in future books, as well.

WG:      What do you see as your own personal strengths as a writer?

DL:     I'm always thinking of ideas. No matter where I am, I find myself thinking what if…?

WG:      Are there any obstacles/conflicts, specific to your particular lifestyle, that get in the way of your writing? If so, how do you try and overcome them?

DL:      My family is very active. So things get hectic. I try to keep things in perspective. And sometimes I have make decisions about what I can and can't commit to.

WG:      Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your process?

DL:     I love editing. I don't know why, but I love going in and changing things to make them, hopefully, stronger.

WG:      Do you have a favorite sub-genre as a writer? as a reader?

DL:      I love romantic suspense. Actually, I love romance, period, but romantic suspense is my favorite.

WG:      Is there a genre you haven't been published in yet that you'd like to try your hand at someday?

DL:    I have thought of writing both contemporary Inspirational romance and young adult fiction. Maybe someday…

WG:      Do you have any advice to offer writers still striving toward publication?

DL:    Don't give up, and keep writing. That's my advice in a nutshell.

WG:      Is there a specific 'ah-ha' moment you've had as a writer that you would like to share with us?

DL:      I realized after I had written my first book that I didn't have enough conflict. Without conflict, the story can be rather dull. Oops.

WG:      Rejections, less than stellar reviews and notes from unhappy readers are all part of this business. What is your own method for dealing with these and moving on?

DL:      I have a network of writer friends who help me keep focused on the big picture.

WG:      Is there some piece of advice you received or bit of 'conventional wisdom' that you wish you had ignored?

DL:    Not really. I just kind of stumbled around at first.

WG:      What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a writer? What aspect do you struggle with the most?

DL:     I love seeing my name on a cover. But I do struggle sometimes with time management. People don't realize how much focus it takes to write a romance. I get some eye rolling from people. I try to ignore it.

WG:      When you're not writing, what do you do for fun or what is your favorite self-indulgence?

DL:      I love reading and just spending time with my family.

WG:      When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

DL:     I wanted to be a writer and a teacher. Oh, and at one time I wanted to sing on Broadway. That'll never happen.

WG:      What would your readers be most surprised to learn about you?

DL:     Probably that I am a huge Star Trek fan. I practically went into mourning when Leonard Nimoy died.

WG:      What are your favorite movies and/or TV shows? Why?

DL:      Anything Jane Austenesque. I love Pride and Prejudice.

WG:      I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share.

DL:     I love the quote from St. Francis of Assisi that says, "Preach the Gospel in everything you do. If necessary, use words."

WG:      Please tell us about your current project. 

DL:      I just sold my second Love Inspired Suspense. It answers a question left unanswered at the end of Presumed Guilty. It also showcases a secondary character from Presumed Guilty as the hero.

WG:      What inspired you to write this particular story?

DL:     As I wrote Presumed Guilty, I really felt this character had a lot of secrets. Wounds that needed healing. He fascinated me.

WG:      What sort of research, if any, did you have to do? Did you stumble across any unexpected interesting/fun tidbits along the way?

DL:     I had to research police prodeedings. I found it interesting how specific the procedures were for processing a crime scene.

WG:      Tell us about your upcoming plans.

DL:      This book will be out early 2016. I am working on a proposal for the next books in this "series" now.

WG:      And before we close, tell us how your readers can get in touch with you.

DL:      I can be reached at:

WG:      Thanks so much for spending time with me and my readers this month. It was fun 'chatting' with you, as always!