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In Conversation With Denise George Author of 31 Traditionally-Published Books and More than 1500 Magazine/Newspaper Articles
From:
Norm Goldman --  bookpleasures.com Norm Goldman -- bookpleasures.com
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Montreal, QC
Wednesday, March 24, 2021

 

Bookpleasures.com welcomesas our guest Denise George. Denise is the author of 31traditionally-published books, (with Penguin Random House, TyndaleHouse, Zondervan, LifeWay, Bethany House, etc.) and more than 1500magazine/newspaper articles, including Redbook, Essence, HistoryNews Network, Christianity Today, AAA, Guideposts, etc.

She writes on topics:Civil Rights, World War II, and books about Christian living. Herlatest book, Called to Forgive (withAnthony Thompson, Bethany House, 2019) just received a starredPublishers Weekly review.

For years, she taughtwriting to publish classes, and has traveled widely, speaking touniversities, seminaries, churches, etc. She is married to Dr.Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School, SamfordUniversity, Birmingham, AL.

Norm; Good day Deniseand thanks for taking part in our interview.

What do you think isthe future of reading/writing?


Denise: I think readingand writing certainly have a future even though people say they arereading fewer books these days.

But with conveniente-books and e-book readers, I don't think reading will go out ofstyle any time soon. I believe the main media up and comingopportunities might be in script-writing alongside book-writing.

People are watching films,and film companies are needing new material.

Norm: Howdid you get started in writing? What keeps you going?  

Denise: I started writingas soon as I  could hold a pencil. I've always had a passion forwriting. I waited 17 years, and then had my first newspaper articlepublished.

That certainly triggeredthe passion, and I've been writing ever since.

Norm: Ifyou had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Denise: I've had so manywonderful mentors who guided and taught me: My professor at HarvardUniversity, also the Associate Editor of the Atlantic Monthly, C.Michael Curtis, and his wife, Jean, served as mentors for severalyears.

Dr. Lucien Coleman, myseminary professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, servedas a mentor more than 37 years ago, and we still keep in constantcontact.

Author Dr. Calvin Millermentored me in story-writing for a decade, showing me the value ofwriting written in narrative form. Recently, a lawyer and WWIIhistorian, Holbert Harlan Grooms, took me under his wing, taught meabout precise sentence structure, and all about WWII.

He mentored me throughthree WWII narrative nonfiction books with Penguin Random House. Ihave been fortunate to have great mentors, and now I'm excited aboutbeing a mentor myself to new writers.

Through my privateFaceBook group, Writers for Life, I teach online writingseminars, counsel, guide, etc. I've also taught writing around theworld and at university graduate levels. I enjoy teaching as much asI enjoy writing.

Norm: Wheredo you get your information or ideas for your books?  

Denise: I keep a keen eyeand ear, watching and listening for trends, people expressing theirfelt needs, etc.

I mainly write to help,guide, teach, and encourage people--so many hurting people out therein the world today.

Through the decades, I'vediscovered that many of my best ideas come through prayer. I am aChristian, but I write both for secular and Christian markets.

Norm: Whatdo you think makes a good story?  

 Denise:  Tension.Great characters. Timing. Characters will goals to accomplish. And,most of all, great conflict--on every level!

Norm: Whathas been your greatest challenge (professionally) that you’veovercome in getting to where you’re at today? 

Denise: Finding time towrite in the midst of all life's constant responsibilities andinterruptions, including: working in inner city, Boston, foryears--chaotic always; school/classes; traveling; speaking; marriage;my husband's professional positions, raising two active children; nowraising a 3-year-old grandson!

I have to think in orderto write; any noise hurts my train of thought. I must tell you,writing has been a challenge since I started writing. I am stillconstantly overcoming impossible challenges in order to write.

Norm: Whatare common mistakes you see aspiring writers make?  

Denise: That's an easyquestion! I see most aspiring writers wanting to write-to-publishbefore they've learned the ropes.

Writing skills must belearned, practiced. For instance, a story must have structure, andeach genre has its own special requirements. I also think manywriters write to themselves, not to the readers. A writer must knowthe felt needs of his readers, his audience, before he attempts towrite to them.

Also, a writer must learnthe business of writing, what writing terms mean, how to work wellwith editors, how to honor deadlines, how to write queries, bookproposals. How to approach a publisher. It must be done in aprofessional way.

Norm: Doyou write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?Please summarize your writing process.  

Denise: Both. I intuit thefelt needs of people, my audience I write for. Then I switch tologic, do everything by the book, employ the business of writing.

I've made sure I am set upto write: separate, quiet, well-stocked, equipped office; researchinformation at my fingertips; a wonderful book agent of 25 years whobrings in contracts from great traditional publishers; etc. I'mserious about writing and research.

I work with full outlines,unlimited access to research, experts in the fields I choose to writein, etc. I don't write for fun. It's a business with regular hours,professional everything.

Norm: Why do you write?Do you have a theme, message, or goal for your books?  As afollow up, how long did it take you to get your first major bookcontract?  

Denise: I write because Iam called by God to write. Simple. I want to inform, educate,counsel, help, and encourage people through my writing.

I think the best way tograb people and hold their attention is through story-writing. Storyis just an innate part of a human being--part of our DNA.

Through story, I tellpeople that God loves them, they have ultimate worth, they areindividuals with specific gifts, and that every life is important toGod and to His purpose for His world. I'm careful about using"God-language" though. It can turn off people and they willshut out your message.

That's why it's soimportant to know your audience, your readers. I also do not use rawlanguage. I hate it. I hate to read it. It's a lazy writer who mustresort to it to make a point or to describe a character.

My first book contract:How to Be A Seminary Student--And Survive. LifeWay Publishers.

Talked with an editor faceto face, he liked idea, send contract in about 3 weeks. The second,third, fourth, fifth, sixth contracts came easily and quickly. When Ibecame a book agent's client, he did the leg work with editors, hegot the book contract and I could concentrate on writing the book.

I would not work without abook agent. Worth his weigh in gold! I have a great one: GregJohnson, WordServe Literary. 

Norm: What advice canyou give aspiring writers that you wished you had received, or thatyou wished you would have listened to?

Denise: Learn writingskills, learn the writing business, and then write. Persevere, don'tgive up, keep writing even when rejections come.

Norm: How many times inyour career have you experienced rejection? How did they shape you?

Denise: Not much. I've hada few, but I work differently than many writers. I study themarketplace, research the publisher, know every specific detail abouttheir readers, check social trends, see what books are already outthere, and plan every detail in a book proposal, and have thepublisher's contract in hand before I write the first word of a book.

It's not hit or miss,ever. That's what I try to teach new writers to do. Takes out all theguesswork.

Norm: What, in youropinion, are the most important elements of good writing?  

Denise: Making words"sing" creatively, placing them right where they need to goin sentences, timing in story-writing, writing to the reader'sheart--not head. Loving your reader and truly wanting to help herthrough writing. And about 10,000 other things!

Norm: Has a review orprofile ever changed your perspective on your work?

Denise: No. I appreciatethe 5-star reviews. I loved receiving a Publisher's Weekly starredreview for one of my books with Bethany House.

But, I've been writinglong enough to develop a rhino's hide and bad reviews don't bother meanymore. I respect other people's opinions, and we're all different. 

I once received an amazonreview on one of my Penguin Random House WWII books--it said:"Everyone should buy this book and use it for toilet paper!"

The same week I receivedthat review, I also received a film producer's contract to make amajor motion picture of that book! If people don't like a book I'vewritten, I would hope they return it, get their money back, and spendit on a book they do like. Reviews are subjective, and rarely haveanything to do with the book itself.

Norm:You are the administrator of a Facebook Community Writersfor Life. What is this all about?

Denise: Thanks for asking!We are a wonderful family of writers who help, guide, and encourageeach other.

I am just beginning tooffer a whole selection of pre-recorded, online writing seminars--andpricing them so low that everyone can afford them.

I pour my heart into thisgroup--now about 1700 members strong--and I am seeing wonderfulthings happening to writers as they encourage/help each other.

Writers need writers forencouragement; writing can be a lonely business, and it helps to knowyou've got support from people who understand the writing life, it'schallenges, obstacles.

Norm: Where can ourreaders find out more about you and your books?

Denise:Please come to my WEBSITE--newly remodeled.We have informative, in-depth teaching blogs, books, everything.Also, check out Writers for Life on FaceBook. It interested, anyonecan reach me through my website.

You can also check out my Amazon page.

Norm: Are you workingon any books/projects that you would like to share with us? (We wouldlove to hear all about them!)

Denise: Yes! Yes! Yes!After having written 32 books, all traditionally-published, and morethan 1500 magazine articles--for both secular and Christianpublications, I have embarked upon another writing challenge: writingmajor motion picture screenplays.

It is very exciting! Ialso hope one day to write historical fiction. I guess I'll need atleast 120 more years to do everything I want to do in the field ofwriting.

Passion runs high, andthere is a whole world of readers and film viewers out there. I alsohope to teach more, revise a dozen of my writing work books, and seemy wonderful students publish books, articles, and scripts. It'sexciting work! Very fulfilling.

Norm: As this interviewends, if you can invite three authors (dead or alive) to your dinnertable, who would they be and what would you discuss with them?

Denise: I've beenfortunate to have had many wonderful authors sit at my dinner table,and I'd like to invite all of them back because each gave me so muchencouragement and information: Frank Perretti, Calvin Miller, ChuckColson, J. I. Packer, Sue Monk Kidd, Terry Helwig, Lucien Coleman,Jim Cox, Eric Metaxas, Holbert Grooms, C. Michael Curtis, John Piper,A. V. Hill, Elizabeth Sherrill, and many many more. And I'd like tosit down with C. S. Lewis, Tolkien, Louisa May Alcott, Edgar AllenPoe, Charles Spurgeon--oh my--Charles Bunyan, and, of course, all thegospel writers! Far too many to name.

Norm: Thanks once againand good luck with all of your future endeavors

Denise: Thank you, Norm!your questions prompted much thought and I wrote answers very freely!

 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Norm Goldman
Group: bookpleasures.com
Dateline: Montreal, QC Canada
Direct Phone: 514-486-8018
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