READ: Firm Foundations, Fulfilled Dreams: An Interview with Author C.J. Darlington (Part III)
Here we go with Part III of my Homeschooling Today interview with author C.J. Darlington. Although this concludes the main portion of the article, be sure to check out Wednesday’s post for C.J.’s hints for breaking into print as well as her tips for young writers and their teachers.
I’m a bit late posting my blog today because we were shopping for our family mega-cooking in which we prepare meals to stock our freezer. On a morning trip to Sam’s Club in Sanford, Florida, I made my customary visit to the book section. I was thrilled to see Thicker than Blood among the stacks of novels!
M.P.: What would you say to encourage today’s homeschool students?
C.J.: First, recognize the gift homeschooling has given you. It’s hard sometimes (especially for students like me who never knew anything else) to see what you’ve been spared by not attending conventional school. You don’t have to face peer pressure and temptations other kids encounter daily. If someone says you’re sheltered, be thankful. Then show them that your knowledge reaches far beyond your home. You’re not missing out. Really!
Also, realize that it’s okay to have many interests. I used to feel like a failure if I didn’t master everything I tried. But my mom always reminded me that I had to explore many areas so I could discover what interested me most. It’s fine to have a hobby for a few months and then move on. That’s how you develop into a well-rounded person.
M.P.: Do you have words of encouragement for homeschooling parents who may be weary in well-doing?
C.J.: By homeschooling, you’re giving your kids an awesome gift. On those days when nothing seems to go right, know that you are not wasting your time. It will pay off. Homeschooling works. I’m living proof.
Also, be willing to adjust your curriculum for each child. Change gears if necessary and try different techniques until you find one that works.
And don’t be discouraged if your child doesn’t excel in every subject. I was a horrible speller. But now Tyndale House is publishing my first book!
M.P.: Tell us about your family’s response to your winning the Operation First Novel Contest. Were they present when you received the award?
C.J.: My dad wouldn’t stop crying, my mom wouldn’t stop screaming, my sister wouldn’t stop talking . . . for a week! And yes, Mom was with me when they announced the winner at the Christian Writers Guild’s annual Writing for the Soul Conference in Colorado Springs. The second I left the stage, Mom and I ducked into a hallway and called my dad and sister who were waiting beside the phone.
M.P.: Your first novel releases this month. What’s next?
C.J.: I recently completed the sequel to Thicker than Blood. Some of the major characters of that first book return as minor characters. In the sequel, a rare first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby takes center stage. I’m excited because I think I’ve grown since writing my first.
The spiritual theme of the second novel is reaching out to those who seem like lost causes. There are hurting people all around us. The main character of the novel is a teenager, and a mother/daughter theme crept into the story as well. And I’m beginning a third novel, which also has some recurring characters and locations.
M.P.: Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
C.J.: Try to have more than “school at home.” Make homeschooling more of an education in how to learn. That’s what worked for me.
Remember (whether you’re a parent or student): don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day. Good and bad days happen. Stick with it. With God’s help you can make homeschooling work and enjoy it, too!
M.P.: Want to know more? Check out C.J.’s website at www.cjdarlington.com. It’s a great place to read more about the path that led to her winning contest entry, find additional tips for writers, and download the first chapter of Thicker than Blood (Tyndale House Publishers, 2010).
Originally published in Homeschooling Today® magazine, January/February 2010, used by permission. All rights reserved, www.homeschooltoday.com.