J.A. Marx loves illustrating spiritual warfare through speculative suspense. In April, Write Integrity Press released her debut novel, Destiny Defied, the first book in The Destiny Series. She has published several articles and also edits for a healthcare e-zine. Her hobbies are fitness, nutrition, and dancing the Argentine tango. She and her husband live in Texas. http://online.jamarx.net/
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When did you know you were a writer?
Since I was a little girl, I’ve had stories running through my mind like movies on the big screen. But I never thought to pen any of them until the mid-80s after I read Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness. My poorly written first novel is hidden somewhere for good reasons. I caught the passion to write in 2001 when I began the The Destiny Series books.
What inspired you to write Destiny Defied? Where did the idea come from?
The spark for Destiny Defied started with a girl washing up on a deserted beach. I had to do something with her. So I threw her into a situation that would’ve unsettled me (if I were her). I surrounded her with all “strange” men plus something unseen harassing her.
What was you toughest challenge in writing this novel?
Great question. Point of view (POV). When I started writing, I revealed everything that was in every character’s head and felt it had to be that way to get the story across. Thanks to my insistent and patient mentor, author Carol Umberger, I now value a tight POV. The tighter the better
What did you learn about yourself in writing this novel?
Over the past decade of re-writing and editing and re-writing, my true character oozed out—the good and the bad. I toured a slew of emotional phases: envy, pride, disappointment, joy, hope, and many tears. Yet the passion only increased. Best of all, I discovered the deepest motivation of why I write.
Tell us about your writing schedule. How do you make the time to write?
Now that the nest is emptying out, I’m hitting the pages full time. My weekdays start at 5am. I spend about 1.5 hours in the word and praying. After a workout and breakfast, I’m at the computer by 10:30. Since I prepare meals the night before, I’ll often work through until dinner. On good days (no extra chores, errands) I’ll get in 6 hours. Every day varies, as far as writing hours are concerned. Amazingly, it all gets done.
Are you an outliner or seat-of-the-pants writer? What makes your method work for you?
Both. I have to start out seat-of-the-pants until the characters and setting begin to gel (maybe 5-10 chapters). Then I stop and analyze each character’s personality and do any necessary research to get the setting solid. I confirm the theme and dig at the moral premise as I proceed.
How do you edit?
I have to force myself to finish scenes and chapters before taking up the “red pen.” I prefer to revisit a chapter(s) the following day. At the end, I have to let a manuscript sit for a month or two before doing a final edit.
Who’s been the biggest influence in your writing life?
A lot of people have helped me vicariously through books on writing. Above that would be my life-saving critique group. But at the top of the list, I must say Lynne Gentry took everything I learned in the awesome Christian Writer’s Guild classes and brought those lessons to life in my writing. (I don’t think Lynne knows this.)
Ha ha ha. Oh my. I sent of submissions before I knew how to write (2003?), and I rightly got rejected. The summer of 2012 I marketed the book from a different angle, and the first editor to read it bought the series.
Looking back, what one thing would you change about your writing journey? OR, What do you know now you wish you knew then?
First, I’d study the craft BEFORE going too far on this journey. And second, I wish I’d read The Moral Premise, by Stanley D. Williams when I did start learning how to write.
Name the top three craft books you would recommend to a beginning writer.
Sol Stein on Writing, by Sol Stein
The Moral Premise, by Stanley D. Williams
Writing the Breakout Novel, including the workbook, by Donald Maas
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t settle for an Ishmael when an Isaac is awaiting you. Meaning, don’t let peer pressure or passion rush the process by putting you in the desperate mindset of “I’ve gotta get published right now and by any means!” Let God have control.
-Teamwork is best (find an editor and agent who LOVE your story as much as you do)
-Balance writing and home life
What is your favorite writing conference? Why?
I prefer Christian conferences because of the outward (as opposed to self-) focus. I’ve attended the Christian Writer’s Guild conferences for about 8 years. Next year, I’m going to check out the Blue Ridge Writer’s Conference to meet my editor in person and hang out with the other authors Write Integrity promotes.
What would you say to an aspiring writer?
Well, I write supernatural stuff because I believe that realm is more real than our physical realm. So I express this with depth: Surrender it all to God. Daily. Violently seek first His Kingdom, and all the other stuff will fall into place.