It's a great pleasure to welcome Maureen back to my blog. What are some of the spiritual themes you like to write about?
This is one of the most exciting aspects of Christian fiction—the spiritual layer that can be represented subtly or overtly, symbolically or blatantly. The theme in Look To The East is misplaced faith—how people can put their faith in the wrong thing, like themselves, or another person, or even in a group of people. In previous books, as in My Sister Dilly, I wrote about God’s unconditional forgiveness, and in The Oak Leaves my characters learned to trust God even when everything else in their lives seemed to fall apart. I have an upcoming book (Book Two in my Great War series, still untitled at the moment) where the hero’s faith has become elusive, impossible to hold on to. Unfortunately, it’s usually challenge, heartache and conflict that bring us closer to God, and it’s no exception for my characters.
What other books of yours are coming out soon?
I wish I could tell you the title, but as of right now Book Two in my Great War series is untitled. Being “Book Two” is just a technicality, by the way. The fact is, each book will stand alone, with characters only loosely related. I’ve just turned this second book in and had a blast writing it—or should I say rewriting it, since it’s actually an updated version of a story idea I had several years ago. I’ve always loved this story and its characters, but when I first wrote it, it was not only too long, it didn’t easily fit into a specific genre. It straddles the fence between historical fiction and historical romance—so I’ve cut the length and turned up the romantic element so that it better fits the historical romance genre (my favorite kind of book!).
I love historical romance, too. If you could spend an evening with one contemporary person (not a family member of yours), who would it be and why?
I’d like for my husband and I to be able to spend an evening with Charles Krauthamer. Who’s he, you might wonder (if you don’t watch Fox News in the evenings). Dr. Krauthamer is a syndicated columnist who, to me, is one of the most insightful conservative voices out there. You won’t see him on shows like "The McLaughlin Group" or other venues where panelists are trying to out-shout each other. He’s soft spoken but sure of himself, which I admire.
Sounds interesting. How long have you known that you wanted to be novelist?
Seriously, since I was ten years old. I’ve always wanted to tell stories, and I completed my first novel at age ten. Handwritten. A romance (of course!). I passed it around to neighborhood kids and they were so encouraging I decided all those years ago to never give it up.
What can you tell authors who have been receiving only rejections from publishers?
It’s easy to be really candid with a faceless person, so my advice will be candid. It depends on how long a person’s been at it, the quality of the rejections they’ve received, and the kind of personality a person has in order to withstand this kind of business. If a person writes a book, polishes it, and then is so eager to start getting feedback they start mailing it out to agents (and editors, if they can connect with one or find one still taking submissions without an agent) they may be jumping the gun. In that case, early rejections might not be coming because the author doesn’t have talent. They just didn’t let enough time go by to achieve a fresh eye to really polish their work. Perhaps they didn’t get enough outside input—from other writers rather than friends or relatives—someone objective enough to tell them if their project is working.
If a person studies the market by reading the kind of book they’re trying to publish, has joined a critique group or partnered with someone else who can give them objective help, has attended some workshops on craft (either online or at writer’s conferences) and is seriously pursuing professional writing, then they stand a chance at publication. The competition is tough, so the quality of work has to be stellar.
Secondly, is the writer consistently receiving only form letter rejections, despite all their efforts at learning to improve, polishing? There are levels to rejection, from form letter to the more personal but encouraging rejections. Ones that include lines like “although this project doesn’t work for us, we’d like to see something else by this author,” or “if the author could make a few changes, we’d like to see this again,” or some other form of “please consider resubmitting in the future.” If, after years of trying, of submitting and resubmitting, an author still only receives form letter rejections, it might be time to reevaluate. I’ve seen many reasons for an author not to progress. Some people are simply uncoachable. They have a story in them and want to tell it, but have no desire to listen to any advice they’re given; for whatever reason they just can’t see their work from a fresh perspective. On the other hand, I’ve seen writers bring in work that seems entirely unpublishable. But with time spent improving their craft, market study, more reading, withstanding critiques, I’ve seen a number of writers go on to produce wonderful (and definitely marketable) work.
Third, there are some people who wither over rejection. I do not mean to belittle how painful rejection is. It’s terribly difficult, because it feels so personal. But in reality the rejections a writer receives on the early portion of their journey in this business are the first steps to prepare a writer for the professional side of things. Just because a person is published doesn’t mean rejection doesn’t still come. After publication, most rejections are no longer private. A bad review for all to see, a withdrawn contract, a short career. This business isn’t for the fainthearted, and someone with a fragile ego might be spared all kinds of heartache by not ever getting published.
That may sound harsh, but for some, God gave the gift of writing as a way to communicate with Him. Writing, in its purest sense, is fulfilling and can be a great way to learn and grow—in faith, in insight. Publication feels like validation, but the truth is, if writing brings a person closer to God, greater insight into themselves or others, then that’s the real validation.
Tell us about the featured book?
Look To The East is one of my favorite projects! It was one of those stories where, at times, my fingers couldn’t keep up with what the characters were doing. Don’t you love it when that happens?
This story follows the romance of Julitte Toussaint and Charles Lassone. Charles tries to volunteer to fight against the Germans just as the First World War breaks out, but he’s too late. He’s caught behind the battle lines, forced to take shelter in a small French village where he meets Julitte, the adoptive daughter of a sailor. They fall in love despite the danger—if the Germans were to find Charles, it would be death for him and perhaps the same for anyone helping him. And when Charles escapes, he comes back for Julitte, proving to himself and to her that he’s not the coward he thought he was at the beginning of the book.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
http://www.maureenlang.com/ or visit my blog at http://maureenlang.blogspot.com/
Thank you, Maureen, for once again sharing one of your books with us.
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