Gentle writers and readers, this site is for you! We want to give a shout-out to some of our followers: Lady Catherina, Miss Daisy Anne, Melinda Patton, Jimmy Davis, C D, Karen, Lilac Grandma, Hope Wilbanks, Jan Parrish, and Nichole Osborn. More welcomes to come on Monday!
Conflict is central to fiction, but how do you create a work of fiction that is tense, difficult, and sometimes even frightening, yet make it a place readers want to go to, spend time in, and get to know well?
I think when readers fall in love with characters, they will follow them anywhere. When a connection is made, when the reader knows what the character wants and how impossible it is to get, they don't want the character to go in alone. Those of us who loved The Lord of the Rings followed Frodo right into Mordor. The fear, physical exhaustion and despair were palpable, but we climbed Mount Doom right beside him, and were left yearning for more when the story was over.
Where is the strangest place that you had a brainstorm and had to stop and write down an idea or snippet of dialogue?
My daughter used to accuse me of not paying attention to her Little League games because she could see from the outfield that I was writing in my notebook. My husband accused me of writing most of my first novel during his sermons, and he's probably right. But when I started Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon, it was on the way down to Disneyland with my family after my last radiation treatment for breast cancer. I had purchased a magazine to read on the road, and an article gave me a great idea. I think I felt like I had permission to resume my life at that point. I wrote in the car for seven hours, and finally had to stop when my family insisted that we go into the park.
Of your favorite books, what one do you wish you had written, and why?
I wish I had written Leif Enger's book "Peace Like a River" because of the beautiful prose, but more importantly, because he wrote about faith and miracles in such a way that they unfolded from the character's life, as one reviewer said, 'without a hidden agenda.'
What are your favorite things to do to take a break during a long writing session?
I really enjoy cooking comfort food. I'll put on a pot of soup, roast a chicken or make a pot pie (I always make my own pie crust). It makes the house smell so good. Then I might enjoy an older classic comedy like "The Philadelphia Story" or "Holiday Inn," or a newer classic like "What's Up Doc?"
How do you know that you have achieved what you're aiming for in a particular passage you're writing? (That is, before showing it to someone else - what rings your internal chime?
I think of Robert Frost's quote, "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader." If I dig deeply and draw from my own desires and failures, and can transfer that to my characters and their situations, I feel successful. If they are flawed but they don't quit believing or striving to change, I know I'm on the right track. They can make me cry, but they can also make me laugh.
Tell us about the relationship between your writing and your spiritual life
When one suffers, so does the other. When I depend on God to be my 'muse' and ask him for the words and the story, He always provides. But if I get busy, or try to write on my own, it's worthless junk. Likewise, writing helps me to ask some hard questions of God. Why do kids die? Why do marriages go bad? How do we recognize truth when we see it? I think it's helped me to be a little more authentic in my relationship with God, and He's been graciously tolerant!