Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Stuck in the Middle with Ginny Smith

Reading a book by Virginia Smith is always a fun and humorous experience, but you also are a part of her deep family relationships and friendships that translate so well in her books. Her books are real life, but it's also that uplifting feeling when something is deeper than just a laugh--it's a hope. If you don't have that hope and uplifted feeling conveyed in Ginny's books, then take a look at Ginny's outlook on life in the interview below, and be sure to get her latest book. Then, maybe you will want to plug into her main source for that hope: Jesus.

Virginia "Ginny" Smith new book above, Stuck in the Middle, just released in February and in celebration of it, she is having a huge $500. shopping spree. You will want to click on that link, but first let's find out a little more about the real girl in the proverbial middle:

CLM: What are three things you can't live without:

Ginny: What an interesting question! You stumped me for a minute, Crystal. But then I happened to glance sideways, and saw my half-packed suitcase. I travel a lot, and there are some things I absolutely must bring along no matter where I go: my laptop, my cell phone, and a stack of books in different genres (so I can choose one depending on my mood.)
Of course, the serious answer is: there is only one thing I can’t live without, and that’s my relationship with my heavenly Father.

CLM: How do you celebrate finishing a book (that you've written!)
Ginny: I dance around the house singing the Hallelujah Chorus for a minute. Then I skip out to the garage and sing, “I have achieved The End!” My husband tears himself away from whatever automotive project he’s working on at the moment to give me the appropriate response: “That’s great. Congratulations.” Then I float back into the house and send an e-mail to my critique group, my daughter, my sisters, and my mother. Most times, I’ll insist on dinner out if it happens during the week. (We never fight the restaurant crowds on the weekends!)

CLM: Finish this sentence: My life would be simpler if....
Ginny: … I could learn how to say ‘no’ every now and then. You know what they say – admitting you have a problem is the first step. Okay, so I admit it. I’m a People Pleaser. I agree to do everything anyone asks of me because I want them to think well of me. But I’ve started realizing that I cause myself a lot of stress by agreeing to take on every project I’m asked to get involved in. I’m resolved to do better and Just Say No.

CLM:What's your motto?

Ginny: My motto? Uh… I don’t have one! (Do I need one? Is it a severe character flaw not to have one? Oh, no!! I’ve got to get a motto!)
Okay, give me a minute. I need a phrase that encapsulates me in a few words – my passion, my desires, my outlook on life. The quintessential Ginny, expressed in a few words. (Crystal, don’t you know I’m a novelist?!?! I can’t say anything in under 60,000 words!)
Oooh, I have one! It’s a good one, too. My mom gave me a bumper sticker years ago that I hung on the wall right above my computer monitor in my office. I took a lot of comfort from it through all the years of collecting rejection letters when I was trying to break into publication. And I think it applies to everything we try to do, as long as we’re striving for God’s will in our lives. It said:
It will happen – you only have to believe!
I like that motto. I think I’ll keep it.

CLM: I like that,too. And you are a writer who writes her way out of a question--Ha!

CLM: Finish this sentence: I still can't quite get the hang of....
Ginny: Relaxing. I tend to work all the time. It’s even worse now that I work at home, because I never leave the office. Even at night while my husband watches television, I’ll have my laptop on and be checking e-mail or working on a retreat talk or doing a critique for another writer. Even when I read for pleasure, I have a hard time turning off that internal editor and just enjoying the story. This isn’t new – I’ve always been something of a workaholic. But lately I sense God urging me to learn how to relax and just enjoy the life He has given me. I’m working on it.

CLM: Who are your major influences?
Ginny: My husband is a big influence on me. I have so much respect for his work ethic and his attention to detail. Well, obviously I respect a lot of things about him, but when it comes to writing and all the peripheral tasks that go along with launching a book, I hope I can approach those tasks like he approaches everything he does.
My mother is another big influence on me. Mom is one of those people who exudes God’s love to everyone she meets. She is so accepting and generous, and she’s always got a few ‘strays’ she’s shepherding. She treats everyone with the utmost respect. She truly sees every person as a child who God loves enough to send His Son to die for, and that’s how she makes them feel. Valued and special and loved.

CLM:Joan, in Stuck in the Middle has a job in a furniture rental store. I know you answered this before in your When I Was Just a Kid interview, but could you tell us what was your first job?
Ginny: I worked in my father’s store. He owned one of those awesome small-town landmark drugstores, where he knew everyone who walked through the door and took the time to talk to them while he filled their prescriptions (he was a pharmacist). When I was a young teenager he hired me to do a store-wide inventory. That was back before computers and every item on the shelves had to be counted by hand. Then he taught me to run the cash register, and when I turned 16 he let me become the delivery girl. I delivered prescriptions and other items all over Frankfort, Kentucky.

CLM: People are always curious about our creative process. Can you tell us, when the well runs dry, how do you fill it back up again?

Ginny: I pray. I know that God is the Source of all the awesome story ideas in the world, and I believe He carefully selects the perfect writer to tell each one. So if I’m coming up short on ideas, I ask what He has in mind for me to do next. He always comes through. Then as I’m writing it, if I hit a dry spell where I can’t figure out what happens next, I ask for His help. I figure He knows the story better than I do. My job is to hear from Him. The Bible says His sheep will listen for His voice, and that’s what I try to do.

CLM: Ok, then, how did you come up with the idea of Stuck in the Middle?

Ginny: The initial idea came during a family gathering at my mom’s house. My sisters and I are very close, but they have so much in common with each other that I sometimes feel left out. They have children the same age, while I had mine ten years before. They’re both very much into dramatic arts – they’re actresses, directors, and choreographers – while I have never been in a play. They’re both really bubbly and outgoing and energetic. I’m by far the quietest person in my family (which some find hard to believe!) So during this gathering, my sisters were holding court in their usual energetic, boisterous way, and I found myself sinking quietly into the background, just watching. I know they love me as deeply as I love them, every bit as much as they love each other. It’s just a difference in our personalities, but at times I feel a little left out.
So I decided to translate those feelings into a story. But I wanted to reflect all my feelings about my sisters – the deep love we have for each other, the sense of belonging, the certainty of acceptance no matter what. All those things come from sharing a lifetime of struggles and joys and tears and laughter. My relationship with my sisters is one of the most precious blessings God has given me. They’ve been with me through. . . well, everything! I wanted to write a book that reflects how important sisters can be to each other.

Beth on left and Susie on right with Ginny Stuck in the Middle

Joan's life is stuck -- what she needs is a little help from God, her big sister, and an enormous mutt with bad manners.

"...readers won't be disappointed. The sisters are spirited and fun..." -- Publisher's Weekly
A FOUR STAR review: "This is a great start to a new series." --- Romantic Times!

Read an excerpt here.

You can purchase copies of Virginia Smith's books, signed personally for you, at this site:

Signed by the Author.com


Author Virginia "Ginny" Smith

Click Here to find out how you can win a $500 shopping spree on March 31, 2008!


Camille Eide said...

I had to pop in here and comment, even though it's about 3 weeks late, because about a week after you did this interview with Ginny, I had the privilege of watching her recieve her Writer of the Year award at Mount Hermon!! And since she was my assigned buddy - and she did a fabulous job of buddying me - I got a really nice photo of her getting her award and hug from Dave Talbot with her name projected in a giant star above them. What a treat to get to know her and share her joy! I was blessed to get to know her and I wish Ginny all the best!

Camille Eide
(another rare female INTJ)

Crystal Laine said...

Love your guitar photo!

Camille, how blessed you were to get Ginny as a buddy at your conference!

So, you are going to have to give the full report of going to Mt. Hermon. Wasn't it beautiful?