A warm welcome to my guest blogger, Janet Sketchley, a contributing author to 21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Mom.
Tell something about yourself as a person and as a writer.
I’m blessed to not need to work outside the home, so I can concentrate on writing and on a bit of volunteer work. I still often wonder where the time goes! My husband and I are seasonal empty-nesters (while our youngest is away at university) and we’re choosing to enjoy couple-hood again instead of thinking of the house as too empty.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I read a lot (too much!), and I like to cross-stitch and knit. And I love a good cup of tea.
What do you do to relax or blow off steam?
I’m learning to pray when I’m stressed. Music helps a lot too. If I’m doing something that doesn’t require concentration, I’ll turn on my worship songs playlist and let the words refocus my spirit. If I need to pay closer attention to a task, I switch to mellow instrumental jazz.
Tell me something that’s quirky about you.
I like peanut butter and cinnamon in my oatmeal, I put the milk in my mug before the tea, and I have a collection of stuffed sheep. Maybe those are normal things?
Tell about a favorite family ritual.
It’s not a ritual so much as a menu item. One time I cooked a turkey without bothering to make sausage stuffing. From the uproar, you’d have thought a disaster had happened! The kids were young then, but the message was clear. Since then, cooked turkey always comes with sausage stuffing.
What inspired you to write the story featured in 21 Days of Love?
In my story, “Outspoken Love,” a young woman visits her grandmother in a care facility, and they encounter another resident who’s much different in temperament. For Trina, the young woman, it’s a life lesson. Which person would she rather be like when she reaches that stage in her life? What choices does she need to make to live a fuller life today and to grow old gracefully?
Are any parts of this story taken from something that happened in your own life or the lives of people you know?
My two grandmothers, both of whom I loved, were vastly different in their outlooks on life. The two older ladies in this story are fictional, but they allowed me to explore the effects of temperament and choices as seen by the young visitor, Trina.
How has God used fiction to touch your heart or change your life?
Most times, any effect is too subtle to notice, but there are a few exceptions. In one short story, I recognized an aspect of myself in the main character and saw how his life lesson applied to me too. In another, a character was challenged about why, in his thoughts about a tragedy, he never imagined God being there … when of course He would have been. That was one of the things God used in my life to help me understand that whatever happens, Jesus will be there. I still have to guard my thoughts, but this truth helps me keep fear from taking root.
Besides Jesus, which person from the Bible would you most like to talk to, and what would you ask or say?
Nathanael, Philip’s friend in John 1:43–49. He didn’t believe what Philip said about Jesus … until Jesus said He’d seen Philip under the fig tree. Philip’s instant belief suggests to me that under the fig tree, he’d been praying, pleading with God about something extremely close to his heart. Probably a prayer that included the question “Do You even see me?” It’s a pretty personal question, but if Nathanael wouldn’t mind sharing, I’d love to hear his testimony.
What story in the Bible do you wish had a different ending? Or in what biblical story do you wish you knew what happened next?
The rich young ruler who walked away from Jesus (Matthew 19:16–22). I’ve always hoped he wrestled with the Lord’s words until his spirit surrendered.
What ministries are you passionate about and involved in?
The Word Guild is a Canadian organization of writers and editors who are Christians, with a mandate of “encouraging, equipping and empowering” its members. Writers need people ahead of them on the journey, as teachers, and behind them, to teach. I’ve received so much from other writers, and it’s important to me to give back as well as to keep receiving. The Word Guild is only one of the groups I’m plugged into, but it’s the one where I have a service role: I’m prayer team lead.
When do you have your devotional time with the Lord, and what do you do during that time?
I like to start my day with the Lord, because otherwise I can get distracted and forget. I curl up with my Bible, but I don’t open it until I’ve spent time in prayer, focusing on the Lord and bringing to Him my family and other things that are on my heart. I’m learning to begin with worship instead of rushing straight to my needs, because not only is that more respectful, it gives a better perspective: first look at how big God is, then any troubles will shrink back to their true size. Eventually I’ll read a portion of Scripture, with a listening attitude. Many days, that’s the extent of it, but every week God catches my attention with a verse and an insight, and I shape that into my weekly devotional post for my blog.
What else have you written?
I have a three-book Christian suspense series, Redemption’s Edge, and I’m currently in the discovery phase for a new series. Also, my blog offers weekly devotionals, reviews, and features.
What do you love most about writing?
I love those moments when a character or situation takes on a life of its own and I’m typing as fast as I can to keep up. Those moments are rare.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Conveying what’s in my imagination so the reader can have a similar experience. That’s where pre-publication readers are a huge help. They can point out what’s unclear or confusing, or where I’ve given the wrong impression … while I still have time to make corrections.
Share one of your most rewarding moments connected to your writing.
The most exciting moment would have to be the publication of my first novel. One of the most rewarding was a comment from a friend after she read my second novel, Secrets and Lies. The heroine in the book struggles with fear, and at one point another character coaches her through a prayer resisting the fear. My friend confided to me, “I prayed that prayer along with Carol.” That’s one of my treasured moments, to know God used some of my words to help someone else.
What interesting jobs have you had?
I don’t know how interesting it is, but I worked for a couple of months at the busiest McDonald’s in London, England. Longer-term, I worked for our city bus company here in Canada for a number of years, first giving phone information and eventually as part of the scheduling team. A key regret: not taking the trainer up on his offer to try driving a bus. Not that I’d have wanted it as a job, but it would be cool to be able to say I’d done it.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Be an author! Likely a few other things that I’ve forgotten, but the author one persisted the longest. I turned a corner of my closet into my “office” and even made a name badge that proclaimed “author.” Then, of course, life intervened. I didn’t come back to writing until I was around thirty.
Thanks again for sharing with me and my followers!
Janet Sketchley lives in Atlantic Canada, where she writes Christian suspense novels and blogs about faith and books. She loves Jesus and her family, and she enjoys reading, worship music, and tea. You can find Janet online at janetsketchley.ca, and fans of Christian suspense are invited to join her writing journey through her monthly newsletter: bit.ly/JanetSketchleyNews.
June 3, 2016 @ 12:04 pm
Enjoyed your interview and getting to know Janet a bit more