The Pointe

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September Local Author Spotlight - Rebecca Waters

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Today on our September Local Authors Q-and-A blog, we feature West Chester, Ohio, resident Rebecca Waters, who describes herself as a “writer of contemporary Christian fiction as well as a writing coach to new writers...”  

Read below to learn about her life as an author, sought-after speaker, contributor to the popular “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, “Lookout Magazine” and “Home Health Aide Digest.” Enjoy reading about her teaching career from kindergarten to the university level, including several months spent in Kosovo in southeastern Europe.  

Her novel, “Libby’s Cuppa Joe,” and her contribution to “From the Lake to the River – Buckeye Christian Fiction Authors 2018 Anthology” will be coming soon to MidPointe Library! 

Please list all the "usuals" -- where you live, education and career, any personal info you feel comfortable sharing.

I live in West Chester, Ohio. My undergraduate degree in education was completed at the University of South Florida. My M.Ed. and EdD. Were completed at the University of Cincinnati in Educational Foundations. I taught in Fairfield City Schools for 19 ½ years. I then taught at Cincinnati Christian University for 14 ½ years.

Your bio that begins "A Southern girl living in Ohio..." states that you're a "wife to one, a mother to three and now ... the grandmother to eight...."  What are your Southern roots?

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Although I was born in Ohio, I grew up in a small rural town north of Tampa, Florida. It was there I got my driver’s license, started dating, finished high school and college, married my high school sweetheart, and gave birth to two of my daughters. I have now lived in Ohio longer than I ever lived in Florida, but all of those “rites of passage” into adulthood took place in that environment. I still have family there and friends. I was living there when I launched my first book, “Breathing on Her Own.”

Do your family and Southern roots influence your writing? 

Absolutely. In fact, I am completing a three book series set in the Lutz/Land O’Lakes area. Through that series I hope to show the Florida I know…more than beaches and Disney World. 

Your name appears on our last ReadLOCAL AUTHORS list!  It says you write adult fiction and it lists "Breathing On Her Own," "From the Lake to the River: Buckeye Christian Anthology 2018" in your repertoire. How do you describe yourself -- as an author of Christian fiction and Christian-oriented non-fiction? Or is there another term(s) you use to self-identify?

Libbys.jpg

I describe myself as a writer of contemporary Christian fiction as well as a writing coach to new writers. The writing books have been used by many authors outside the Christian genre and I am often asked to speak on the subject.  BTW My latest novel, “Libby’s Cuppa Joe” was released in March, 2019 and “Breathing on Her Own” is being rereleased this October.

The bio says you consider "writing as both a gift and a ministry." What prompted you to become an author in the Christian genre? As a "ministry," is its purpose to help individuals overcome anxiety, grief, etc.?

When my husband and I decided to retire early, I made the decision to pursue a writing career. Who I am as a Christ-follower is central to every decision I make. I could have written “clean reads” and been fine, but the characters in my books aren’t perfect and life is tough for them. I want my characters to understand not only what it means to be forgiven, but also what it looks like to forgive. In this way, I hope to inspire my readers.

You've written for the esteemed "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series.  How did this opportunity arise? What was/were your the titles of your contribution(s), what were they about, and when were they published? 

When I decided to become an author I prepared a rather crude business plan to reach my goal. Part of that plan was to “practice” my craft. I looked up Chicken Soup for the Soul to see the topics listed for future publications. I wrote something for every topic as practice. When I had a manuscript I liked, I would submit it. Not all were accepted but several have been.

            “The Roller Coaster“ in The Power of Positive (2012)

            “Hugging Day” in Reader’s Choice (2013)

            “Role Models” in Step Outside Your Comfort Zone (2017)

            “The Secret to Being a Good Hostess” in The Best Advice I Ever Heard (2018)*

            “Doll Baby” in Grandparents (2019)

* I recently learned The Secret to Being a Good Hostess will be featured on a Chicken Soup for the Soul podcast on 11/25/19 12/10/18 on on Apple:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/chicken-soup-for-soul-podcast/id1085746482

 and on Google Play: 

https://play.google.com/music/listen#/ps/Ikzjwpprm6g2knrv2pb5b7ksmz

Please describe your writings for "The Lookout Magazine" and Home Health Aide Digest.  Do you have experience in the medical field? 

The Lookout Magazine was a Christian publication from Standard Publishing. It addressed issues adults face during their lives such as parenting, dealing with the death of a family member, aging, and so forth. At the time of my publications, it was a theme based, contributor dependent magazine distributed through churches and available by individual subscription. My articles there included Raising Christian Kids: a Toolbox for Beginnersand Deliberately Diverse. The first is likely self explanatory. Deliberately Diverse was a look at how we can embrace and encourage racial/ethnic diversity in our churches.

Home Health Aide Digest was a journal whose target audience was people serving as home health aides. I wrote about drugs used in hospice care, diabetes, heart issues, Alzheimer issues, and an array of other health problems. I became a regular contributor until I turned my attention fully to crafting novels. I actually have no medical training. I am, however, a good researcher. 

The Lookout Magazine and Home Health Aide Digest were part of my writing education. Both had word limits for articles forcing me to learn how to make every word count. I also learned to communicate with editors, meet deadlines, and accept criticism. I understood my audience for the Lookout Magazine, but I knew nothing about the role of home health aides. My research on that particular job not only helped me write my audience but also gave me a new character for my first novel. Including a home health aide to assist my character, Laney, when she came home from the hospital added depth to the experience.

You’ve also been a public school teacher, a professor of teacher education at the university level and you also taught in Kosovo. 

Where did you teach public school and what grade level/subjects did you teach?

I taught Kindergarten through grade two (including Transitional First) in Fairfield City Schools.  I was there for 19 ½ years.

Where did you serve as professor of teacher education?

I taught at Cincinnati Christian University for 14 ½ years. While there I was the lead in creating the CCU’s current teacher education program.

How did the opportunity to teach in Kosovo arise?  When and how long were you there? What subjects did you teach and to whom? What do you consider the biggest lasting impression you received from this unique experience? 

One of my former students from Cincinnati Christian University was living and serving in Kosovo. She and her husband wanted to return to the US to have their baby so she asked me if I would come and teach her fourth grade class at the American school for the 2017-2018 school year in her absence. I lived in southeastern Europe for ten months teaching fifteen eager fourth grade students. Though their first language was Albanian, my students spoke English quite well and several also had a third or fourth language under their belt. 

Resources were limited. At first I had no books except for a reading text. Fortunately I packed a few of my favorite books to take with me. I read Island of the Blue Dolphinsby Scott O’Dell out loud to my students a bit every day. And from that book I taught every subject for the first month of school.

We researched the animals in the book and categorized them by water, land, and air. We drew maps of the island and using clues from the book identified the likely location on our class globe. I wrote word problems for them to explore based on the book and allowed them to work together as a village to determine the answer. When I left off at a particularly intriguing section, I would have the students write out what they predicted would happen next. Their writing provided me with information on what they needed to learn by way of grammar, spelling, and writing. Well, you get the idea. 

My lasting impression? People all over the world are more alike than they are different.

Sounds trite doesn’t it? But it is so true. The Kosovars love their families, enjoy good food, and want the best for their children. 

Do your experiences as an educator -- here and abroad -- impact your writing? 

Everything impacts my writing. The teacher in me helps me as a writing coach and with the books I offer on writing: “Designing a Business Plan for Your Writing, Marketing You and Your Writing 101, and The E’s of Writing.”Those are all instructive.

I also think that as an educator I value laying the groundwork and making a case for my characters to behave in a certain way. I probably organize my manuscripts and writing tasks much as I do a lesson plan so that each chapter builds on the previous one and makes the reader (learner) want to know more.

You also write a blog called "A Novel Creation." What is that about and how can it be accessed?

A Novel Creation started in January 2012 and was first designed to bring readers along on my writing journey. I wrote about writing. When I moved to Kosovo, I realized Iwas the “novel creation” so I wrote about my experiences there. Now that I am home, I tend to mix it up a bit. I write about my life as well as my writing. It can be found at www.WatersWords.com

You also produce a "Writing to Publish" series for authors with topics such as creating business plans, marketing, "Writing 101" and "Writing with E's".... Is the series in book form, or more like a blog, or a video? Where can it be accessed? 

Yes. These are currently ebooks only. Often when I am teaching a class or speaking at a writing conference, participants download the books. In talking with the publisher, I am considering consolidating them into one revised book and make it available in print form as well. Here are the links to the Writing to Publish series:

“Designing a Business Plan for Your Writing” (Book 1) https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01NBQ0U97/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i3

“Marketing You and Your Writing 101” (Book 2) 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MRATG3V/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i4

“Writing With E’s” (Book 3) 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06VXPBWKR/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i5

In the "Writing to Publish" series, do you take questions from would-be authors or do you mainly impart info based on your own experiences? 

I am always open to questions from would-be authors. Although the books are largely based on my own experiences, I often use them in sessions with new writers. And I have incorporated other authors’ observations when appropriate.

What do you find are the biggest concerns of your audience? Is there one over-arching piece of advice you give them as they endeavor to write and then publish? 

When I speak to new writers, their biggest concern is how to get published. While I can address that and fully understand their anxious tone, my one over-arching piece of advice is to study the craft of writing and edit their manuscript to within an inch of its life. Publishers and acquisition editors will only read the first fifty pages (if that) before making a decision.

Any other information you would like to add? Please do so!

I am often engaged to speak to a variety of audiences; both Christian and secular, women’s groups and mixed audiences. For those groups, my most popular talks seem to be about “reinventing yourself” and my experiences in Kosovo. The writing topics are always popular at writing conferences, particularly the one about designing a business plan. Groups wishing to contact me for a speaking engagement can email me at rwaters.author@gmail.com  

***ATTENTION LOCAL AUTHORS!***

Meet the public, greet potential readers and sell your books at MidPointe Library’s 3rd “ReadLOCAL Indie Author Fair” Saturday, November 16, at its Trenton, Ohio, branch located at 200 Edgewood Drive. 

 Not only is this free, fun event an opportunity to introduce yourself and your characters to the public, it’s also an opportunity to learn what readers are looking for!  

If you’re interested in participating in ReadLOCAL, click here and return your response via email or deliver it to MidPointe Library Trenton, 200 Edgewood Drive, by Saturday, October 19. 

Whether you’re a first-time author/participant or a seasoned veteran on a return visit, you’ll find an eager audience awaiting you at MidPointe Library’s ReadLOCAL Indie Author Fair!