And it’s at these secular venues that I am often asked the most interesting and intelligent questions. So many people want to write something, whether it be their own life story or poems that have touched family and friends or children’s stories they would like their grandchildren to enjoy. But even those who never plan to write anything are often curious about how an author goes about it all. They might love reading, but have never thought about what that author’s name on the cover represents and the potential ups and downs involved in it all. Many seem interested too in the nitty-gritty of preparing a book for publication and the actual process of finding a publisher. So when it comes to question time, I have to be prepared for anything!The most common questions I am asked go something like this: When did you start writing? How long does it take you to write a novel? Where do you get your ideas from? Do you write something every day? Do you sometimes get ‘writers’ block’? Do you plan your book out before you start? What about self-publishing? How has the advent of the e-book affected the publishing industry? Are your books available in all the main bookstores? But perhaps the ones I find the trickiest to answer are to do with selling and money – questions like: How many books have you sold? What sort of print runs would your books have? Can you make a living out of it?
Hmmm!! When it comes to these questions, I try to be gracious – but then again, in our Western culture at least, does one usually ask a stranger how much money he or she makes in their business? The best response I have come up with so far is to tell them I am very thankful I am in the ‘black’ with my books and not in the ‘red’ – that I’m thankful I have so far avoided lots of boxes of unsold books under the bed or wherever they are stashed! But I also tell them it’s a good idea not to give up your day job! And even in the most secular setting, I usually say that, for me, it’s not all about the money. It’s about blessing others and making a difference in this world and about enjoying using the gifts God has given me to share with others.How about you? Have you been asked curly questions like this? Have you found some good responses to use?
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of five published novels – Heléna, All the Days of My Life, Laura, Jenna and Heléna’s Legacy. Her first non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey will be released in October and a sixth novel, The Inheritance, in 2013. Jo-Anne loves music, reading, mentoring younger women, and sharing with community groups about writing. She is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren. For more information, please visit her website, www.jo-anneberthelsen.com.