Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The World Of Non-fiction: Author Interview with Ruth Perry

I'm very excited to have my friend, Ruth Perry, share her writing adventure with us today! Ruth has authored several books, among which are her devotional What If, and her latest Bible Stories like Grandma Told ‘Em. Ruth, it's a joy to have you on Honey Rock Hills today!


(Kenzi) First question out of the bag is how long have you been writing and what sparked your desire to be an author?

(Ruth) I have always had an interest in storytelling. But my first attempt at writing anything to be published was in 2011. I started writing small devotionals of my personal life experiences. Mostly the fun and cute moments of my children’s growing years. My friend of many years came to visit. She read the short devotionals and said they were good and that I should publish them. She writes newspaper articles for ‘senior citizens’.  Whenever I would write more quips, she would critique them and long story short, the devotional book What If was birthed.

(Kenzi) What are some of the most important lessons the Lord has taught you during your writing journey?

(Ruth) Be very careful what I put on paper as it can never be taken back. Just like speaking! Just make sure it is the Lord’s inspiration and not my prideful thinking. Many would-be devotionals were scrapped after I read them and ‘self’ seemed to seep from every paragraph.  Always make sure the writing has scripture to back it up and never get involved in details that cannot be 100% verified by the Bible.


(Kenzi) Very well said! As you look back over the years you've been writing is there one habit, lesson, or decision that has helped you the most as a writer? And while we’re in hindsight, what is one thing you wish you would have done differently? 

(Ruth) I’ve always been a disciplined person. The scheduling was one thing that really helped me start and finish the books I’ve written. I think the discipline came when as a teenager; I had a job as a waitress in a local cafe. During lunch hour my friend and I had to walk to the cafĂ©, wait on tables, then grab a hamburger and eat it on our walk back to school. Everything was done by the clock. We knew how much time to allow for each responsibility we had in that lunch period. That was a four year process for me. In the summers I had a babysitting job, so my chores at home had to be done at a scheduled time to make sure it wouldn’t interfere with my job. It even carried over to my motherhood years. My sons often referred to me as ‘Sergeant” in their school years. But that’s a story for another time.
One thing I wish I had done differently is to have done more journaling. I only had to rely on my memory which isn’t as good as it once was! Referring back to the ‘sergeant’ comment, I wish I would have said yes to my children more times than the word no. There would have been much more to write about. No is an easy word to say for moms and dads; the word yes usually carries extra work with it.

(Kenzi) Let’s talk about your books. What lead you to write your first book? 

(Ruth) I talked about that in the first question but I didn’t mention that my friend also took me to the Christian Book Club in Springfield Missouri where I became a member. That group was a great inspiration to me. They had mini-workshops, featured authors, critique groups that met during lunch time and just a lovely socializing with fellow Christians. I started four years ago when there about fifteen. Last year I had to quit due to my husband’s health. The group was then averaging over thirty in the monthly meetings. I was the treasurer for the last 2 years and greatly enjoyed that position because I got to become friends faster with the group by knowing their names from processing the dues.

(Kenzi) As writers, we know each written work as its own unique joys and challenges. Did you have a particular book you especially enjoyed writing? If so, why?

(Ruth) That’s like asking which of my children I love more. Each of my books were so different from the other it is difficult to say which was my favorite. I really enjoyed What If, my first one, because I always tell people, I have the videos (in my memory) to go with the book. So it brings me double joy to read about my children’s antics. My second one, Up With the Good, is the journey of our life after stroke. My husband had a stroke ten years before I wrote this book. It always brings me peace knowing we have persevered this far with God. And He has never let us down one time. Whenever I need a lift, I read some chapters and realize if God brought us through that time, He can bring us through anything. And, of course, my last book Bible Stories the way Grandma Told ‘Em is special to me, because it involves being with children.

(Kenzi) Your first two books, Up With The Good and What If are based on experiences from your life. What are some suggestions you would give a young lady writing about her personal experiences?

(Ruth) It’s really hard to write about personal experiences because one has to be vulnerable. We are really laying our lives on the line for all to see. It’s not an easy thing to do. Just be sure to have a thick skin, strong faith in God, and not let people’s opinions upset you. If it was written from the heart to please and honor God, He will take care of the rest.

(Kenzi) What prompted you to write Bible Stories Like Grandma Taught ‘Em?

(Ruth) I’ve worked with children my entire adult life and they always intrigue me with their little minds full of endless questions. I wrote this book because I didn’t have a children’s activity devotional when my children were young. I wanted something that could be used as a daily or weekly family devotional time. Children are so inquisitive; I thought the centerpiece ideas would give them some curiosity questions to lead up to the devotional. And I love to cook, so the recipe idea was just to help talk more about what the devotional would be about later.  We know repetition is a good way to remember, thus the three review questions at the end of each story. The activities throughout most of the stories keep the children waiting for their part in the story. I would have loved to have had this at my fingertips for my children. I didn’t do so well in the devotional area in my young family life.

(Kenzi) What is the story behind how your books were accepted by your publishers? Did you approach them or did they approach you?

(Ruth) I took the easiest approach. I went through self-publishing. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone because it is quite expensive. I mainly wrote my books for family and friends. It was not a money making scheme.  As a matter of fact, I was told by the first publisher that writing books is not for anyone trying to make money. He said one’s first book will sell an average of 500 copies- if they’re lucky. That is a lot of footwork and many strenuous hours of marketing oneself. Book-signings can get involved also.  I know these things because I did them all on my first book. And guess how many I sold? 500! It’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears!

There are writer’s digests or almanacs that one can buy, that list all the publishers looking for certain genres in books. This would be the best way to go. They inform the author of any and all specifications of the book they will accept. This is where it’s nice to have a Christian Writer’s Group to attend. The members are a great advice group for you to ask questions. They have a library of books which one can check out and take home for a month, usually free of charge.

(Kenzi) What are some things a young writer should do, if she wants to be traditionally published?

(Ruth) I found out the first thing one needs is to establish a platform. Get your name ‘out there’. Start a blog; Twitter; Instagram. However you can get your name and works publicized.  Then one needs to have a person to be their telemarketer. That is the same as having an employee working for you. I could never afford that, so I nixed that idea from day one. I am not a salesperson, have never been a salesperson, nor ever want to be a salesperson, so I’m not the one to be asking how to go about getting your books published. Sorry. Again it’s easier to be in a writer’s group.

(Kenzi) Do you have any future books in the works?

(Ruth) I don’t have any plans for any more books, but then, I wasn’t planning on writing my first book either. So, it’s whatever God puts on my heart. I really don’t feel like I’ll be writing anymore because of health issues in the family, but one never knows when they’re traveling in steps established by God, do they?

(Kenzi) So true! So what defines success for you as an author?

(Ruth) I feel whatever one feels in their heart when the book is finished, tells whether they were successful or not. I feel I’ve done my best. I got the books to the people I wanted them to go to. And God even blessed me by having two hundred of my first books get into the hands of homeless, needy, downtrodden people through the Light House Inner Mission Organization in downtown Kansas City. For that I am truly grateful.

(Kenzi) A thirteen year old young lady comes up to you and says, “I think God is calling me to be an author.” What would be the most important advice you would give her?

(Ruth) That’s an interesting question. Of course I would tell her to follow her calling. But to make sure it’s God’s calling and not just a pipe dream. If God is in it, and she is praying for God to help her, the words will not quit flowing from her mind through her pencil to the paper. Sure, there’ll be ‘quiet’ times, but God even needed to go pray by Himself once in awhile. So I’d tell her to just keep at it. The first thing I would tell her is to set aside ten or fifteen minutes each day to write something. Just start writing. Find a picture or finish a sentence and go on to make a story out of it. At this point one does not worry about spelling, grammar, punctuation or even getting things in order. Just let the idea spill from you onto the paper. When it finished, let it cool. The next day if you like what you’ve written, turn it into a 1st draft. Keep honing until it’s what you truly want to say without a lot of unnecessary words.

Fun Questions :)

(Kenzi) What are a few of your favorite things other than writing?

(Ruth) I definitely enjoy reading self help books. I wish I had all the books I did when I was in my twenties. I had some good ones! But time marches on and some things had to go by the wayside. I treasure the books I have now and would not want to get rid of any of them. I used to crochet until ol “Arthur Itis” started visiting. And I used to bowl on leagues until Art came long and took that away. Growing old is not for sissies! Dale and I enjoyed canoe trips and camping until his stroke. So, girls, whatever your hobbies enjoy them robustly as long as you are able!

(Kenzi) Could you share with us how you were saved by the Lord?

(Ruth) My mother started going to church when I was eight years old. It just happened to be a small Nazarene church in mid Nebraska. At the age of ten or eleven I was baptized, folks just assuming I was saved. I didn’t know any better myself. I remember going to Camp Comeca at Midway Lake. We ‘ladies’ had to sew fish weights in the hems of our dresses to keep ourselves modest when immersed in the lake. Mother and I always attended church. One summer in my tween years at district convention in a tabernacle service I felt convicted to go to the altar. When I was through praying, I felt different. I came back to mother and said “This is weird but I even want to be nice to my brother!” That was a news flash to mother! He was four years younger than I and not my best friend.  From that time on, I knew I was saved.


(Kenzi) Favorite Bible character and why?

(Ruth) My favorite Bible character has to be Peter. I liken myself to him. Always ready for new and exciting things; always the first to jump in and defend even before I know what I’m really doing; always wanting people to follow what I believe to be truth.  The down side of it is not always having the courage to stand up for truth; letting my feelings get in the way of knowing what should be done; or taking my eyes off Jesus, if only for a moment and thinking “What am I doing?” But Peter persevered and came back to Jesus, grew his faith and at life’s end, found himself in heaven with Jesus.


(Kenzi) Tea or coffee drinker?

(Ruth) I’m a hot, black and medium roast coffee drinker. But it must be fresh and flavorful. I won’t order coffee in a restaurant because I think it tastes like dishwater.

(Kenzi) A perfect day for Ruth Perry would be...

(Ruth) Oh, I would need more than a day, my friend, Ha! But the day would start off with a great tasting smoothie and scrumptious, buttered toast. Talk to the Lord, read one of my devotions. Draw the Circle is a great one. Then just be able to take a walk, leave the dishes, forget the lawn, pet my dust bunnies, work with my flowers, finish reading a couple books I’ve started and can’t seem to find time to get back to. Then, of course have someone drive me to Springfield and get an M&M’s Concrete Mixer at Andy’s! Someone would have to drive because I would still be reading one of my books.

(Kenzi with an enthusiastic squeal) Throw in a Cookie Dough Concrete with that order, Ruth, and I'll gladly take you to Andy's! Cheers to the best frozen custard in the Ozarks!

(Kenzi) Least favorite subjects in school?

(Ruth) World History, Geography, Social Science. Anything dealing with old facts and land. To this day if I buy furniture it has to look new – no antique looking anything. And I want to go to a sunny beach on a fantasy vacation, not some old ruins. I know, I’m very superficial, aren’t I? When my sisters and I visited Laura Ingalls Wilder’s place in 2014, I saw furniture and kitchen stoves that I grew up with. I didn’t think it was any prettier looking at it than it was living in it. Sorry, Laura.

(Kenzi) Favorite books/authors?

(Ruth) Mark Batterson would have to be my favorite author and I love all the books that I’ve read, so far.
I like Francine Rivers books on the women of the Bible. She wrote novels about what she thought the truth would have been around their circumstances. But I haven’t read a novel in quite some time so I haven’t kept current on her books.

(Kenzi) If you could see one thing changed in the writing world, what would it be?

(Ruth) I would like to see first time writers be able to have an opportunity in getting their books seen by the public. I would like to see a place in all book stores where “First time authors” could have a corner ‘nook’ to be able to sell their books. Let them have place where they could put one or two books front side flat so it could be seen in its entirety. Then one month later let it change to the next set of first time writers. It seems the well known writers have a corner on book sells. One little book spine on a shelf of thousands just is not going to get noticed.

(Kenzi) It's been a joy chatting with you, Ruth! Thanks so much for letting us learn more about you and your writing! Any thoughts you would like to share in closing?

(Ruth) I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to share what little I’ve learned. There’s so much more to tell, but I think one really needs to learn from experience more than being told; especially in elements of writing. Once you’ve been through all the rough edges and tattered pages of book writing, you never forget lessons learned. Writing is not for the faint in heart.



Note: Interviews on HRH are for educational purposes only. Some beliefs and views expressed here or in the material of those who are interviewed, may not reflect those held by HRH. As always prove all things and hold fast to what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

2 comments:

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview and learning from someone older! I really appreciated the point about remembering that the words we say are recorded for centuries! Thank you, Mrs. Perry and Kenz!

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    1. Thanks, Amanda! I agree: I enjoy learning from Ruth and am grateful for all she shared!

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