Tammy Helfrich

Life begins right where you are.

An Interview with Courtney Walsh, author of A Sweethaven Summer

I am so excited to do my first author interview! Courtney Walsh and I are from the same hometown. I never knew her when I lived in Dixon, but I did know her brother and some of her extended family. I started following her blog through the recommendation of a mutual friend, and loved her style immediately.

When I heard she was writing her first book, I was so excited for her. I love seeing people go after their dreams!

Thank you, Courtney, for spending time with us, and for inspiring me.

Q: When did you first start writing?

A: I think I’ve always been a writer at heart, but I didn’t really realize it until college. One of my professors (I don’t even remember her name!) pulled me aside and told me I was a really good writer and should think about pursuing it. It was funny, at that time, I was so caught up in wanting to be an actor that I all but dismissed her (which is probably why she remains nameless in my memory.) I remember being at school in my dorm room over a holiday when no one else was around. I got bored, so I wrote a play. A cast of five women. I have no idea what happened to it, but it sparked something in me…I’ve been writing in one form or another ever since!

Q: How long were you blogging before you decided to write a book?

A: I started blogging forever ago as a way to get myself writing everyday. I think I blogged for four years before I started pursuing fiction! I’ve been blogging forever, but finally feel like in the last year, I’m starting to understand the blog-reader better. For instance, I no longer write 1000 word posts. :)

Q: How long did it take you to write the book?

A: I got the contract in 2010, but it went through many changes. The release date was changed so we kept working on and editing it…I’d say a good year and a half. With the third one, I’ve had to become more efficient (and make an outline) because I’ve got far less time AND I’ve been working on edits for Book Two at the same time! :)

Q: How many publishing companies did you pitch the book to before they decided to do it?

A: Actually, this was the first one. We sort of tailored our pitch for Guideposts and pulled in my scrapbooking experience. The proposal went through MANY changes until finally we settled on Sweethaven! I’m so glad we did.

Q: What is the hardest thing for you about writing?

A: The hardest thing for me is editing. I look at it as a big puzzle that you have to take apart and put back together. You decide which pieces stay and which need to go. That’s really hard for me. It doesn’t come naturally. Thankfully, I have been lucky to work with a few incredible editors. Editors are geniuses.

Q: Are any of the characters based on actual friends?

A: Not really. I think I sort of meld people together, but the characters become very real to me…they definitely take on a life of their own!

Q: What advice would you give someone who is just starting to write?

A: Read. Everything you can. Books, websites, Writer’s Digest Magazine. Then, I would say, what helped me immensely was attending a writer’s conference. I went to ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and still go every year. You learn so much there. But also, I would say, be prepared to work. It seems there are lots of people who want to write a book, but you just can’t do it unless you’re willing to work–hard. It’s not for the faint of heart, I can promise you that!

Q: What inspires you?

A: People. Real life stories. I’m always fascinated by how people respond to their circumstances. I think character development and dialogue are my favorite parts of writing.

Courtney’s official book launch is today! You can order her book here or here.

Also, she will be having a book launch in Dixon this weekend at The Last Picture Show. It is on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Stop by and support this local author!

I loved this book, and would love one of you to get a free copy. Post your comments below, and I will pick a winner this week.

Congratulations, Courtney!! I look forward to the rest of this series, which will come out later this year.

7 Comments

  1. The book description sounds like it is a moving story! Would love to give it a read!

  2. Michelle DuBois-Mayfield

    February 7, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Great interview Tammy! As kids, we lived across the street from Courtney and her family on Peoria Ave. – my sister Mandi and her were good friends. I can’t wait to read the book. What a great time for Courtney and her family! Congratulations!

  3. Have a great time at your launch/signing. I’m sure you’ll have a great home town turnout.

  4. I would love to win this book and then get it signed on Saturday!

  5. Jessica Turek-Tillema

    February 8, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Congratulations to a dear old friend! She has always had such amazing talents and now she is sharing it for all to enjoy. Courtney is one of the most beautiful and genuine people I have ever met. Seeing her dream come true is amazing and inspiring.

  6. Great interview, Tammy, and it looks like a great read! I found myself paying close attention to her answers since I’m an amateur writer (and apparently I have A LOT to learn about blogging because I have a number of posts that are over 1000 words– oops!)

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