This week's spotlight is an interview of Edwina Cowgill. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and has recently been appointed as the Georgia area coordinator. Thanks for your thoughtful interview!
How long have you been writing? I actually began writing as a teenager. My best friend (and we've been best friends for life) found the stories I wrote as a teenager and brought them with her on her last visit. I'm sure I'm dating myself by sharing this, but I had written a story about Paul Revere and the Raiders (the music group - not that other Revere guy - I'm not THAT old!) I was madly in love with Mark Lindsay (lead singer) and pledged to follow him to the ends of the earth. We laughed ourselves silly reading those stories!
What is the best advice you have been given for writing? I have this taped onto my laptop and read it everytime I sit down to write: Where is the best place to start a book? On your knees.
If you could give new writers one piece of advice, what would you say? Learn as much as you can from every possible source and don't ever give up.
What process do you use to critique or edit your work? I belong to a critique group within ACFW and they are awesome. We submit one chapter for every two that we critique and we submit twice a week. Presently there are four of us submitting chapters. I have learned so much from belonging to this group! Before I submit a chapter, I review the chapter at least twice, attempting to find as many mistakes as possible. I submit it to the critique group who always finds my nemesis - point of view. I have yet to master that technique -I tend to "head-hop," but I'm learning. Once I receive their critiques back, I read all of them and compare them to see if they've all commented on the same points. That's a sure sign I need to change what they've commented on. I make the change, read it out loud, ask myself if I like the change I've made and then move on. Most of the time, I accept the changes the group suggests, but occasionally, I leave the word, sentence, etc. the way I wrote it in the beginning.
What are you working on now? I'm working on my first novel, that looks like it might be a novella. The tentative title is Surrender and is about a pro-abortion counselor who is lead to God through the love of neighbors, friends and even a teenage girl who followed the advice of the counselor and had an abortion. I am approximately half-way through the first edit, which is why I said this might be a novella. I've cut a lot out! But I plan to go back and add to the story. I will say that this has been a challenging subject to "cut my teeth on" for my first manuscript. I don't know if this manuscript will ever see the light of publication, but I will always be grateful to God for this subject because it has strengthened my resolve to continue supporting pro-life groups and it has taught me so much about writing!
What was your best decision as a writer?
To join ACFW. This group is awesome and I have learned so much from the monthly classes as well as everyone who so generously shares their knowledge via the loop. When I am published, it will be first, due to God's help, grace and mercy, and second, to ACFW.
Have you ever entered your work into contests?
I've entered a number of contests for several reasons: 1) to receive judges' critiques; 2) for the experience and fun of entering; 3) SHOW ME THE MONEY!!! I've made the first cut in two contests, but I've yet to see the money! Seriously, that's okay. I am more interested in learning from the critiques. I'm waiting now to hear back from a contest for which I entered the first 10 pages of my current WIP. I'm very interested to read the judges' opinions!
You can visit Edwina's blog at www.musingsofedwina.blogspot.