Author Interview

Tuesday Talks – Interview with Gena Maselli

Today we have Gena Maselli with us. Gena is a professional writer who has written non-fiction books as well as magazine and Web articles. She has also edited and ghosted for several well-known authors and has written children’s church curriculum, direct mail, marketing materials and more. Her recent release, Fabulous and Focused, is a 365-day devotional for working women that she co-authored. Hello Gena  
Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

I was born and raised in Ocala, Florida. Northcentral Florida was a great place to grow up because I had all the fun of country living—riding motorcycles, climbing trees, tubing down the rivers and even picking wild blackberries in the spring, but we were only an hour from Daytona Beach and Walt Disney World. We were never at a loss for things to do. My family works in the thoroughbred horse industry, so they are all extremely hard working—up by 5 a.m., heading to the barns while it’s still dark. They also work in an industry that requires them to be visionaries, to see potential in horses before there is any proof that those horses can race. That approach to life definitely rubbed off on me. My mom, especially, raised me to be goal-oriented and hard-working. At the same time, she instilled in me and demonstrated a very real faith. God was not someone who was off in the distance. He was a very real, active part of our lives, and we relied on Him daily.

It sounds like you have a great mother. What’s your favorite genre to read and write. Who’s your favorite author?

I have several genres that I read: historical and contemporary romance, mystery, cozy mystery, classics, chic lit, women’s fiction and even YA adventure and dystopian. My all-time favorite author is Jane Austen. I don’t even know how many times I’ve read Pride and Prejudice. I also like Debbie Macomber, Luanne Rice and Kristin Hannah. I recently read Robin Patchen and am still processing her mastery of language and description.

What age did you realize you loved books? When did you start writing?

I spent my 11th grade year of high school as an exchange student in France. There was a small shelf in the school library that held American and British books in English. I read just about everything on that shelf. It was my one connection with home and the English language. That’s where I discovered Jane Austen, John Steinbeck, the Brontë sisters and Ernest Hemingway. It was also the first time I experienced the power of an enthralling story. That year made me a life-long reader and planted the seed of a desire to write. 

After college, I worked in print advertising alongside talented editors and writers. I watched, read and learned. When the opportunity came for me to help my husband (also a professional writer), I did. It wasn’t long before I was receiving writing opportunities of my own.  

Tell us about this book. What did you learn about yourself through writing it?

Fabulous and Focused: 365 Devotions for Women who Work is co-authored with my good friend Michelle Medlock Adams. We had worked on other projects together and one day began brainstorming about a devotion for working women. Both of us have worked in offices, freelance, contract, etc., so we have lots of different kinds of professional experiences and have seen God move in, through and sometimes even in spite of us. We wanted to encourage women who work (in any capacity), to remind them that they are loved, that God is always with them and that they are ambassadors for Him while they work.

This devotion definitely challenged me. First, writing half of a 365-day devotion is hard. I got to a point where I wondered if I had anything left to say. But once again, God is faithful, and I credit Him with giving me fresh ideas when I didn’t think I had anything left. It also challenged me to be open and honest about lessons I’ve learned, even those lessons I learned the hard way. It can be difficult to be open and vulnerable but then, that’s part of the writing process too.

Do you normally use an outline for the books you write, or do you just start with a few ideas?

I like to loosely outline as I go whether it’s a book or a magazine article or whatever. I can’t get too detailed in my outline or I start feeling trapped by it. I need just enough structure so that I know where I’ve going but then I give myself freedom to be creative.

Is there a special place you like to write?

I’m a big Starbucks fan. I love to buy my favorite drink, put on headphones, listen to instrumental music and write. Those are my most productive sessions. 

What was something that surprised you in the way this book unfolded? What character do you like best?

Something that surprised me about the process of this book had to do with the editing process. Occasionally, editors would find something I had written confusing. Their comments forced me to read my work through others’ eyes. I had to be even clearer or express ideas differently to make my point. That fine tuning not only helped make the book better, but also reminded me that readers process writing through different filters. While I can’t hope to account for every interpretation, it’s my job to hit as wide an audience as possible. It also reminded me how valuable a good editor is.

What advice would you give a new author?              

Goodness, so many things come to mind. For the new author, simply write. Write for yourself. Don’t worry about publishing yet. Just become familiar with the process of outlining (or not outlining), story or book structure, craft development and editing. I find this takes the pressure off. I also encourage new writers to find a writing group or a mentor. Finding people who share your passion for writing will energize you. I always marvel at how encouraging it is to be around fellow writers. They’re my “tribe” and I love the energy that flows when we get together.

What project are you working on now and how do we find your books?

I’m in the development phase for new projects. Readers can visit my website——to find out about new projects and/or find out where I’m speaking. I’d love to meet them!

Where can we find your books?

Fabulous and Focused: 365 Devotions for Women who Work is available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

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