Monday, July 23, 2007

Brothers of the Outlaw Trail

Four of my good frioends wrote a wonderful collection together. Brothers of the Outlaw Trail is the reuslt of collaboration between Lynette Sowell, DiAnn Mills, Kathleen Y'Barbo, and Tamela Hancock Murray. Not only is this collection a wonderful read, the stories have a lot of spiritual truth woven through them.

Lynette, how did your story for the collection come about?

As best I can remember, Kathleen and I started brainstorming one day about bad boy heroes, like outlaws. What if they were redeemed? What would happen after they put their lives together again, with God's help? Then came the Wilson family and eventually, their stories.

DiAnn, what about your story?

I think it was Lynette’s idea. Being from Texas, the bigger than life cowboy is a winner – especially outlaws who find the Lord.

Kathleen, tell us about your story.

While working on possible plots for the story, I asked myself what the worst thing to happen to an outlaw who’d found the Lord and gone straight would be. I decided the answer was three-fold: 1) he finds out he may still be wanted; 2) he’s mistaken for the sheriff; 3) the sheriff’s job comes with a mail order bride.

Tamela, enlighten us about your story.

I was working with the other wonderful ladies on the team and after the basic idea that my brother, Benjamin, the youngest, had been raised in a brothel, I thought about what that might be like for a little boy, and what type of man he would be. My story of a professional gambler, the woman he loves, and their redemption, developed from there.

Lena: What are you reading right now?

Lynette: Diva Nashvegas by Rachel Hauck; Fair Game by Carol Cox;Death of a Garage Sale Newbie by Sharon Dunn

DiAnn: The galleys for Mark

Kathleen: I am re-reading Little Women for the first time since I originally read it at the age of 9 back in 1967.

Tamela: I’m going back and forth between several works written by Medieval Christian mystics.

Lena: What other books have you written, whether published or not?

Lynette: I've written three other novellas. My next releases in September 2007 – A Big Apple Christmas, with my first cozy mystery to follow in March 2008 – A Suspicion of Strawberries.

DiAnn: Around 40 – but my Texas Legacy Series is most like this collection.

Kathleen: I have written 13 Barbour novellas, 8 Heartsong novels, 2 YA novels, 1 Barbour trade fiction historical, and 1 Barbour trade fiction repack. In addition, I just received a contract for another Heartsong, the last in the Louisiana contemporary series.

Tamela: The Music of Home, set in the 1930s, will be released soon by Barbour. Recently Scripture to Live By was released by Adams Media. My story in that collection, with commentary by Pastor Arron Chambers, is titled Mercy. For more information on the over twenty books I've had published, visit my web site.

Lena: What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?

Lynette: Remembering I only have a maximum of 20,000 words. This used to not be a challenge for me, but sometimes I can see the potential for a bigger story to develop. The key to remember about novellas is that you can have a deep story with developed characters—but the timeline is usually much shorter, and you have to get right to the action without sacrificing story or character (a good practice for whatever kind of book you write).

DiAnn: Keeping the story short and not diving into too much plot!

Kathleen: Sometimes the stories require detailed coordination in order to make the four stories transition smoothly. Timelines and character charts are essential to keep from trampling on other plot lines.

Tamela: For me, the hardest is also the most fun. I enjoy working with teams, but I want to make sure that my story works with theirs. So far, judging from reader feedback, the collections I have taken part in have been successful in keeping each story fresh yet offering readers a compelling storyline.

Lena: How did collaborating with this team impact you?

Lynette: There is always a give and take when co-authoring an anthology, particularly if the stories involve one family around the same time period. Communication between co-authors is key because readers will always pick up on details and discrepancies.

DiAnn: Teamwork and prayer. There were certain elements that had to be communicated to the other writers. This also develops flexibility.

Kathleen: Working with this team was a blast. I love, love, love my co-authors and would happily write with them again.

Tamela: I enjoyed collaborating with such a wonderful and talented team of ladies. Lynette, DiAnn, and Kathleen are all a joy to work with. This was my first Western, so it was a learning experience for me. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with on the setting! I hope we can all join our talents again in the near future.

Lena: Sounds like another collaboration might be coming. How do you choose your characters’ names?

Lynette: Sometimes I hear a name I like or think is unique. In this anthology, Reuben got his name because he's the oldest. I likened him to the biblical Reuben, whom I imagined for years felt weighed down for what he'd done to his younger brother Joseph.

DiAnn: I have to laugh here. Normally I use a baby-naming book and research what the different names mean. This time I went right to the “gun” and named my hero after the Colt 45. Since this was called the “peacemaker,” I had a name for my novella.

Kathleen: This is going to sound really odd, but the characters told me what they wanted to be named. As I began to work on the story, the names just evolved.

Tamela: Benjamin’s name had been chosen before I agreed to write my story, and I like that name. I chose “Pearl” for my heroine because though she had a past, she regretted it and truly proved to be a jewel.

Lena: There are as many ways to name characters as there are authors. What did you want the reader to take away from your story?

Lynette: Sometimes we think we have to be good enough for God to love us, but we never have to earn His love.

DiAnn: God’s unconditional love is for all. He gives each one of us a clean slate each time we repent and ask for forgiveness.

Kathleen: That things and people are not as they seem, so do not be hasty to judge.

Tamela: Redemption is possible, no matter what may have happened in the past.

Lena: Why are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers?

Lynette: It's the organization to belong to if someone's serious about writing fiction. I was a member in the very early days, and it's been neat to watch it grow over the years.

DiAnn: I’m a founding board member - #1 membership number. I was a part of the “birthing” process for an organization that reached out to writers to not only encourage and support them, but to teach and minister to each member.

Kathleen: Because DiAnn Mills asked me if I would like to join this little group she was thinking of putting together way back in 2000 or 2001. I’m member #8. :-)

Tamela: I enjoy interacting with other writers and agents, and this organization is a great way make new friends and strengthen existing relationships.

Lena: You-all are so right. My membership number is 42. I joined about three months after the organization began. Will you be at the conference in Dallas in September?

Lynette: Yes, I'm looking forward to it.

DiAnn: YES! I’m teaching Plots that Dance.

Kathleen: Yes, I am doing paid critiques.

Tamela: This is one time I wish I could be in two places at once, but a family commitment keeps me away this year.

Lena: We'll miss you, Tamela. I'll also be at conference, and I'm doing paid critiques, too. What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?

Lynette: Keep writing, keep reading, keep persisting, keep learning.

DiAnn: 1. Read every day. 2. Write every day. 3. What you learn pass on to other writers.

Kathleen: Never stop learning!

Tamela: I once read that if you write 1,000 words a day, you will have a novel in three months. In my view, this advice helps with goal-setting, and makes the unattainable seem attainable.

What excellent advice! Okay, readers, be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win one of the free copies we'll be giving away.

There's still time to leave comments on the interviews with Shrri Lewis, Stephen Bly, and Julie Carobini. I'll be choosing a winner for Sue Dent's book later today.


rose mccauley said...

I know and love all 4 of the authors of this anthology so know it will be a great read! Hope I win! rose

Kathleen said...

I've seen this book in the store the last few times I've been in and have been wanting it. I'd love to win a copy!

Sheryl said...

Wonderful interview ladies! I so enjoyed learning how you each work together to write a novella collection like Brothers of the Outlaw Trail.

It sounds like a wonderful book. I would love to be entered in the drawing to win a copy :-)

:-)Ronie said...

Pleeezzz enter me!! Fabulous interview, everyone! :-D

Norma said...

Sounds very interesting! Please enter me!

Caroline said...

I can't wait to read it! Some books catch your interest; some don't. This one has got my interest level way up there!

ChristyJan said...

What a great interview!

I'd love to win a copy of this book ~ please enter me.

Cherie J said...

Sounds great! Would love to win!

Sue H. said...

This book is on my "want to read list" and would love to win a copy.