Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Author Interview - Linda Evans Shepherd

Linda Evans Shepherd and I met at the 2010 Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. She's a multi-published author and speaker. She and Eva Marie Everson collaborated on the popular series, The Potluck Club. You can visit her website or check out her book site, and watch some of the videos available on Youtube.

Let's give Linda a big Christian Writer/Reader welcome!

1) Linda, we don't often ask writers about their speaking platform. How did you "get  your foot in the door?" Also what came first: your speaking or your writing?

The thing I love the most about speaking is the ability to see how people react to my messages. For example, as a writer, I can't see how my words impact the reader nor can I hear her chuckle if something strikes her as funny. But as a speaker, I can both see and hear how God is using my messages.

In college I'd majored in art and drama, thinking I'd be a youth director. But God had other plans and I entered into the world of high tech as a technical writer. But it wasn't until I wrote my first book for teens, Ryan's Trials, some years later, that I got the call to speak. Literally.

One day the director of the national Christian Women's Conference in Denver rang to confirm that I had written a book. She asked, "That means you speak, right?"

My mind raced. Of course I could speak. I had a degree in drama plus I'd recently achieved the rank of "Competent Toastmaster" in Toastmaster's International, an organization that trained business people to speak. So, to my surprise, I answered, "Yes!"

"What do you speak on?" she asked.

As my baby daughter had spent a year in coma before waking up to disabilities, I blurted "Grief relief."

"Perfect!" she said. "How would you like to teach a workshop on grief relief?"

"Sure," I said, and that's how it all began.

Every year, this dear lady would invite me back to teach a workshop, never realizing I only spoke once a year. But the workshops went well, and the third year she asked me to be a keynote speaker. How surprised I was to find myself on the platform with Liz Curtis Higgs and Carol Kent. Since then, I've had the privilege of speaking in almost every state in the U.S. as well as in Canada and Europe.

2) Your Potluck book series is a collaborative effort with Eva Marie Everson. Can you share the mechanics of working with another author? Do you get together or use a special computer program?

Eva and I mastered the art of co-writing by following a few simple rules:

  A) Eva and I picked the characters that we were individually responsible for writing.

  B) We took turns writing chapters in the point-of-view of one of our own characters.

  C) We were allowed to include each other's characters in our chapters.

  D) If one of us should write something unexpected about the other's characters, the new twist could not be changed. We decided that just as real life brings the unexpected, our characters would also face and react to the unexpected. (Honestly, I think it makes our plots exciting.)

As for the mechanics, Eva and I generally get together once a year to do a little writing and to plan our over-arching plot lines, but we finish the novel separately, in our own homes. With Eva in Orlando and me in Colorado, the two of us spend hours IM-ing one another on AOL, while sending chapters back and forth for review and critique.

Our method works! We even went to New York together to research Taste of Fame. A lot of the stories that happened to our characters, like getting lost on the subway, actually happened to us in real life.

Thanks, Linda. We'll continue the interview next Wednesday, October 27th.

Question for our readers: Do you have a speaking platform? I love how Linda seized the opportunity to speak. How did you get your start? (If it's too long, maybe we can interview you!)


Karen Lange said...

Great interview! Thought it was interesting about her contrast on writing and speaking - seeing people's reactions. Interesting too, to hear about the collaboration project.

I have spoken to homeschool groups. As a former homeschool mom, I was in the thick of things for many years and was asked to share about starting a group, teaching writing, homeschool grads, etc. I've also spoken to a small writing group. I was a member and we would share various tips and things about the writing life.

Thanks to both of you for sharing!

Bess said...

Collaborating on a book seems to be popular in Christian fiction. Maybe because of Christ in them, Christian authors can share the spotlight, work with one another, and be selfless in their writing. I admire Ms. Evans and all writers who have collaborated on a novel. I hope I can have the privelege someday.

Have a good day,

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Wonderful interview, ladies - really. Thanks so much to both of you. :-)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Karen -

Thanks! Yes, writing and speaking provide different levels of satisfaction. The immediate feedback doesn't leave you wondering how your words were received.

Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Britt -

When two authors collaborate on a book, the danger of producing something ho-hum is reduced. I was struck by how Linda and Eva write each other's characters and never know where that will take them.

Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Shannon -

You're welcome! I hope you'll stop by next Wednesday for Part II of the interview.

Susan :)

Kathleen said...

I'm always blessed when I drop in here; the writer's goldmine! Whether it's an interview (great fun), or a recommendation, yours is always a resource for gathering tidbits of wisdom.

Blessings to you & yours,

Jeanette Levellie said...

Oh, if only I could get writing gigs this easily! Ha!

I love how you collaborated to co-write your novel, Linda.

I've spoken to ladies groups, seniors groups, and civic groups. My goal is 50 times a year, but I have a way to go before I reach that. I enjoy meeting new people and I agree, Linda, it is fun to see their responses!

What a fun interview, ladies. Thanks to both of you,
Audience of ONE

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kathleen -

Thanks so much! I hope you'll tell your friends about Christian Writer/Reader Connection. :)


Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jen -

I also enjoyed reading about how Linda and Eva Marie work through the collaboration process. Linda's an amazing lady.

It's wonderful you have speaking opportunities. Platform is so critical for a non-fiction writer.

Susan :)

Jessica Nelson said...

Wow, what a story about Linda's speaking! And sad about her baby but hopefully things are fine now... Great interview. Thanks for sharing!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

I met Linda at Philly. What stories she had about her speaking engagements - including one on Larry King Live!

Susan :)

Terri Tiffany said...

She made me feel so encouraged. She is so brave! A few years ago, I was asked to speak at a conference and I said no as I was so afraid even though it was something I would love to do! never turn down those opportunities from God--might not have the chance again. So happy she didn't!

Anonymous said...

So interesting to read how others careers transpired. So interesting how drama became so important in a way never expected! Another great interview Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

Oh, I'm so glad the interview encouraged you! I often wonder how many opportunities I lost because of fear.

Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Lynn -

Knowing how important a speaking platform can be to an author, I took full advantage of Linda's vast experience.

Susan :)

Linda said...

Hi Everyone,
Glad you are enjoying the interview. Just got back from Atlanta and so loved speaking to the ladies of Redeemer Presbyterian. It was wonderful to see the Lord move on their hearts and it was also awesome to try and refine new material. The thing about being a speaking author is you discover the points you need to clarify and refine before you put it into print.

I'm enjoying all your comments.
Linda Evans Shepherd

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Linda -

Welcome back from Atlanta!

I'm glad you were able to comment on Part I of the interview. The second part will run Wed., 10/27.

What a great point! With speakers, the refining comes during your talks. It must save a lot of editing time. :)