I love featuring debut authors, and I've known Myra for a long time. I'm so pleased with her first sale. Welcome, Myra. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Probably too much, which has caused problems with characters not being very likable. I’m one of those melancholy personality types, so I have to work hard at giving my characters better attitudes and more spunk.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Wow, that’s a hard one! I’d have to say it involves my other lifetime dream-come-true, taking up horseback riding in my late forties. After about five years of lessons I competed in my one and only dressage schooling show. We moved out of state a year later, and I haven’t had a chance to ride since. I really miss it!
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I don’t remember not being a writer. I was writing stories as soon as I learned how to wield a pencil. I amassed a huge collection of amateur stories, poetry, and novels over the years, but I didn’t know how much I didn’t know until I finally enrolled in the Writing for Children & Teenagers course through the Institute of Children’s Literature. That was in 1983.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
My reading tastes are all over the map. I’ve borrowed my husband’s adventure and spy novels. I try to keep up with Patricia Cornwell’s “Kay Scarpetta” books. In his early days I enjoyed reading John Grisham. Mostly I lean toward women’s fiction with a touch of romance. The most important factor for me is engaging characters. In other words, a character-driven rather than a plot-driven novel. I also like to read inspirational nonfiction as part of my morning devotions. C.S. Lewis is a favorite, as are Dallas Willard, Beth Moore, and John Ortberg.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I’m a very private person, and I’ve learned to recognize when I’ve reached my “craziness” limit. Years ago I came across a book that finally helped me understand myself—The Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine Aron. I could happily hole up in my office and never leave the house for days on end, and I used to think this made me a hopeless social misfit. Over the years God has helped me accept my introverted personality as part of His design, and who am I to complain to the Author of the Universe?
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I don’t know that there’s any one way. A big part of the choice is the sound and rhythm, and of course the meaning. For secondary characters I like to mix up names of my family and friends, giving them a little “cameo appearance” just for fun.
I do the cameos, too. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’m fiercely proud of raising two wonderful daughters. I’m proud of 37 years of marriage to the most patient, loving man on the planet. I’m proud of my very unexpected RWA Golden Heart win in 2005. I’m proud of every manuscript I ever wrote, and proud of finally learning to trust God with the results.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A dog. A pampered house dog, of course. One who gets to nap on the sofa and go on car rides and eat lots of treats. One who gets all the unconditional love and cuddling she can ask for. Hmmmm, that sounds an awful lot like my doggies!
What is your favorite food?
Is there any other answer besides chocolate? I also love Mexican and Italian. And a super-tender juicy steak.
Tell us a little about your journey to publication.
How much space do I have? It would be impossible to condense the past 25 years into anything short of a tome! As I mentioned, it all really began when I enrolled in the ICL course in 1983. Consistent sales to magazines, devotionals, and anthologies kept my spirits buoyed while I cranked out eight novels for children and young adults, then six inspirational women’s fiction/romance manuscripts . . . and dealt with the ensuing 200+ rejections! Everything changed the day I visited Brandilyn Collins’s blog and read the announcement about Abingdon’s new fiction line. I zinged a query to Barbara Scott the very same day. Over the next few days she reviewed three of my proposals and then requested the full of One Imperfect Christmas. Three weeks later she came back with the official offer of publication—not at all typical in this perennially slow business! After 25 years of waiting, hoping, and praying, I felt like I’d been caught up in a whirlwind!
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Self-doubt and discouragement, hands down. I’ve experienced a whole lot of disappointments in 25 years. To pick myself up, dry my tears, and plunge ahead with the next manuscript was always the challenge. But I just couldn’t let go of the dream—or rather, God wouldn’t let me give up. In the months and years leading up to this first published book, I prayed my heart out. And also relied heavily on encouragement and support from my husband and family, my critique partner Carla Stewart, and my dear, dear friends in Seekerville - http://seekerville.blogspot.com/.
What advice would you give to others who are trying to get their first book published?
Learn all you can about the craft. Practice, practice, practice. Find a critique partner you trust and respect. Never stop writing. And never stop praying.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
Christmas is the season of miracles, but when blame and guilt keep two people apart, sometimes a miracle needs a helping hand.
Graphic designer Natalie Pearce faces the most difficult Christmas of her life. For almost a year, her mother has lain in a nursing home, the victim of a massive stroke, and Natalie blames herself for not being there. Worse, she’s allowed the monstrous load of guilt to drive a wedge between her and everyone she loves—most of all, her husband, Daniel. Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving, her prayer life is suffering, and she’s one Christmas away from hitting rock bottom.
Junior-high basketball coach Daniel Pearce is at his wit’s end. Nothing he’s done has been able to break through the wall Natalie has erected between them. And their daughter Lissa’s adolescent rebellion isn’t helping matters. As his hopes reach their lowest ebb, Daniel wonders if this Christmas will spell the end of his marriage and the loss of everything he holds dear.
Thank you, Myra, for spending this time with us. I will be reading Christmas books in October and November and writing reviews of them.
Readers, here's a link where you can order the book:
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won.
If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link.