Dear Readers, Derinda is another author with the agency I'm with. I'm thrilled to introduce her to you.
Welcome, Derinda. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
The characters in my novels and short stories exhibit many of my personality traits, preferences, experiences, and understanding. In Dodging Destiny, the main character, Lexie Logan, struggles with control issues. She also questions if she is really good enough. In many areas of my life, control that comes from extensive planning equals comfort, safety, and security. Like Lexie, God has had to push me out of my comfort zone in order to show me that I really have very little control over most things. I think at different times in our lives, we all question why God wants to use us. Our perceptions tend to be that someone else is smarter, more talented or skilled, or better able to do what God has told us to do.
In many of my upcoming novels, the reader may notice that someone learns to read, or improves basic reading skills. For twenty-five years, I was an English Acquisitions/English as a Second Language teacher. My life revolved around teaching students to listen, speak, read, write, and think in English, and because this has played such an important role in my life, writing about characters who improve the lives of others by teaching them to read seems like a natural extension of who I am. Because of this experience, readers may also note that interactions with others who are not of the main character's cultural or linguistic heritage are common.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Like Lexie, I don't like the thought of germs being on everything I touch. Before I sit down at a computer others have used, I wipe the area and seat back, the mouse, the keyboard, and the outside edge of the monitor with a sanitizing wipe or colloidal silver I keep in my purse. I put the silver on my hands and up my nose. In twenty-five years of working with germ-y students, I seldom got sick, so I continue the practice.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
For many years, I wrote stories just for me. They were handwritten or produced on a manual or electric typewriter. I didn't consider myself to be a writer then, just a storyteller, but when others wanted to read what I'd written, I realized writing might be a possibility in some hazy future after my life as a mom and teacher. When I had time, I tuned up one of my favorite manuscripts and pitched it to Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency at the ACFW conference in St. Louis five or six years ago. She contracted me, and this is when I considered myself to be a writer.
I also just considered myself as a storyteller, before God told me He wanted me to write stories for Him. Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
For most of my adult life, I read nonfiction texts. They were a part of my everyday life as a teacher or student. These books were very helpful if I wanted to learn new information, develop skills, or solve specific kinds of problems. They continue to be helpful for historical research. When I had time to read fiction, I preferred mostly historical novels – books like Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion series, or her famous women of the Bible series. I began reading limited amounts of fantasy only because I discovered Robin McKinley's Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I liked her writing style so much, I read many more of her books. R. J. Larson and her Books of the Infinite and Realms of the Infinite series are also favorites. Kathleen Y'Barbo became a favorite historical romance author after I read Flora's Wish and Millie's Treasure.
book, Catherine's Pursuit is also a
favorite. Because there are now so many excellent Christian books in all
genres, I seldom read fiction outside of the Christian market.
I’m glad you liked my book. That one was a pleasure to write. You should try Lynne Gentry’s time travel novels. You’ll love them. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Simple – I don't run anymore. Since I've retired from teaching, I don't have so many demands on my time or energy. I live in the country and have a garden and animals to care for, which is stress-relieving. I continue to learn, which is mentally stimulating. I've enrolled at a local community college to take classes I want to take, instead of classes I have to take to keep a teaching license.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I look on the Internet, in name books, and within the circle of my family and friends to see which names work best for the personality of my character. On one occasion, a student wanted to be named in a story. I asked, “Do you want your name to be associated with the hero/heroine or the villain?” She answered, “It doesn't matter.” Her name regularly appears in Dodging Destiny.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
One of the most important accomplishments is to know that my children, as adults, love, respect, and talk to each other and to my husband and me. We are friends. We enjoy being with each other. Lately, I've noticed this trait seems to be disappearing in the lives of many of the next generation, and my heart is saddened. The burdens of life are heavy enough without the added weight of unloving, unkind, and disrespectful loved ones.
James and I are blessed that way, too. Our family all live fairly near us, and we love getting together. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I'd be a border collie/Australian shepherd cross like my dog, Bella. I'd have one white eye and one brown, and I'd be able to run faster than a speeding bullet and jump tall obstacles in a single bound. I've never been able to run very fast, jump very high, or move with as much grace and body control as Bella.
What is your favorite food?
I don't have one particular favorite, though anything with green chili as a main ingredient will be a dish of choice. My favorite meats, in order of preference, are: antelope, wild duck and geese, dove, lamb, elk, deer, chicken, turkey. I like a variety of vegetables and fruits, especially if they are garden-fresh and still retain the kiss of the sun.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
For many years I wrote in the educational setting, so when I began to write fiction for the Christian market, I had to “unlearn” certain rules. Now, instead of using the Modern Language Association (MLA) or American Psychological Association (APA) style manuals, I use the Chicago Manuel of Style (CMS) or a specific publisher's style sheet. Sometimes the rules aren't black-and-white, which causes me frustration. In addition, some of the “no-no's” of writing appear to apply only to new writers, but not to those who are famous, multi-published authors. I've had to grit my teeth and remind myself that when I made a career change, I moved from the top of the totem pole to the bottom, and that I should expect to have to work hard to get over the hurdles that come my way. I've had to ax my pride and humble myself before the Lord, not once, but several times.
Another writing problem that consistently surprises me is how many times a manuscript can be examined for errors by multiple sets of skilled eyes, yet some silly little errors always slip by. When I notice these escapees in my own work, I feel sick to my stomach, but they serve to remind me that I haven't arrived. I still need to strive for perfection. When I notice them in the works of other well-known authors, I breathe a sigh of relief to know I'm not alone.
You’re right. They just happen … and to everyone. Tell us about the featured book.
Dodging Destiny is the first book in the Destiny trilogy. The story is a loose parallel of the Prophet Jonah's experience. Lexie Logan knows what God wants her to do, but she decides to flee His command. As a results, she faces a life-storm of epic proportions. God removes her from the twenty-first century and sends her to 1857
territory to learn some lessons. The American Civil War is four years away, Kansas isn't a state,
women don't have the vote, and slavery divides the nation. Lexie learns that
there is no place in time or space she can go to run from God, and that nothing
can separate her from His love.
I can hardly wait until my copy arrives. I’m eager to read this story. Please give us the first page of the book.
Oh, Lance. Why did it have to end this way?
Lexie tightened the knob on the stationary bike and pedaled with all her might. Her deep pink cotton workout tee and black Spandex shorts stuck to her lean body and sweat dripped from her face. She pushed away the tendrils of long, golden-brown hair that escaped from the ponytail and stuck to her temples and the back of her neck. She ignored the metallic clang of weights, the rhythmic whirring of the treadmills, steppers, and rowing machines, the television news reports, and the conversations of her fellow exercisers.
As she focused on the rapidly spinning wheel, she hoped the wetness drenching her face would hide the tears that flooded her brown eyes, coursed down her face, and pooled onto the gym floor with the drops of perspiration. For the past two hours and with fierce determination she had tried, with exercise, to release the emotional pain that squeezed her heart, but to no avail. Pumping iron hadn’t done it, running laps hadn’t done it, and spinning wasn’t doing it. She knew laps in the pool wouldn’t help either, so she stopped pedaling abruptly, grabbed the antibacterial spray and cloth, and wiped the handles of the bike and the floor around it.
Lexie made no eye contact with people as she left the gym lest they speak and she would be required, for the sake of civility, to answer. She unlocked the door of her dark blue hybrid, snapped the seat belt into the lock, and started the motor. She didn’t push the button that would start the chords to the music of her practice CD, as she usually did, but looked into the rearview mirror into the reflection of her own brown eyes.
She couldn’t stand to see the pain there, so she looked around, engaged the motor and backed out of the parking space. At home, she pulled into the garage and noted that her mom’s car was gone. She shut off the car’s engine and stared into space, her hands still on the wheel.
“Oh, Lance!” she whispered again. “Why did it have to end this way?”
How can readers find you on the Internet?www.pinterest.com/derindababcock
Thank you, Derinda, for sharing this new book with us. As I said, I'm eager to read it, and I know my readers are, too.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Dodging Destiny - paperback
Dodging Destiny - Kindle
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