Saturday, 2 February 2008

Interview with Rebeca Seitz


Rebeca Seitz is a woman of many talents and blessed with the energy to make use of them all! Enjoy the interview below as Rebeca shares openly about her writing, public relations company, her family and faith. You will be blessed and have a blast!

Writing and more…

Why Christian fiction?

Fiction because my brain responds to stories. When Jesus spoke in parables, that was for people like me. I flesh out truths, figure out life, and explore ideas through stories.

Christian fiction because that’s the industry in which God opened doors for me. Doing so has let me be a part of the explosion of this industry, a fact for which I am forever grateful. I don’t think I’d have felt as free to grow professionally if I’d been solely on the general market side.

Please tell us about your journey from working with writers to becoming one. Wow, I could fill up pages and pages with this story! I’ll try to keep it to the condensed version, though. J Initially, I was a writer. Eva Marie Everson took me under her wing and mentored me while I lived in Altamonte Springs, Florida. Under her guidance, I managed to get some interest from Focus on the Family back when they were thinking of starting a fiction line. But, when it came down to sending the completed manuscript to the acquisitions editor who’d shown interest, I couldn’t do it. A check in my spirit (to use Christian-ese) just wouldn’t give me the all clear sign. So, I walked away from that fabulous opportunity and instead entered into a time of searching out what God had for my life. I was going through a divorce and a relocation and a complete career change at the time, so praying about direction for my love of stories seemed like a good fit to my hours spent prostrate before God’s throne!

A year later, God opened a huge door and I learned about the publicity position open at Thomas Nelson for their then fiction division, WestBow Press. To be honest, I didn’t know what a literary publicist even did. My publicity degree is grounded in what the majority of publicity degrees are – news-oriented publicity initiatives. Applying those skills and principles to the entertainment world was a fun challenge and an extremely cool way to marry my passion for story with the talent for publicity God had given me.

A few months after leaving Thomas Nelson and opening Glass Road, the acquisitions editor there called and asked if I was still writing. I was, we met, talked about an idea, and a few weeks later I was contracted to write for them! The rest, as they say…

I absolutely love how God brought this writing thing full circle for me. When I signed that contract with Thomas Nelson to write, I felt as if He was honouring that choice I’d made years ago to wait on His timing for my writing and instead pursue the path He carved out for me.

You are a wife, mum to son Anderson, a writer, president of your own public relations company, a host on Deeper Living and no doubt a lot more I don’t know about it!!! ‘Fess up - how do you do it?

You know, it never seems like a lot until I see it all written out like that. Then I think I must have lost my mind somewhere along the way. J I joke with people that Diet Mt Dew makes my day possible, but I don’t drink nearly as much of it as I did in years past (hitting the big 3-0 this year made me get my health in order). Seriously, there are two “secrets” to accomplishing all I do in life. First, God fashioned me to be able to keep a lot of irons in the fire, to enjoy a very full life and workday. I’m rarely at peace when I’m still. I’m at peace when I’m out there doing things that further the kingdom, when I’m running headlong smack dab in the middle of this road He laid for me and keeping tabs on the million other side roads I just went down or am about to head toward. The second “secret” is the husband God put into my life. My husband is simply a miracle to me. There’s a Gretchen Wilson song that captures my love for him so well and also explains how he makes my life run. It’s called Holding You Holds Me Together. My favourite part of the song says, “When this tightrope I travel begins to unravel and I feel like I’m falling apart…holding you holds me together.” I believe with every single part of my being that God created Charlie and me to walk this road of life together. Without him, my world would be colorless. He makes sure our kiddo is fed, the grass is cut, we’re in church every Sunday, the re-model of our house is on schedule, there’s food in the pantry, that I’m taking time to talk to God, that the dogs are walked and the cat isn’t tearing the place down. In short, he’s the glue that holds us all together so that I can do what I was created to do – run all over creation!

What writing project are you working on now?

Right now, I’m writing Scrapping Plans, which is the third book in the Sisters, Ink series. I’m woefully behind on it, though. The main character is struggling with an issue – infertility - that has touched some women in my life who are near and dear to me. Seeing the courage and emotion and faith these women exhibited in the face of miscarriages, misdiagnoses, and marital miscommunication opened my eyes to the havoc evil wreaks in our lives in all forms. I’ve long-been one of those women who introduces topics of conversation we church-folk aren’t “supposed” to talk about (divorce, alcohol, remarriage, abuse, etc.). As I delved deeper into the issue of infertility, I found it was another area that too often we just plop onto the prayer list and don’t really discuss. What a victory for the enemy! So, Scrapping Plans has the story of a character whose life has been invaded by that awful word – infertility. I’m hoping that the story opens a door for Christians to talk about this in greater detail and storm the throne room with prayers for understanding and healing.

Please tell us about your role on DeeperLiving.com.

A couple of years ago, I met Bill Goodyear, who is one of the owners of Deeper Living. I had arranged an interview for one of our authors with him at ICRS that year, though I was a little unfamiliar with Deeper Living at the time. As I do with nearly all conference interviews, I dropped by to make sure the author had made contact with the media rep, that everybody was okay and didn’t need water or anything, etc. Turns out, my author had been raving about GRPR to Bill and, next thing I know, Bill is asking me to come to their studios and film a few shows! I had a ball (once I learned to ignore the image of my giant self on the monitors J). Those shows turned into a few more and a few more until I was doing nearly all the fiction shows and one or two non-fiction.

Recently, the ownership of Deeper Living has undergone some change, so the show schedule and hosting schedule are in transition. I’ve committed to staying on board with the new show as well. I’m not sure what form it will take in 2008, but I know if Bill Goodyear is in charge of it, we’ll make a stellar show!

GlassRoad PR is the only public relations firm in the US dedicated solely to representing novelists writing from a Christian worldview. Please tell us about the inspiration behind GRPR and your dreams for the company.

When I began doing fiction publicity, I didn’t realize that other (smarter?) publicists stayed away from this area. In a lot of ways, I’m grateful for that ignorance at the time because I didn’t know I was supposed to fail. Instead, I had a cubicle on Publicity Row alongside five other publicists, all of whom were working on nonfiction projects in some way or another. I’d hear them on the phone or swapping stories about getting an author on Good Morning America or in USA Today and think, “Shoot, I’ve got to get my author there, too.” Thankfully, no one said in the beginning that it wasn’t worth calling. That those outlets rarely covered fiction and, when they did so, it was an author from a New York general market house. So, I called and pitched. And, more often than was expected, the outlet would review or interview. That was when I finally got an inkling that fiction publicity was hard – when eyebrows raised up after hearing about the latest fiction review or novelist interview I’d secured. By then, I was bitten by the literary publicity bug and on a mission to knock down those so-called barriers everybody told me were put up to novelists. I ducked my head and took off running for that dumb brick wall and haven’t stopped chipping away at it since.

As for opening GRPR, that was my boss’s idea. J Four months after our wedding, Charlie and I learned we were expecting. Talk about short honeymoon periods! I immediately went to my boss because I knew I wasn’t going to be happy spending 50 hours a week at the office away from my baby. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get human resources to work out a flex-time arrangement (for me to work from home part-time and be in the office part-time). One day, my boss said I should open my own publicity firm. Initially, I laughed at her and said it was the most ludicrous suggestion I’d ever heard. But God confirmed the idea through my father-in-law and, 19 days before I gave birth to Anderson, I opened GRPR. I remember freaking a client out because I was on the phone during labor, trying to get as much done as possible before the baby arrived!

My dreams for the company grow with each passing week. In the beginning, all I wanted to do was get the word out about great stories written by Christians and make enough money at that to pay the bills. As God brought that desire of my heart into existence, though, He also planted bigger dreams and grew the vision into a lifelong mission of working not just with novelists, but with any Christian producing any type of entertainment-related product. That means music and movies are on the horizon for us! We’ve just begun growing the music division and already are seeing an extremely cool synergy between recording artists and novelists as well as the types of media that cover both products. By putting the two together, we’re able to reach a much wider audience and introduce the artists to each other so that they can increase their creative potential. We’ve got novelists being inspired by music and musicians being inspired by stories! How cool is that?!

I asked a similar question of Karen Ball recently and it was a lot of fun! During the course of your career you have worked with many of CBA's most successful authors ~ any funny stories you are at liberty to tell?!

Ha ha! Hmmm, what can I tell and not get into trouble…okay, one of my favourite was a prank that Robert Whitlow, Charles Martin, and I played on Allen Arnold (publisher at Thomas Nelson). This was back in my early days as a publicist and I’d taken Whitlow and Martin to the Southern Festival of Books down in Memphis, Tennessee. Both men were scheduled to appear on a panel discussing Christian fiction. The panel went well and, afterwards, I called Allen to give him an update. My call went to his voicemail and that’s when inspiration struck. “Allen,” I said. “You’ve got to call me back. I don’t know what to do. Charles kept talking over Robert at the panel and then he stood up and said that he deserved to be here, not Robert, and then I tried to calm them down, but Charles wouldn’t quit and somebody called security and that’s when Charles lost it and threw a punch. It’s a royal mess and I’m on my way to the police station where they’re telling me I can bail Charles out. Do I pay for this? What do I do? Call me!” By the time I hung up, Robert and Charles were just about dying of laughter. None of us thought Allen would buy such a crazy story, but Charles was relatively new to the author line-up, so it wasn’t completely out of the question that maybe temper tantrums were his thing (they’re not – he’s the calmest man I’ve ever met in my life other than Davis Bunn). I waited about two minutes, then I called again. Again, I got Allen’s voicemail. “Allen, please call me back. I’m almost to the police station and I have no idea what to do. Robert’s telling me that if we don’t drop Charles, he’s going to another publishing house. Help!”

Allen called me back and I kept the ruse going. He bought it hook, line, and sinker. Then I quickly called Charles’ agent to bring him up to speed since I knew Allen would be calling the agent to discuss his author’s behaviour and what ramifications there would be.

The next day, I went into work and had pretty much forgotten the whole thing (I have the attention span of a gnat). As soon as I walked onto the floor, Charles’ editor came rushing over. “What happened? Tell me all about it!” It took me a minute to figure out what she was talking about, and then I laughed so hard my side hurt! Allen still hadn’t figured out the whole thing was a joke and he’d talked to the editor to see if Charles had exhibited this kind of behaviour during the writing process.

Luckily, we were having a staff meeting that morning. I waited until Allen opened the meeting with, “I’m not sure if everyone has heard or what you’ve heard, so I’m going to let Rebeca tell us exactly what happened yesterday,” and I couldn’t keep it going any longer. The editor and I busted out laughing and I told Allen he’d been set up. I had a millisecond of panic (he could fire me!), but then he grinned and said, “No way,” and I knew he wasn’t going to be mad. He laughed and laughed and couldn’t believe he’d been duped by the newbie publicist! Allen’s played a lot of practical jokes in his life, but I think this is one of the few times that one had ever been pulled on him! It was that kind of camaraderie among the team that made working at WestBow such a wonderful time in my life.

Sisters, Ink

What prompted you to write novels with scrap booking at their heart?

My sister introduced me to scrapping over a decade ago and I quickly became an enthusiast since it’s another way of capturing a story. The editor at Thomas Nelson knew I had a love of stories that was exhibited through both writing and scrapping. When she moved, her new neighbour was a scrapper. The editor began wondering what kind of fiction was in the market to cater to this huge subset (33 million scrappers live in the U.S. alone and they spend $4 billion each year on supplies) of the population. When she didn’t find much of anything, she called me! I loved writing that book so much that I knew I wanted to write a ton more!

Did the plot or characters come to you first?

For Sisters, Ink, two of the sisters came to me first. Tandy and Kendra were almost fully fleshed out when they first began yammering away in my head! They were full of sass and wit and I loved them instantly. That first scene – where Tandy is tapping that purple stiletto heel and listening to Frank Sinatra – came in a flash and I started writing. The rest of the story flowed from there. I’d sit down to write and these characters would just start talking in my head. Until the last couple of chapters, I never really knew where it was going (which I’m told is not the way to write a novel – oops), but I love where it ended up.

The four sisters are adopted and each have a different ethnic and cultural background. What inspired this choice?

When I lived in Altamonte Springs, I attended Bible study at the home of one of our assistant pastors and his wife (Bonnie). They had a couple of birth children and a host of adopted children. All the adopted children were different races and ethnicities and I’m pretty sure all of them had some “special needs” issue of one sort or another. One day, I looked at a picture of the family that hung on the wall. I saw a family where nobody’s skin really matched anybody else’s and where everybody was smiling from a point of honesty – not the fake picture smile. It made me think of how God must have meant for us to be, how we probably are in heaven – a beautiful collection of colors. That family was so full of love that I felt it every time I walked in their home. That’s the kind of family I wanted to explore and write about.

If you could only describe each of the four sisters with one word, what would it be?

Tandy - headstrong

Kendra - colorful

Meg - steady

Joy - controlled

Do you have the stories for the other sisters all mapped out before you wrote Sisters, Ink or are those stories developing as you get to “know” your characters in the first and subsequent books?

I know the girls well enough to know which major issue each will have to struggle with pretty soon. I begin writing from that point, letting the reader see the introduction of that issue into the character’s life, experience the character’s reaction to the issue, and then try to resolve the issue in a true-to-life manner.

This may not be accurate but I couldn‘t find where Daddy‘s given name was mentioned - was that intentional and if so, why?

Whoops! Nope, not intentional. Daddy’s name is Jack and he’s a conglomeration of my granddaddy and my daddy. He looks a lot like my granddaddy did. But Granddaddy – a lifelong farmer – didn’t accept Christ until three days before his death (praise God he did accept the Lord!). The character and integrity of Daddy in the novel are based almost completely on my earthly daddy, who is an astounding man. As I wrote the scenes with Daddy, I asked myself what my dad would say to me if I were speaking Tandy’s lines. Shoot, I have spoken some of those lines to my daddy!

It’s very telling, I think, that I didn’t flat out have Jack’s name in there. His presence in that story is, primarily, as Tandy’s daddy. So I like that I only used that name for him. Pretty neat!

Any ideas who you might cast in a movie of Sisters, Ink?

I have no idea. And that’s strange since I distinctly remember picturing actresses when I began writing that story. When I saw the cover, though, the girls morphed into the women on the cover in my mind and I’ve forgotten what actresses I’d envisioned!

What impact do you hope this book has upon the reader?

I hope it entertains her. And I hope that she is freed to love, despite what hurts may have come her way thus far and how justified she may feel to close down and exist rather than live and risk being hurt again.

Matters Personal

Can you share a New Year’s resolution with us?!

I’ve resolved to spend more time nurturing the spiritual aspect of GRPR among its staff members and to try diligently to keep God at the reigns of both the writing and the firm rather than trying to captain the ship myself.

Do you read much yourself? If so, some favourites, please?

I read voraciously. Some folks are addicted to drugs – I’m addicted to stories. Ha ha! I liked Patricia Cornwell’s early stuff, though her main characters (Scarpetta, Marino, Lucy) have grown entirely too dark in recent books. I think that’s the natural progression of characters who don’t have Christ as Lord of their lives, but it sure is depressing to read. Sibella Giorello – a newbie novelist, but seasoned journalist – is fabulous and a great replacement for us Cornwell fans. Eric Jerome Dickey is masterful with creating characters and if he’d tone down the sex and language, he’d be at the very top of my faves list. Same with Jennifer Crusie – her stories are so entertaining and engrossing except for when she co-authored with Bob Mayer! I really like Karen Ball’s stuff (I may be biased – she’s my editor J) and Charles Martin. He’s a fabulous southern fiction author. Let’s see, Colleen Coble’s latest (Abomination) is so freaking good. I highly recommend you try that one out. Okay, this is getting long…guess I’ll stop. But if you want more suggestions, just email me!

What are you reading at the moment?

Ryann Watters and the King’s Sword by Eric Reinhold, which is a new book GRPR just acquired. It’s great fiction for the tweener set. I’m also reading Dickey’s Waking with Enemies and Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. I just finished Jennifer O’Neill’s From Fallen to Forgiven a couple of days ago.

Favourite movie and favourite line from a movie?

I have a few favourites. French Kiss with Kevin Kline and Meg Ryan is one that I can watch over and over again. I’m a bit of a Francophile (I know, I know), which is probably why I love this movie set (mostly) in France. And, though I don’t watch it repeatedly and know the story isn’t quite true to theology, I adore the depth of love portrayed in What Dreams May Come with Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding, Jr. Oh, and I can’t leave out Die Hard! Bruce Willis rocks my world and those movies have been a wonderful point of coming together for my dad and me over the years.

Who inspires you?

Oh, there are quite a few folks who inspire me. My husband, whose amazing qualities I spoke of earlier. Shoot, anybody who can put up with me day in and day out and still say he loves me earns tons of recognition in my book! My parents have both been huge inspirations in my life. Daddy grew up in a two room dirt floor shack moving all over creation as his daddy chased work. At times, he and/or his five siblings stole food to be able to eat. Today, Daddy holds a doctorate from Oxford University and has a thriving family therapy practice. Mom grew up in a broken home back when broken homes weren’t the norm. She was five when her parents broke up, 15 when she first got married, 16 when she gave birth to her first child, 17 when she got divorced, 18 when she met and married my dad and got saved (in that order), and 19 when she had me. About a decade later, she buried her daddy and found out she’d been swindled out of her inheritance of the thousand-acre farm that had been in our family since the Civil War by a conniving step-mother. And that’s about a quarter of the stones satan has thrown at this woman over the years. Yet, she still wakes up every morning and takes time to read the Word and pray. She loves the Lord with all her heart and serves as the director of a crisis pregnancy center. If anybody on earth had reason to be bitter, it’s Mom. But she forgives and lets go. That’s inspiring.

I’m also inspired by the Christians living in Sudan. When I read of their lives and listen to their stories, I am shamed at my ignorance and lack of action on their behalf. Many of these people have no idea where or if their next meal is coming. They wear rags for years and are grateful for them. They trek hundreds of miles in a sometimes vain attempt to stay out of the range of guns carried by the Muslim government soldiers. Yet, they praise God. They worship Him for His creation and His love of them. Their faith is faithful.

Please tell us a little about your family

I’m married to the ever-astounding Charles Andrew Seitz, a Wake Forest alum and son of James and Grace Seitz of Naples, Florida. Charlie enjoyed a 7-year career as a sales design engineer for MCI and is now at home full-time helping me run GRPR and managing the renovation and maintenance of our 7.4 acres and 108-year-old home. He’s also the director of Men’s Fraternity at our church. We have one son, Anderson DeBoard Seitz, who will be celebrating his third birthday on May 19 and is a thrill to parent. Andy loves stories as well and is constantly bringing us books with a request to, “Read me, Mommy. Read me.” YAY! My parents are Dr. H.C. and Mrs. Linda DeBoard. He’s the family therapist for the Beulah Baptist Association. She’s the CEO and Executive Director of Agape Medical Clinic, a crisis pregnancy center. Mom and I are also both directors of the women’s ministries at our individual churches. My older (she’ll get a kick out of that) sister, Christie Ricketts, is owner of Christie’s Photography and has a fabulous eye from behind the lens of a camera. You can learn all about her at www.christiericketts.com. My older brother is an assistant pastor and COO of a Christian financial investment firm in Colorado Springs. Between my two siblings, I have four nieces and two nephews. Add in Charlie’s siblings and I’ve got eight nieces and five nephews. Quite the Christmas list!

Please share some of your faith journey...

Thankfully, my parents scrounged up the nickels for me to attend a Christian school for kindergarten and first grade. Calvary Baptist Academy in Union City, Tennessee was a fabulous place to begin my learning. In kindergarten, we learned a Bible verse for every letter of the alphabet and two chapters in Psalms. So, by 6 years old, we all knew 26 verses and two chapters of the Bible. What an amazing start to life! In first grade, I asked Jesus into my heart during our morning prayer time. Ten years later, my dad encouraged me to learn about the various denominations in the Christian faith, as well as the other religions of the world. I will always be indebted to him for being given the freedom to explore inside the safety of our home. He never failed to answer my questions or point me to resources when he didn’t have the answers. At the end of that period, with a much fuller understanding of my own shortcomings and the jaw-dropping power of Jesus’ forgiveness through sacrifice, I re-dedicated my life to Christ.
It’s been a very windy path so far, full of adventure, failure, triumph, faithlessness, dedication, peace, and war. Satan has thrown some fiery darts in my path and sometimes an avalanche of them threatened to rob me of my faith. But I hold fast to God’s promise that nothing – not even my own poor self – can snatch me out of His hand. There have been tough times, of course, but I truly am appreciative of them because they’ve deepened my faith. And I’ll walk a bruising pathway if at the end I’m closer to this God with whom I am so in love.

Some essential Aussie questions

When/if you make the trip Down Under what do you want to see first? A platypus or a koala?

I want to go out in the middle of nowhere – where all the eye can see is red dirt/dust and not a soul anywhere (though maybe some kangaroo tracks on the ground). When I’m in places like that, devoid of human presence, I find it easier to imagine the world when it was created. And that’s a very, very cool experience. Then, I want to see a koala. J

Barrier Reef or Uluru (Ayers Rock)?

Uluru. Though Barrier Reef sounds more adventurous and would probably be more colourful, I discovered on my honeymoon in the Virgin Islands that snorkelling and scuba diving aren’t my things.

You are visiting Australia ~ do you say yes or no to some vegemite on toast?!

Definitely yes (if that’s really a food?)! Whenever I travel, I like to try whatever the locals eat – though don’t be surprised when my main order is something boring like a burger or chicken. J

Any last words?

This has been a really fun interview! If any of you out there read my books, I’d love to hear your feedback. Email me at rebeca@sistersink.net and let me know what you did or didn’t like, what made you laugh, cry, or scream, and what you may have done differently. Tell me if these characters drive you batty or if you just love them to pieces. Stars Hill and the Sinclair family are important to me now, as if they actually exist, and I want to know what you think of them!

Also, GRPR is looking at some of the Christian recording artists coming out of Australia and may be coming to that area in 2008 to meet with them. If we come, I definitely want to meet some of you!

Name the date and I'm there!!

Rebeca ~ it has been so much fun ~ thanks for your entertaining and genuine responses. It is a pleasure working with you and the rest of the great people at GRPR.

6 comments:

Ausjenny said...

great interview Rebeca

Amy said...

great interview!

French Kiss is my favorite movie, too, I've never met another who would fess up to it. :)

Tracy said...

Oh that was fun. I LOVE the practical joke you guys played. Hard to imagine from the gentle and genteel Charles...but ooohhhh so fun!

M. C. Pearson said...

Awesome interview!

Karen said...

Okay, I can die happy now. Rebeca Seitz likes my writing!

It's only fair, though, seeing as I love her writing too!

Rel, you do the best interviews. Thanks for that!

Karen Ball

Jenny said...

Loved the interview ladies, and the practical joke was too funny!

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