Welcome to the two hundred and fourth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with non-fiction author Berney K Dorton. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Berney. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Berney: Writing has always been my passion. I yearned for the opportunity to write a book when my mother passed away and five of my friends were battling a courageous fight against cancer. I had taken creative writing classes in high school and college and felt the need to express my thoughts in writing and poetry for people to read.
Morgen: Five, wow, that’s inspiration indeed. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Berney: Non-fiction. I have thought about fiction writing, but I have not delved into it at this time.
Morgen: Oh do, it’s fun. 🙂 What have you had published to-date?
Berney: I have published “Prayer Never Fails Especially During Trials”. My book was published April 2011. A self published book.
Morgen: Yay the self-published book (Sarahjane Funnell has actually written a guest blog on this topic – going live 6.30pm tonight, UK time – in twelve hours!). Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Berney: No. I think it depends on who the agent is, and who you are acquainted with.
Morgen: Absolutely, we’re all different (thankfully). What was your first acceptance?
Berney: I am a self-publisher. I submitted my manuscript to traditional publisher, but unfortunately they prefer you to have an agent.
Morgen: I think that’s sadly the case, it is said that it’s more difficult to get an agent than a publisher and I, for one, have tried (albeit only to a dozen) and had blanket rejections (or no response at all) so am doing what you’re doing Berney, albeit via eBooks, and going my own way but then I like having total control (under the eyes of an editor). 🙂 Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Berney: Yes. I submitted my book proposal to chosen publications and they rejected it. They have chosen another author who had written about prayer. I gleaned from the email what they where looking for and the areas that I should improve on in my writing skills.
Morgen: That’s excellent, to get such a comprehensive reply – we all need feedback regardless of how far up the creative ladder we are. 🙂 What are you working on at the moment / next?
Berney: A book about healthy relationships.
Morgen: With all the doom and gloom around the world at the moment, I think we could never have too many of those. Do you manage to write every day?
Berney: I write by inspiration, or an event that needs to be addressed. I write through out the day when thought-provoking statements, events, or questions enter my mind. I have written one to two chapters at a given time.
Morgen: It’s all about practice. We get better through sculpting our art, and enjoy it more… hopefully. What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Berney: Writers block occurs when your creativity ceases to flow. It occurs when your thoughts cannot be formulated into words and you are unable to write concise concepts that develop into a thrilling chapter. There are multiple reasons for this temporary condition, but my paradigm is that it happens, because you have exhausted avenues that no longer spark your interest. When this happens to me: I stop writing for a couple of days to gather my thoughts. Often my creativity is stimulated by a word of encouragement, song, movie, conversation etc.
Morgen: It’s very easy to be too hard on ourselves. We often think our first drafts have to be perfect… or even good. You can’t edit a blank page so even if there’s one sentence that you like then it’s worth doing – again, it’s down to practice and the more you get the more you’ll like… it works for me anyway. It sounds like you don’t struggle for ideas, where do you get your inspiration from?
Berney: God, people, events, life.
Morgen: I think all my interviewees have said one or more of those. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Berney: I run with the idea or inspiration.
Morgen: Most do, and the way the writing just ‘appears’ thrills me every time. Do you have a method for creating the people in your books?
Berney: I am non-fiction writer. I change the names of real people.
Morgen: You write non-fiction, how do you decide what to write about?
Berney: I write about people’s personal encounter with life and how they cope with trails, tragedy, and despair. I try to discover the key element that assists them in overcoming adversity and maintain their sanity.
Morgen: I think we’ve all had times like that. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Berney: No. I edit as much as I can but, I believe that authors work need to be edited by reputable editors.
Morgen: Oh, absolutely. Mine (hello, Rachel) is my only eBook expense and she’s so worth it, and I don’t have to say that, but not only does she spot errors (thankfully not too many) but has also come up with some wonderful suggestions. 🙂 Have you ever received feedback from your readers?
Berney: Yes, I have received positive feedback from my readers. They informed me that my book is thought-provoking and practical. They identify with different scenarios that occur in my book.
Morgen: I bet that was thrilling. 🙂 What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Berney: My creativity begins with prayer, scripture, music, conversation, or a deed that I have done. Prior to me sitting down to write; I gather my notes to expound on a concept that I have envisioned.
Morgen: Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Berney: I write my thoughts on paper, computer, or a note pad.
Morgen: Some writers like quiet, others the noise of a coffee shop etc. Do you listen to music or have noise around you when you write or do you need silence?
Berney: I desire a tranquil environment when I write.
Morgen: Me too, classical music every time. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Berney: My least favourite aspect of writing is composing the first chapter of the book. The first chapter should inspire readers to desire to read further. It is difficult to comprise initial chapter to grasp the reader’s attention.
Morgen: The hook in my case (other than articles about writing, I only write fiction). If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Berney: My challenge was proofreading the galley. The tedious task of correcting words, phrases, punctuations, footnotes etc is time-consuming and it places incredible strain on my eyes.
Morgen: Having just written over 47,000 words in 8 days for NaNoWriMo, I know that feeling. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Berney: Take writing courses, read magazines, books, and join a writers club.
Morgen: Absolutely, I’ve done (and still do) all of the above. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Berney: I am a registered nurse, professor, inspirational speaker, and I volunteer with the God News Jail Ministry in Richmond, California. I work with the Circle of Love Men ministry, and I am the co founder of the Millennium Women ministry. I am an ambassador of the Chamber of Commerce and I study with the Bible Study Fellowship International women’s group in Richmond, California. I love Zumba dance, basketball, baseball, and boxing.
Morgen: Wow, a busy lady. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Berney: My website is http://berneykdorton.com.
Morgen: Is there a question you’d like to ask me? 🙂
Berney: When do you find the time to write?
Morgen: Good question… I start three or four exercises in my fortnightly Monday night writing workshop but they tend to stay as handwritten pages in a display book – I do plan to type them up when I go freelance at the end of the year. Before I set up my blog I did NaNoWriMo three times and Story A Day May – the latter of which is one of my eBooks, and I mentioned earlier that I’ve just completed my fourth NaNo. I am best with a deadline, if I have to do something, I just do it. 🙂 Thank you Berney.
I then invited Berney for an extract of her writing…
I desired to convey a positive message about God in times of tribulation and despair. People have become disenfranchised and agonizing about their problems. Pray Never Fails Especially During Trials amplifies the necessity for a consistent pray life that identify areas of human vulnerability and strength while demonstrating God’s ability to sustain people through trials. Its primary purpose is to encourage people to consistently engage in a spirit-filled prayer life that will assist them during unforeseen life events. Exposure to trials is disheartening and no one is exempt from them, but we are able to withstand the brunt of the burdens with prayer. No matter what opposition we encounter, prayer is the antidote for despair and the process for healing. Prayer never fails especially during trials, because we serve a God without imperfections who possess supernatural abilities to prevail through any adversity.
Berney explains that this book heightens people’s awareness of the value of prayer and its infinite possibilities. She highlights prayer as the safe haven that she can always rely on and through faith, she is able to serve an invisible God who may not be perceptible by vision or understood by intellect, but who nonetheless guides us with His spirit through trials. Outside conflict and inside fears; represent trouble. Berney has experienced both, but she faced the trials by prevailing in prayer.
Berney K. Dorton, a native of El Sobrante, California, is married, mother of three grown children, an accomplished Registered Nurse, professor, inspirational speaker, and author. She received a Bachelor of Science degree and Public Health Nursing degree from the University of San Francisco, School of Nursing. Berney excelled academically, receiving a Master of Science degree in Nursing, and Education from the University of Phoenix. As a professor, she taught at the Dominican School of Nursing in Marin, California, the Samuel Merritt College School of Nursing, and Contra Costa College in San Pablo, California. She works diligently with the Good News Jail Ministry in Richmond, California, Circle of Love Men ministry in Houston, Texas, studies with the Bible Study International Fellowship, and co-founder of the Millennium Women in Richmond, California, and she is an ambassador of the chamber of commerce in Richmond, California.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
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