Friday, August 20, 2010
I suppose they all have a part of me in them, but I don’t see it. I came up with Marguerite in Making Waves because of my sister-in-law's wit. One day I thought, what if Caronna (SIL) would have been born back in a time she couldn’t say all those funny things that pop in her head? Caronna says I need to add that that is where the similarities end between her and Marguerite.
I’m working on book 2 of the Lake Manawa Summers Series now, and Emily is probably more like me than any character I’ve written. She struggles in the elegance department, and I feel her pain.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I don’t know if this was the quirkiest, but this is at least unusual. I went to a small Christian college in a small town. There wasn’t a lot to do, so we’d go “ghosting.” In other words, we went to abandoned houses and scared one another. One of our favorite haunts was a huge empty mansion, formerly an I.O.O.F. home (International Order of Oddfellows). This place was straight out of a horror movie with a tree lined sidewalk over a block long leading to the front door. That night, one of our group insisted on walking around the whole mansion. When we got up close, a group of people ran at us from the trees and grabbed us. Of course, we’d been set up. It was one of the best scares of my life.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
In 4th grade I had an English teacher who made every Friday creative writing day. She used wonderful story prompts. One day, for example, we came to school and she’d taped black footprints down the hall, up the wall, and on the ceiling. We had to write about how they got there.
Some of the other students griped about having to write every week. I loved every minute of it. I had this teacher for fifth and sixth grade English, too. She opened the world of story-telling to me, and it was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Oh my. I read everything—science fiction, Shakespeare, non-fiction, and of course, a lot of inspirational in every genre. For me, the key is not the genre, it’s the story. If the plot is well done and the main character is someone I can root for, I can enjoy the work.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
My kids would answer that I don’t, but honestly, I thrive on being busy. I’m at my best when I have deadlines and a lot to do. I like the pressure—as long as it’s in short bursts.
But keeping my sanity comes only when I make sure God has priority in my life. If I don’t spend time with Him and His children, I loose it rather quickly.
My husband is my anchor and my one true love. He keeps me balanced. When our children were little, he noticed I got migraines when I didn’t spend enough time by myself. He called them “ME-graines,” and from that point on, he made sure I had more time to myself.
Don't just love a supportive husband? I know I love mine. How do you choose your characters’ names?
I think names are so important. I want them appropriate for the time period, but still unusual enough to be memorable. My favorite place to find names is at old cemeteries. For this novel, I visited one in Council Bluffs. It’s an old city and the gravestones are filled with stories begging to be told.
I like visiting historical cemeteries and reading names and dates, too. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’ve potty trained over 20 children. Does that count? How about delivering an 11 pound, 8 ounce daughter? She was three weeks early, and before any of you mothers faint, I had a c-section.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I guess I’d be a mamma bear. I like protecting my young, providing for my family, and I could really get into having months of hibernation.
What is your favorite food?
Chocolate. Chocolate. Chocolate. Rich, sweet, and smooth. I love Oreo cookies, too.
After my youngest daughter was born, I decided I wanted to get back to the writing I’d enjoyed so much as a child –fiction. I started writing fan fiction at a wonderful Christian based site. There were over 4000 members and the readers were so supportive. The feedback I got there, encouraged me to take the next step.
At the 2008 ACFW Conference, I presented to Andrea Doering, Revell’s senior acquitions editor. I was so nervous I couldn’t even remember my pitch. I just handed her my one sheet. She read it, asked me some questions, and asked if I had any sample chapters. I sat there while she read two chapters of my manuscript. Finally, she leaned back, smiled, and said, “We’d like a full of this.”
I went back to my room and cried.
Two months after I sent her the manuscript, I had a 3-book contract. It’s been a wild and exciting ride.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I am an auditory writer. I hear everything all the dialogue, the way the characters say it, the wind blowing in the trees. However, I tend to forget to make sure the reader can see it all.
I now write in layers. I get my ideas down first, then go back and make sure there’s enough detail to see what is going on. One of my crit partners is wonderful at working in the beautiful, fluid descriptions, so I ask myself, “Now, can Brenda see this?” I know she’ll stop me if she can’t.
What advice would you give to others who are trying to get their first book published?
First, I have a motto that I hang onto. “His way. His words. His timing.” I know it’s hard to wait, but God is in control of it all.
Second, keep learning. Good writers are not divas. They are lifelong learners.
And last, enjoy the journey. Every step is part of that – making lifelong writer friends, discovering a crit group that gels, or finding a mentor who believes in you and challenges you to be better.
That is so true. I never want to stop learning how to write even better. Tell us about the featured book.
When spunky Marguerite Westing discovers that her family will summer at Lake Manawa in 1895, she couldn't be more thrilled. It is the perfect way to escape her agonizingly boring suitor, Roger Gordon. It's also where she stumbles upon two new loves: sailing, and sailing instructor Trip Andrews.
But this summer of fun turns to turmoil as her father's gambling problems threaten to ruin the family forever. Marguerite has to decide if she will follow her heart or save her family’s name and fortune by marrying Roger.
Just the time period I enjoy reading. Please give us the first page of the book.
Council Bluffs, Iowa, 1895
If forced to endure Roger Gordon for five more minutes, Marguerite Westing would die. Dead. Gone. Buried. Six feet under Greenlawn Cemetery.
Her parents would need to purchase a large headstone to fit all the words of the epitaph, but they could do it. Money wasn’t an issue, and after bearing this unbelievable torture, she deserved an enormous marble marker complete with a plethora of flowery engravings. She could see the words now:
Here lies Marguerite Westing.
Only nineteen, but now she’s resting.
Strolling through the park with Roger Gordon,
Once full of life, she died of boredom.
Roger stopped on the cobblestone path of the park and frowned at her. “I don’t see anything funny about my uncle Myron’s carbuncle, Marguerite.”
“I’m sorry. My mind wandered for a minute.”
“You do seem prone to that. Perhaps you should work on your self-control.” He patted her hand, lodged in the crook of his arm, like a parent would an errant child.
And perhaps you should work on making yourself more interesting than milk toast. She bit her lip hard to keep the words from escaping. Good grief. What did he expect when he was talking to her about a boil?
“Now, as I was saying, Uncle Myron . . .” He droned on, his dark mustache twitching like a wriggling fuzzy caterpillar on his upper lip. “Marguerite, are you listening?”
She forced a smile. “Of course I am. How terrible for your dear uncle.”
This whole ordeal was her mother’s fault. If her mother hadn’t insisted she accept Roger’s attentions, she could be home enjoying her newest book about the stars.
I can hardly wait for my book to come. How can the readers find you on the Internet?
Readers can find me at my website http://www.lornaseilstad.com/ , at the 10-writer blog I’m part of at http://www.inkspirationalmessages.com/ , on Facebook and on Twitter. I love connecting with readers and would love to have readers sign up for my newletter on my website.
Thank you, Lorna, for the interesting interview.
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