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Finding My Voice–MaryLu Tyndall and Kristy Dykes

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Please make welcome MaryLu Tyndall and Kristy Dykes.

MaryLu Tundall spent her early years in South Florida. After graduating from San Jose State, she worked for a software company, got married, started a family, and began pursuing a career in writing. MaryLu now writes full time and lives in California with her husband and six children. She is breaking ground in the category of Pirate Romances with her first two novels, The Redemption and The Reliance.

A former newspaper columnist, Kristy Dykes is an award-winning author of 10 Christian fiction titles as well as over 600 articles in many publications including two New York Times subsidiaries. Her titles have been on the Christian bestsellers list and the Top 20 List at She’s won many awards including Third Place in the 2006 Book of the Year Contest, presented by American Christian Fiction Writers, for “Reunited” in Wedded Bliss?, a Barbour 4-in-1. Kristy was voted to the 2004 Favorite New Authors List for HeartSong Presents. She writes a column for the ezine of the inspirational chapter of Romance Writers of America. She’s taught at many conferences and two colleges and enjoys speaking for women’s and writers’ events. Kristy lives in Florida, with her hero husband, Milton, a pastor. She’d love to hear from you: Read her blog:

WPWT: How did you find your unique writing voice? Did you struggle to find it or did it come easily to you?
MT: It came very easy to me. By definition, if you have a unique writing voice (which everyone does) you should already possess it and not need to work at acquring it. If you are struggling to find it, I suggest that you stop struggling, let go of other people’s expectations and all rules and just write from your heart. That’s where you’ll find your voice.

KD: Voice is something that is developed, generally speaking. Through my mind are running multitudinous author interviews I’ve read and gleaned from, and for the most part, this is what they say: that voice “finally” comes… I think I’m in the developing stage. I have 10 titles with Barbour, both Heartsong Presents novels and novellas in 4-in-1 collections. They’re all romances, with one exception, which is contemporary women’s fiction—my novella, Reunited,” in Wedded Bliss?, which won Third Place in the 2006 Book of the Year Contest, novella category, presented by American Christian Fiction Writers. My unpublished works are women’s fiction, both contemporary and historical, with strong romantic elements. I call them Christian love stories, and that’s what I titled my blog: Everybody loves a love story, as the old saying goes. I certainly do. My latest WIP has some suspense-type elements, which was surprising to me, but they create conflict, which is so vital to a story. As I’m writing this story, I’m so exhilarated. I keep thinking, ‘This is it!’ My daughter and I were talking the other day about the plot of this story, and she said, “Mom, God made you a writer so you can write this story!” That made me tear up. I think I’ve at last found my voice!

WPWT: How would you describe your unique writing voice? What is it that you do to make sure your writing “sounds like” you?
MT: I would describe my voice as a very engaging voice–one that thrusts the reader into the surroundings, feelings, and actions of the story. Again, I don’t feel I have to try and sound like me. I just write what’s on my heart and phrase things the way that seem best to be.

KD: Whew. I’m glad you asked this because I just re-read my answer, above, and thought, Oh, no, I was focusing on genre more than voice. But really, the two go hand in hand. Your question is interesting. I’m not sure I do anything. I think voice just flows out of an author. It’s a compilation of their life experiences, the people around them, the events they’ve attended, the books they’ve read and gleaned from, how they were raised, what part of the country they’re from/live in, what spiritual experiences they’ve had, and more. It’s the sum total of “you.” I’ve written hundreds of published articles. I stopped counting at 600. My mother-in-law was reading an article in a magazine recently, and she thought, ‘This sounds just like Kristy,’ and she quickly glanced at the byline, and sure enough, it was me. Voice is not only the sum total of “you,” it’s even how you cast sentences. In my fiction, I tend to write long sentences. But I balance that with short sentences. And run-on sentences. And creative paragraphing. And other stylistic treatments. As far as “my” voice, I seek to do several things. One, I want to do what Charles Dickens said: “Make them laugh, make them cry, make them wait.” Two, I want to “put a smile on your face, a tear in your eye, and a glow in your heart.”

WPWT: What advice would you give to beginning/intermediate writers to help them find and develop their unique writing voice?
MT: Stop fighting it. Stop looking for your voice. Turn off everyone’s advice and opinions. Ignore the rules of writing for awhile. Put on some of your favorite music. Pray for the Lord to reveal to you the unique voice He’s given you, and then write from your heart!

KD: 1) Keep writing. Look for writing opportunities. Articles. Short fiction. Long fiction. Be thankful for writing opportunities. I’m so grateful to Barbour for letting me write for them. As a way of thanks and also because she is so deserving, I nominated, via a letter of praise, Rebecca Germany of Barbour for Fiction Editor of the Year, and she won! This was awarded by Advanced Writers and Speakers Association in 2004. 2) Keep studying the craft of fiction. Maybe it’s because I’m of the studious nature, but I constantly study technique, craft, writing by gifted authors, etc. 3) Read in your genre and out of your genre. Be well rounded in your reading. Novels of all types. Biographies. Self-help. History. And more.

One Comment
  1. Erica Vetsch permalink
    Thursday, March 1, 2007 8:42 pm

    It seems there are as many ways to find or refine your voice as there are authors. Much like how to plot a novel, I guess you have to discover what works best for you.


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