My most recent book happens to be my first book to be published. When I heard the story of how my grandma had to get married when she was fifteen because both of her parents had died, I was intrigued. Then when I found out she married a man who was 41 years old and had children of his own, I was amazed. How could someone marry someone that much older than them if they didn’t love them? That was how people sometimes did things back when she was a young girl. I decided to take her story and make it something more. I wondered how someone could go through such a thing at all, but without God to lean on would be impossible for me. That is how I started my story which eventually became my first book, His Grace is Enough.
Tell us something about yourself.
I was born in raised in Guthrie, Oklahoma. It’s a small town about thirty miles outside of Oklahoma City. I have always dreamed of being a writer. I always pictured myself writing children’s books and that is what I actually set out to do many years back. I wrote a few stories and read them to my daughter’s classes at school. I was too busy (or that was my excuse anyway) when my children were small so I never turned any of my stories in for publishing. Later when my children were older and my youngest was 16 I found myself with a lot more time on my hands. While I was on a vacation with my family I told the story about my grandma and everyone said, “you should write about that.” I know they were just tired of me talking about writing and not doing it. So I went to the store and bought a few notebooks and began to write the story. I never knew that I had a novel in me, but God did and he made sure I figured it out. Six weeks later I had completed the story and was encouraged by friends to turn it in for publishing.
What inspired you to write this book?
My grandma was my original inspiration for writing this book. Her story was the main thing, but I believe that she liked writing too. I didn’t find any evidence of writing after she died, but I did find several poem books and several books that she had cut out poems and stories and pasted them into. I think she would be very proud of the story I ended up with (even though most of it is fiction) and she might tell me that she is proud that I pursued my dreams even though she couldn’t. (She ended up raising 3 stepchildren and 10 more of her own.)
How did you choose the title?
The title for my book was not the one that I originally had planned on naming it. After I wrote for several weeks the word “Grace” kept coming to mind. I did some reading about God’s grace and realized that was exactly what I was writing about. “His Grace Is Enough” seemed like the perfect title. God’s grace can see us through anything; no matter the circumstances, His grace IS enough!
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
I didn’t know where to begin when I finally decided to submit my manuscript. I had a friend who introduced me to another woman that she knew who had recently had a children’s book published. I talked to her and she told me about the publishing company that she used. I researched the company a little bit and then decided to go for it. The company was Tate Publishing and it was right here in Oklahoma. I received a phone call from the president of the company withing two months of turning in my manuscript saying they would love to publish my book. I was thrilled! They sent me a contract and I signed it. I had to pay a deposit that will be returned to me when I sell a certain amount of books. I have had a wonderful time working with Tate Publishing and they let me make all the decisions from beginning to end.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I have always had a passion for books. I love reading them, owning them, talking about them and now writing them. I took several creative writing courses throughout high school and took a home course on writing children’s books once, too. I have written many poems and, as I said before, a few children’s stories. Now that I have published a book I am all the more excited about writing. I have finished 39 chapters of my next story!
Do you have any writing rituals?
When I wrote this book I did it all in long hand. I didn’t have a laptop at the time and once I started writing on vacation I didn’t want to change to a computer when I got home. I filled one notebook after the other and enjoyed seeing the progress on paper. Now I have a laptop and I realize that it is much easier to type and correct mistakes on here. Usually when I start to write I want it quiet. (I shut myself in my room) but once I start writing I don’t notice anything going on around me. Once or twice I was late picking my daughter up from high school because I had started writing and the time just flys by!
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
I like to write about the 1800s and I try to use names that fit that era. I also like to throw in a name of two from someone I know. Like the main character in my book; her last name is Nelson and that is my maiden name. I know all my family liked reading a book by someone they knew and seeing their name in it.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
I have learned so much! My editor was so kind and helpful. I didn’t know all the rules about writing correctly when I wrote the book, but she really didn’t have to change too much. She taught me how when you say, “my pa” it is lower case and when you say, “Pa” it is uppercase. She also taught me about setting up a sentence correctly. I am sure I heard these rules in school, but until you use them they don’t make as much sense. Also, I have learned all the aspects of publishing and all the people who are involved. The thing I am most surprised to learn is that writing the book was the “easy” part. Marketing the book is hard!
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
I don’t think I would do anything differently at this point. I have learned so much and have grown so much as a writer. I have enjoyed every step of writing and getting published. I can’t wait to do it all again!
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I love reading Christian novels, historical novels, and books about Amish. My favorite authors are Angela Hunt because her books are all different. You never know what she is going to write about, but I usually enjoy whatever it is. I also love to read Beverly Lewis because I love to read about the Amish people. I think their lifestyle is so great! I am not sure I could do what they do, but it is great that they are so dedicated and forgiving. They set a good example of Christian love. I love reading Janette Oke. She was one of the first Christian writers that I ever read and I fell in love with her. Most of her books are set in the 1800s, which is my favorite time to read about. Life was so simple and yet so hard at the same time. I think we should all take life a little slower and that is how they lived back then. All of these authors use faith as their theme. I feel like my relationship with Jesus Christ is so important. Without faith, we have no hope.
Another one of my favorite authors is Francine Rivers. She writes about real life and making good choices, but also about moving past our old lives and the mistakes we make. Or moving past terrible pain that someone else may have caused in our lives. Forgiving others and accepting the forgiveness that God offers to each of us.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
My next book is set just before the Oklahoma land run of 1889. It is about a father who has made lots of mistakes in his life and has lived through plenty of heartbreak. It is about his daughter who wonders why her mama ever married him in the first place. And it is about forgiveness and healing. When her father gets accused of something that she knows he didn’t do, its up to her to prove his innocence. Can she forgive him and reach out a helping hand or does she celebrate in the fact that he is out of her life for good?
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
If you want to write then write. Take time to do it every single day. I love writing, but it is my job so I must do it even when I don’t feel like it (which isn’t often). And write about what you love. Then your stories have passion and that’s what it takes to draw a reader in. They love to feel your joys and sorrows and learn from your mistakes and triumphs.
If writing is something you love then never give up your dream!
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
My story appeals to people who have been through difficult circumstances and came out better for it. It is a story for people who want to know what God’s grace really is and how it can help them through a situation that they may be going through right now. It is a story for people who need hope.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
I have a facebook page for my book at sherry nelson porter/author. Also if you go to tinyurl.com/tatemom you can read all about the book and order it. His Grace Is Enough is also available on Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. I am working on setting up a webpage, but am not as good at that as writing.
My twitter page is SPauthor and I have a blog on google under Sporter. Still new to all this web stuff but working on it!