This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Author Interview - Stephen Bly

For those of you who like historical westerns and cowboys, please welcome fellow author, Stephen Bly.

Describe your writing journey. How did you first get published?

I never wanted to be a writer. My wife, Janet, attended some writers’ conferences and asked to submit some excerpts from my sermons that she edited into stories and articles. One day in December 1976, I received two checks in the mail from two different magazine editors. That encouragement caused me to think I might be able to write. In 1981 Janet helped me submit a book proposal for a nonfiction project…developed from a class I taught to college kids from the Book of Mark. Moody Press published it as Radical Discipleship. In the late ‘80s I began writing westerns, as Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness became a bestseller and Christian fiction took off. 
What advice or tips do you have for writers who are just getting started?  

We mentor students for Jerry Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. In addition, we receive numerous requests from folks wanting to get published. We tell them to go to writers’ conferences—to take the classes, meet with editors and other writers. This is crucial, we believe. It’s how we got started. It’s the main way to get up close and personal and understand today’s market. Also, we encourage them to sign up for correspondence courses, such as CWG. This isn’t a guarantee of getting published, but will help with the writing craft. Many are going the self-published route. This can work if you’ve got a ready market of buyers of your book. But we caution them to go with reputable self-publishers and stay away from scams. Going to a writers’ conference provides guides for self-publishing too.

Tell us about your latest book.  

On June 1st, Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon will be released in hardback, by Center Point Publishers. It’s about a 10-year-old boy. Six old cowboys. A ’49 Plymouth with open back. And a damsel in distress. All the fixings for an adventure on a rainy, summer’s day in 1954 Albuquerque. You might discover that you weren’t born 100 years too late. You can order this book through or or through your local library.

Where do you get ideas for stories?  

From reading western history. From travel all over the west, especially down unpaved, dirt roads. From stories folks tell me. From personal experiences. Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon is the closest novel I’ve written to a memoir. Memories from times spent with my own grandpa filter through. In fact, in 1954 I was 10-years-old, so I recall many of the scenes in the 1950s. Janet and I love New Mexico. Much of the research comes from our trips there.  

Favorite scripture and/or quote:
Ever since I began to follow Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, I’ve relied on this verse: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). I consider the articles and stories and books as part of the ‘added things.’ I always try to remember that God’s kingdom comes first. One of my favorite quotes: I must do those things in life that I would regret not doing. Don’t know where I got that, but it’s helped me keep my priorities straight.  
What are your favorite writing conferences and why?  

Our favorite has always been the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference near Santa Cruz, CA. That’s because it’s where we grew as writers. But there’s many other Christian writers’ conferences where we’ve taught or gotten great feedback that provide excellent helps for beginning and published writers, such as: Billy Wilson’s Florida Conference; Marita Littauer’s Glorieta (NM) Conference; Blue Ridge Mountains Conference; Sandy Cove Conference; Maranatha (MI) Conference; Jerry Jenkins’ Writing For The Soul Conference; Marlene Bagnull’s Write His Answer Colorado Conference; Northwest Christian Writers Renewal; and Oregon Christian Writers Conferences.  

In your opinion, what is a writer’s greatest struggle?
Self-discipline. Realizing the whole process is hard work. No one’s forcing you to do this, so life slips by and the slush pile of words don’t get written. Or the writer’s done the creative work, but doesn’t want to do the plodding effort to find someone to publish his or her gems. And after the work’s published, doing the whole marketing scene. None of it’s easy, though beginners or non-writers often think this is one of the ‘plush jobs."

Thank you, Steve, for joining us! 


What a lovely interview, Jennifer.

Stephen, you offered some great tips. Life always gets in the way, so you're right, self-discipline is a must. Having goals, like daily or week writing goals helps with the dicipline.

I can't say enough about the importance of learning the craft of good writing and writing for today's market. Writing conferences are a wonderful tool to help in that, and especially keeping your finger on the pulse of the business.

Blessings. :-)

Thanks for the great interview, Stephan. I especially appreciate your encouragement to invest in your writing. I've attended the Writing For The Soul in 2009-2010. I also attended the CCWC in Estes Park in 2009. I truly believe that I am still writing because of the blessings of attending those conferences. I'm now looking into taking the fiction course with the Christian Guild. The holdback is money. I have this weird thing of not doing something unless I can pay for it. I have my jar of savings started for the Writing For the Soul Workshop in 2011.

I've read a couple of your books and look forward to this one. I like the idea of the trans-generational aspect of the ten-year old boy and the old cowboys.

Thanks Jennifer for an excellent post.

Blessings on your day and your writing,

A J Hawke
ajhawkeauthor at aol dot com

A.J. and Sia: Thanks so much for the kind words and stopping by to read this interview.
On the trail,

Self discipline is the toughest thing to do....could be why many "would be" writers fail. A good reminder for everyday progress. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33)I love this verse and the promises of our loving Heavenly Father. THanks so much for sharing. Blessings, Connie Sue