Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Meet Darlene Schacht!

Yes, we know it's Wednesday. We're changing things up this week and doing our interview today, because tomorrow we're
part of the blog tour for the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference.
So, today we're talking with Darlene Schacht, founder and editor of the very popular Christian Women Online mag.

Hi Darlene, Welcome to Writers' Rest.
What can you tell us about yourself?

I'm a forty-something-year-old Christian mother of four with blessings that range in age from six to sixteen. We live in Manitoba, Canada where my husband Michael and I own a company that empowers writers to Self-Publsh (Art Bookbindery). When I'm not driving, I'm usually writing or in the garden.

You're the Editor of the highly successful online mag Christian Women Online. How did this evolve?
A few years back, I mustered up the courage to approach an online publication with my writing. I was secretly hoping to hop on board as a monthly columnist, but the voice in the back of my mind kept scoffing, "Ha! You? A monthly columnist?..."

Finally I pressed "send," but immediately after, I had major hesitations. A different voice (a much kinder one I must say!) encouraged me saying, "You're a designer, and a writer--why don't you start your own website?" Come to think of it, that was the voice of my husband.

Rather than just merely a website, I decided to create an online magazine. I wanted to give it as much of a magazine feel as I could. Turns out that a few hours later, the letter I sent was returned "undeliverable." I can only assume that the cyberspace angels were rerouting my mail, or that God was on board with my plan.

I contacted a few of my writing friends who immediately said "I'm in!" and CWO was born, February 2006. A few months later, the other online publication that I was so hoping for, contacted me offering to publish my work. God works in mysterious and wonderful ways, doesn't He?!

Did you ever imagine your vision would take off in such an amazing way?

No--never--not in a million years. :) I imagined a little writing website where my friends and I could hang our hat, but CWO grew faster than I had ever imagined it would. That first year I was often approached by advertisers and hopeful columnists, but I knew that growing too fast would be more than we could handle. I kept a Christ-centered pace as best I could. In fact we even got approached by a Hollywood agent who wanted her client to write a monthly column with us, but after much prayer I turned that down. It likely would have been great for appearance and hits, but I didn't sense God's leading on that. I've taken sure and steady steps along the way, cafeful to keep our focus.

I have felt God's unmistakeable leading through other paths we've taken, such as the addition of actress/writer Candace Cameron Bure, with her monthly advice column. Who would have thunk that this little girl from the prairie would be writing with such wonderful faith focussed women? Not me!

If there's anyone out there who hasn't yet read Christian Women Online, can you tell them what to expect?

The purpose of Christian Women Online Magazine is to unite women of faith, regardless of our differing ages, our roles as women, or the signs that mark our church doors. We believe that one of the best ways to do this is to encourage each other in faith, by our spoken and written words. It is our hope that as we unite women in Christ, the young will glean wisdom from the old, one will gain strength from another, and together we'll shed light to the world.

That's what we're about, and what to expect? Great writing by faith-focussed women.

Have you considered taking CWO to print form?

Since I own a book printing company, one would naturally think that would be on my mind, if not already in the works, but for now we've decided to keep it solely online.

When you first started CWO, I was privileged to be your featured author and my novella Just A Little Walk ran in monthly installments. Do you think CWO will be featuring fiction again at some point?

The privilege was all ours, Cathy--I loved your book! There are times that I wish our audience would have been bigger at the time, since you joined on near the beginning, and so many readers weren't around yet to read that novella, but it was very well received by those who did. Coincidentally just last week an author asked me to publish her book in the same way, I told her that I'm chewing on the idea, but I suspect that it will be a yes.

You've had a lot of amazing interviews over the last few years. How did you snag them? Which stand out to you the most and why?

You're right--we have! I suppose I've just always been bold that way. There is no one that I wouldn't approach if I thought their interview would be good. American Idol's Mandisa was a hard interview to snag. I had a difficult time getting contact information on her. I even wrote a letter directly to American Idol, but didn't get a reply. Finally about a year later, when Mandisa was writing a book with Angela Hunt, I seized the opportunity and asked Angela how I could get in touch with Mandisa. She got me in touch with her agent, and we were thrilled to have her as a guest shortly after.

One of my other favorites was Liz Curtis Higgs. She is an amazing woman who warms my heart, and inspires me to accept who I'm created to be in Christ. I still keep in contact with Liz when I can, and hope to have her back again soon.

You're also a writer yourself. Tell us a bit about your last book, The Mom Complex, and what you're currently working on.

The Mom Complex is a collection of stories that are written both to humor and to inspire the soul of mothers who are seeking daily devotion with God. It urges us to search inside ourselves, so that we may uncover the path that God has placed our feet on. It's on that path, where we often discover that His plan for our life is different than ours.

In the earlier stages, my writing leaned toward humor, but in the past year or so, God's been nudging my pen in a slightly different direction. I've started a ministry through CWO called Live Well! which is a Christ-centered journey through weight-loss to freedom. Candace Cameron Bure and I have teamed up to write a book based on this ministry, and our agent is currently looking for a publisher. Every now and then I still jot down a humorous story or two, so I don't think that tendency toward humor will ever completely be gone.

Darlene, you're a busy mom, wife, and businesswoman. What advice do you have for women that are struggling to 'do it all'?

Wanting to "do it all" is human, but the ability to prioritize is divine. :) I believe that God has given us different seasons in our lives--that of wooing our husbands, raising our children, building a career, etc. Learning to prioritize ensures that the important things get taken care of first, and the rest follows suit. For me it's God, marriage, and children in that order; when those things are firmly in place we find the strength to do more. In combination with that, I rarely take time for TV, other than the odd episode of Dr. Phil.

Finally, what's your favorite Scripture verse, the one you might stick on your computer or refrigerator?

I don't know about my computer, but my fridge? Well that would have to be Proverbs 25:16:

Hast thou found honey? Eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.

Love the blunt way that Solomon put that. It really helps when I have the late night munchies, but I think it's a great rule to apply to one's entire life--moderation. Without balance it's difficult to run the race, and keep the pace.

Thanks, Darlene! It was a pleasure having you!

Darlene's writing talent and design skill, combined with determination has placed Darlene at the hub of this rapidly growing online ministry, as founder and editor of CWO. Christian Women Online has brought about a new wave in the ability to reach out to people both to share faith and to minister to them.
In addition to her monthly column, "Live Well!," Darlene can be found at her website,


Eileen Astels Watson said...

Wonderful interview! I'll be checking out Christian Women Online now. I hadn't heard of it before.

Thanks for sharing!

Elaine Bateman said...

That was a great interview, Darlene! May the Lord continue to bless as you continue in service to Him!

sharron Williams said...

I enjoyed reading about Darlene. It was so inspirational. Thank you both for the article, blog and CWO.

Audra Silva said...

I enjoyed this interview, Cathy! I'll have to check CWO out. :)