I knew that C.S. Lewis and I had more in common than our Christianity when he said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Welcome to a celebration of faith, tea, and the written word. I'm always engaged in a book, and whether it's one I'm reading or one of the inspirational historical romances I write, there's always a cup of tea close by. Join me in a cup as we chat about faith, our favorite books and the exciting places our reading and writing adventures take us.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Welcome Author Jeannie Campbell!

I first met Jeannie Campbell in 2008, almost as soon as I joined American Christian Fiction Writers. I posed a question to the general loop, she responded, and she's been helping me out ever since.

When Jeannie isn't writing award-winning contemporary romances, she works as a full-time therapist. In addition, Jeannie offers a popular web service called "character therapy," which has proven invaluable to me as a writer. I've taken two of my heroes to her for therapy. Her assistance has helped me better develop my back story, discern the plausibility of my characters' responses, and make my hero and heroine more three-dimensional.

Jeannie has agreed to take a minute to put her feet up and have a cup of tea. Please welcome Jeannie Campbell to Tea and a Good Book.

Q: Congratulations on being named a semi-finalist in this year's ACFW Genesis contest! Can tell us how you come up with your ideas?

Thanks! I guess one of the perks of doing therapy by day and writing by night is that I have more than enough fodder to keep me burning the midnight oil. The people I encounter on a daily basis often do end up in my novels, usually in bits and pieces.

Q: How do you find time to write as a busy therapist, wife, and mom? How do you balance your spiritual life with the demands on you?

I try hard not to take my work home with me, at least not time-wise. I rarely do anything outside of work hours that’s not solely family time or writing time. I rarely write when my little girl is awake. (Talk about the realm of impossibility!) I generally take a few hours every weekend to knock out all my blog posts for the week, and that frees up weeknights for other things.

In all honesty, my fiction writing comes in hot and heavy bursts. My husband will know up front if and when I’m in the “groove,” and he’s wonderful about honoring the time I seek to write and will often take our daughter out of the house to give me a few blessed hours of uninterrupted writing time.

I never skip church to write. It’s important for our family to be there as a unit. Lately I’ve been convicted about reading my Bible more…or at least as much as I spend time with my nose in my Kindle. I don’t always get the balance right, but I’m a work in progress too. J

Q: Tell us about your writing journey.

I started writing as a young child. I fell in love with those writing prompts in grade school. I became the editor of my high school paper, and as a result received a degree in journalism—so I think I’ve always had the writer’s bug. I didn’t get “serious,” though, until 2006.

My first book—one that will never see the light of day, I promise, because it was over 200k!—was a self-reflective and healing journey through a time in my past that I regretted. I re-wrote my history as a way to say I’m sorry to the people I hurt and to apologize to Christ for not being the best example of His love. After typing the last period on that book, ideas came to me non-stop. I started a journal full of story ideas and eventually one stuck with me so fiercely that I had to write it.

Q: You're kicking off a brand new website. Can you tell us a little bit about it? Is it aimed toward writers, readers, or both?

My new website, CharacterTherapist.com is aimed mainly toward writers. Authors can fill out a therapy intake form for their characters, much like you would fill out in a therapist’s waiting room, and can get a free mini assessment from me in the same vein as what I’ve done on my blog, or can pay to receive the full assessment, which is more detailed and longer. I’ve got four Writer’s Guides for sale, as well as telephone/Skype consultation and my therapeutic editing service where I read anything from synopses to full manuscripts and look for personality inconsistencies, plot infeasibility, and factual accuracy about any portrayal of mental health.

Q: How do you enjoy spending your free time?

I’m a musician, and I love to sing and play the piano. I find something very freeing and uplifting in singing, and it’s always a joy to give back to the church as a pianist. I also make time to work out at least 4 times a week. In order to feel good about myself—and offset my writing lifestyle of behind-on-couch—this is a necessity. Any thing I do with my family is great, and living where we live in northern California, there are a lot of beautiful places to go and fun things to do.

Q: What's your favorite thing about summer? Any good summer reads picked out?

Summer where I live is a balmy and temperate 68 degrees or so, usually. The sun comes out and doesn’t stay hidden behind the typical clouds of the Pacific Northwest, and the days are just glorious! I love getting my toenails done and wearing my sandals.

As for summer reads, yes of course! I’ve got Delia Latham’s new book, Kylie’s Kiss on my TBR pile, as well as Angela Breidenbach’s new non-fiction, Gems of Wisdom. I’m looking forward to both.

I've heard wonderful things about Gems of Wisdom. It sounds like you've got some great summer reads picked out to enjoy while you soak in the sun.

Thanks so much for visiting Tea and a Good Book, Jeannie! I wish you the best with all of your writing endeavors. Blessings!

Be sure to check out Jeannie's new website, http://charactertherapist.com, to check out the array of resources she's made available to authors.


Jeannie has been writing ever since she received a diary for her fifth birthday. She began writing angst-ridden middle-grade novels in junior high, often commandeering the family computer for hours on end. After eight years of higher educational pursuits, she moved onto adult contemporary romance and romantic suspense, frequently using her day job as a therapist to generate lots of fodder for her night job as a writer. Two of Jeannie’s “therapeutic romance” manuscripts have garnered the high praise of being finalists in the Genesis Contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), of which she is an active member. She writes a popular monthly column for Christian Fiction Online Magazine and has been featured in many other e-zines, newspapers, and blogs.


Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

has it really been since 2008? that just doesn't seem possible! ah, time flies.

thanks for hosting me on your blog! i'm so appreciative!

Suzie Johnson said...

Blogger ate my comment! Waaaaaw!

I love this unique concept, Jeannie. I'll be visiting your website. Thanks for sharing this.

Susanne Dietze said...

Thanks for coming by, Jeannie. Your character therapy service has been invaluable to me! I wish you the best with your new website!

Susanne Dietze said...

Hi Suzie. I wonder if today is a weird blogger day...I had a few fits with it earlier. Anyway, thanks so much for visiting today. Jeannie's website is great, and she has some wonderful resources for writers. Let me know how it goes!

Suzie Johnson said...

Thanks Susie! Yes, I'll definitely be visiting sometime soon, and I'll let you know ;-)

Suzie Johnson said...

And yes, it is a weird blogger day. I just had trouble again. :-(

Debra E. Marvin said...

I met Jeannie online when I won her 'service' on Seekerville. She read over my first chapter and analyzed my characters. Believe me they needed it. Her help was amazing and encouraged me so much!

I was so thrilled for you Jeannie when I heard about your Genesis final and I really enjoyed your interview here with Susie. (I also love seeing photos of your daughter on FB. She's adorable.

Much success with the new website and your manuscript!!

Susanne Dietze said...

Hi Deb! Thanks for visiting. I'm so glad you benefited from Jeannie's character therapy. It's wonderful, and there's nothing like it anywhere else.

Hope you're having a good weekend!

Jessica Nelson said...

How fun to learn more about Jeannie! 200k is huge! I hope she keeps it because maybe someday it will make a really cool heritage. Thanks for sharing, ladies!

Susanne Dietze said...

Hi Jessica! So nice to see you--thanks for coming by! What a whirlwind week you've had. But a wonderful week! Congratulations on your new contract! I can't wait to read your book. April 2012, is that right?