I first met Geni White on-line and later in person at a writer’s conference. She has lived a fascinating life. Her published work reflects her good humor and often draws on places and events that have shaped and enriched her life. An accomplished writer and editor, she delights in sharing her knowledge of writing and editing.
Writers who choose self-publishing over the traditional route make their choice for a variety of reasons. I enjoy learning from those who share my interest in being an indie writer. I recently asked Geni about her experience with writing and publishing. I believe you’ll find her background, motivation and insights interesting and helpful.
Geni developed an interest in writing during her childhood in northern Minnesota. Encouraged by others she remembers one seventh grade teacher, in particular, who told her she should become a writer. Since her early beginnings, Geni has received degrees, married, raised children and lived overseas, but she never lost her interest in writing and publishing.
She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and History; became a Registered Nurse and was awarded a Masters in Applied Family and Child Studies.
Work as a RN played an important part in Geni’s life. She was listed in the 1990 edition of “Who’s Who Among American Nurses.” Work in emergency rooms and intensive care units gave her the most satisfaction. She also enjoyed being a RN Consultant for a preschool day care with 500 miniature people. I’m thinking that’s quit a swing in skill sets from intensive care to preschoolers—maybe not.
For over ten years, Geni lived and worked in the Middle East as a Professional Counselor. She has taught Women’s Bible Studies in the states and in the United Arab Emirates. Licensed as a pastor by the Assemblies of God, she described herself as an “undercover missionary” while in the Persian Gulf and China. There must be an interesting story here.
Geni, thank you for taking time from your writing and other interests to share your thoughts and writing experiences with me.
You’ve indicated an interest in writing developed during your childhood. Was there an event or circumstance that awoke that desire?
I always enjoyed writing. In the third grade I created a book of poems and entered the book in a contest at the county fair. I won first place and got a blue ribbon. I was so excited I set my sights on a great, big, blue ribbon for the author of a winning book.
Nine years old, stars in my eyes, I worked feverishly to write a book. Visions of the huge ribbon danced in my head as I pranced around the family dining room in search of an idea for a book.
I soon discovered, to write a complete book was a daunting task, even for a nine year old, prize winning poet. A stack of reading books brought home from school inspired an idea for a short-cut. After copying over one hundred pages from a reading book, hopes for a big, blue ribbon were dashed when my mother lectured me on the impropriety of plagiarism.
Isn’t that just like a mother? Have you always pursued the dream of becoming a writer since your first blue ribbon?
My interest in and love of writing never dimmed, but life delayed my pursuit. I obtained an education, raised a family, had a career and lived abroad. For a number of years, I wrote newsletters for various women’s organizations I’d joined. I’ve always dabbled in “bits and pieces” over the years until retirement. That’s when I started writing seriously.
I also love to teach others how to write. Over the last few years I’ve led a group of ladies who feel called to write.
What motivates you to write?
I want most of all to honor God with my life, but I ENJOY writing. More than writing my first draft, I love to edit, revise and rewrite. I like to help other writers with editing, revising and improving their skills.
Once you’ve formed a storyline, do you outline your story before you begin to write or do you make it up as you go?
After I have a story idea with a worthwhile theme, I outline. I’ve found that if I don’t have an outline, I get lost and have no idea where my story is going. I get bogged down. Then it’s too easy to quit.
What or who inspires the characters you develop in your stories?
Characters in my stories are often inspired by people I have met in the past. For example, Gran, in my mystery, Fig Leaf, is based on a six foot four inch friend from New Zealand who is a PhD and teacher. Frieda Rose, in that same book is taken, in part, from a British Consulate friend, a great-grandmother and great-aunt. But usually I sit down and plan personal characteristics and develop someone…sort of mentally giving birth.
In Anders Village, which was recently published as an e-book, there’s quite a bit of me in some of the characters. In Fig Leaf, the scenes and scenery are from personal experiences, but the characters not as much.
Tell me a little about what works you have published.
I’ve lost track of how many articles I have published over the years.
I have two full-length novels published and listed on Amazon and Kindle, Fig Leaf and Anders Village. The former is a mystery and the latter a general memoire. I’ve also written a humor book and two devotional books.
I’ve contributed to five anthologies, such as Chicken Soup. I have also provided humorous illustrations in two volumes of American idioms.
Do you have a current book or project?
Yes. I’m finishing (with a friend) a book of 160 devotions, formatting a humor book, and getting ready to format a Bible study book on Grace. I also have two novels “in the works.”
You let me sample your humor from a series of stories you’re developing under the name of Enna Bushay. The sample was delightful. What can you tell me about this project?
This is a fun collection of the humorous side of life. I developed an alter-ego, named Enna Bushay (not her original name but porno site writers twice stole her first monikers. Sad but true.) My dear Enna observes real incidents in my life, but then her imagination runs wild when she relates these events. So my humor tales are all her fault.
Besides your genre choice, are there recurring themes, settings or characters a reader may find in your work?
I hate injustice so that will often slide into my stories. I love humor and use it in my writing. I’ve participated in and won Toastmasters’ humor contests for several years.
I’ve heard writing described as a difficult and solitary pursuit. How would you describe your life as a writer?
Writing requires thinking, studying, thinking, sitting down, thinking and doing the job, but I wouldn’t really call it difficult. A writer must leave ego behind and accept help from editors. That may not be easy, but is very worthwhile.
Solitary, yes, but I’ve never minded time alone. With an outgoing husband like mine, I have many friends and we often spend a weekend evening with others. At our church, I am probably the last person (out of several thousand congregation) to leave because so many friends stop by, where I sit with my walker tucked into a small niche at the back of the sanctuary.
Do you have other interests apart from writing?
I’ll do almost anything to avoid cooking. Reading and writing are my primary interests. I enjoy studying writing techniques. My other interests include music, art, sewing, gardening and hiking. I’m always ready for a good Scrabble game. Did I mention I like to read?
Being an avid reader, do you have a favorite author?
This changes regularly, but right now, it’s Charles Martin. I love his novels.
When I read other works I enjoy seeing how others handle metaphors and descriptions. Carlos Zafron (Shadow of the Wind) writes wonderful character descriptions. They are so vivid, concise and distinctive. With his descriptions, readers never wonder, deep in the story, “Now who was this character?”
Do you have any eccentricities, habits, quirks you’d like to share with your readers?
My children would line up to answer this one. I have a reputation with them and their friends as sure to do unusual and expected things. For instance, I have a speech (and article) about when a credit bureau refused me credit because “I was deceased”.
Our daughter in Chicago told her friends I was now a zombie—a walking dead person. Our son offered to send his Dad flowers. My husband said “Too bad he didn’t have life insurance on me, so we could fly off somewhere exotic and I could loll on a beach to write my obituary.”
Do you have a dream of where your writing will take you?
Not really. I want my books well read, but know I’d not enjoy being famous. (I like my quiet life, too much.) I do totally believe self-publishing is the most logical and financially astute process. That’s why I created my own publishing company.
These days, authors must pay for and do marketing whether for an established publisher or for themselves. The royalties from established publishers (even those who call themselves ‘self’ publishers) are stale peanuts compared to what’s possible for a self-publisher.
Traditional publishers pay authors royalties from about five percent up to fifteen at most. As a self-publisher, I can earn up to seventy percent depending on how well I handle other expenses. So far I am doing quite well at that! My Scottish genes compel me to find inexpensive ways to get the jobs done. For example, join a GOOD critique group to help with editing.
Do you have any thoughts on what the publishing industry will look like in the future?
Sadly, like so many businesses, mergers seem to be reducing the number of publishing businesses. (I read business magazines and books). However, many businesses are discovering the disadvantage of hugeness. Quite likely traditional publishers will, in time, discover this, especially with the proliferation of indie publishers and their success in competing with the traditionalists.
As a self-published author, what advice would you give to others who are on the path to be indie writers?
GET EDITED, EDITED, EDITED, until your book SHINES. No other way to go.
How much time and effort do you put into social media?
As little as possible. Our daughter in Chicago loves ordering her mother around and handling most of her social media. I enjoy letting her do so. She’s a huge blessing, a trained artist, highly creative and obsessed with helping her mother succeed. Every writer needs a child like that!
Currently, I use Pinterest, Facebook and LinkedIn although I have no idea how many sales these bring.
I’ve heard authors talk of the importance they place on marketing their books. Do you have any marketing advice for authors?
We MUST accept that we MUST do promotion, publicity and marketing these days. By studying the field (extensive info on the internet) an author can realize the job isn’t scary….simply another side of learning about and using our creativity. Marketing CAN become as much fun as writing. Oh, oh, not really. I can’t imagine anything as satisfying as writing.
If you wish to learn more or find her books, Geni provided the following links:
Amazon: www.amazon.com Search Books for Geni J. White