Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Interview with Vickie McDonough: Work

by Melissa Jagears

This is day two with Vickie McDonough.

Vickie McDonough is an award-winning author of 23 books and novellas. Her books have won the Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest, Texas Gold, the ACFW Noble Theme contest, and she has been a multi-year finalist in ACFW’s BOTY/Carol Awards. Vickie and her husband live in Oklahoma. She is a wife of thirty-five years, mother of four grown sons and grandma to a feisty five-year-old girl. When she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading, gardening, watching movies, and traveling.

Thank you for the insights on Monday on working with children while working at home. Now, I'm interested in what kind of things you did. I know that you did other things before you became an author. What jobs have you attempted while working at home?

Delivered Thrifty Nickel newspapers, worked as the nursery director at my church, balanced checkbooks for friends for a small fee, and started a Weekly Reader type company for Christian schools. Don’t know if this counts, but I also worked for a day-care where I could take the boys with me. The pros are that those jobs allowed me to be with my children, to make needed income for my family, and gave me a job with some flexibility.

Sure it counts. I take my baby with me to do the finance paperwork at my church, then I got set up on a remote desktop, so I can do some of it at home--so very nice. Your checkbook job for a small fee is making me think of possibilities. I'm strange, but I enjoy balancing my checkbook, hence my church asking me to help with theirs. Hmmmm.
How do you balance the demands of work and family?

I won’t lie. It definitely helps to not have small children any more. I don’t know as I balanced the demands all that well when my boys were younger. I tried to stay organized and to make the kids help, but I was often tired and frustrated and ended up doing things myself just to get them done. I probably could have been tougher, but that’s hindsight. Being organized and having structure is key to balancing work with family, but don’t forget to have fun, too.

Makes me feel good to hear I'm not the only one struggling. How do you entertain your children while working at home?

I no longer have to be concerned about this, but my boys read a lot of books, played outside with friends as they got older, and okay, I’ll admit, they watched some tv.

Are there times you wish you worked outside of the home?

Actually, yes, there are. Writing books may sound glamorous but it’s a lot of hard work. I mainly write in my living room, so it’s distracting when my husband or one of the boys is banging around in the kitchen or some other room. I work long hours to finish my books by their deadlines, and I sometimes think it would be nice to go to a job somewhere else, work, then come home and relax, but I love the flexibility of working from home.

How do you deal with those feelings?

I don’t pay much attention to those feelings to get an outside job. They usually come when I’m tired and on a tight deadline. In spite of the hard work, there are lots of good things about being a writer. I get to travel some—and it’s often a tax-deductable trip for research or to a conference, I’ve met and even become friends with many of my favorite Christian authors, and it’s really cool to see a book I’ve written in stores and to know that I’ve been obedient to God’s call on my life.

How do you arrange the physical space in your house so you have a place to work?

Well, I have an office upstairs, but after injuring my knee, I mostly write in the living room in my recliner.

Do you have a schedule and always work at the same time every day, or is your work time random and haphazard?

I usually write later in the morning and early afternoon. I get up and tend to things around the house and answer important emails then start writing. Some days, though, I have so much to do that I never get to the writing part, which is why I often have to scramble to finish by deadline. I believe there’s a word for that which starts with a P.

Would that word be, "Procrastination"? Because, I don't have problems with that, nope, no way, not at all the reason why I'm just fiddling with my blogs instead of writing the kissing scene my critique partner is anxious to read. ;P
What's your favorite aspect of working from home?

Being able to work in my jammies.

I personally like the fact that if I forget to put on deodorant or brush my teeth-- since I was too focused on diapers, feedings, etc. --then I haven't offended any coworkers. Maybe I've offended the four year old....but she's yet to voice complaint.
I always like money savings tips. What do you do to save money?

My husband has been laid off several times over the past couple of years, so when that happens, we stop spending. We go on don’t-eat-out, don’t-go-to-a-movie, and don’t-go-shopping mode. I’m more careful about what I buy at the grocery store and try to limit my driving. It’s hard but it does make a difference.

Many years ago, when we had to go on no spending mode, I'd make big paper signs to swap out on the front door to remind us, like: "Say No to Spending," "Don't Buy Anything...Ever," or "Read my lips: No New Spending." I got a kick out of trying to make something so limiting fun.
Any other words of wisdom you would like to share that you haven’t mentioned in the questions above?

Raising children is not an easy job, and when you throw in the element of working from home, the difficulties go up exponentially. But many people do both—and do them well. I guess if I have one word of advice, it’s don’t ignore your own needs. Find time to do what you love most—to do what refreshes you. For some gals, that’s finding a quiet spot to read or journal or play computers games, for someone else, that may be meeting the girls for lunch. Make time whatever recharges your battery, because you’re the one at the wheel, and if you’re not steering straight, everybody is in trouble.

Sounds like some good advice. There are days I feel like just staring at the wall because I feel like I just can't do it anymore, maybe I'll try to schedule in some more of those battery recharging sessions.
Before you go, can you tell us what you are working on right now?

I’m working on a book called Long Trail Home. It’s part of a unique project that I’m doing with two other authors, Susan Page Davis and Darlene Franklin. We’re each writing two books in a six-book series by Moody Publishers called Texas Trails: A Morgan Family series. The saga covers 50 years of the Morgan family, from the mid 1840s to the 1890s. The first three books release this fall.

Sounds like a very interesting book project. Readers, don't forget to go visit her website: and find a book you'd like to read. She has handfuls of them and has been sweet enough to offer one random winner his/her choice. Come back and leave your email and book choice in the comment section to be placed in the drawing. Thanks so much,Vickie, for your tips and encouragement.

God bless! And thanks for having me as a guest.


  1. I love the flexibility from writing at home as well, Vickie. And I'm glad t hear you don't listen to those feelings that tell you to stop writing.

  2. Very inspiring post, Naomi. I loved getting to know Vickie a little form this interview. She sounds like my kind of writer, and I hope to get my hands on her books real soon. And may the Lord continue to bless the work of your hands, Vickie. You are an inspiration.

  3. Christine! Come back and give us an email and book choice and hopefully you can win one of her books so we can stick it in your hands at the end of the week! :)

    Karen Riekeman
    Book Choice: Second Chance Brides

  5. Yes, writing from home is pretty cool, Naomi.

    Thanks for your kind words, Christine!

    Thanks for hosting me, Melissa!

    Karen, thanks for stopping by.