I was busy raising a family, working as an occupational therapist, and trying to remember where I hid the chocolate, when a song sparked a story within me. The journey to publication has been long, but full of blessings. I couldn’t have done it without ACFW, RWA, and FHL, the inspirational chapter of RWA – and lots of chocolate!
I am starting my publishing career today!
What one issue makes you struggle the most as an author? How do you handle it?
Technology! I have no patience with glitches, so I write on a Mac. My poor dog has raced into my office, ready to defend me from an intruder, only to find the object of my wrath is a printer. Now that my kids have moved out, I rely on my husband and a few genius friends for tech support.
What is the best writing (or life) advice you have ever heard or wished you had followed? Why?
My first writer friend, Pauline Hetrick, told me, “When you get discouraged, don’t pack it away. The story will sneak back into your head and you’ll have to drag all your writing gear out.” With this nougat of wisdom, Pauline let me know I would survive bad days, writer’s block, and rejection letters. And gave me an excuse not to clean my office.
What one issue ignites your passion? Does your passion fuel your writing? What would you do with your life if you didn’t write?
I write stories of ordinary people transformed by extraordinary love. Two people, with different backgrounds and clashing goals, learn to work together to conquer impossible obstacles. Only God can pull it off!
Spring for Susannah is a mail-order bride story. When Susannah’s parents die and she’s assaulted, her pastor sends her to Dakota Territory to marry his brother. Homesteader Jesse is ready for marriage, but Susannah isn’t. She’s afraid he won’t like her, afraid he’ll discover the secret forcing her to leave Michigan and the loss of faith she can’t admit even to herself.
We are all about journeys…unique ones at that. How convoluted was your path to your first published book? Share some highlights or lowlights from your path to publication.
My journey is uniquely long – at least, I hope no one else took twenty years from inspiration to publication!
After so many years of rejection, I knew better than to get excited about finalling in the Launching a Star contest. So I went on vacation… without my laptop. Agent Sandra Bishop put on her detective hat and tracked me down in New York City. She told me Thomas Nelson had asked for a few changes. While taking her son to a doctor’s appointment, Sandra tweaked my manuscript on her laptop and sent it back to the publisher on time. The next morning, while on tour of Central Park, Sandra called with the good news. How’s this for God’s incredible sense of humor – I got The Call at John Lennon’s Imagine mosaic.
Have you ever had one of those awkward writer moments you’d like to share with us, the ones wherein you get “the look” from the normals? Example, you stand at a knife display at the sporting goods store and ask the clerk which would be the best to use to disembowel a six foot man…please do tell.
One museum we visited had a collection of old-fashioned clothing to try on. Of course, I had to try on a corset! I thought it was incredibly efficient to do research and embarrass my children at the same time.
What event/person has most changed you as a writer? How?
Having a contract!
As expected, a deadline does require more focus. Instead of following every rabbit trail, research must answer specific questions. Instead of writing when I feel like it, I write until I meet my daily goal. Prioritizing – and a phone answering machine – are essential!
At ACFW last year, I realized I wasn’t anonymous anymore. Thomas Nelson editors knew my name – how amazing is that!
Describe your special or favorite writing spot.
When the weather’s good, I love to write on the back porch. My dog, Dakota, keeps watch, making sure I’m not attacked by rabbits. The sparrows remind me no plot point is as important as filling their feeder. Being outside evokes all those sensory details, so important for bringing a scene to life.
What aspect of writing was the most difficult for you to grasp/conquer? How did you overcome it?
I can’t say I’ve grasped synopses, but Alicia Rasley’s class brought them within shooting distance. Each class member wrote five synopses and she critiqued all of them – some more than once!
Have you received a particularly memorable reader response or peer honor? Please share.
Mary Connealy and Julie Lessman have encouraged my writing journey for years. I was so relieved that they liked Spring for Susannah and were willing to endorse it. I met Beth Wiseman and Colleen Coble at last year’s ACFW Thomas Nelson dinner and they, too, took time to write endorsements.