I'd like to welcome a long-time friend and fellow writer, AJ Hawke, to my blog.
Born in Spur, Texas into a multi-generational Texas family, A J Hawke has traveled throughout the American West as well as other parts of the world and enjoys reading, writing, friends, family, and being a Christian.
AJ's recent release isMOUNTAIN JOURNEY HOME. I haven't had the privilege of reading it yet, but if you like western romances, this sounds like the book for you! AJ does a wonderful job on her research, and that's one of my favorite things about her books. Not to mention the exciting story-lines!
So . . . what's MOUNTAIN JOURNEY HOME about? Let's find out by reading the book jacket cover:
A man’s word is a man’s life. Rock Corner, Texas. 1877. Life couldn’t get much better for Dave Kimbrough. He has a beautiful wife in Jenny, a fine young son in Jonathan, and a small ranch with which to build their future. But when Jenny suddenly dies, the heartache is more than Dave can bear, so he leaves his son with his wife’s family and rides off into the rugged Texas country alone. After several years Dave is wrongly accused of murder, and when he sets out to find the man who can clear his name, he runs instead into a posse that has set out to kill him. Wounded, he holes up for the winter in a cave. It is not time wasted, however, as he is given time to contemplate the mistake he made in abandoning his son. Once spring arrives, Dave returns to make things in his life right. Things rarely go as planned, however, and Dave’s plans are no different. Beset by a trip to jail, Jenny’s spirited sister Rachel, and the heartache of taking away the only life and family his son really knows, Kimbrough makes a promise he thinks is the right thing to do. But a fateful winter followed by a deadly spring storm changes the course of their lives in ways that no one—least of all Dave—could have ever imagined.
Every reader likes to learn more about characters as they get further into the story. How do the secrets of your characters come to life?
I give glimpses of the early life of my characters through dialogue and internal thoughts. Dave in MOUNTAIN JOURNEY HOME has a lot of back story that influences his decisions as he makes his way back home, but the reader only sees bits and pieces along the way.
Some authors report writing 5-10 thousand words a day. Do scenes flow freely from your veins, or do you have to tweeze each word out?
I am a flow with the story type of writer. I don't do much outlining and just start a scene and write, which may be good or bad depending on the day. Basically, I am a storyteller rather than a writer. Some days the time is there to spend on writing and the creative juices are flowing and I can write the 5-10 thousand words. Other days I look at the words already written and wonder what in the world should come next.
What led you to the career choice of becoming a writer?
Career? I have a career as a writer? Well, maybe someday, but for now I write inbetween my day job.
What are some of the spiritual themes you like to write about?
Forgiveness of self and finding peace with God are two major themes that I have written about. No one is perfect but we can be made perfect by the one who gives full forgiveness and peace through Jesus Christ.
We’d love to hear a little about yourself and your writing journey.
I started writing seriously July of 2008. I was trapped in my house by the Texas heat and bored with TV and trying to find a good book to read. So I wrote CABIN ON PINTO CREEK, with lots of mistakes and needing major editing. I didn't know anything about a craft of writing. But when I learned that there was a learnable craft of writing fiction I marched myself down to my local library and started reading how-to books. I've read about a hundred now. No, really, at least a hundred and now I am starting to go back and read them again. Evidently, I learn craft very slowly. I then started my next novel as if I had good sense and was published. I just kept writing.
What were some of the steps you took along the publication road?
I tried the conventional, traditional get-an-agent and then publish. I went to writer's conferences, joined ACFW, joined a critique group, and gave it two years. I know, I'm impatient. Always have been. I completed a doctoral dissertation in four months when most people take years. Any way March 2011 I published my first novel, CABIN ON PINTO CREEK, the second one in June 2011, CAUGHT BETWEEN TWO WORLDS , and now MOUNTAIN JOURNEY HOME in June 2012.
What is the hardest part after the book is published?
The marketing of course and this is true whether you go the traditional route or self-publish. You have to find a way to let people know that your book is available. It takes time and mental energy. The days when a publisher will publish your book, and then market it fully for you are gone, if they ever existed. I studied the craft of writing and then I studied the craft of marketing. Unfortunately, I know more about both than I actually use.
Why historical and particularly, Western Historical Romance?
I love the history, land, and the mythical world of the western romance. It is fun to write and you can make your characters bigger than life.
What are you working on right now?
Editing two Western Historical Romances that follow some of the characters from CABIN ON PINTO CREEK. Hope to publish both by Christmas which will my present for myself.
I want to finish a Western Historical Romance that has about 70,000 words. Should be able to complete that by fall and then the editing process begins.
Two other stories are started with about 20,000 words so far. I would like to get all of these finished and published by the end of 2013. That would make a total of eight novels published.
What three things do you know now about the publishing world that you wish you knew when you first started?
1. Major in creative writing in college with a minor in marketing.
2. Start twenty years earlier.
3. Don't listen to the gremlins.
Has being an author been everything you thought it would be? If not, what has surprised you the most?
I thought authors were really smart and that by becoming an author I would get smarter. But, nope, I'm still just average.
Where do you get your inspiration for your stories and characters?
They show up from everywhere. I see an old house in a field and suddenly I'm writing a story in my mind. I see a good-looking man at the mall and I wonder how he would have looked in a cowboy hat and spurs. Ideas and characters are all over the place. Doesn't everyone write stories as they drive down the street? Or, have characters talking to each other in their head while they are in the shower?
What is the best writing advice you ever got? The worst?
The best is just to write. The worst is listen to non-writers' rules of writing.
What do you write besides books?
I teach women's Bible studies and often spend time writing material to teach.
What three things are you most thankful for in your life that others might think silly?
Not really silly but important to me. Air conditioning (I live in the Dallas area so summer is HOT); washing machine and dryer ( I lived overseas where I had to wash my clothes, sheets, and towels by hand and hang them in a small bathroom); and my microwave (otherwise I'm not sure I would get enough to eat).
If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
Joseph. He had terrible problems in his life and was never a free man after his brothers sold him, and yet, he stayed a good man with God as his guide.
Thank you so much for coming by, AJ! I wish you the best on your writing and publishing journey. It was great to have you join us.