L. Spencer is our author of the month for January 2019. Her first book, Sewing on a Budget came out a bit before Christmas, and it tells you all about doing just that-make your clothes budget stretch by getting into making and repairing your wardrobe. “It’s not as difficult as you may think, and the results can be outstanding.”

We sat down with Ms. Spencer last December, and she answered our questions…

What made you start writing?

I read a lot, but most of my writing until recently was for academics. I’d always put “real authors” on a pedestal, as something beyond me because I’m not competitive.  I actually started writing for wider distribution first doing online content as a way to bring in a little extra money. Then I remembered that I like writing and playing with words, and doing research to put together a piece.
In school, I was that odd student who enjoyed research papers. So I started reading and studying about writing as a career online, and self-publishing, editing, and content creation seemed to be a lot more about writing and going somewhere with it professionally and a lot let about hoping to get lucky. I chose a topic I know a lot about — I’ve continually crafted even when being a penniless student — and wrote Sewing on a Budget.

Tell me a little about you.

I live in a small village in the Midwest with my marvelous husband and a menagerie of pets. My faith and my family are very important to me. I’m active in my church. I have a book addiction, which he shares — we’re in the process of converting the garage into a library, because there is no room in the house. And that’s not counting the large fabric and yarn stash, and the 30+ vintage sewing machines.

I have dual Master’s, in Community Counseling and in Divinity. I work with Mrs. Pelton in her counseling practice as a case manager, and am working towards my own counseling license. I have a supervised visitation business, for families in difficulty. I read, write, and create daily. If I don’t do this, I think the world gets grey and dull.

What’s your best tip for new writers?

This would be for writers who, like me, have an ongoing case of “ooh, shiney!”, whenever a new prompt, idea, or technique comes along — and thus have many unfinished projects. I’ve got a book in editing, another in outlining, several in quickly-jotted idea snatches, multiple partially-written blog posts. And a dozen different in-progress fibercraft projects, a half-finished home improvement, a stack of books I’m in the process of reading . . .

Schedule a time to work on the thing you need to finish, make a goal list, and use it to keep yourself on track. Use a program that gives you points for daily check-in, or a habit-tracking app, or a sticker sheet tacked up beside your computer or stuck to the refrigerator. Otherwise, the next “ooooh, shiney” will come along, and you’ll perpetually be starting something, and rarely finishing.

Keep a healthy perspective, and focus on what’s manageable. If you think, “I’ve got to finish this whole book”, that’s overwhelming. If you think, “I’ve got to write 5 pages/for 30 minutes/2000 words/ whatever’s a manageable amount for you”, it’s less intimidating. That makes it easier to get started, and once started, you’ll often find yourself keeping on longer than your minimum.

Are you writing anything else?

Like I mentioned, I’ve got a book in editing now. It’s a cookbook – Vegetarian Cooking on a Budget. It’s been a lot of fun writing, testing recipes, researching, testing recipes, going through my recipe stash/bookcase, testing recipes. It’s got a lot of really tasty recipes, and a section on planning, stocking kitchen and pantry. I’ve got several more books in the Budget-Friendly Living series coming – the one after this will be on budgeting; that is, after all, a major part of being able to live in a budget-friendly way.  

I want to do several on spirituality and faith, but I’ve got more reading to do on those.

Eventually, I’ll finish one of the fiction ideas I’ve been playing with.

Do you write fiction or nonfiction?

Non-fiction. I’ve played with fiction, and might do more sometime, but I like finding things out, trying them out, and then telling about them.

When can we expect your next book?

Sometime in the next couple of weeks. I’m finishing this edit, then getting a cover done. Then I’ll do one more edit, and publish it.

Where can we get your books?

They’re available on Amazon; you can order a printed copy or download it on Kindle.  And please leave me a review: they are so important.

What do you find inspiring?

Words. I like how they fit together, how the right collection of symbols is like mind reading, taking thoughts right out of the writer’s mind and transmitting them to you. I like how they sound, and taste, and teach, and feel when I mouth along while reading particularly well-phrased bits. Or poetry. There are so many authors, so much better than myself, but from which I can learn, get ideas, and gain shape and form and impetus.

Who are your favorite authors?

So many. I like Richard Foster’s books on spirituality; they’ve gotten me back on track and provided direction many times. C. S Lewis is amazing. I like Malcolm Gladwell’s books (and his podcast, TED talks . . .) I’ve been reading a lot about writing lately – Stephen King’s On Writing (but nothing else of his, I do not like scary books, even well-written ones; my imagination brings them back too vividly.) I like all kinds of books on all kinds of topics, as long as they are well-written.

For fiction, I like older books – Louisa May Alcott, L. M. Montgomery, Laura Ingalls, Chaim Potok. P.G. Wodehouse is a hoot, and Dorothy Sayers is unparalleled, and of course, Sherlock Holmes, who thoroughly eclipsed his creator.  I like modern speculative fiction – Robin McKinley (fantastic in everything she does), Patricia Briggs, David Eddings, Mercedes Lackey, Orson Scott Card (his alternative American history – what if time travel, what if magic, are great, and he’s got a serious series about the wives of the Patriarchs) – and mysteries (Deaver, Peters, various cozy-type mysteries).

Remember, Ms. Spencer’s book is available right now on Amazon-just type in L.Spencer and this book and her next ones will magically appear-and you can order your own copy and start Sewing on a Budget!