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.



  1. Hi, Virginia! *waves*

    Nice to see you at Natalie’s site! She’s a cool lady, isn’t she? What you said about prayer position is similar to the Jesuits’ concept, too. A Jesuit brother wrote a soup cookbook, “The Secrets of Jesuit Soupmaking.” In it, he not only talks about making soup, but how it is connected to his religious life. In one part, he said: “When Ignatius taught the Jesuits to pray, he insisted that they be comfortable. They could pray sitting, lying down, standing, kneeling, or in any other position where they were at ease.” Isn’t that terrific?

    Have a great day, and thanks for paying us a visit!

  2. Fabulous interview, ladies! It’s so interesting to gain insight into how and why writers follow the path they do. Virginia has a writing style that goes straight to the heart. She articulates her thoughts in a manner that encourages reflection and invites each reader to interpret them in the way that works best for them.
    On top of that … an aside to Virginia … you often share tech and organizational tips that are incredibly helpful. Thanks!

  3. Jackie Sproull says:

    Loved the interview, she sounds very down to earth and approachable. Her idea about prayer being able to be done anywhere and anyplace really touched me as I have been going to a new church and I really like it. It is a different one from the one my mum goes to and I think she’s having a hard time with it. Keep up the good work Nat!

    • Thanks for swinging by and commenting Jackie – woot woot! It’s nice to have your voice added to the mix. I can imagine it’s tough on your Mom. Sometimes breaking away from tradition can be hard on those closest to you. Give it time and I am sure it will ease. 🙂 I am so glad the post resonated with you. I was very touched when I read Virginia’s words as well. 🙂

    • I’m glad you’ve found a church you like. Finding a match can be difficult and it’s even more so when those we love don’t understand our decision. Hopefully, given a little time and some compassion, you’re mom will be able to accept your decision, perhaps even embrace it as something great in her daughter’s life.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  4. Great interview Natalie and Virginia! Loved getting to see the process Virginia goes through with her writing. Especially insightful to see how you approach your NF, Virginia. As simple as it may seem, I don’t think enough NF writers approach their task with answering a question. It makes so much sense though!

    • It does make one wonder how many NF writers truly want to help their potential readers and how many just want to get their own ideas out there and make some money. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Great interview, ladies! I loved reading about the differences in your approach to non-fiction and fiction, Virginia.

  6. Great interview! I like how you asked questions as a reader and as a writer. I feel like I am having the opposite move. I have been writing fiction for a few years, but now want to branch out into non-fiction for magazines. But, as a fiction writer I have an interesting relationship with the truth. I’m afraid that I’ll have a hard time moving back and forth between the two.

    • It can feel awkward at first, but you get used to it. I began writing fiction as a child, flipped over to newspaper journalism in high school and college, then found a merger between the two when I became a minister and had to come up with sermons. I think a story teller can find a place for story even in NF. Good luck in your endeavors! 🙂

  7. Hi Natalie and Virginia! When I was going through some bad times I was constantly praying EVERYWHERE. One day I stopped short in my prayer wondering if perhaps I was being disrespectful praying in my vehicle so I asked my minister about it. He smiled and said “God doesn’t care where you are when you pray.” It still brings a tear to my eye to this day. And yes, my prayers were answered but it took a long, long time. I think your books sound wonderful Virginia. You have a gentle, quiet voice that’s very reassuring. I’m sure you’ll do well with your fiction. Thanks for hosting Natalie!

    • Thank you so much for the compliment. I’m glad your minister was able to answer your question so well and I’m happy to hear you can see your prayers being answered. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our problems we miss the answer, but it’s always there somewhere. 🙂

  8. I love love love these spotlights because we get to know each other a little bit better. i always enjoy reading Virginia’s posts on her blog. I think I knew she was a minister and had her non-fiction books, but I didn’t realize she was writing a fiction novel.

    Great interview, Natalie!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the interview and reading my posts.

      I kind of fell into writing my two non-fiction books, just like becoming a minister. In both cases I’ve learned a lot about myself and serving others. I think it’s helped me become a better fiction writer.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  9. Hi Virginia,

    It’s nice to get to know you. I tell me kids I talk to God all the time, and they look at me funny, because they never see me kneel 🙂

  10. I wonder if the misconceptions about there being a “proper” position in which to pray don’t come from how we’re taught as children. It makes sense to teach a child to fold their hands, close their eyes, and take a certain position to pray because it helps them focus and keeps them quiet. But too often I wonder if that doesn’t carry over into adulthood where we feel like that’s the right way because that’s how we’re been doing it since we were little.

    • I’ve been wondering that myself recently as we teach my daughter how to pray before bed. I hope to eventually teach her that prayer happens in a variety of ways, but only time will tell. Thanks for bringing that issue up.

  11. I have sisters who would LOVE Ripple’s books. Thanks for the fab interview, Natalie!

  12. A really well done interview, Natalie and Virginia!
    I pray every day, no matter if just to say “thank you, Lord, for all you give me and my loved ones”, or just to ask for something or apologize for something that I did wrong or didn’t do right. My children rely on a prayer and often read stories in their Bibles (the children edition).
    I’m so curious about your fiction book. When I volunteer in my parish library I see a lot of wonderful books (including fiction) written by the Catholic or Christian writers.

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