Award Winning Author Winnie Griggs





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Janet Tronstad

December 2013

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

JT:      Thanks, Winnie. It is a pleasure to be here with you and your readers.

For starters, I grew up in rural Montana on a small farm next to a small town (Fort Shaw). I cut my reading teeth on my grandfather's Zane Grey novels until the book mobile made it out to our town when I was in high school I went wild and was reading anything and everything (I remember War and Peace for one). Many of my family members still live in that community and I spend part of the year there these days with my parents on the farm.

In my twenties, I spent many years in school, culminating in a Master's Degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I worked for a variety of companies in the next couple of decades - a small film company, a national college newspaper, and a health care company.

Finally, I left it all behind to write full-time and haven't looked back.

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.


JT:      It wasn't so much a catalyst as it was a growing love of books as I grew up. When I finally realized that authors wrote books, I was awestruck. I loved reading the bio's in the books almost as much as the books themselves. I never thought I could write books though until much later, probably when I was in college. Even at that, I didn't think I could get a book published. But I had to try.

WG:      Tell us about your journey.

JT:      I was about thirty when I said to myself - if you're going to do this, you better get started. It took many years though.

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

JT:      I had only written a couple of novels before I sold to Love Inspired. I think it was three. I had written countless magazine articles though - for Women's World, Westways, and Arizona Highways. They were good training.

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

JT:      I really felt that my submission to Love Inspired would be accepted. I had written it especially for the line. And, they were new then and I knew they were looking for writers. So when I got the call, I wasn't surprised. I didn't have a list of questions to ask or anything and I was very pleased.

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

JT:      It has given me freedom to live my life -- quitting my day job was the biggest difference...

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

JT:      I think the biggest thing that I didn't expect was the reader response to my books. I feel very privileged when people email me and tell me what a book of mine has meant to them. I especially got those emails on my Sisterhood of the Dropped Stitches series which was about young cancer survivors.

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

JT:      No typical day. When I'm on deadline I write all the time (it seems like it anyway).

WG:      Do you set writing goals for yourself?

JT:      I just do the best I can. At the beginning of a book, my progress is very slow. It speeds up considerably from there though.

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

JT:      All I need is quiet.

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

JT:      I try to - but I don't usually. I think it would be easier if I did, but I need to work the story out on the page.

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

JT:      A glimmer of storyline and a scene with a character gets me going. Again, I don't recommend the approach.

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

JT:      I often write about redemption - a character becoming a better person.

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

JT:      Readers tell me I am able to take them into a scene and make them feel they are living the novel. I hope that's true.

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?

JT:      I seem like I never have enough time for my writing - the call of friends and family comes first with me. I'm not sure I want to overcome that, but I do strive for balance.

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

JT:      Just don't do as I do - I think it's a laborious way to write. I sometimes envy writers who have the whole book mapped out and then can write it in a week.

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

JT:      I like light mystery and have noticed that my Dry Creek has gone a little in that direction (not much because they are romance and not mystery). I do love to read mystery and thrillers though. And I love reading a good Regency romance, but have never attempted to write one.

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

JT:     I suppose Regency and thrillers (see above).

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

JT:      It takes time and patience to become a good writer. Don't expect to be an instant success.

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

JT:      Not that I can think of right now.

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

JT:      When I used to do magazine articles, I used to celebrate sending the manuscript out rather than when it was purchased as that, even more than romance writing, is a process with many rejections.

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

JT:      I suppose the old 'you must write every day' advice. I never have done that. It doesn't fit my life and, often, not the book I'm working on. Some days I don't write, but I think some on a book instead. I used to feel guilty, but then decided it was silly. It didn't matter the pace I kept as long as I made progress.

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

JT:      I love when a novel comes alive - that place where you know what's happening and you're moving swiftly with it all.

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

JT:      I love to eat out with my friends, sitting and talking for hours.

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

JT:      Secretly, I think I wanted to be a writer, but never had the nerve to even dream of it.

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

JT:      Probably nothing. I'm pretty much 'what you see is what you get.'

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

JT:      I like strong dramas - I've enjoyed The Good Wife on television as well as Downton Abbey.

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.

JT:      I always liked the one by Eleanor Roosevelt - "Women are like teabags. We don't know our true strength until we are in hot water!"

WG:      Please tell us about your current project.

JT:      I am writing a series of three books set in Montana and Alaska. They tell about two families (one who cheated the other out of gold in Alaska before moving to Dry Creek, Montana). There are three brothers in one family and three sisters in the other - you get the picture.

WG:      What inspired you to write this particular story?

JT:      I have always wanted to write some books set in Alaska. It is a beautiful state, with interesting people. And I like family dramas.

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

JT:      Part of the books will be set in Nome, Alaska and I made a trip up there with my sister who lives in Anchorage.

WG:      Tell us about your upcoming plans.

JT:      The Alaska/Montana books are my next ones with Love Inspired. I am also planning some indie titles with a small group of inspirational writers to be released next year.

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

JT:      Readers can find me on facebook (just search for Janet Tronstad).

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

JT:      Thank you, Winnie! It is such a pleasure to speak with you and your wonderful fans today :)