Thursday, August 12, 2010
A lot. For instance, if I didn’t MAKE my heroines march right back up to their rooms and dress nicer--they’d permanently live in jeans, tees, and flannel shirts. That’s an ongoing internal struggle for me, too. Every time I dress up, my inner ten-year-old whines and complains.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I won a limbo contest in Trinidad. That was DURING a mission campaign. May I just say that I was very young, very limber, and that steel drum music was amazing.
I remember trying to do the limbo when I was younger. I would have never won a contest. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Seriously? Last weekend, when I held my first ever book-signing. There were people lining up, complete strangers, who had actually read my book and LIKED it. Until that moment, I wasn’t so sure.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Classics, histories, biographies, who-dunnits, women’s fiction, cozy mysteries, inspirationals, suspense, prairie romances, cook books, WWII novels, comics… and the bottoms of tissue boxes in other people’s bathrooms if no other reading material is available.
I know. All that, and the cereal box at breakfast. What other books have you written, whether published or not?
Love Finds You In Sugarcreek, Ohio is my first published novel, but I DO just happen to have a few unpublished manuscripts in my closet. Moriah’s Lighthouse took two years to research and write. It’s about a woman trying to restore the Great Lakes lighthouse where her ancestors were lightkeeper. Of course there is a hunky stone mason who complicates her world. A Way of Escape is a story about the widow of a rural county prosecutor, who is being hunted down by the drug cartel her husband tried to destroy. An innocent man she inadvertently helped put behind bars ends up helping her escape. Finding Mayberry is about a burned-out Detroit cop, secretly addicted to Mayberry re-runs, who tries to find peace by becoming a sheriff in a small Ohio town. His life is greatly complicated by the wife of a man killed by a drunk driver the sheriff was chasing. And then there is The Secret Of Katie Calloway. It is contracted by Revell Publishing for an October 2011 release date and is a historical about a woman who escapes an abusive husband by running to the north wood of Michigan, and becoming a cook in a 1867 lumber camp. I’m polishing that one right now.
I want to feature the Revell book when it comes out. Email me. We'll put it on the schedule right away to save it a place when it first releases. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I walk. And I pray. I try to prioritize. And I don’t shop much.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Don't bother. The kids probably won't like any you choose. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Three grown sons who love the Lord, love the church, and seek out Christian fellowship wherever they are.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Every time I watch Ice Age with my grandchildren, I found myself identifying closely with Sid, the clumsy sloth with really good intentions.
He's my favorite character from that movie, too. What is your favorite food?
Watermelon. It’s embarrassing how much I love watermelon.
I love Black Diamonds. I grew up in Arkansas and that's the only kind we had. Then I moved to Texas and for years we only had Charlston Greys, but I love Black Diamonds. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Problem: Talking myself into believing that I wasn’t lazy just because I preferred writing to nearly anything, except for enjoying my family. Seriously. The guilt over sitting there day after day, year after year, putting words on the computer screen that never sees the light of day is tremendous. Overcoming: A husband who prayed for my writing every day for ten years, while reassuring me that I was following God’s will.
We really need those supportive husbands, don't we? What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Discipline yourself to write 1000 words per day. If you disengage the internal editor yapping in your ear and just WRITE, 1000 words will take anywhere from a half-hour to an hour. The words don’t have to be any good. They don’t even have to make sense. Just do it. That’s 350,000 words per year. A nice-sized book is 90,000 words. If you do the math, that equals at least two books a year with a whole lot of days left over for research and editing and going to writing workshops to learn how to write even better.
Tell us about the featured book.
Love Finds You In Sugarcreek, Ohio, is an inspirational romantic suspense set in Amish country. The heroine, Rachel, is a Sugarcreek police woman who is suspicious of a mysterious stranger who takes shelter with her three Amish aunts who run a farmhouse inn. Researching this book was one of the great adventures of my life. Because they wanted the book to be accurate, I was accepted into a large Old Order Amish family and given permission to ask all the questions I wanted. As the barriers between us came down, we laughed and talked and shared our hearts and discovered there was a great commonality between us.
I know I'm going to love reading it. Please give us the first page of the book.
The leather on Rachel Troyer’s gun holster creaked as she shifted her weight on the kitchen chair. Her three elderly Amish aunts shot wary glances toward the offending weapon.
“My niece.” Bertha clucked her tongue with disapproval. “Carrying a gun!”
This was an old subject—thoroughly discussed and dissected over the years. Her aunts had made it abundantly clear that they disapproved of her profession as a police officer. Bertha, the old fox, was trying to distract her from the subject at hand, but Rachel was determined to not get sidetracked.
“That’s not what we were talking about, Bertha, and you know it,” she said. “It’s time for the three of you to make a decision. You can’t put it off much longer.”
Square-faced and stolid, Bertha lifted her chin. “This old inn has been welcoming guests ever since your grandfather built it a hundred years—”
“I know the story,” Rachel interrupted. “You’ve told it to me many times. He came from Pennsylvania to Sugarcreek, Ohio, with only a new wife, a mule, and carpenter’s tools. He bought a farm, built a six-bedroom house, filled it with four kids, rented out three of the bedrooms, built two cabins for extra travelers, and tapped the sugar maples he found growing on the place. He was also a bishop in the Amish church. I get it. Grandfather Troyer was a great man. The place has history.”
“Which you do not value.”
“I do. But I value the three of you more.”
Frustrated, Rachel pulled her hair into a tighter ponytail. As their closest relative, it was her sad task to convince her aunts that they were too old and fragile to continue doing the heavy work necessary to keep the small inn running.
Unfortunately, they were of an entirely different opinion.
I can't wait until my book gets here. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Thank you, Serena, for spending this time with us.
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