Award Winning Author Winnie Griggs





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Rhonda Gibson

December 2015


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

RG:      Thank you for having me :) I was born a Texan, raised in Texas and Oklahoma and have spent most of my married life in New Mexico. I have two grown children and three beautiful grandchildren. God is good to Rhonda. As far as hobbies, I love crafts and geocaching (a form of treasure hunting) with my husband. I also love animals, we have 2 dogs, 3 cats and a tank full of fish.

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.

RG:      My mother taught me how to read at a very early age. I wanted to write stories like I was reading in books. God gives me the talent to write. When I really decided to write, God put Colleen Coble in my life. She knew what I needed to do, besides write a good story, to get started. I thank God for her. She really helped me.

WG:      Tell us about your journey.

RG:      Wow, to talk about the journey is hugh. I'm not sure I have enough room here to tell it all. I joined several small writer's groups and bought a lot of writer's books. Colleen Coble and I met online and I told her I wanted to write for Barbour. She asked if I had an idea for a novella collection, I told her I did. She connected me with three other authors who agreed to write three of the stories. We sent it into Barbour Books and six months later, Rebecca Germany gave me my first contract at the conference that was called, American Christian Romance Writers in 2003. I was the first person to get a contract at the conference. What a blessing!

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

RG:     I didn't finish anything before I sold. Well, that's not true. When I was 12 years old I finished a Hardy Boy Novel, gave it to my Mama. So it was never thought of as something to be sold.

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

RG:      I got "the call" at the ACFW conference. Rebecca Germany gave me my contract there. I wasn't sure if it had sold or not until then.

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

RG:      Well, I'm a gal who doesn't enjoy sitting for long periods of time and now find I "get to" do that. I used to read a lot but now find my reading time is limited.

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

RG:      It surprised me when my friends thought that even though I have deadlines, I don't work a real job and can go "mess around" whenever I want. I lost a few friends but on the up side… I have gained many more wonderful writing friends.

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

RG:      My schedule has changed a lot as I've adjusted to the writing life. Right now, I clean house, study the bible and if I have time craft in the mornings. Writing is done from 12-4:30pm and sometimes I also write from 8-10pm especially during a deadline.

WG:      Do you set writing goals for yourself?

RG:     I do, I take the word count of a novel and divide that by how many words I need to write Monday-Friday.

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

RG:      Not really, I just read what I wrote the day before and get to writing. I do enjoy playing cartoons in the background. The old ones like, The Flintstone's, Smurfs, Gummy Bears, Winnie-the-Pooh and, well, you get the idea.

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

RG:      Not really, I like to write the first three chapters and then write the synopsis. I follow the synopsis as much as possible. Often I will do a little re-writing on the synopsis as the story goes. Example: The last book I turned in ended up with a secondary character who was the nanny for the little girl in the book. She wasn't in the original synopsis so had to be added.

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

RG:     Usually a character. But sometimes I also know what my storyline is… like right now I'm working on a pony express series so know that the pony express will be a big factor in writing the book.

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

RG:      I find that I enjoy writing western romances. My heroines are usually strong and my heroes are cowboys. You know the kind where the hero saves the day and in the process realizes that the heroine has saved him. My basic theme seems to be forgiveness.

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

RG:     Wow, I'd have to say that a personal strength is knowing that without God I can't write. So I write to please Him and ask for His help when I get myself into a tight deadline or when I can't figure out what I should do next with a character.

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?

RG:      I have three grandchildren and want to spend as much time as I can with them. Often I will find myself agreeing to spend writing time with them instead of focusing on the writing. So, I try to stick to my schedule as much as possible and spend as much time as I can with the grands on the weekends.

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

RG:    I have a critique partner who is dynamite! I write a few chapters, send it to her, and she helps me to polish them. There has been a number of times when she has really helped me, especially when I'm on a tight deadline and I don't feel like the writing is going well. She's always there to encourage me and assure me that this book is her favorite.

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

RG:      I love cozy mysteries. I wrote two for White Rose Publishing and when my rights were returned to me, I put them up on amazon. As a reader, I read the cozy mysteries, fantasy's dragons and such, and young adult novels.

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

RG:      Young Adult. I'm not sure if I can do it, but it might be fun to try… maybe with dragons and such.

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

RG:     Don't give up. Get into a good writing group. Read! Read! Read! I know everyone probably tells you to read but I have to admit that reading western romances before I tried my hand at them, really helped me.

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

RG:      Every new lesson I learn is an 'ah-ha' moment for me. I enjoy every aspect of writing.

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?

RG:     I simply tell myself God is in control of my writing. If I get a rejection, that's God's way of telling me this isn't the time or place for that proposal, He might let me put it up myself or send it to a different publisher. Example: I proposed a novella idea to one publisher about the pony express, she rejected it. Then I talked to my LIH editor about possibly making it into a longer book. She loved the idea and I re-wrote the novella proposal for her and she bought a whole mini-series for it.

As for unhappy readers, I learned a long time ago I can't please everyone. And most of the time don't read reviews unless someone says, 'hey did you see that wonderful review you got?' then I'll go read that one. If a reader tells me they have reviewed a book, I'll read theirs too. I also read the RT reviews but again, that is just one person's thoughts. If she doesn't like it, someone else will.

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

RG:      No, I've been blessed. But, I also don't take advice from just anyone. Everyone I talk to and learn from have already walked the path I am taking.

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

RG:      I love getting letters from readers who tell me that they enjoyed my book or that it helped them in some way. That is a wonderful reward!

Lately, it's been deadlines. LOL, like I said before there are days when I want to go play with either family or friends and because of the deadline have to say no. But, to be honest, I had that problem when I held a full time outside job too.

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

RG:     I read. When I'm working on a book, I will often put fiction books to the side until I am between books. I do read non-fiction books while writing, this girl can't go without reading. I also enjoy crafts, I love to make cards, jewelry and quilting. So I will often times tackle one or more of those projects.

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

RG:      A secretary. I went to Secretarial school but after a couple of jobs decided that wasn't for me. So I went to the library and got a job putting away books. After my children became school age I worked as a preschool teacher and LOVED it! Then when a job opened in their school for the librarian position I jumped on it and was a school librarian for over 10 years… LOVED it, too.

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

RG:      That I once lived in a 100 year old log cabin with no electricity or running water. And loved it.

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

RG:     Disney's Sword in the Stone and I enjoy cartoons. Because, I don't like serious shows.

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.

RG:      "This Too Shall Pass" My mother has said that all my life. It was her way of saying you can get though anything.

WG:      Please tell us about your current project. 

RG:      As I've mentioned, I'm working on a pony express miniseries for Love Inspired Historical. I'm on book three. This series is based on the Young Family. All 7 of the Young boys are orphans who have signed on with the pony express. Book one, Pony Express Courtship is about Rebecca Young their step-mother and Seth Armstrong, a pony express station manager. It comes out March 2016.

WG:      What inspired you to write this particular story?

RG:     I have always loved the pony express and after doing some research knew I wanted to write about the men who made the pony express a success.

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

RG:    I am always researching. Either by reading books, searching the internet and my favorite, visiting other places. There are always things that are fun and interesting. While researching the pony express I was thrilled to discover that even though they advertised for 16 year old boys, there were a lot of older men who rode and worked along the trail. The oldest rider was 46 years old.

WG:      Tell us about your upcoming plans.

RG:      A Convenient Christmas Bride is my newest book. It comes out December 2015. It is the sequel to The Texan's Twin Blessings. I have several more pony express stories in the works. You can recognize them by the Saddles and Spurs emblem on the front of the books.

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

RG:      I love it when readers write to me. They can either email me at or send me a note to Rhonda Gibson, P.O. Box 835, Kirtland, NM 87417

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

RG:      Thank you again for having me. This has been fun.