Today I am honored to introduce J.D. Wininger. J.D. is an award-winning writer and speaker who teaches compelling lessons in faith and writes heartfelt devotionals and books to glorify God. He has written for national magazines and contributed to several books. When not working his Texas ranch, He and his wife share God’s love in surrounding communities.
Good morning, J.D. Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.
Born in Columbus, Indiana, a long LONG time ago, I was raised from an early age in central Florida, so that’s home for me. I was adopted into a loving Christian family at 14 years old, so that’s when my life really began to take root and grow. I retired in 2011 and my wife Diane and I started our family farm and cattle ranch in northeast Texas in 2013. We call it the Cross-Dubya ranch, as we put Christ first in everything we do here.
What’s your favorite genre to read and write? Who’s your favorite author?
I love reading most genres. These days, it’s primarily Christian nonfiction and books on the art and science of writing, but I throw a Lee Child novel in there whenever I just want to enjoy the pleasure of reading and not really learn anything. He has a terrific writing style and I relate to his Jack Reacher character more than I would care to admit.
What age did you realize you loved books? When did you start writing?
Not sure of the age, but will guess it was around five years old. My early childhood was not the most pleasant one so I learned to escape by taking books from the Bookmobile that would come to our rural community once every couple of weeks and escape to the woods to read. I loved reading about the adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, solving mysteries with Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. And of course, I tried to live out the adventures I found in Ernest Hemingway’s stories. Around seven years old, I discovered that I wanted to do more than read about adventures; I wanted to write my own. I scavenged discarded pop bottles and redeemed them to purchase a pack of paper and a couple of pencils. That’s when my “writing career” began. I’ve been writing ever since, but mostly in private. I say this, but in reality, I had a forty year career in the telecommunications and defense and aerospace industry as a business writer, so all my writing wasn’t exactly “private”.
Tell us about this book. What did you learn about yourself through writing it?
My current Work in Progress, which I expect to have a publishing contract for soon is entitled The Chrysalis of Christ. As its subtitle indicates (I hope), Transforming Your Life in Christ, this nonfiction work focuses on a lifetime of lessons as a struggling Christian. Two-thirds of Christians today face serious doubt about their faith at some point. For those whose faith is new or underdeveloped, up to one in five will walk away from their faith altogether. Having experienced this myself, I sought to share the hard-learned lessons on how to grow and mature our faith into one that can sustain us.
Other than learning how difficult the publishing world can be to navigate successfully, the most important lesson I’ve learned through writing The Chrysalis of Christ is thankfulness. In reviewing my lifetime of learning, I was able to see all the blessings in my life and how I am so grateful to have had a loving God to help guide me closer to Him.
As for what I learned about myself in writing this book. I learned that in trusting God I was better able to trust myself.
Do you normally use an outline for the books you write, or do you just start with a few ideas?
I think I am a hybrid. In my business writing career, I was very much an “Outliner”. In my personal writing, I’m a pretty solid “Pantser.” In my commercial writing endeavor, I use both skills regularly.
Is there a special place you like to write?
I do most of my actual writing in my den. However, I get most of my inspiration for my writing while sitting atop a hill on the western-most point of my ranch, facing east as a sun rises most days. It’s in this quiet place of solitude that I can collect my thoughts and prayerfully listen for guidance.
What was something that surprised you in the way this book unfolded? What character do you like best?
While my book is nonfiction, I was surprised by the sheer number of events in my life that God made Himself present to me. Even in the midst of what I thought were my most miserable circumstances, as I looked back upon them, and saw where God brought people into my life that offered a lifeline.
What advice would you give a new author?
First, never stop learning. Always seek opportunities to learn and improve upon your craft. Writing, whatever genre you might choose, is a combination of creativity and skill. Look for ways to increase both. A writer’s conference is a great source of inspiration. Secondly, develop a support system you can rely on and grow with. Mine includes a writers’ group that offers critique, learning and lots of encouragement. Last, don’t be afraid to ask for help. A key to growing my writing career was developing a mentoring relationship with a proven author and editor. With her guidance, my learning curve has been greatly reduced.
Thank you for your time and the wonderful interview. I’ll be looking forward to seeing your book on Amazon and Goodreads. You can follow J.D on Twitter @JD_Wininger