This month I am interviewing Mary Harwell Sayler the author of Beach Songs and Wood Chimes. This is a lovely book of poems using sounds and sights. I love her style of writing. She has an amazon page where you can find the books she has published.
1.How did you first get into blogging?
Very slowly! Since I’d been a freelance and assignment writer for most of my adult life, I usually mailed my articles, poems, or book proposals to traditional publishers of books and periodicals. Then, as blogs exploded onto the net, print publishing declined. Payment ceased. And suddenly everyone in the world had become a writer!
I wasn’t sure what to do next! Being used to working freelance for a variety of Christian and educational publishers, I approached online sites with a familiar magazine or newspaper format. They paid, but the going rate was what I’d earned for my full-time job 30 years ago! So, I decided I would rather work for myself for nothing than backslide down decades to well below minimum wage level.
Although I’ve constantly focused my writing on themes and topics I truly believe in, I discovered that having no income made me even freer to choose what to write about, why, and when. Since I’d written a poetry home study course years ago and also worked with other poets and poetry students, I began a blog on various aspects of poetry. A little later, I began a bunch of blogs based on every Bible-based book proposal I’d begun. Then I overwhelmed myself and exported those posts into my new umbrella site, The Word Center –https://thewordcenter.wordpress.com.
Also, as a Christian, I’ve found it very easy to thank God and pray but not to praise. So, last Fall I felt the Lord urging me to write praise poems similar to contemporary psalms and upload them to another new blog site, Praise Poems – http://www.praisepoems.us.
2.Can you tell me some of your strengths that really helped you in blogging.
Adaptability and interest in almost every living thing! When old ways don’t work any longer, we have to find creative ways to cope, and the more interests we have, the more eager we are to research and write about whatever intrigues us.
Most importantly, I pray a lot! I also love reading every English translation of the Bible I can find, so I have countless biblical themes to draw from and countless prayer responses to guide my writing life.
3. Did you have any professional help or did you create the blog yourself?
I did it myself, which totally proves anyone can!
Frankly, I prefer pencil and paper and have little technological skill, but I found Blogger aka Blogspot via Google so easy to set up, I wound up doing several blogs. Eventually, though, I overwhelmed myself and had to simplify. Since I needed to redo everything anyway, I set up The Word Center blog on WordPress, which is still a challenge for me to understand, so I try to work on it before fatigue sets in. However, the features and professional appearance of their free templates make the effort worthwhile – I hope!
4. How long does it take for you to come up with ideas for your books.
Two minutes and/or a lifetime!
Years ago, after leading poetry and other writing sessions at a Christian writers’ conference, an editor called to ask if I’d ever considered writing devotional books. I’d written many devotional-type articles and poems, but no, I’d never considered a book. I told her that and said, “I’ll pray about it,” which I did, and immediately, the thought came to me for a First Days series with devotionals on the milestones most people encounter. The editor liked the idea, and a couple of years later, Broadman published that seven-book series.
So, God gave me that idea in minutes – actually seconds! And, since early childhood, the Lord has given me an inclination to write poems. Over the years, I placed many of those, but after placing a couple dozen books of fiction and nonfiction, I still had no book of poems – just a huge poetry file with hundreds and hundreds of pages.
Each time I would try to put together a book, I’d overwhelm myself with decisions about which poems to include and in what order, and I’d give up. This occurred several times! Then I placed some of my nature poems with Jason Kirkey, the editor of Written River journal and also Hiraeth Press. When he accepted a batch, I asked if he wanted to see a whole book’s worth, and he said yes! The policies have since changed as the company became deluged with manuscripts, but thank God for giving me that opportunity to do a word search for “nature” in my poetry file and find the most relevant poems for my book, Living in the Nature Poem, which Hiraeth Press published in 2012.
5.What do you hope to do next?
Lord willing, I’d like the praise poems to become a book, but mostly, I want to do whatever God wants me to do, so I’m praying and praying to hear!