Patricia: I noticed you wear a lot of different hats. You’re in the food service and weight loss business, you co-own a piano restoration company with your husband, and you are a leader in your community and active in your church. How do you balance it all and still have time to write?
Elaine: Patricia, thanks for hosting me and giving me extra exposure in getting my name out in the social media world.
I do a lot of juggling! However, allow me to clarify. Although I still work in the restaurant business (provides decent benefits, considering my husband is self-employed) I’m no longer in the weight loss business, which interestingly I’d ventured into many moons ago after a stint of managing at a fast-food eatery. As for community service, that happened back when I was in my 30s… also many moons ago. Actually, that was a major detour in my writing journey but I believed I didn’t have a choice. A mining company wanted to blow up and cart away two significant hills about a thousand feet from my front door, and this over a 100-year time plan. It would have had major impacts to daily living, as well as our piano business that requires quiet and clean air. When I first became active in the citizens group that fought the mining company, the town that clearly wanted to invite them in, and the state that had never said no to a mining company before, I rolled up my sleeves and started to attend meetings. When I was offered the position of Vice President of the citizens group I found it difficult to pass, unaware of the ten years (not exaggerating!) it would take out of my life and remove me from accomplishing my dreams. As I see it now, in hindsight, God planted me where He wanted me when He wanted me. It took all of us together to stop this company. It taught me much about life and people and made me grow in ways I probably would have not otherwise.
And, as far as working in the piano business, when the economy hit that sour note a couple of handful of years ago it was necessary for me to leave the cozy work-at-home environment that I enjoyed with my husband for 13 years. I grabbed the first job that grabbed me. Yet, I still work on his quarterly taxes and withholding.
So, to finally answer your question, I admit, I’m maxed. I get up at 2:30 AM to start work at 4:30 AM (but fortunately last year I cut back to 4 days a week instead of 5 because I really believe it was starting to kill me). I am working very hard on my writing and for the past 3 years actively blog, hosting weekly guests. How do I do it? I basically try to ignore my inner whines and more than ever have been placing my focus on God and trusting Him. I try not to get overwhelmed by things, especially important biggies like what-will-happen-to-me-in-the-future by letting God handle those issues. Well, at least I’m trying. Ha. I don’t have a busy social life, but that’s okay since both my husband and I are homebodies. He has his he-cave and I have my writing-cave, aka, the couch with my laptop.
How did you come to start Everyone’s Story?
A few years ago I felt a growing and gnawing pressure as a pre-published writer to circulate my name and grow that all-important social platform. Time wise I knew I couldn’t commit to blogging about my thoughts 3 or 4 times a week and truthfully did not think anyone would be that psyched to read my ponderings. So I came up with a venue, something that as a blog viewer I enjoyed, and that was hosting guests, whether published authors, pre-pubs like myself, or occasionally a guest representing a great cause. On Everyone’s Story I strive to provide “uplifting stories for readers, writers, and all those in-between.”
Patricia, the unexpected blessing of my blog is the daily gift it gives me: meeting and connecting with so many people from all over the world. I can only hope that they are lifted in spirit as much as they lift me and bless me with joy and encouragement.
I know I am always encouraged and lifted up when I read your blog. About your writing…do you have an agent? How did you meet her?
Yes, I’ve been blessed last spring when Linda S. Glaz of the Hartline Literary Agency took me on as a client. It took me a long time to find this strong woman who **gets** my writing and is willing to work hard at selling it. As I’ve mentioned, not only do I blog but I enjoy viewing other blogs—have learned so much from others. One day I stumbled onto Linda’s blog and she was offering a contest to see if an elevator-pitch grabbed her attention, the prize being a review of the first 5 pages of a manuscript. Well, she liked my pitch and 5 pages for my then WIP, but when she wanted to see more I told her honestly that it wasn’t available but that I happened to have another manuscript completed. She read this mss. over one weekend. One! She took me on as a client, we worked out some editorial kinks, and she is now circulating this novel. But… I almost didn’t enter Linda’s contest until a little unrelenting voice badgered me with the words “Why not?” Lesson learnt: chase away your inner doubtful demons!
Absolutely! What keeps you writing, and what advice would you give unpublished writers?
What keeps me writing and what advice can I offer to unpublished writers is one and the same. But first, let me ask a question to your viewers: Do you want to publish a novel? It’s either yes or no. No in-between. My advice and self-motivation is something I humanly struggle with on a daily basis: am I trusting God with my writing? A few weeks ago I was blessed with my second adult baptismal and, to use a cliché, have since woken up and smelled the coffee: I need to trust that God has indeed planted within my heart this desire to write and as through my baptismal when I’ve become born again in faith, I now realize that I need to stop looking and fretting about my age and realize that being born again means I have the rest of my life to go forth and do what He wants me to. In extreme shorthand: stop worrying about what and when others are accomplishing but focus only on Him and what He wants you to do. You know how others in the beginning of each New Year come up with a one-word goal to focus on during the year? Well, I haven’t, but instead I’m focusing on God. I admit, as a human being, this is not easy, nor does it come with the snap of my fingers. I’m working on it!
Time for a little fun. Two quick questions: 1. Where would you rather vacation, Alaska or Hawaii? And why. 2. If you could choose to go on a picnic with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
1—Hawaii. Sure, I’m saying that right now as someone living in the Northeast who is grumbling about the snow and cold, but I’d love to experience a slice of paradise in this world!
2—Oh, a bunch, an eclectic bunch. In no particular order, after Christ, of course: John the Baptist; Paul; John; my paternal grandfather who died two months before my father was born; my paternal great uncle Louis because I’ve always been curious about him; those whom I lost such as my mother, paternal grandmother, paternal aunt, and dear childhood friend Diane; and call me nutso, Bob Fosse (for his creativity and, too, I think I’d get his darkness).