Interview with John Palmerlee

John has graciously agreed to be my first interview "victim". I will admit that I am not skilled at interviews, so I truly appreciate some practice. Here goes:

Tell us a few things about yourself: age (if you want), kids, your homeschool, where you live, etc.

I'm turning 54 this month, more than half has been with my wife Robin. That amazes me, and helps me realize how important she is in my life... aside from growing and birthing Ellen (17) and Michael (14). 

I have done computer work from our Santa Rosa home for a long time now, so I'm staying involved with family life. Ellen began homeschooling (independent study) during her sophomore year. Michael seems to enjoy public education.

What spurred you to begin writing?

I think it started way back, when a teacher encouraged the "creative" in creative writing. My favorite assignment was writing a story from a random magazine picture. 

Most of my life, when philosophical concepts fit together I had to write them down, else they got lost forever. Now they all wait in a file folder for some kind of release. I think having them sit there is like a support system for when I'm writing. I notice they leak back out when the time is right... when they need expression in a story. 

I love to write from simple beginnings, creating as I go. My novel started soon after Ellen was born... from a phrase that just popped into my head. I've been working on it ever since. Now all the years of thoughts get some fresh air.

Tell us about what you write: genre, any publishing credits

I've published two articles - nonfiction - one educational and one about a personal experience. My favorite is fiction - usually futuristic (I'll admit - it's easier to write when I can make everything up). 

I've completed the first draft of a novel and am working on a revision based on feedback from an inner circle of readers. Next, I'll decide about publishing and start some formal editing.

When on earth do you find time to write?

That's why it took 17 years :-). Not really - It came in spurts, we took 2 weeks each summer to vacation in Oregon, and I always took a computer and some backup disks. This was my most productive time. Some years, I found a way to write almost every day just a little, sometimes late at night when it was quiet. 

In the last 4 years, the pace quickened. Ellen started studying ways to get more out of her time, by bringing things with her to read, study, knit... wherever she went. She made a suggestion one evening that I take my laptop along to her dance class, and write in the car while I wait for her. I liked it. Saved gas, and time... and gave me a break perfectly suited to writing. So I took the hour and a half each week and made some great progress. Her idea became a theme for both of us, her as a homeschooler and me as a writer.

Do you have any time management tips or organizational ideas to share?

Simple things like... I use a laptop so I can move it around with me easily, and always have a spare battery. The laptop has to be pleasant to work with, so for me that means it's a Mac. 

I've got to have something to write ideas onto in the car and at my desk - so I love stickies. I prefer to review my work in the printed form, so a laser printer keeps costs down and makes a good looking copy. My book got into readers hands simply because I had a copy innocently waiting.

What are your main avenues of improving your writing: writing books, blogs, coursework, conferences, critique group, etc.

Getting others to read my work makes a difference, both for improvement and encouragement. Knowing copies are being read keeps my attention on the revision work. I've been fairly chicken about getting feedback, so this process helped break that ice. I haven't braved the critique group thing yet, but want to.

Thank you so much, John. It's amazing that no matter how busy we are, there are "wasted" moments in the day that can be captured. And you've got a novel to show for it!

There are hundreds more ideas for squeezing drops of writing time out of our days. If you've got one, leave a comment.


  1. Great info on {the topic of the blog}. It will guide many of the readers.

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  2. Thanks, Rebecca. This is some of the most valuable information for me as an unpublished writer--figuring how everybody else does it.

    It encourages me to see other people writing in the midst of incredibly busy schedules.

  3. Hey Debbie! i am so glad i found you! didn't know you had this going, and i would love to talk to you whenever works! can't wait to see more of what you post in the future . . .

    love, Laura

  4. Thanks, Laura. I'll definitely be in touch.



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