Welcome Michele, Can you share a little about your recent book –The Jealous Son is a contemporary suspense novel based on the story of Cain and Abel in the Bible’s Book of Genesis. Part drama, part murder mystery, it’s a story that begs the questions of how a broken family can possibly piece itself back together once tragedy strikes and all seems lost, how one can rise above grief and despair to find hope and forgiveness, and whether God is still in the midst despite it all.
Why do you write? Do you have a theme, message, or goal for your books? I think I was born to write! I believe God called me to write modern-day novels based on Bible stories in the Old Testament to carry His messages to readers in today’s world. My books are all independent from one another since they are based on individual stories but each is an edgy, fast-paced, contemporary novel filled with intrigue, suspense, and a little romance so that they universally entertain and inspire today’s readers. My goal is to continue to fulfill this purpose and get my books into as many hands as possible, and hopefully, have them made into movies as well!
How long have you been writing? And how long did it take you to get your first major book contract?I dreamed of being a novelist when I was ten-years-old and wrote my first “book” in a spiral-bound notebook about a girl and her dog, but that dream was put on hold as life and its myriad responsibilities took hold, including careers as a news reporter, advertising agency owner and marketing director to help pay the bills; I self-published my first novel, The Faithful One, based on the Book of Job, in 2009, got a contract from a small Christian publisher for that book and my next one, The Peace Maker, based on the story of David and Abigail in the First Book of Samuel in 2012, and then got a contract with Morgan James Publishing for those two books and my next novel, The Runaway Prophet, based on the Book of Jonah, in 2016.
How long does it take you to write a book? I think that depends on a lot of factors including whether you have a day job, family responsibilities, etc.; I had both (my kids were young and I was running a full-time ad agency out of my home!) when I wrote my first novel, The Faithful One, so that one took about eight years (plus I was new to publishing and ended up self-published); my second, The Peace Maker, only took me two years since my three kids were teenagers, I was not employed and I had a publisher (with an editor); my third, The Runaway Prophet, took me four years because I was working full-time in the corporate world and I wanted to find a new publisher, which took some time; my fourth (and latest) novel The Jealous Son only took me a year to write and edit since I had quit my day job and my kids were all grown and my husband and I were empty-nesters!
What’s your writing work schedule like? I write best in the morning between the hours of 7 am and noon when my energy is at its peak (I’ve had my coffee!)…then it seems like my energy begins to wane a little, so I use the afternoon to answer emails, phone calls, work on copy projects or editing my students’ works, etc.
Do you have an interesting writing quirk? If so, what is it? I always try to remember to pray before I sit down to write that the Holy Spirit guide me and my writing and begin with a prayer and/or a few moments of meditation and yoga stretching to get my blood (and thoughts) flowing.
What has been your greatest joy(s) in your writing career? Wow, there have been many…but I’ll just name a few: the first time I did a live author Q&A session with a ladies church book group which embraced me and my books and said they could really relate to me and stories; seeing my books re-published by my new publisher with covers that I absolutely loved; speaking at writers’ conferences and teaching my college writing students – each class full of eager writers is new, exciting and joyful!
What has been your darkest moment(s)? Writing, editing and publishing my first novel was the toughest part of my journey…I originally had written a book which won first prize at the Maryland Writers Association fiction contest but I lost the prize of literary agency representation because the agency was located in New York and “9-11” just happened (that book turned into a memoir that isn’t published yet); then I got the idea to write a modern day story based on the Book of Job (looking back I see God had a plan to heal me from the Job-like trials I was going through…losing my marriage, my business, it seemed like my kids who were teenagers and my health through the disease of alcoholism. Fortunately, I found redemption like Job and my character in The Faithful One through a new marriage, my new author career, great relationships with my kids (and grandkids) and recovery. But writing and publishing that first book (and getting lots of rejection letters from editors and agents) was tough.
Which of your books is your favorite? My latest – which is hopefully my best since I believe I continue to grow and progress as a writer with each book.
Who is your favorite author to read? I like Sandra Brown, John Grisham, Kristin Hannah, Khaled Hosseini
What advice can you give aspiring writers that you wished you had gotten, or that you wished you would have listened to? Don’t be impatient or in a hurry (my biggest vice, which has cost me time and money, especially when it comes to having to re-edit, or rushing into a publishing contract with the wrong publisher). Take your time, weigh all of the pros and cons, pray about each decision and then go for it! (and if you make mistakes, just learn from them).
How many times in your career have you experienced rejection? How did they shape you? I received more than 100 rejection letters from literary agents and editors the first time I tried to get published; but the journey of writing, trying to get published, rejections, getting published, and challenges with my first publisher all made me persevere, become a better writer and a better person – and have helped me to help other writers become authors.
Do you have a favorite character or scene in one of your books? It’s a tossup between Chessa Richards (the Abigail character in The Peace Maker) and Eliza Trellis (the Eve character in The Jealous Son) – they are both very vulnerable but strong women who face some rough challenges and have to make very tough choices – but come out even stronger in the end.
Where do you get your ideas? I got the idea for The Faithful One from God (I was actually writing another novel at the time when I believe God tapped me on the shoulder to “write a modern-day novel based on the Book of Job” – which helped me through my Job-like trials I was going through; a friend suggested a write about Abigail which turned into The Peace Maker (he knew I was going through a rough divorce and facing challenges like my character); I decided to write The Runaway Prophet after studying the Book of Jonah in a Bible study; and the idea came to me to write The Jealous Son because I have two sons who have a sibling rivalry (as do my sister and I) and I have two friends who recently lost children. They say write what you know (or are interested in) so the ideas come to me for each new book based on my life experiences and/or those of others I know.
What are common mistakes you see aspiring writer’s make? Telling not showing (a mistake I made in the early days, which thankfully editors helped me with along the way and I now teach my writing students).
Where/How do you recommend writers try to break into the market? Attend writers’ conferences, meet and talk to your peers, take writing classes or attend workshops to improve your craft, constantly be willing to learn, and persevere! Also, you are your own best marketer and publicist but don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Michele Chynoweth is the award-winning author of Modern Day Bible Stories The Runaway Prophet, The Peace Maker and The Faithful One, contemporary, Bible-based novels full of suspense and romance. Prior to becoming a full-time author, speaker, and book coach, Michele worked in marketing, publicity, and journalism for 30 years. In addition to being an author, Michele is a college instructor teaching the courses “Writing Your First Book” and “Publishing and Marketing Your Book” through the Cecil College Continuing Education Program in Maryland. She is also an accomplished inspirational speaker and has presented many writing workshops at writers’ conferences across the U.S., and an experienced book coach who uses her many years of expertise in writing, editing, publishing, and marketing to help other writers become successful authors. To find out more visit her website: www.michelechynoweth.com