Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Please Welcome Trish Perry with Me!

Trish Perry is the author of the contemporary romantic comedies, Beach Dreams, Too Good to Be True, and The Guy I’m Not Dating (all from Harvest House). Her next novel, Sunset Beach, will release June 2009. She writes a monthly column, “Real Life is Stranger,” for Christian Fiction Online Magazine. For seven years, Trish edited Ink and the Spirit, the newsletter of Washington D.C.’s Capital Christian Writers organization (CCW), and then she turned over the reigns to keep from going nuts over too many pans in the writing fire.

Trish holds a B.A. in Psychology, was a 1980s stockbroker, and held positions at the Securities and Exchange Commission and in several Washington law firms. She serves on the Board of Directors of CCW and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers group and Romance Writers of America. She lives in Northern Virginia with her teenaged son.

SKC: You’re all over the place, I’ve noticed, Trish! Tell us all about what you are doing, and how you got there!

TP: Am I all over the place, Shirley? I guess that’s a good thing! Having recently returned from the American Christian Fiction Writers conference and having heard many times how important word of mouth is, I would hope to be in as many places as I can. Like most writers, I’d rather just write, but much of my time is devoted to trying to develop an Internet presence, enter novel-writing contests, and that kind of thing. All with the hope of exposing people to my books. Interviews like this are a complete Godsend, Shirley, and I appreciate the exposure. You just never know who might feel led to read something you wrote—God has an amazing way of putting the right reader with the right book. I’ve heard about that often from people who happened to read one of my books without realizing it was going to be suited to their current need. I love when He does that.

How I got here: before my novels started getting published, I published numerous short stories, essays, devotionals, and poetry in Christian and general market media. It was all a matter of doing the work, submitting, learning, and networking. The more you know, and the more people you know, the greater your chances of bringing your work to fruition.

SKC: What inspired you to begin writing in the first place and what keeps you going?

TP: I didn’t notice how much I enjoyed writing until I was in college. I was well into my adult years when I finally went back to school. Although I majored in Psychology, I started taking as many creative writing classes as I could. I prayed like crazy for guidance before deciding whether to go on to grad school for Psychology or whether to write. I received my very first acceptance, for an inspirational poem in The War Cry magazine, the week I graduated. The timing of that inspired me.

Even with the thrill of publishing, some days it’s hard to keep going. Not that I don’t write every day. I just don’t always feel like writing on my current project. Deadlines help in that regard! Sometimes it just doesn’t matter if you feel like it or not—when you commit to turn in a project on a given date, there’s no such thing as “I don’t feel like it.”

And I know the Lord blesses His writers abundantly, in so many ways (and I don’t just mean His published writers).

SKC: He sure does. I believe that too. Tell us, how disciplined are you each day with your writing, and when did you begin to take it seriously, Trish?

TP: I’m always more disciplined when I’m under a deadline, Shirley, and the closer the deadline gets, the more disciplined I become. Sad, but true. I hope to improve upon that—you’d think I’d learn after three deadlines, wouldn’t you? My current deadline is December 1, so I’m writing a specific number of words, without fail every day.

I got serious about writing back in the 90s, when I felt the Lord wanted me to shift my path from Psychology to writing. I put everything I could into learning the craft and getting exposed to others in the field. And I wrote and submitted constantly and learned all about rejection.

SKC: I love to find books that help me with my craft. What are some favorite writing helps books you’ve used to help you?

TP: One of the first writing books I read was Get That Novel Started, by Donna Levin. Levin’s book convinced me I was capable of writing a novel. Albert Zuckerman’s Writing the Blockbuster Novel is excellent for learning to weave character and plot effectively. My copy of Browne & King’s Self-Editing for Fiction Writers is heavily highlighted, and I re-read the highlights before turning in any of my manuscripts. Finally, I’m currently reading James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure, which gives me a new writing idea every day I read from it.

I’m a firm believer that novelists should avidly read novels. But if you want to write well, you should always be reading a book or magazine about the craft, as well.

SKC: I just read that book myself of James Scott Bell's. I loved it! Do you have a special Trish spot for writing, and if so where is it? How does it work with a family full of boys?

TP: Actually, I only have the one boy, my brilliant, hilarious, teenaged son. But I do have a difficult time writing when he’s home, unless he’s deep into his homework. When he’s home, we tend to share space—he’s my top priority in life, and I want that time with him. I don’t get to have him home that much longer—college looms! So we both work in the cozy space just off the kitchen, and we bounce thoughts and ideas off of each other constantly. We each have a desk and a computer, and a table for handwritten work.

I try to get the bulk of my writing done while I’m alone. I’m not one of those people who writes well in the middle of a boisterous coffee shop or with mood music playing. I’m easily distracted, and I create best when completely alone and surrounded by silence.

SKC: For some, it is difficult to have noise around. Trish, I loved the way you interviewed me by asking me about cast characters in a film in regards to my hero and heroine in my book Flame from Within. How do you come up with the names of your heroes and heroines? Do you work up character charts?

TP: Up until my third book I did character charts. But then I learned about Microsoft OneNote, which is like a notebook on your computer. Now I create visual files for each of my books, and I have a separate page for my characters. That page includes everything I need to know about each of my characters, including what they look like, their familial relationships, their history, their likes and dislikes, as well as links to where they went to college, where they met, where they frequent during the novel’s progress, that kind of thing. I almost always have OneNote open while I write, because I’m constantly using, or adding to, the information I might need to remember later in the story.

With regard to coming up with names, that varies. For the novel I’m working on now, I had a reason for my main character’s name to have to do with music, so I played with musical terms until I found the right name. And I have two Russian characters, so I used a baby-name site and a Russian-surname site for ideas. For two of my other characters, they’re twins, and I wanted one to have a softer name than the other—for them I simply sat and thought until the right feel came along.

SKC: How do you work that place in the story where sometimes a reader puts the book down and forgets to pick it back up again?

TP: Hush, Shirley! We don’t want any of those anywhere near our books, do we? Eek!

I tend to have short chapters, which isn’t deliberate, but it moves the reader along quickly. However, that also allows for plenty of stopping points, as you mention above. So I try to end my chapters with a suggestion of trouble or intrigue or a foreshadowing of some kind, to motivate the reader to turn the page.

SKC: Okay, so I shouldn't have asked that question! LOL. So , will you tell us, what you think is one of the most important things you have learned so far since becoming a published writer? (I mean besides what to do when you get to the unmentionable parts....)

TP: God is running the show. When I start to feel dried up, I realize I haven’t been starting my day with Him enough. I try to go to him, silently, every morning, but sometimes I simply forget. And I pay for it later on those days, because I need very much to aware of His constant presence and guidance in every facet of my life and my writing.

Also, I know I started writing because He drew me to it. I loved studying Psychology, and I know He drew me to that, as well. But I know that, should He ever draw me away from writing and toward something else, I’ll follow. By keeping my mind focused that way, I can be sure I’m doing His will, regardless of success or rejection. I don’t want to base my life’s work on success or rejection. I want to base it on what He wants from me.

SDC: You are so right! God IS running our show, isn't He! Trish, I want to thank you very much for crossing over the internet and joining us. Please tell us where readers can find you. I also understand you have a new book you would like to offer to one of our lucky guests. Is that right?

TP: I love visitors at my website www.trishperry.com where I have information about all of my books and links to Amazon for each. I also feature signed book give-aways every week!

And, yes, I’d love to give away a copy of my latest release,
Beach Dreams, to one of your readers, Shirley! I look forward to that.



  1. Interviews are such a great way to know more about the authors of the books we love. I enjoyed Trish's and would love to read her book.

    cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

  2. Trish said, "God has an amazing way of putting the right reader with the right book." I wholly agree, Trish. I have heard many say that very thing and find it true in my own life.

    I'm also one who can not create in a noisy surrounding. If I get to have the house to myself first thing in the morning before anyone stirs, I get more out of my time with God than if someone is even sitting in the next room. Their shifting of pages in a book or shuffling their feet diverts my focus.

    How important it is to know and rely on the fact that God IS running the show. If He isn't or I don't allow Him to, I'm usually in deep trouble before long.

    Glad to see the interview here, Shirley! Thanks so much.

    Pam Williams
    cepjwms at yahoo dot com

  3. Great to see your comments, Carole and Pam! Blessings with the give-away! And thanks, Shirley, for the interview.


  4. If there's still time for me to enter, please put me in the drawing. I'd love to win one of Trish's books. And you're right, she's everywhere! But we like that!


  5. I thoroughly enjoyed Trish's interview. Please enter me in the drawing for "Beach Dreams".


  6. i love your books and would love to win one!

  7. Congratulations to MARTHA A!
    You just wond yourself a BOOK!