Interview with the Authors of Grit for the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers

A powerful motivator for aspiring writers, Grit for the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers, offers wit, wisdom, and inspiration to take that first step and persevere through the writing journey. More than a how-to, this confidence-building book is designed to draw readers to a closer relationship with God, to affirm their calling to write, and to offer pithy practical guidance from successful writers like Terri Blackstock, Martha Bolton, James Scott Bell, Liz Curtis Higgs, Dr. Gary Chapman, and Kavid Kopp.

We interviewed the authors - Joanna Bloss, Debora M. Coty, Suzanne Woods Fisher and Faith Tibbetts McDonald - to find out more about their new anthology for aspiring writers!

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Suzanne, Deb, Faith, and Joanna. Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves and how long you’ve been writing?

All of us are freelance writers for magazines, newspapers and anthologies and each of us also has a busy life outside of writing (that inadvertently makes our writing more interesting!). We are all moms and squeeze precious writing moments from full schedules. Suzanne raises guide dogs for the blind and cares for her elderly parents. Deb’s an orthopedic occupational therapist and piano teacher, Faith’s a writing instructor at Penn State University and avid runner, and Joanna is a certified personal trainer and graduate student. Between us we have about 30 years of professional writing experience.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

We became acquainted through a writer’s conference in California in 2006. Around this time Suzanne birthed the idea of writing a powerful motivator for aspiring and experienced writers, offering wit, wisdom and inspiration to take that first step and persevere through the writing journey.

There are many books that address the mechanics of writing and getting published, but not about the heart of writing. The other three of us eagerly jumped on board and Grit was soon underway. Each of us is on different legs of our writing journeys but we were united by the desire to create a motivational book for writers that affirms, builds confidence, inspires, and offers practical guidance.

What kind of research was involved in writing Grit for the Oyster?

The bulk of the writing was garnered from our personal experience so most of the research was conducted in the school of hard knocks. We did, on the other hand, spend hours (and we mean hours) contacting via e-mail the more seasoned authors who offered quotes about their real-life experiences. These enormously helpful quotes are scattered throughout the book. We found these authors to be extremely willing to share their expertise and appreciate their graciousness.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

Initially, very little. Although we had batted around some ideas, the first cover presented by the publisher was nothing like we had in mind! However, since Joanna has some graphic design experience, she mocked up a cover that we felt better represented the image we were trying to convey. Thankfully our publisher listened and the end product was one about which we felt very good.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

That question really captures the essence of Grit for the Oyster. Our quick answer would be “all of the above.” All of us have had some amazingly smooth sails interspersed with quite a few bumps along the way. For the more detailed answer, you’ll have to pick up a copy of the book!

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

About eight months.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

Suzanne is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency and HIGHLY recommends that everyone pursue finding an agent. Deb is represented by an agent on a book by book basis. Faith and Joanna are currently free agents.

Do you plan subsequent books?

As a foursome we’ve joked about a sequel to Grit for the Oyster, but no, we don’t have anything planned at this time. However, Suzanne, Deb and Joanna all have forthcoming books in the works.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

Whenever we can squeeze it in. Because Suzanne lives in the west, Joanna in central and Deb and Faith in the eastern time zone we can easily say that we have every hour of the day covered.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

Hands down—a publicist. (That and full-time housekeepers so we can devote less time to cleaning and more time to promotion!)

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Like many authors, we wrestle with the idea of self-promotion. But unless your name is well enough known to be automatically associated with great writing (oh how we long to be named Hemingway or Michener!), you absolutely must work very hard to promote your own work. We do speaking engagements, blog tours, bookstore signings, send out copies of our books to influential readers and pretty much any other moral, ethical and legal thing we can think of that might inspire someone to purchase our book.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Get started. Keep going. Don’t give up. And pick up a copy of Grit for the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers. You won’t be disappointed!

Thank you for coming, Suzanne, Deb, Faith and Joanna! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Thank you for this great interview! Our blog, contains even more helpful information for up and coming writers and our book can be found on or Barnes & Noble online (
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