About Caleb Breakey
A former award-winning journalist, Caleb Jennings Breakey loves all things writing and is represented by David Van Diest of D.C. Jacobson and Associates. He was one of seven writers fortunate enough to sit at the feet of Left Behind author Jerry B. Jenkins, and he's also studied under wordsmiths Brock and Bodie Thoene. Caleb is always busy operating CalebBreakey.com—a site designed to encourage and equip the often ignored, yet immensely talented field of young writers. He teaches at popular writing conferences such as the Blue Ridge, Oregon, Colorado, and CLASS Christian writers conferences.
About Brittney Breakey
Brittney is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature and the Christian Writers Guild. She’s currently working on a humorous middle grade mystery novel—and loving it. She also operates Author Turf, a blog exclusively created to showcase authors.
TxS&S: Can you tell us what motivated you to start your blog, Author Turf?
Brittney: The aim of Author Turf is to usher authors into the spotlight. The spillover, of course, is we readers benefit from their wisdom and encouragement.
TxS&S: What pleasant surprises have you had since starting the blog?
Brittney: When you start anything—a new book, a garden, a relationship—you don’t know what to expect. I wasn’t sure if Author Turf would flop or grow. I remember sending my first letter to Amanda Thrasher in January, asking her if she’d like to participate in something that barely existed. Five months later, I had over 180 interviews sitting in my inbox. That surprised me.
I was at a writers conference recently and a stranger walked up to me and said, “I just love Author Turf. I didn’t know about some of those authors and I’m always looking for a good book to read.”
But really, the whip cream on the cake for me is, I get to interact with beloved and respected authors. Sometimes the interactions can be so surreal. For instance, today I was emailing Marissa Moss, author of the Amelia’s Notebook series. As a young girl, I adored her books, but thought she was dead. So, to be conversing with her a decade later is like, spooky cool.
TxS&S: Can you tell us the many different hats you wear and how you stay organized?
Caleb: Hats I wear: Teen writer mentor, inspirational speaker, thriller/urban fantasy fiction writer, Jesus lovin’ non-fiction writer, online media sidekick, and all-around visionary and out-of-the-box thinker.
Creative machine McNair Wilson talked about a four-quadrant piece of paper on which one of our presidents would write: 1) Urgent and Important; 2) Important but not Urgent; 3) Urgent but not Important; and 4) Not important and Not Urgent. He’d then rip off the side of the "not importants." This is a skill I'm trying to teach myself. Desperately.
Brittney: I own four big hats: Willow’s Night Manager, Church Secretary, English Tutor, and Writer. For this reason, I heartily embrace organizational doohickeys. Like excel spreadsheets, email labels, sticky notes, Desktop files, online bookmarks, To Do lists, car organizers, etc.
I’m also an active member of the Clean Desk Club. Can’t stand clutter. And the more hats I wear, the more organized I become. I’m sure it has something to do with keeping my brain intact. I think I’d forget to go to the bathroom if I didn’t have cell phone reminder.
TxS&S: What or who keeps you both motivated?
Caleb: The thought of doing something I’m meant to do. Contributing to this world. Writing the exact words I believe God wants me to write. I can get up in the morning and fight Resistance not only with my own will but with what I believe is the will of my heavenly father.
One of the key things I’ve learned is that motivation doesn’t produce words. Words produce motivation (thank you Tom Connellan, author of the 1 Percent Solution). It’s the doing--the writing of words--that kick-starts the part of our mind that says, “Yes, this is what I was meant to do.”
Brittney: I’m the type of person who loves surprises. So the more my story grows, the more motivated I am to keep momentum. I love searching in my email archive and realizing, “Whoa, a month ago I was on chapter four? Now I’m on chapter twelve!”
From spark to bonfire, I love the entire experience. The way it begins as a tiny thought in your head. You race home and create a word document with one line in it. Maybe it’s a question. And soon that question ignites into thousands upon thousands of words. Quirky characters pop up and say crazy things. Interesting settings construct themselves out of dust. The plot takes unexpected turns…maybe even off-road adventures. All because you pursued a tiny thought.
TxS&S What are some ways you support each other?
Brittney: Morning coffee dates. This is where we bounce off ideas, talk through plot problems, play the trombone, recite excerpts from Shakespeare, sing ballads, knit dish rags, polish our shoes, play tic-tac-toe….okay, so the last six were complete lies.
But really, just the simple act of sitting in the same room, day after day, quietly chipping away on our books is the most powerful boost. Writing means journeying into your own head, which can get lonely (and at times, dark and weird and blank) but when you have someone a desk a way who supports your mission one million percent, it’s so rejuvenating.
TxS&S: Would your friends and family members consider you Sweethearts or Scoundrels?
Brittney: Definitely both. On the sweetheart side, we sit in the same booth when we got out to dinner, we hold hands a lot, and strangers assume we’ve been married three days instead of three years.
The scoundrel side is more like the fun side. Our parents call us ding-a-lings. We have brutal tickle wars. We prank call people. We imitate voices. We spray water on each other. We enjoy little boy humor. We make dorky videos. We lock each other out of the house. We make up words, (like tote bag perf, delonchuss, apple chonk, perfonculated, and so forth.) The answer key is not provided.
When Caleb says, “I love you, honey,” I respond in my infamous man-voice: “I love you too, sugar butt.” And Caleb has five fictional characters in his head, including a dude named Jody who lives with his grandma, loves the color red, and works at Jody’s Bowling Alley.
We even robbed a bank once. Actually, while the real bank robber fled town with the loot, seven cop cars from three different counties nabbed our yellow Mustang on a freeway overpass during rush hour traffic. Three pistols and a shotgun, lying flat on the pavement, handcuffs, reading of rights, the offering of therapy afterwards, the whole burrito). P.S. We were on our honeymoon.