Welcome, Valerie. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
There’s always a bit of the author in the characters, I think. I take some of my traits or interests and dole them out to a few different characters in each story. Then I give them some traits that are opposite to how I’d react, and see what they do with the conundrum!
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Quirky? Whoa, I didn’t think I was quirky! I guess I am a bit unconventional in my foodie interests, though. We strive to eat organic food grown as close to home as possible. This means living on a small farm where we keep bees and raise a few cows, pigs, and chickens. It also means a large garden from which I can and freeze a lot of food for winter. It means sourcing grain from local farmers and fruit from nearby orchards.
This lifestyle provides the basis for my debut novel, Raspberries and Vinegar, so it’s had some uses besides providing healthy food for my family!
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
There were clues in my high school and college years, but somehow I never figured out books were authored by normal everyday people. I toyed around with writing for a number of years but didn’t pursue it until I landed a job at a small-town flooring shop where I had many empty hours in my day. I began my first novel there in 2002 and continued on to write ten more while working for that company.
Of course, I've since discovered that authors only seem normal from the outside. Inside they are just as strange as I once thought they must be.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I read a lot of Christian fiction, mostly contemporary and historical romance, with occasional forays into speculative fiction. For a number of years I reviewed books on my blog weekly, but that became unmanageable even though I still read a novel most weeks.
In nonfiction, I read a lot of marketing books!
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I live on a 40-acre farm with a large garden. In some ways, taking care of the garden and processing the produce adds busyness to my days, but it also gives me a break from the computer. Nature grounds me and helps keep me connected to God through the beauty He created for me to enjoy.
Also, I have three young granddaughters, one of whom lives on our farm with her parents. When I need a change of scenery, I jump on the trampoline with a one-year-old! That takes my mind off things.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
They choose themselves once the characters become fleshed out in my mind. I can’t proceed without the right names, and changing them after the fact alters their personalities and is not a project to be taken lightly.
I Google baby name (gender) (decade of birth) (ethnicity) and see what shows up. For instance, I might Google “baby name girl 1980s Russian” to learn what names were common for Russian females who are currently somewhere in their 20s. Usually I’ll find a name that clicks.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
It’s hard to separate out one, as my family is my greatest pride and joy, next to my relationship with Jesus. I’ve been married to an awesome man for over 30 years. Our two kids have grown into wonderful adults, have married great spouses, and are parents to little girls I adore. Being a grandmother to a 3.5-year-old, a 1.5-year-old, and a 1-year-old makes me smile every single day.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
This month I’m a hummingbird, dipping a little into this interview and a little into that guest post, buzzing around from one website to the next! Soon I’ll step back into tortoise mode, with the slow-and-steady attitude that will get me my next novel’s first draft completed.
What is your favorite food?
I have so many favorites, and which takes precedence is often dictated by season. Right now my garden is in full swing and I can’t get enough garlic-sautéed green beans. We’re having them probably five nights a week. It’s also the season for any meat on the grill: burgers, steak, sausage, chicken, lamb chops… (It must be time to go make dinner now.)
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest issue has been learning how much of a novel I can plot ahead of time. I’d like to outline the whole thing, frankly, as I’m that sort of person in Real Life, but I simply can’t see the scope in advance. There has been a lot of trial and error (about eleven novels’ worth) to determine how much, or how little, plotting works for me. These days I’m focused on solid character GMCs, knowing their goals, motivations, and conflicts. If I can get an idea of what the major conflicts are and which will likely become the black moment, I have enough to start, even though it still scares me silly.
Tell us about the featured book.
Breaking ground with the Farm Fresh Romance series, RASPBERRIES AND VINEGAR finds Josephine Shaw and her friends renovating a dilapidated farm with their sights set on more than just their own property. Transforming the town with their sustainable lifestyle and focus on local foods is met with more resistance than they expected, especially by temporary neighbor, Zachary Nemesek. Jo needs to learn that a little sweet makes the tart more tasty.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Josephine Shaw gritted her teeth as she jerked the harvest-gold range forward on worn linoleum. There it was again. That incessant scratching could only be from one source. Mice. Of course the old trailer would have the despicable creatures. It’d been vacant for how long? The beam of her flashlight found half a dozen naked newborns sheltered in a nest of insulation and wood chips. A full-grown rodent shot through the gap she’d created and scuttled right over her foot. Jo gasped, nearly dropping the light as she jerked back.
Her roommate, Sierra Riehl, shrieked and danced a fierce jig designed, Jo presumed, to fend off an attacking two-inch-high army.
“Whoa! You’re going to go right through.” A distinct possibility, given the spongy feel to the old trailer’s floor.
Sierra’s gaze tried to capture every inch of space at once, but at least her feet slowed their tempo. “Th-the mouse…”
Jo tried to get her own heart rate under control. “Long gone.” At least, Jo would be if she were in his shoes. If mice wore shoes. Which they didn’t.
“Are you sure?”
What was she, some kind of fortuneteller? Oh, wait. There was still the nest, and somebody would have to deal with it. Didn’t look like Sierra was up for the job. Never mind, Jo could do this herself. “Um. You might not want to look.”
Sierra dug purple manicured fingernails into Jo’s arm, her blue eyes wide. “Why? What’s back there?”
“You don’t want to know.”
What a fun first page! How can readers find you on the Internet?
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/valeriecomerWriting Blog & Free eCourse: http://towriteastory.com
Thank you, Valerie, for sharing your life and your new book with us today.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Raspberries and Vinegar (A Farm Fresh Romance) - Amazon.com
Raspberries and Vinegar (A Farm Fresh Romance) - Kindle
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