Today’s interview is a fun one. It’s a first for my blog—a group interview. I was privileged to be part of a novella team, and our book released this month. Windswept Weddings. We will be giving away several copies of the book, so please leave a comment at the end of the interview. The winners will be chosen on June 24, so you will have two weeks to leave a comment and tell your friends to visit the site.
Rachel: The whole idea of natural disasters impacting a wedding came after my husband and I endured two hurricanes, Francis and Jeanne in 2004. My neighbor had to close her bridal shop, and I thought of all the central Florida weddings planned for those hurricane weekends and wondered how the couple managed. Because of facility damage, I knew many couples would have to change to a small venue or simply wait six months more to get married.
I thought it would be fun to have the hero and heroine overcome nature with the power of their love.
Lynette: When Rachel approached me with the concept for the anthology, I knew I wanted to join. From that point it was a matter of choosing my setting and storm. I'd seen some documentaries about wildfires, and even here in Texas we've had a few, but thankfully none close to where I live. One thing I enjoyed was seeing how all four of us came up with four unique story lines.
Pamela: Not sure how to answer that really. I prayed for an idea, and it came to me.
Me: I had sold several books set in Minnesota, but all of them had been historical. I thought it would be fun to include a blizzard as the storm, and it would allow me to write a contemporary set in Minnesota. By the way, I have been there many times, since my father’s family settled there when they emigrated to America.
Have you experienced the type of storm you wrote about?
Lynette: No, and I'm grateful. I watched some documentaries and interviewed several people who'd been through similar situations.
Pamela: Yes, but from a short distance away. We were in a tornado warning—sirens blaring, etc. I was praying with my kids in the hall—safest place that was in house—speaking Bible promises to boost my faith, and I remembered something a Bible teacher said at a conference I’d gone to—about how Jesus calmed the storms, and when a tornado ripped off the roof of a convention center where she was preaching years ago, she did what Jesus did—she looked up and commanded the storm to be still in Jesus’ name. It immediately went up into the sky, and I even saw the write-up/evidence about it in our newspaper at the time, showing the convention center was the last place it hit. So I went out onto the porch, with the wind and rain fierce—faced the storm and commanded it to go in Jesus’ name and not come further or harm anyone. My mom called me after I came back inside and told me they were watching the radar on TV, and the funnel made a U-turn at that time. It had been heading directly for us, only a few miles away. I’m sure it was the prayers of many that caused this to happen, but after that, my faith skyrocketed to know He is always with us and protects us, and when we seek Him and claim His words, He honors that.
Me: I’ve been snowed in before, but probably not a storm of the magnitude as the one in the story. I always pray before I write, and I believe God shows me how to write the story.
What are you reading right now?
Rachel: A Wedding In December by Anita Shreve.
Lynette: A Stitch in Time by Allison Bottke. Comes A Horseman by Robert Liparulo
Pamela: Besides my Bible reading every day, nothing. LOL Horrible, I know, but I’m on two upcoming book deadlines, besides which my home life has a lot of major stuff happening with it right now—and I haven’t had a lot of time for reading. I have read others’ manuscripts in the works that I’ve critiqued, so that’s something. With over 3000 Christian fiction books on my shelf waiting for me, I hope to get back to reading again soon.
Me: I’m reading a Love Inspired Suspense right now—Hearts On the Line by Margaret Daley. I just finished Coldwater Revival by Nancy Jo Jenkins. It really is a must read.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
Rachel: I’ve written several romances – Lambert’s Pride, Lambert’s Code and Lambert’s Peace, and two chick lits, Georgia On Her Mind and Lost In NashVegas.
Wow, those sound like fun.
Lynette: Heart's Refuge is my first published novella. This September and December, my historical novellas release in the anthologies Bayou Brides and Brothers of the Outlaw Trail. Then my first novel, A Suspicion of Strawberries, releases in March 2007 through Heartsong Presents: Mysteries. I've written four other books and at this point they'll remain unpublished, which is a good thing. There's always a learning curve and I always hope to keep learning.
Pamela: Over thirty published—too many to list here. If interested, here is my website, though it is not updated and is in dire need of it! http://www.pamela-griffin.com/
Me: I, too, have sold several Heartsongs and novella collections. Go to my website to see all their covers. http://www.lenanelsondooley.com/
How did collaborating with this team impact you?
Rachel: I love the team of authors we gathered for this anthology, and feel honored to be named among them. But the best part of this book was when Lynette Sowell realized she’d sold her first book. I was over the top thrilled for her!
Lynette: I have known Lena, Pamela, and Rachel for years, and it humbles me to be included with them in this anthology. Each of them has encouraged me in different ways. Through their help, I've learned a few more "in's" of the writing business I didn't know before.
Pamela: I love working with novella groups, each is unique in their own way, and this team of talented ladies was no exception. I even had fun with honoring them in my story. ;-)
Me: For several years now, I have wanted to be in a project with Pamela, so I was thrilled when we were contracted for this collection. Besides that, I’ve loved both Rachel and Lynette for a long time. It’s always thrilling to be in a new author’s first collection.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Rachel: Since I live in hurricane alley, I decided to do a little play on words and name my heroine, Allie. The hero’s name, Kyle, just came from my fingers while brainstorming ideas for the story.
Lynette: I liked the way they sounded together. The names just dropped into my head, and seemed to fit the characters.
Pamela: I am very much into the meaning of names, and often go by that. I have a Baby Name Book I use, which gives the meaning of the name, as well as the country from which it originated and a few other neat perks. With 30,001 names in this book, I shouldn’t run out of ideas any time soon.
Me: When I’m praying for a scripture to use for the story, I also ask for names. When I was a child, there was a couple who lived in the small town where I went to school. We lived a couple of miles from town, but we knew everyone. Mother and Daddy had friends whose names were Bobby and Bobbie Brooks. I thought it would fun to be something like that. The first reviewer of my book really liked the names and the symbolism that I used to show her acceptance of what was happening.
What did you want the reader to “get” from your story?
Rachel: That love overcomes. Many girls grow up wanting the perfect wedding, the perfect guy, the perfect scenario, but sometimes life and circumstances get in the way. Many times the bride and groom have a different idea of what is important. I hope the readers see that even out of differences and disaster, romance blooms.
Also, to see the metaphorical love of the Bridegroom, Jesus.
Lynette: I love the character of Luke, Krista's once fallen and now restored hero. He battles guilt over how he'd tossed away both his faith and his love for Krista in the past. I truly hope readers can relate to Luke and Krista. Christians can fail themselves and others, and I believe there's as much redemption for them as for a brand-new convert. Plus, finding the love of your life is only half the battle.
Pamela: You know, I am amazed at how often I have an idea on just what the spiritual theme is that I use to thread through the story, but readers often write and tell me they got that AND other things from it, that inspired them and/or brought them closer in their walk with the Lord, so I think the Holy Spirit speaks to each individual, where they’re at in their own walk. With this story, it was about second chances, or even third ones--and how one shouldn’t jump to conclusions or judge by outward circumstances, but should look past that, to the heart.
Me: The main spiritual theme is trusting God through the storms. I suppose there is a little bit of me in Christine. I like to plan and schedule things. Like her, I had to learn that God is more important than any of my plans or schedules.
Why are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers?
Rachel: Yes, and I am the past president.
Well, I guess Rachel thought if I was asking if she is a member. I’m glad she is. That’s how I got to know and love her.
Lynette: I joined when I realized I was serious about pursuing a writing career. I'd written one book and attended online chats hosted by author Lynn Coleman, and was in an online critique group. When Lynn and other authors founded (then) American Christian Romance Writers in 2000, I joined as soon as I could. My member number is 22, in fact. I credit ACFW with helping me grow as a writer and giving me opportunities I wouldn't find anywhere else.
Pamela: It’s a wonderful place to be, full of helpful, encouraging people and loaded with invaluable information that aids me in my writing. The members’ only page I get especial benefit from, and the resources/research websites listed for writers there are tops! They have cut down my “hunting for info” time a lot.
Me: As I stated when introducing last week’s author, Lynn Coleman, I wish I had paid more attention when Lynn discussed on a Christian Writers’ Loop about forming the organization. I didn’t join until about three months after it formed. It has given me wonderful friends all over the globe, an enormous amount of help when researching a subject, and the ability to meet and talk to editors and agents. I’m glad that when God dropped the idea into Lynn’s mind, she ran with it.
Will you be at the American Christian Fiction Writers national conference in Dallas in September?
Rachel: Yes I will. I hope to see all of you there!
Lynette: Yes, I'm planning to be there. It's always on my September calendar.
Pamela: I plan to. First I need to take care of some things in my home life, and we’ll see where it goes from there.
Me: I hope to see each of you there. The conference goes on my calendar as soon as the date is chosen. It’s a budgeted item for me. I have been to all four previous national conferences and both of the Texas regional ones before that.
We invite you to look for our book Windswept Weddings at your local Christian bookstores. They’re also available at most Barnes & Noble stores as well as many Wal-Mart stores.