Who have been your greatest writing influences?

I already mentioned my high school English teacher, Delores Forsmark. She was a big influence just by being positive and supportive. Negativism is a writer’s worst enemy. (I deal with enough self-doubt as it is.) My parents were also supportive while I was growing up.

She may not even realize this, but Dawn L. Watkins, one of my college writing instructors (script writing and novel writing), was probably the single greatest inspiration during my college years. An author of children’s novels, she epitomized what I wanted to be as an author. Her life told me that with hard work and perseverance I could succeed too, if God wanted it to happen.

Other college professors were also influential. My college expository writing teacher, Dr. Daniel Hurst, read some of my short stories beyond class assignments and was very encouraging. My college creative writing instructor and Christy Award-winning novelist Jamie Langston Turner continues to be a big influence. She inspired me to keep writing and not to give up. She has also provided valuable encouragement over the years when I was ready to throw in the towel. Other college professors who also molded my writing in one way or another include Dr. Ray St. John (short story and article writing) and Betty Solomon, my journalism advisor and professor.

Bea Carlton, Christian romantic suspense novelist and my Writer’s Digest correspondence course instructor, was also critical on this project. I planned the plot, characters, setting, and the first fifty pages under her mentoring. I can’t say enough good things about how Bea helped me at a time in my life when I was second-guessing my desire to be a novelist. She was the cheerleader I needed at the time.

Frank Peretti’s groundbreaking novel This Present Darkness, which I read in two days, has also influenced me more than any other novel on my shelf. He showed me that a Christian novel can be engaging and say something important about our faith at the same time.

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