Imagine my surprise when I realized there hadn’t been a member spotlight of the super-involved, extremely helpful and super-talented Jan Ackerson. Well, now it’s time to remedy that. Here’s the Best of the Best winner, conference presenter, editor, writer, and teacher extraordinaire.
JOANNE: Jan, tell us a bit about yourself.
JAN: I’m a retired schoolteacher and a wife, mother, and grandmother. I’m owned by a ridiculously antisocial cat. My husband and I enjoy traveling, and I love reading, writing, Broadway musicals, and caffeinated drinks. I’m a Christian who’s trying to live out Christ’s example of compassion.
JOANNE: You have many roles at FaithWriters: moderator, teacher, conference speaker, and others I probably don’t know a thing about (or have forgotten). Why is FaithWriters such an important part of your life?
JAN: FaithWriters is unique in that it functions in so many ways; depending on where you park your car at downtown FaithWriters,you may find a church, a school, a publisher, a comedy club, a coffee house, a library, or a home. I’ve hung out in all of those places, and I’ve met some amazing people there who will be part of my life forever. Before FaithWriters, I really had no idea how important writing was to me, and it literally provided me with my post-retirement income by revealing my love for editing.
JOANNE: Brag on your family a bit. Are they supportive of your writing?
JAN: I have an awesome and very supportive family. Ben and I have been married 36 years; he loves for me to read my writings aloud to him. My daughters Megan and Jericho are both married, and they’re two of my biggest fans. They both inherited the word-loving gene; Megan is a middle school librarian, and Jericho teaches 6th grade reading. Megan is mother to Piper, the most delightful 2-year-old on the planet.
Our family’s faith journey was defined by an accident that Jericho suffered eleven years ago. She was pretty seriously injured, with permanent consequences, and we all had to work through our questions for God and the ways we would respond to His answers. In my case, I found that the accident stripped me of a huge amount of religiosity, and left me with a renewed awe of God’s holiness and of His grace.
JOANNE: Issues of that sort have a way of doing that. So glad He got you through. So, tell us about your editing business. What motivated you to start it? What services do you offer?
JAN: When I first started writing at FaithWriters, I found that I really enjoyed leaving constructive criticism in those wonderful yellow boxes on the Writing Challenge entries. It’s probably my teaching background, but I just couldn’t let a misplaced modifier or a switched tense fly. My comments caught Deb Porter’s eye, and she started utilizing me in several areas of the site, including ‘Jan’s Master Class’ on the message boards. I just really love helping writers to hone their craft—and I love wielding a red pencil!
It occurred to me when I retired that I really should have a source of income, and editing seemed like something that I could do from my couch, with something caffeinated close at hand.
Superior Editing Services (www.superiorediting.biz, or find it on facebook) will take your completed manuscript and get it ready to be seen by an agent or publisher. I’ve also edited collections of short stories and poems, and even college theses. I’ve got several levels of editing I can provide, from simple proofreading through substantive editing.
JOANNE: You are also a blogger, but your blog has a bit of a twist. Tell us about it. How did you come up with the idea?
JAN: Perhaps it’s because of my limited circle of acquaintance, but I started to feel as if the blogosphere is flooded with inspirational and devotional blogs (and I’m not particularly good at that type of writing), or with blogs that provide wry observations on the blogger’s life. Also, since I’d been working behind the scene at FaithWriters, I’d been missing writing fiction. So I knew I wanted to write a fiction blog, and in a world where people have a Twitter-ized attention span, I thought 100 words would be just about enough.
It’s challenging to come up with a fully realized character or enough of a plot in just 100 words—but I’m loving it. Come visit—www.1hundred-words.com. I’d love to have more followers, and my plan for this autumn is to branch out more into the non-FaithWriters community.
JOANNE: I always love your blog posts – it take a LOT of work and creativity to condense as much as you do into 100 words. How long have you been at FaithWriters? Do you remember how you came across it?
JAN: I had another blog that I started after Jericho’s accident, and my friend Pam knew that I was writing as part of my healing process. She had come across FaithWriters, and she recommended it to me, back in the fall of 2005.
JOANNE: Thanks, Pam! What are your goals as a writer?
JAN: I really don’t have lofty goals at all—I don’t have the publication bug. I’d like to keep getting better, and to write things that people enjoy reading. If I could find a way to get, oh, let’s say 500 readers for One Hundred Words, I’d be over the moon.
JOANNE: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
JAN: Well, I’d love to plug two causes that are dear to my heart. The International Justice Mission (www.ijm.org) is an evangelical organization that works to free slaves worldwide, particularly children and young women held in sexual slavery. And I’d love for people to be aware of the slave labor that goes into every bite of chocolate that they eat, and to seriously re-evaluate their chocolate eating habits. Feel free to contact me for more information on either of those issues.
Those are certainly worthwhile causes. Thanks so very much for sharing about yourself and your passions, and I think I can speak for just about everyone at FaithWriters when I tell you how much we appreciate all you do for FaithWriters and the folks there.