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I'm most recently a writer.  In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot.  As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades.  An unwilling transplant from the South,  twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US.  Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect.  When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do.  Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Next Big Thing

Recently I was tagged by author and currently world traveler Jennifer McMurrain to participate in  The Next Big Thing Blog Hop  and share information about my newly published novel, Offered for Love, the fourth installment in the Miracle at Valley Rise Series.  Please forgive me if I don't go into much detail about the plot of the series so far.  I'd rather be vague than risk dropping spoilers! 

Q. What is the working title of your book?
A.  The title Offered for Love was taken from a passage of scripture read at a wedding in one of the earlier books.  It seemed to fit the theme of the extent to which people are willing to go for the ones they love, the  changes and sacrifices they are willing to attempt, which I saw running through this phase of the story. 

Q. Where did the idea come from for the book?
 A.  Since this is the fourth in the series and picks up where the last book left off, it's fair to say much of the idea  was already in place.  Thus far, while they've faced some challenges, the principal characters have been moving ahead pretty happily.  This book deals with some deeper issues, milestones in life such as reconciliation, death and loss.  Most of my plots seem to evolve out of the history of my characters, just as most lives evolve influenced by childhood experiences and opportunities which arise in adulthood.  I wanted to tie up some loose ends, resolve some issues, before I considered moving any further ahead with the story.

Q. What genre does your book fall under?
A.  Good question!  I like the currently non-existent genre of Clean Romance.  Inspirational Romance works fairly well.  I don't think of the series as fitting precisely with current Christian Fiction.  I classify it simply as Contemporary Fiction.  It's set in the 1970's, so it could actually be classified as Historical Fiction, but since I'm a product of that same era, I chose not to!  This is a love story, first and foremost.  While I don't think it follows the typical romance formula, there are many of the same elements, boy meets girl, boy gets girl against all odds, and so on.   There are plenty of love scenes, but I prefer to leave things beyond a certain point to the reader's imagination.  (I have grandchildren, and I want them to eventually read the books without screaming "Ick!  Grandma!")  There are also a number of subplots, some romantic, some dealing with other types of relationships.

Q. Which actors would you chose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
A. This question makes me laugh; because since the beginning, when my husband, who is also my editor, started reading, he's been casting the movie.  Every now and then we'll see an actor on TV who, with a change of eye and hair color, might be transformed into my protagonist, British violin prodigy turned super-star Stani Moss.  I like Eddie Redmayne with brown contact lenses, but my husband the casting director, can't see it.  There are a number of actresses around who loosely fit the description of Virginia farm girl Emily Haynes, Anne Hathaway for one, although she'd be too old by the time I sold the film rights.  Disney star Bridget Mindler is another candidate, again with a hair color change.  Some of my older characters are modeled on my classic movie heroes, Cary Grant and Gregory Peck, so good luck finding matches.  Seriously, I've never seen this as movie material.  I like to leave it to the reader's imagination to fill in the sketches and so far, that seems to be working for them.  Stani in particular has quite a little following of admirers, all of whom I'm sure see him differently. 

Q. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A.  In the second year of their marriage, a year filled with milestones in their lives and those around them, Stani and Emily Moss expand the bounds of their love for one another, while facing challenges which test their faith in the plan for their future.

Q. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
A. Self-published.  I was almost 60 when I finally got around to being a writer.  I didn't feel I had time to go the traditional route and Kindle Direct offers a great opportunity to get the work out to the public.  There are downsides to self-publishing, but so far, I'm glad I took this route.  My readership is growing steadily and the whole experience has been very gratifying, not to mention a huge education I never expected to undertake.
Q. How long did it take you to write the first draft?
A. The simplest answer to this question is about 40 years and 24 months.  I started writing what would become a series of four novels in October of 2010, but the story was conceived over 40 years earlier. I guess it took all those decades for me to reach the right time in my life to bring the story to life.  In October of 2012 the first three books were published in their current format and the fourth was about two-thirds complete.  I don't always start at the beginning and work forward: there's a lot of back and forth as I flesh out a plot.  I also stopped last October and wrote a holiday novella as a related title to the series, before I finished Offered For Love.  So, yes, my answer is about 40 years and 24 months.

Q. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
A.  I don't like comparisons, but I would say if you enjoy books like Jan Karon's Mitford Series, or the novels of Maeve Binchey, you'll probably be at home with my books.  I wrote the book I wanted to read.  I enjoy character-driven stories with situations I can picture myself in. 

Q. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A.   This particular book, as an addition to the previous three in the series, was inspired in great part by readers who asked for more.  As to the inspiration for the series, I feel strongly that my faith and the life I've lived brought me to the place where I could tell this story.  There have been a number of people who encouraged me, a very special teacher, my mother and my husband.  As with everything in my life, I approached this process prayerfully, and the answers came with profound clarity at times.  As I said, the basic premise for this story was conceived over 40 years ago.  I think it's taken that long for me to learn enough about people to draw these characters and give them credible voices.  They inspire me, which may sound a little weird, but the fact is they have dictated their own development.  There have been times when I tried to make them do things they refused to do, and other times when they completely took me by surprise.  If there's a message, they're the ones who've used me to tell it, rather than the other way around.

Q. What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
A.  I've been amazed at how many times my readers have commented that they felt they were living life right along with my characters and how often they refer to them (the characters) as a family, when in fact they start out as a collection of pretty isolated individuals with no family connection to speak of.  I've also been amused by readers who commented on simple details like food or the farmhouse, which is something of a character in itself.  I tried to create a world, one not too different from places I've known in my life, in which my characters could experience what we all look for--comfort, companionship, laughter, romance and the abundance of ordinary things that add up to a full life.  If that kind of thing appeals, if a reader is looking for simple fantasy as opposed to apocalyptic, for familiar characters minus mystical powers, then this may be the read for them.


So there you have a glimpse of my blog and my writing.  I hope you'll check in here again at valleyrise.blogspot.com for more of my perspective on life, the world both large and small, and the future of my late-in-life writing career.  I also hope you'll take a look at my books.  Just click on the links  for a quick visit to Amazon.com and a "Look Inside."  Thanks to Jennifer McMurrain  author of among other works the delightful historical novel Quail Crossings, for tagging me.  Be sure to check in next week with authors Dawn Allen  and Natasha Hanova  when they share their Next Big Thing!


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