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!)