Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Spotlight onTerry Burns

Terry Burns is here visiting with us on Writing By Faith and he has offered to give away a copy of his latest book. If you have read my blog before you know I love my fellow Texans. I was able to meet Terry Burns at an Christian Writers Conference and enjoyed talking to him about writing. Welcome Terry. Please tell us a little about you.

I’m a fifth generation Irish Storyteller and a 4th generation Texas Teller of Tall Tales. Telling stories is in my blood, writing is simply a way of getting them out. I’ve been writing all of my life but have just been writing fiction the last 10-15 years. I have 27 books in print including the books I have shorter work in, and several hundred articles, short stories, ghostwriting, and other aspects of writing. These days representing my clients as a literary agent takes up much of my time.

Terry, please tell us about your new novel.
The release date is Jan 2nd for "Beyond the Smoke" from BJU Press. A young man finds himself alone out on the frontier in the late 1800's. He finds there were no special provisions for young people in this harsh environment and he had to grow up fast . . . Or not grow up at all. A book trailer is available at http://www.terryburns.net/

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
There have been so many it’s hard to choose but getting on a Bull at the rodeo would have to be pretty high on the list. Investing in a small print shop would be pretty close to the top too.

Beside salvation, what is the best gift you have ever received?
At a candlelight service on Christmas eve I got to watch both of my kids get baptized. It doesn’t get much better than that.
The is a wonderful gift!

Who is the most important influence in your life besides God?
Easy, my parents, although I think of them as a set instead of a person. They were always there for me, and at 95 mother still is. I would be hard pressed to try and list all of the ways they impacted my life.

What book are you reading now? What books are found lying around your home?
I get over 100 submissions a month which severely impacts my reading time. Takes a lot of time to read hundreds of manuscripts. I wish I could read more and do when I can. My library is four wall floor to ceiling bookcases, but the leather back set of Louis L’Amour and the hardback set of the Classics stand out, as do one whole section of books on writing.

Your library sounds very much like my father's. My father has always been a fan of Louis L'Amour and he really likes Elmer Kelton too.

If your book was being discussed at a book club what do you think the focus of the discussion would be on?
There was no such thing as a teenager before WWII – kids went straight from whatever education they were going to get to working on the family farm or in the store. Out west they were cowboys and soldiers, and girls were getting married as young as 15. I think the discussion would center around how different the lives of kids today are compared to what they would have been if they lived in those days.

That is a great point to illustrate to today's teens. I know my own son who is really a pre-teen doesn't have any concept of the idea of being an adult at 15. We complain about children growing up so fast. I guess in reality that may not be quite so true today as it once was.

I always am trying to learn new ways to be organized in the office, what is your favorite organizational tool?

Excel spreadsheets – I log submissions on them as well as track things I have submitted of my own and for my clients. I use them to track editors and publishing houses and a variety of other uses.

I love old black and white movies and the old musicals. What is your all time favorite movie?
I love the old westerns and it would be hard to pick one but I guess I’d have to say Hondo with John Wayne. It’s the only one of his pictures that you can seldom see.

In my recent WIP one of my character's actually references this movie. It is a great one. I cut my teeth on John Wayne movies. Although my favorite is McClintock.

What would you like your readers to say about your writing?
That they couldn’t find a place to put it down. I did have one lady who was reading in the waiting room awaiting the birth of her first grandchild. They called her and she said, “Just a minute, I can’t stop here.” That’s the greatest thing anyone has ever said about one of my books.

What are your pet peeves in the writing industry?
People who are in such a hurry to get published that they aren’t willing to perfect their craft and pay their dues. Just because we can tell a good story doesn’t mean we can write a professional manuscript. A large majority of what is sent to me is just not ready, but instead of making it right very many will get discouraged and quit or will just publish it themselves. I have nothing against self publishing but it should never be done because the book is not good enough to go into print any other way.

That doesn't just go to the writing community. With anything we do we must pay the dues in order to reap the rewards. That is a great point.

What are your dreams of 2009? What do you hope to accomplish this year?
I have five books of my own coming out in the coming year including some ghostwriting that my name will not be on, and I did 25 deals for my clients this year. I hope to do better next year.

What is your favorite verse from the Bible?
1 Corinthians 9:16 – For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! – King James Version.

Writing interpretation – If I were volunteering my services of my own free will, I’m sure the Lord would be pleased, but God has picked me out and given me this sacred trust and I have no choice but to serve Him with my writing.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Don’t take rejections personally, they don’t know us well enough for it to be personal. It just means it doesn’t fit their catalog at that place at that time. It will be that way most of the time because that perfect fit is an elusive thing. We must have the patience to keep doing the legwork and the research to find that place that is the perfect fit.

What do you want your readers to take away from your novel?
Most of all I want them to find it a fast paced, entertaining read no matter the age. There are a number of small lessons involved but I don’t beat anybody over the head with them.

Thank you Terry for visiting with us. I am sure Beyond the Smoke will be a success for you.

If you would like to win a copy of Beyond the Smoke please leave a comment and an email address for me to reach you if you win. And answer the daily question: What a novel really great? The question is suppose to be "What makes a really great novel?" U.S. only and please no P.O. Boxes

Of course you can always earn extra entries.
2 extra entry: Be a subscriber to Write by Faith
3 extra entry: Cross post this on your own blog and leave me the link.
2 extra entry: Follow me!


darbyscloset said...

Donna I have yet to read Terry's work and since you enjoy his writing so much, I'd love to read him. Finding out about another's favorite authors is my fave way to find new great reads!!!
Now your question states "What a novel really great?" I'm not sure if you are asking, what makes a novel really great or what is a really great novel. What makes a novel really great to me is heighten suspense and I love it when there are lessons to be learned like Terry states there are in his books. What is a really great novel? "In the Shadow of Lions" by Ginger Garrett.
This book was my first intro to historical fiction and I now love that genre!
Thanks so much for the interview and the giveaway!
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

darbyscloset said...

I receive your emails in my mail box, I am a subscriber.
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

darbyscloset said...

I'm also a follower.
Thanks again,
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

Donna said...

I hate it when I mess up but mess ups seem to follow me like a lost pup. Thanks for catching my mistake so I could correct it.


Michelle Sutton said...

I do believe I already follow you but I'll double check. My hubby loves westerns and I've never read Terry's books so I'd like a shot at it.

Martha A. said...

That sounds like an incredible book! I know if BJU published it, it has to be good!
i am a follower of your blog too....


Cheryl said...

I think what makes a really great novel is when the writer gets you intrigued right from the beginning and you don't want to stop reading. Please enter me in the drawing. My email address is shryackmom[@]charter[.]net

mez said...

A great novel captures my imagination, thrills my sense of adventure and inspires my spirit! I'd love a chance to win Beyond the Smoke.

mez said...

I'm a follower!
I'm a subscriber too!

ladystorm said...

I have never read one of Terry's books so I would like to give one a try. I think what makes a great novel, is the writers ability to pull you into the story, so that when you finish it you really wish it wasn't over.