I feel like I'm having a banner year with my interviews. As with the first one, this interview is with an author I was privileged to help mentor. She's been a part of the critique group that meets in my home for years. Even after she moved halfway across the country, she participates through email. And I'm so happy to introduce her debut novel, Seasons of Love. This is the last book in the Massachusetts contemporary series written by Beth, Lisa Harris, and me.
I think it would be hard not to write something of myself into my characters. It’s probably easiest to fall back on what you know, too, if some part of a character you’ve created eludes you. In my first novel, I put a lot of myself into the characters—my work experience and the challenges of raising a child.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
It really depends on what you mean by quirky because many memories come to mind. But probably the craziest or gutsiest thing I’ve ever done is to pack up everything I own and move my family from Texas to Oregon to a place I’ve never been and a house I’d never seen.
Wow, that was gutsy. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I’ve written stories as long as I can remember. Throughout my school years, teachers encouraged me to enter creative writing contests. A few years ago I signed up for a Writer’s Digest course on writing articles and various other courses, never completing them because I had a young child at the time. I just couldn’t see wasting years and time if nothing would ever come of it. But the Lord would not let go of me about writing. It’s one thing to know that you can write, and it’s another to actually decide that you ARE a writer and all that it encompasses.
At one point I laughed at the thought that God had called me to write, believing it pure nonsense and that I had imagined the entire thing. But God got my attention again, so I decided to read Marlene Bagnull’s Write His Answer--a Bible Study for Christian Writers, which included information on discerning if you’d received the call to write. In 2001, I signed up for my first conference, a Christian writers’ conference-ACW and before I attended, I knew without a doubt that the Lord had asked me to write for him. And I believed that I was a writer.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love reading everything! I began reading Christian fiction years ago with Brock and Bode Thoene’s WWI series. I got hooked on historicals then. But the CBA has much to offer. I love suspense, thriller, speculative fiction, fantasy and science fiction. My two all time favorites are Francine River’s Mark of the Lion series and Stephen Lawhead’s Song of Albion series. An historical and a fantasy.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I’ve written several historicals and a fantasy—all unpublished.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Who said I kept my sanity? I hate how busy I am. Fortunately, I’ve learned to put everything into perspective, realizing when I need to slow down and enjoy life. I try to focus on my family, cherishing every moment with my children.
I highly recommend that. The children will be grown up and gone before you know it. How do you choose your characters’ names?
That is the fun part! Sometimes my daughter, who also writes, (she’s fifteen) will come up with a great name that I like. I used to go through elaborate name searches on the internet, studying the meanings. But lately, I’ve started choosing names from people I know or meet who have interesting names.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Four beautiful children who all love the Lord.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I’d love to be a bird. I’ve wondered what it must be like to soar high or float on the wind.
What is your favorite food?
My husband, one of my daughters, and I shared a pizza yesterday. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
The problem that I see in my writing as my greatest roadblock is where to begin the story. I can’t say that I’ve overcome it, but I’ve made it my goal to know everything about how to open a story. So, one day this won’t be my problem anymore.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
One thing that I’ve noticed beginning authors struggle with is learning to accept critique of their work. Time and again, I see new authors who are unwilling to accept crits or they allow constructive criticism to stop them, and they go no further with their dream. My advice is to learn to develop a thick skin regarding critiques, learn to consider everything that is said and use what you can to improve your writing.
When I first joined a critique group one particular crit partner was tough on me. I always planned ahead and made sure to have Double Dutch Chocolate ice cream at the ready. After I finished reading her critique of my chapter, I’d have my ice cream—it helped sooth the pain. It would take me at least a week to get over, but I would take what I learned and apply it.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
I love the cranberry farm setting of Seasons of Love (Heartsong Presents 2007)
When Grandpa Sanderford asks Riley O’Hare to give up her climb on the corporate ladder and take over the family cranberry farm in Massachusetts, she actually considers it. Her mind is made up when her brother dies and she becomes the guardian of his son. Riley hopes the move and her new roles will help her find the purpose and peace she desires.
With the death of his friend and business partner, Zane Baldwyn’s world is turned upside down, and his company is in trouble. As he looks to replace John, strange things begin to happen that make Zane wonder if John’s death was really accidental. Riley has a farm to save, and Zane has a mystery to solve. Somehow the two goals seem related. As Riley and Zane are drawn closer together, can they stay out of danger and discover a season of love together
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Beth, thank you so much for spending this time with us. By the way, I love your picture.
Readers, leave a comment on the interview for a chance to win a copy of Seasons of Love. Don't forget to check back to see if you won. Winners are ususally chosen on Saturdays.
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