Welcome Vonda Skelton!

Vonda is an author, speaker, and entertainer who is thankful God can use her messes for His glory…and YOUR entertainment! From black eyes to pink pigs and spider veins to webs of deceit, life is a stage—and every day offers a bounty of new material. You just can’t make this stuff up!

Vonda is the author of four books, including Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe,A hilarious journey through all thing female as we search for truth in a counterfeit world.” She also has a three-book children’s mystery series for boys and girls 8-13. Her latest book, Bitsy and the Mystery at Hilton Head Island, was nominated as a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Award.             

What is the first thing you do when beginning a new book?   Well, it depends on what kind of book it is. With the Bitsy series I already have my character, so the setting is the next on the list. Bitsy’s a twelve-year-old tomboy who comes from a poor family, but I have her traveling to southern islands and solving mysteries, which means I have to figure out how to get this poor SC kid to all these really cool islands! Bitsy loves adventure and mystery and just can’t seem to stay out of trouble, so the next thing I have to do is get her into a mess. With my history as a poor kid growing up in SC who couldn’t stay out of trouble, that’s not hard to do. 🙂

What does a typical day look like for you?   Typical day? I hate to admit it, but there’s no such thing as a typical day in my life. I’m involved in many things besides writing, so it basically boils down to “What’s the next deadline?” I was writing fairly consistently, releasing four books in five years, until about 2008 when my life changed to include speaking, acting, and leading conferences. In this season of my life, most of my time is spent speaking, teaching adults at writers conferences, teaching my Writing is Fun! Workshops in schools and libraries, giving keynotes, writing my Christian Writer’s Den blog, and co-directing writing and speaking conferences. I also love acting and am working on a movie script.

One typical thing about my days: They’re never typical!

What is the most difficult part of writing?

For me, the hardest thing is finding large chunks of time to write. I’m not one of those writers who can sit down and write for 30 minutes. It takes me 30 minutes just to get my head into the story!

I have writer friends who can churn out multiple books a year, writing in coffee shops, airports, or while watching TV. Me? I have to get away to a secluded place, with no internet, no cell phone, and no people. Then I immerse myself into the process. If things are going well and I’m on a roll, I might stay up til 4am, go to bed and sleep a few hours, then get back up and get back to work. I might eat a lot…or hardly at all. When it’s going well, I don’t want to stop!

What’s the best part of being a writer?  The best part is being able to take real stories from life and change them to fit my fictional stories. Many scenes from the Bitsy books are straight out of my life.

The bully’s head getting caught in the porch rail and Bitsy freeing him with mayonnaise and butter in Bitsy and the Mystery at Amelia Island? That happened to my brother in Mauldin, SC.

Bitsy saying her dad was in the oil business and she used to live near Paris in Bitsy and the Mystery at Hilton Head Island? I told both of those lies when we moved to a new school in the middle of the year.

Bitsy’s dad inventing a suntan lotion in Bitsy and the Mystery at Tybee Island? My dad did that…and yes, we really did mix it up in a big pot in the kitchen, poured it into baby bottles and tested it at Tybee Island. As you can see, I love using real life in my fiction.

The worst part? Organization. I struggle with organization, and that’s especially hard since I’m involved in so many things. I find it hard to focus and stay on task. I have a hard time saying no. And I love connecting with people, so I’m easily distracted. I could never write in a public place—I’m too interested in everything that’s going on around me!

What advice would you give to beginners? Know that the road to publication is long and hard. It’ll take sacrifice and investment.

When most people visualize being writers, they usually imagine pleasant days in front of the computer, producing bestsellers and getting no rejections. The truth is it’s hard work. I wrote for 7 years and had 63 rejections before I ever had anything published! Did you hear that? Seven years and 63 rejections! I read one time that most wannabe writers get 5-10 rejections and quit. You can’t do that! You have to know that you have a story to tell and be committed to learning how to tell it.

Yes, you may have a gift for writing and everybody may have always said you were a good writer, but writing for publication is a whole different ballgame. I compare it to my previous nursing career. I was gifted and created to be a nurse. I’ve always been compassionate, caring, and able to think in an emergency. But even though God made me with the qualities to become a nurse, do you know I had to go to college in order to become one? Not only that, they made me PAY THEM to teach me how to be a nurse. And even worse, I had to WORK FOR FREE at the hospital while I was PAYING THEM to teach me how to be a nurse!

It’s the same with writing. Even though you’re gifted and talented in the area of writing, you’ll have to invest time and money in learning how to write for publication. The rules aren’t the same ones we learned in college writing classes.

So put your big girl and big boy britches on and get to work. It’ll be worth it in the end…maybe not so much in the area of finances, after all, when one of my books sells in the bookstore, I get a big fat royalty of about…oh…$0.75! But the joy comes in knowing I’ve produced a good story, fictionalized my family and friends for future generations, and perhaps even taught a good lesson in the process.

And that, dear friends, is the reason I write.

Vonda is also the founder of the Christian Communicators Conference, training Christian women how to develop a speaking ministry and co-founder of the NCompass Writing Retreats. She is also co-owner of SCW Productions and The Story of a Woman’s Life™: Reading Between the Whines. Her writer’s blog, The Christian Writer’s Den, offers free weekly writing instruction and writing opportunities for hundreds of writers. For more information about any of these programs, you can reach Vonda through her website at www.VondaSkelton.com.

 As a speaker, Vonda addresses business and social groups, churches, women’s groups, writer’s groups, and schools. Her philosophy is that everyone needs to laugh—and it’s her job to see that they do!*

 *Truth included at no extra charge! 😉

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One response to this post.

  1. Thank you for allowing me to join you here on Mrs. Wordsmith’s Blog. It’s a joy to be here!

    Reply

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