The calendar says March, but the snow on the ground says, “LOL SORRY STILL WINTER.” At least, that’s what’s happening where I live! But whether it’s nice and toasty where you live or if you’re still in winter’s grip, there’s always an excuse to curl up with a good book—or free novella, in this case—courtesy of my friend, Jerusha Agen! Scroll on to get to know Jerusha and learn how you can get your copy of “The Protector.” Here’s the blurb:
When trafficking survivor Tamara agrees to share her story at an awareness event, she doesn’t realize that decision might cost her life.
As an unknown killer tries to silence her, a handsome stranger shows up, determined to save her from harm...But who will protect Tamara's heart?
Doesn’t that sound delicious? And anyone who wants to read it can grab your free copy—did I say free?—just by signing up for Jerusha’s newsletter! Details at the end of the post, but for now, please help me give a warm, possibly-still-wintry welcome to Jerusha Agen!
Thanks for having me! It’s an honor to be here!
First question, Jerusha. What inspired you to start writing?
I think I actually started to write as soon as I could physically form letters as a child! Some of my earliest memories are of creating stories in “books” made from cardboard and construction paper. I scrawled the narrative of those tales on the pages in crayon, along with my poorly drawn illustrations.
So, I think my answer to the question would have to be God inspired me to start writing by wiring me for story! I was also helped along by having a mother who is a passionate reader and was determined to make sure her kids loved reading, too. I grew up being read to many times every day and learned to read myself at an early age. Throughout my childhood, I also listened to a plethora of dramatized and read-aloud stories on tape (yes, I’m old enough for cassette tape). I’m so thankful for my mom’s diligence in giving me early exposure to books and stories in many formats, which birthed in me a lifelong love of reading, writing, and story!
Ha, that sounds very familiar to me, as my own childhood is filled with books, be they cassette tape or otherwise. Does that mean we’re old? No, wait, just kidding, that’s not the real next question.
Here’s the real next question. What does your writing routine or process look like, if you have one? What obstacles or challenges do you face in making time to write?
Two years ago, I realized that I was wasting a lot of time every day and not being productive enough with my writing. So often, my writing was getting pushed to the back burner and not gotten to because I would run out of time for it. If we keep waiting or trying to make time for writing, we’ll rarely or never write! So I implemented a schedule that increased my productivity by helping me to prioritize writing every day, while also enabling me to manage my time so well that I could get the other, non-writing tasks done, too.
In my work-week schedule, I have daily writing times blocked out. These times vary depending on which day of the week it is. For example, I spend much more of Mondays on writing, whereas Tuesdays have writing time in the morning and the rest of the day is spent on other tasks. I had thought that having a schedule would be restrictive, but instead it enables me to accomplish my goals and drastically reduces the stress that comes from never accomplishing all that I need to.
Similarly, when I first started writing, I thought it was cooler to be a pantster than a plotter, but then I realized an important truth about myself: I hate rewriting. To be honest, I don’t like the outlining/plotting process either. It’s tedious and difficult, and I often feel like I’d much rather, “just write.” The trouble is that if I were to dive straight into writing before plotting, as I used to do, I’d be far more frustrated by having to stop frequently to figure out what needs to happen and (the worst!) I’d have to stop to rewrite, over and over again. For me, it’s definitely worth the time to plot and outline my stories before writing them.
I’ve found that writing from an outline is MUCH faster, less frustrating, and enables me to achieve the thematic layers and depth I aim for in my novels. Not every writer is the same and outlines may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I recommend everyone try both ways before dismissing one as inappropriate for them. You might be surprised by which method is actually best for you!
As for obstacles and challenges, I think we all face many of the same ones—including life itself! Life stuff just seems to always get in the way, doesn’t it? That schedule I mentioned? It only works when I actually stick to it. Lately, I admit, I haven’t been doing well at that, and my productivity has really suffered as a result.
We can also lose our motivation, which will make us sacrifice our writing time even more. I think such times are when we have to go back to the question of why we’re writing what we’re writing in the first place.
Is it a hobby? Something for our own personal enjoyment? Then maybe it doesn’t matter if we discipline ourselves to get it done.
But if it’s for something greater—if we’ve been called to write and we are writing what God has given us to write—then we need to remind ourselves of that purpose and let His mission for us, HIS glory, drive us to prioritize our writing and work as hard as we can to see it to completion.
How has God changed you during your writing journey? What’s one piece of advice you might give to your younger Writer Self?
What great questions! Wow, where do I start? God has changed me so much in so many ways during this writing journey. I’ll just stick with the highlights and mention the biggest changes I think He’s wrought in me. He’s taught me about the importance of aligning my expectations to His and He’s taught me about patience and trust.
When I started out in my writing and publication journey, a very long time ago, I had extremely different expectations than what have come to pass. This wasn’t my plan. But God is enabling me to see more and more that this is HIS plan. And because He promises all things will work for my good, I must trust that His plan for me, no matter how different it is than my original plan, is the best plan possible.
Really, I have no right to be disappointed at any turn, because He planned this journey, and He has a great purpose in mind for every step. Ultimately, the problem is that I want to follow my own, hand-scribbled map (which would surely get me lost and into serious trouble in a hurry). I need to discard my inaccurate map and be willing to follow my Father’s instead, even though I can’t see the way far ahead.
So the advice I’d give to my younger Writer Self would be to prepare for a longer journey than expected, but not to fear it. To change my expectations so that publication or worldly success is not my goal or destination, but rather so that following and serving Jesus every step of the way is all I desire. To always keep in front of me the truth that if I am honestly writing for God’s glory, then I can be just as joyful in times of rejection, waiting, and wondering as I am in times of publication, acceptance, and positive reviews.
What’s the best book you’ve read recently, and why?
Disillusioned by Christy Barritt. Though this was actually my least favorite installment in this three-book romantic suspense series, I still enjoyed this one more than other books I’ve read recently. The reason why is Barritt’s writing. Through this series of the books, Dubiosity, Disillusioned, and Distorted, Barritt has become my current favorite romantic suspense writer. She’s a skilled writer who achieves the perfect balance, in my opinion, of suspense and tasteful romance. Her stories are gripping page-turners. More importantly, her characters have a depth and dynamic development that isn’t always seen in romantic suspense. She also fully integrates Christian themes that are both powerful and realistic, giving these stories relevant meaning that makes them much more than just entertainment.
If you could have coffee/tea/gratuitous amounts of carbs with any author(s), living or dead, who would you choose? What would you talk about?
This is a tough question! (Though if there are gratuitous amounts of carbs involved, I’m SO there!) Aside from the biblical authors who wrote by God’s inspiration, I think I’d choose Harper Lee, author of my favorite book of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird. I would pick her brain about her inspiration for that story, how she learned to write with such brilliance, the influences of her own life that led her to write on the topic she did (and from a child’s perspective), why she didn’t write more books, and more. And I’d probably ask her if she has any ideas on how to be an incredibly successful reclusive writer in the twenty-first century!
Haha, if you ever learn the answer to that, sign me up!
So what do you do when you’re not writing?
I have five furry family members (three big dogs and two little cats), so they take up much of my time when I’m not writing. But I’m also a major movie fan, which means I need to watch some movie or TV show (old classics, not the stuff on TV these days) in my downtime. When I’m not hanging out with animals or watching movies, you might find me cross-country skiing in our beautiful Midwest winter or baking some yummy desserts.
How can we pray for you?
How kind of you to ask! I would welcome prayer that I would continue to learn what I talked about earlier in this interview—to align my expectations with God’s plan, and to have patience and trust for this journey He’s leading me on. Please pray that I stay motivated and never lose sight of my purpose in writing—to glorify God where He has put me, by using the gifts He’s given me.
Thank you so much for hosting me, Amanda! This has been so much fun!
And thanks so much for being here!
Jerusha Agen imagines danger around every corner, but knows God is there, too. So naturally, she writes romantic suspense infused with the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ. With a B.A. in English and a background in screenwriting, Jerusha is the author of the Fear Warrior Blog (www.JerushaAgen.com/blog), where she writes about fighting against fear in our everyday lives. You’ll often find Jerusha sharing irresistibly adorable photos of her Furry Fear Warriors (three big dogs and two little cats) on social media. Visit Jerusha at www.JerushaAgen.com and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Get a free e-copy of The Protector, a romantic suspense novella, when you sign up for Jerusha’s newsletter! Subscribe here, and you’ll receive the free novella as a thank you, access to exclusive giveaways, Jerusha’s news, and more!