What Type of Writing Do You Do?
Catholic non-fiction, mainly about saints or women’s issues. My most recent book, Menopause Moments: A Journal for Nourishing Your Mind, Body and Spirit in Midlife (Twenty-third Publications) came out in May 2021. I’ve written five other books and coauthored a seventh. I also am a regular contributor to Living Faith, a Catholic devotional, and to Women in the New Evangelization (WINE), CatholicMom.com, and Your Daily Tripod.
I have an edgy Christian women’s novel I’ve not been able to sell. Maybe someday.
What Inspired You to Write?
I regard my greater gift as editing; my history includes five years as the editor of Writer’s Digest magazine. But God called me to write in the immediate aftermath of my return to the Catholic Church in December 2003. It had been 33 years since I’d belonged to any faith community. A lot of Christians including Cec Murphey, Virelle Kidder, and Carmen Leal had prayed for me to find Jesus again, and writing my story and how others helped me was a way to pay it forward and to pay homage.
How often to you write?
Right now, around four hours a week—my Your Daily Tripod weekly column, and then Living Faith, WINE, and CatholicMom.com assignments as they come up. I basically wrote three books in 2020, and so am taking a bit of a breather from long-form writing to listen to what God wants next.
USING THE EXPERITISE OF OTHERS
When do you bring in outside help?
I’m blessed to have a day job that pays well. I hire someone to manage my Twitter feed, and have a webmaster to handle the techie stuff, like the saints database maintenance and when WordPress decides to make “improvements.” My sister has helped with creating some images through Canva for Instagram. I also have a virtual assistant (who happens to be a friend’s mom, but still younger than me!) who helps with research and some marketing outreach.
Do you have an agent, and how did you find one?
I had an agent who attempted unsuccessfully to sell a memoir about my return to faith after a publisher had accepted it, then declined to publish it as it was to go on press. He was a referral from a friend.
ABOUT YOU, THE WRITER
Who are your favorite authors and why? [or] What are you reading now?
Heather King, who describes herself as an ex-attorney, recovering alcoholic convert, I think is one of the finest non-fiction Christian writers today. Right now, I’m on page 485 of The Mirror and the Light, the last of Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy. It’s not as good as the first two, and could have used a good editor (Me! Me!) but with about a third of the book left, the story seems to be picking up.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Writing is like any other job. Sometimes you get in flow. Sometimes you don’t feel like writing, but you have to. I’m pretty disciplined, so I typically don’t worry about whether something sounds beautiful or perfect until it’s finished and I go back to revise.
What is your writing dream?
I’m living it.
What are you working on now?
Marketing Menopause Moments, and discerning what God wants next. I have an interesting potential coauthoring opportunity, but not seriously pursuing it at this time. My word for 2021 is REST, and I’m trying to do more of that, especially spiritually. More prayer, more discernment, less activity.
What would you most like to share with other Christian writers?
Connect. CCWF is a terrific organization for writers at all levels to share their experiences and expertise. People want to help. Just ask. I spent several days telling myself that the founder and director of the George Washington University Institute for Spirituality & Health (GWish), an author with whom I’d had a brief virtual interaction, wouldn’t possibly want to write a blurb for Menopause Moments. Finally, I asked anyway… and she gave me a beautiful endorsement and told me separately she really enjoyed the book. Knock, and the door will open… maybe not the door you expected, but it will open.
Melanie Rigney is a founder and the current owner of Future with Hope Women, a not-for-profit endeavor that offers events for Catholic women over 40. She has spoken at hundreds of writing and women’s conferences and retreats. Her publishing consultancy, Editor for You, has helped hundreds of authors, publishers, and agents since 2003. Melanie has been a member of CCWF and a predecessor since 2004. Learn more on Melanie’s website including her newsletter and most recent book, Menopause Moments: A Journal for Nourishing Your Mind, Body and Spirit in Midlife.