Writing Business

Tips from the Pros: Jan Kern

"SundinGreetings from Sarah Sundin in California, where we’re welcoming cooler temperatures. I have the joy of interviewing multi-published nonfiction author Jan Kern today. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Jan at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, where she serves on the faculty. She has a true heart for following God’s lead in her writing, covering difficult but crucial topics—and now following Him into an uncertain transition period. As so many writers are in transition nowadays, you’re sure to be inspired by her example.

"CANJan, how did you get into writing?

I’ve always loved books and playing with words. As a little girl I wrote to Mr. Walt Whitman at Whitman Publishers and asked how I might become a writer. He wrote back saying I should study hard in school and write often. And no, at that time I didn’t realize that Walt Whitman had been dead for more than half a century, but I’m grateful for the kind soul at Whitman Publishers that took time to write to a little girl.

Inspiration for Writers

Turning Your Interview Research Into More

BioPicBlues Jan here, writing to you once again on a beautiful day from the sunny foothills of the Sierras.

In this last post in my series on interviewing, let’s take a look at more ways you can use the interview that you now have skillfully procured . . .

Writing Business

Interviewing With Powerful Questions

BioPicBluesJan here, enjoying a beautiful day in the foothills of the Sierras. I’m getting ready to wander out to a coffee shop to meet a writing friend, but before I do I’d like to add another post to my sumer interviewing series.

Today’s focus will be the development of strong interview questions. Two goals: First, in your interviews, you want to get to the good stuff that will bring your writing to life. Second, the interview won’t be boring for you or your interviewee.

So where to start . . .

Writing Business

Interviewing When the Story Gets DIfficult

BioPicBlues Jan here, writing to you from the sizzling Sierra foothills of California. It feels like a great time to retreat to a cool place and write . . . or venture out and engage in a strong interview.

Today I’m continuing my series on interviewing for writing. Handled professionally and well, interviewing can yield long-term relationships which impact both your writing and your marketing.

Looking at those moments of the interview, let’s talk about when the story gets difficult.

Writing Business

Who You Are as Interviewer

BioPicBlues Hi! Jan here continuing the conversation about interviewing. And yes, let’s make this a conversation. Join in!

In my last post, in sharing interview tips, I included the following two:

– Treat each person you interview as a person, with compassion and dignity.
– Be aware when some aspect of their story may be a struggle for them to tell.

What about those?

Writing craft

Deeper Into the Interview

BioPicBluesJan here. Over this summer, for my two monthly contributions to the CAN blog, I’d like to explore the interview. On the first Friday of the month, today, I’m supposed to address writing craft. On the fourth Monday, writer encouragement is my assigned category. I plan to use both, craft and encouragement, to talk about the interview as part of our writing.

To begin my summer series on interviewing I’ll share a post I wrote in 2007 when I was a year into writing the Live Free series. I had discovered that interviewing had a whole lot more to it than simply getting information for my purposes. Step back with me to some of those initial impressions.

Inspiration for Writers

In the Trenches, Part 2

BioPicBlues Hey, writers! Jan here, writing once again with a focus on nonfiction–though the topic today could apply to fiction writers as well.

Last month I offered In the Trenches, Part 1, where we looked at how crucial it is to get into our reader’s skin and keep them in mind while we write. We looked at ways we can get closer to our reader—intentional about knowing who they are from multiple angles, including through real conversations.

We’re going to take that deeper in this post.

Begin by imagining being trapped in a room . . .

Inspiration for Writers

Who Are You?

BioPicBlues Jan here, writing to you on one of CAN’s devotional Fridays. I have a question for you: Who are you and what are you doing here?

I ask that with a chuckle because it stirs a memory of when that very question was asked by my daughter, about three-years-old at the time, to an adult who was attending a dinner at our ministry. She asked the question entirely out of innocent curiosity.

Not a bad question to consider.

I met with a young man last week who is preparing to transition from the residential ministry where my husband and I live and work. One of the questions I asked him is: Who is the person you now are that you are taking away from this place?

Inspiration for Writers

In the Trenches, Part 1

BioPicBlues Jan here joining you from sunny California.

In March, I had the delightful opportunity to mentor writers for one of the Head Start Clinics at Mount Hermon’s Christian Writer’s Conference. A “ridiculous” delight—to use one of my student’s favorite expressions.

If you asked any of those in my nonfiction clinic to state one of the most important factors in our writing of successful nonfiction, I have no doubt what their answer would be.

They would tell you . . .

Inspiration for Writers

Reflect, Refocus, Recharge

BioPicBlues Greetings from Jan!

Today I’m busy packing and making preparations for the Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference where I’ll be teaching a Head Start Mentoring Clinic and running the manuscript retrieval process for editors, critiquers, and writers. One of my other delightful tasks for the week will be to give a workshop for the writers about midway through our time there.

We will stop to take a few deep breaths. We’ll step away from the busyness of the conference into God’s waiting arms to catch a glimpse of his hand in all our circumstances. In that place with him, we’ll reflect, refocus, and rechage. As our spirits quiet, we will open our hearts to listen for the specific and intentional ways he is calling us to step into “the next” of the conference with more energy and confidence, with God going before us.

I’m convinced we need many of these moments in our lives as writers to care for ourselves–emotionally, physically, and spiritually–so that we might be fully available to do all God calls us to as writers and speakers.

For this post, I’d like to share one of those difficult, yet recharging moments I’ve enjoyed in God’s arms, reposted from my coaching site, Courageous Moves.