Author spotlight with Virginia Ripple and book giveaway

I am super pumped today because I am doing another, yes you read that right, ANOTHER author spotlight and book giveaway. SQUEEEE!

Today, I have the fantastic honor to feature Virginia Ripple. Virginia has been telling stories since she could hold a crayon but has also felt Called to ministry since she was a toddler. As long as she can remember her desire to write has been alternately eclipsed and balanced by her need to serve God. Since moving back to her home town, she has written two non-fiction books:

  • Fear Not! Discovering God’s Promises For Our Lives: when life seems impossible to cope with, God reaches out to remind us of his promises for our lives. Journey through scripture to meet God in new and unexpected ways as you discover what it means to “Fear Not!”
  • Simply Prayer: a non-fiction book that explains how we often make prayer a lot more complicated that it needs to be and gives ways to make prayer simple and enjoyable.

Her future plans include writing several Christian fantasies, as well as teaching various workshops and Bible studies. The adventure of writing non-fiction to writing fiction keeps her on her toes.

Welcome Virginia! I am so excited to have you here and to learn more about your process as a writer.

Thank you, Natalie for featuring me as part of an author spotlight here on your blog. I’m so looking forward to interacting with everyone in the comments.

So you’ve written two books that are non-fiction and are currently working on your first fiction novel, what are some of the difference between writing in the two styles?

Writing non-fiction is pretty straight forward. You have facts and anecdotes, things that will directly help a reader. While a non-fiction book can have entertainment value (and should if you really want to keep a reader’s attention), it doesn’t have to.

Fiction, on the other hand, means spinning a tale that may or may not create a change in the reader and it has to be entertaining. If it doesn’t, then there are plenty of other things that person could do instead.

In either your fiction or non-fiction, are you a plotter or a pantser? What’s your writing process?

I started out as a pantser for both, but I’ve since discovered things go smoother and faster when I have at least some kind of plan.

Generally I begin by imagining what the story might be about. I do a little work on who the characters are, but just the basics. Then I start plotting, filling in the details. After I’m satisfied with my outline, I start writing scene by scene. I don’t worry about chapters because then I get overwhelmed thinking about how many words the book “has” to have.

I can’t say I’m a complete plotter, because, as I’m writing a scene, sometimes the characters take over and lead me down a path I had no idea was there. After I finish writing that scene, I adjust my outline if I need to, make a few notes of things I made need to change later and move on.

How did you come up with your non-fiction or fiction ideas? Is there a different process for each?

There’s a very different process for each, at least for me.

With non-fiction, I look for questions to answer that could help someone. Being a former minister, I tend to see a need for people to re-connect with their spirituality, with God, but oftentimes we make it harder than it needs to be. That was the reason behind Simply Prayer. I heard a lot of people complain about spending just 15 minutes in prayer because “it’s too hard.” I wanted to help these people understand what prayer is and give some ways to do it that were fun and maybe not what they’d thought of before.

My fiction ideas come in flashes of scenes or dialogue. I rarely begin writing a story with the intent to answer a question or make a specific point. I hate fiction that is only a sermon in disguise. Why would I want to inflict that on a reader if I don’t like it?

How long does it take you to write a novel from start to finish?

So far it’s taken a year per book. I know there are others who can produce a book every month or every six months and maybe someday I’ll be able to do that, but for me it’s about quality. Well, that and my perfectionism.

My husband actually had to talk me out of scrapping Simply Prayer and starting over when I found a few typos in the proof copy.

What’s your advice to writers JUST starting out, like me? What do you wish you would have known when you started out?

What you learned in high school English isn’t enough to make a career of writing. In fact, it’s just barely a beginning.

Read as many books on how to write as you can. I like the Write Great Fiction series because it breaks everything down into components from structure to character building to dialogue. And don’t discount writing blogs.

Find people who will support your dream and make a commitment to work toward that dream every day.

What’s coming up next from you? Tell me more about your fiction work on the horizon?

Right now I plan on releasing this current book later this year, most likely around Thanksgiving. After that I have five more planned in this series.

What’s your favourite Urban Word? Ever used it?

I don’t have a favorite Urban Word, though I have to say I’ve had a hard time explaining my sudden laughter at work after reading some of the ones you’ve posted here. 😀

Would you share an excerpt from Simply Prayer?

The Proper Position

When you think of prayer one of the first images that often comes to mind is someone kneeling either in church or at the foot of a bed. But that doesn’t mean that kneeling is the “appropriate” and only way to pray. In truth it doesn’t matter what position you choose. If you feel more comfortable kneeling, then that is how you should pray. However, if you feel moved to stand, to sit, or even dance, then that is what you should do.

Imagine talking to your best friend. What do you do? You choose a comfortable position. If you’re home or in a coffee shop you usually sit in a comfortable chair. If you’re standing in line at the store you may lean over your cart. It all depends on the situation. However, when talking with your friends the position you’re sitting or standing in does not matter to the conversation. It’s the same with God.

The book sounds incredible Virginia and wonderful suggestions on how to make prayer a part of your every day life and how to keep it simple and easy. For years, I’ve used prayer as a way to feel connected with my Dad and Mamma K who have both passed on. I keep it pretty simple and basically just have a conversation with either of them in my head. Sometimes in bed before I go to sleep, sometimes when I am driving, and sometimes when I am just sitting watching TV or taking a bath. I believe they hear me and I believe when I have concerns or confusion, they speak to me by whispering to my heart. I have found it to be one of the most profoundly healing discoveries in my own life. You are right. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

Virginia, thank you so much for swinging by my blog. Your two non-fiction books sound touching and inspiring. I can’t wait to see what your fiction holds for us. I wish you all the success in the world.

Enjoyed Virginia so much you want more?! You can:

What about you; any questions for Virginia? Have you made the switch from non-fiction to fiction and have advice to share? How does your writing process differ from hers? 

Book Giveaway Details


  • 1 special edition signed e-book of Simply Prayer (open internationally).
  • Grand prize: a signed paperback of Simply Prayer (open to US/Canadian)

How do you win?

  • The book giveaway is open all week; February 27-March 3, 2012 (11:59 pm AST).
  • You will earn one entry into the draw each time you comment on any of my blog posts this week.
  • Tweet about this post and earn an additional entry (be sure to put my twitter handle @nataliehartford in your tweet so I know).
  • On March 4, 2012, I will put all the names in a hat and hubby will draw the names of the winners.
  • Check back March 5, 2012 where I will announce the winners.

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