Writer's Coffee House

Writer's Coffee House

Writer's Coffee House

Writer's Coffee House

Writer's Coffee House

Writer's Coffee House

Q & A with the Talented Authors
of Writer's Coffee House

Twenty-two published writers contributed to this collection of prose and poetry designed to encourage writers. Allow us to introduce you to some of them now.

First meet Robyn Whitlock, a young writer with a fresh voice and a terrific sense of humor.

Robyn Whitlock, doing a presentation at a conference


Robyn, with your busy family life — a husband and three school-age boys — how do you find ANY time to write? EVER?


I remember when the twins were babies, I would write during nap time. Actually, I would nap for an hour, and then write for however long they slept. Some days, I got two hours of writing in, and other days, it was more like ten minutes. (And don't even ask when I had time to clean the house—something had to give!)

But I remember thinking that as soon as they went to preschool, I would have more time to write. Then it was grade school. As soon as the twins were in grade school, I would have loads of time. No matter what stage I was in, there was always this elusive sense that if only I could hold out until — whenever — then I would have more writing time. But I've found it's just not true.

My youngest was in school all day for the first time this past year, but now my in-laws need more help, and I'm finding that this is just the way life is for all of us. If we are writers, we simply have to carve out time to write, no matter what season of life we're in. If we're waiting until we have "extra" time, it just won't happen. Does that answer your question? I guess that's the long way of saying, "I just do." Oh, and I ignore the dishes and laundry on a regular basis!


What? Ignore the housework? Count me in! Next question: If you had to name just one thing, what has helped you the most with your writing--and why?


Just one? I have a long list, but if I have to say just one, I would have to say my Writer's eXchange group. Being accountable to a group of talented writers and getting their feedback on a regular basis has sustained me as a writer.

When I first started writing, I had a hard time showing my work to anyone. I didn't feel like a "real" writer, and I was worried everyone would say my writing was great while thinking, "Wow. Who's going to break the news to this girl that she needs to find something else to do with her time?" But putting my writing out there and having other writers who I respect give me feedback has been a powerful experience.


Yes, I don't know if those negative voices ever go away. We just have to "do it anyway." Drawing on your own experience, what advice would you give to young writers just starting out?


Just start writing. Whether it's a journal or a blog, a short story or a novel, just write something. it doesn't have to be any good at first. Nobody has to read it. Just put words down on the page, one after another. Do that every day if you can, or at least at some point in every week. Keep writing, and I promise, you will get better.

Read good books, too. Most of us don't need to be reminded to read, but sometimes, I spend a little too much time on the Kindle "freebies," and need to be reminded to seek out well-crafted books to hone my own skills as a writer. There are so many great writing blogs out there, but don't get hung up on doing everything "right." Spend at least as much time writing as you do reading about writing. And find a group of writers you can connect with so you'll have an audience. Listen to the feedback they give you.

And, most importantly, just keep writing!


Thanks, Robyn. I can't wait until your first novel is published!


Robyn Whitlock

Robyn Whitlock is the mother of three boys. Her articles and essays about mothering have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, and she aspires to be a novelist when she grows up. When she's not in the kitchen, driving carpool, or doing laundry, she writes.


And now, meet Donna Alice Patton, a widely-published writer with a new novel out this year.

Donna Patton, signing one of her books


Donna, I'm always amazed at your creative output--in spite of numerous family commitments. What is your secret for staying productive even though you're so busy?


It's really no secret - more a case of survival! Writing gives me something I can focus on during the busy times. Being able to daydream during other ho-hum, have-to-do-this-now minutes can make the hours whiz by in a most pleasant way. Then all it requires is a commitment to sit down and put those daydreams down as articles, books or whatever. It's not as much fun doing the work, but I try to trick myself into imagining I'm sneaking away from some of the ho-hum, have-to-do-this-now stuff.


For you, what for you is the hardest part of writing a novel--characters, plotting, description--or something else?


That's a difficult question to answer. I'd say it depends on what I'm writing. Some projects start with a character that jumps into my mind. In that case, it is hard to work on description and sometimes plotting. Other times, an idea will pop into place and I'll keep going until I have a great plot. Then I'm left with searching for a character worthy of the story. I love dialogue and have been told it's one of my strong points - action and description are my shaky points.


Thanks for that thoughtful answer. It's easy to see you have a lot of experience at writing stories. You have published three novels and have several more in the works. What advice would you have for someone who is just beginning to write his first novel?


Never give up!! Okay, that seems cliché but it's the truth. My personal belief is that if you keep on long enough, someone will love your book. Just look at all the books in a library. There is room for all of us — so keep writing!


Donna Alice Patton

Donna Alice Patton is a freelance writer and history buff living in rural Ohio. She is the author of three books - The Search for the Madonna and The Gift of Summer Snow for children and an ebook for adults - Roses are Red, Diamonds are Blue. To visit her author site at donnaalicepatton.com, click here.


Books by Our Contributors

The 5 Things We Need to Be Happy, by Patricia Lorenz -- released in February, 2009, by Guideposts Books.

The 5 Things We Need to Be Happy

What do you think will make you happy? A higher-paying job? A longer vacation? A Caribbean cruise? Better health? A slimmer, trimmer you? "Think again," says Patricia Lorenz. This how-to of happiness will show you how love, laughter, a passion for what you do, a can-do spirit and a heart full of faith can put you on the road to living your dreams. And money has nothing to do with it!

Ordering information -- for The 5 Things We Need....

Roses Are Red, Diamonds Are Blue, by Donna Alice Patton -- released as an e-book in April, 2013, by MuseItUp Publishing.

Roses Are Red, Diamonds Are Blue

It's been almost a year since Laura Barkley's husband, a museum curator, was murdered and the fabled Anastasia Diamond stolen. Someone is determined to find the diamond no matter the cost, unless Laura can decipher Peter's last baffling clue and find it first. Laura finds herself caught in a series of snowballing events she can't control, including the Blizzard of 1978. As the snow deepens, who will survive?

Ordering information -- for Roses Are Red....

Resilient Spirit: Poems for Lorraine, by Nancy Esther James -- released in March, 2013, by Finishing Line Press.

Resilient Spirit: Poems for Lorraine

Resilient Spirit chronicles, in poetry and journal entries, a beloved relative's final years with dementia. Although the subject matter is sad, the story that NancyE tells is about courage and triumph--focusing on what remains instead of what is lost. A beautiful book — including NancyE's artwork on the cover).

Ordering information -- for Resilient Spirit.

Autism and Alleluias, by Kathleen Deyer Bolduc--released in April, 2010, by Judson Press.

Autism and Alleluias

"Kathy Bolduc invites us into the concrete, messy, detailed, and often colorful experiences of life with Joel, her son with autism. She shares her stories, and then lets us see the ways her questions, faith, hopes, and, finally, love, left her open to finding and seeing God in the places, events, and relationships where she, and we the readers, might least expect." -- Bill Gaventa, MDiv, Editor, Journal of Religion, Disability and Health

Ordering information -- for books by Kathleen Bolduc

Under the Tea Leaves, by Sheryl Van Weelden and Sherry Borzo -- August, 2007, by InMindMatters.

Under the Tea Leaves

Sheryl and her daughter Sherry explore the tearooms of Iowa, in search of the best tea and chicken salad. But the story becomes a quest for a deeper understanding of their mother-daugher experience. They reflect on communication, joy, aging, workng and the greater journey that has brought them thus far.

Ordering information -- for Under the Tea Leaves.

Crying in the Wilderness: A Voice for America's Children, by Tomaline S. Lenox -- released in October, 2008, by Point Vierge Publishers.

Crying in the Wilderness

An eight-year-old witnesses a murder. A grandmother takes custody of a girl whose mother is a drug addict. So many of America's children are in the at-risk category. Drawing on a lifetime of experience in public education, Tomaline Lenox presents true case histories of abuse and neglect but also a hope for genuine change through nurture and mentoring of these children.

Ordering information -- for Crying in the Wilderness

Fearless Teaching from a Grocery Cart, by Margaret Steinacker -- released in July, 2009, by Cutting Edge Institute.

Fearless Teaching from a Grocery Cart

So you have no classroom to call your own! Fearless Teaching from A Grocery Cart will provide the ingenuity needed to orchestrate a workable classroom anywhere. Margaret Steinacker has spent over 34 years as a classroom teacher and instructor to inmates in two Indiana County Jails. In her powerful book, she teaches you how to bring materials to your limited assigned classroom area easily and effectively to meet the needs of every student.

Ordering information -- for Fearless Teaching...