Author Spotlight – Debbie Okun Hill

Debbie Okun Hill - Author Image
Photo courtesy Melissa Upfold for The Calculated Colour Co.

Where Did Your Writing Journey Begin?

My interest in literature and reading began with Dick and Jane, Sally and Spot, the main characters in the basal readers that taught me how to read. I always loved school and books so working with words and writing letters and essays were a natural progression for me. However, it was my appointment as the newspaper editor for the Lord Selkirk Regional Comprehensive High School that planted the seed that eventually grew into a writing career that branched out into a variety of genres from journalism to public relations to freelance writing to creating fiction to poetry to blogging.

What Do You Like To Do When You’re Not Writing?

That’s a tough question as I seem to always be writing or thinking about writing! Even when I park myself in front of a Netflix show I am analyzing the script and if I watch a DVD, I am often more interested in the special features than the actual movie. However, as I get older, I’m making more time for such quiet pursuits such as reading, gardening, exploring nature, art, photography, and crafts.

Are There Any Rituals You Must Perform Before You Can Start Writing?

Yes! Turn on the computer.

Seriously, if I have a writers’ block, I just write/type words free fall until the ideas and words flow.

If I get frustrated, I turn off the computer, take a walk outside, and try again later.

Almost all of my rough drafts are composed onscreen, although I’ve read that writers are more creative if they write long hand. One day I may try that!

What Has Influenced You Most As A Writer?

Margaret Atwood’s earliest novels The Edible Woman and Surfacing. These books introduced me to symbolism, metaphors, and other literary devices.

Do You Have Any Advice For Other Writers?

Give yourself permission to be yourself. Motivational speaker Leo Buscaglia once wrote, “You are the only you . . . You are the best you. You will always be the second best anyone else.” So if you want to write, just do it, and stop comparing yourself with others. Even famous writers, like Margaret Atwood, have both fans and critics. Trust the magic (your spiritual essence) to take you where you need to be.

Download Debbie Okun Hill’s 2019 Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight – Jeanne Gougeon

Jeanne Gougeon Spotlight PhotoWhere Did Your Writing Journey Begin?

My name Jeanne Gougeon and I have published a children’s book, Be Brave which was later translated in French. This month, I launched my second book, Le fruit de la haine, which is a murder mystery taking place in rural Manitoba in the sixties. It was published by a firm from Saskatchewan, Les éditions de la Nouvelle plume under my pen name, Margot Joli.

I am a teacher and my writing journey started in the classroom. When I could not find a story on a specific theme, I wrote my own. However, I did not spend much time writing since I was quite busy with teaching, raising my own children and taking courses at the university.

What Do You Like To Do When You’re Not Writing?

When I retired, I found time to play with words and concoct stories. It took a while to develop my skills. I am thankful to the Lake Winnipeg Writers’ Group for mentoring me. Sharing sessions with a small group of writers in my area was the most beneficial.

Read More

Are There Any Rituals You Must Perform Before You Can Start Writing?

I prefer silence or the sounds of nature when I write. My best time to write is in the afternoon, when the daily chores are done, or later at night. Sometimes the muse keeps me up late with great ideas I need to put down before I forget them.

What Has Influenced You Most As A Writer?

I am a lover of the classics and they have greatly influenced my writing. As a child, I always had a book in my hands. Aside from the classics I read adventures. I devoured all the Bob Morane books on the shelves of my high school library. As an adult, I ventured into murder mysteries because they give the reader a puzzle to solve and I am a big fan of puzzles.

Do You Have Any Advice For Other Writers?

If I were to give any advice to other writers it would be to read voraciously, since it is the best way to develop vocabulary. It is also important to get feedback from fellow writers. Critique is sometimes difficult to take, but always helpful, depending on how well we can step back emotionally from our work and see it through a reader’s point of view. We must remember that we are writing, not for ourselves, but for our readers. We must never forget who our intended audience is.

The most important quality a writer needs is persistence. Do not give up, even when your work is rejected by publishers. Not everybody will like your work, but if you keep sending it out, one day you will find someone who loves it. It takes time and patience.

Good luck in your writing adventures. And, keep writing.

Download Jeanne Gougeon’s 2019 Author Spotlight

Read Less