*Contest Following the Interview*
Miralee, tell us a little about your writing journey. When did you start writing and when was your first book published?
Hi Sharon, and thanks for inviting me! I started writing in the spring of 2005, so just five years ago, and by late summer had published two or three magazine articles. A friend suggested I try writing Christian fiction but I didn’t think I had enough creativity to pull it off, so she told me to base the first book on something from my own experience. Hence, The Other Daughter, my debut novel took wing. I started writing it in early September and finished the rough draft the end of October. I doubt I’ll ever write a book that fast again, but this one poured from me and I felt compelled to write. I signed a contract for it with Kregel Publications a little over a year later and it released Oct. of 2007. Since then three more books have released, one with Kregel and two with Summerside Press, and I have a fifth book releasing (also with Summerside) in the Love Finds You line in February next year.
A thirteen-year-old girl named Brianna is dropped off on the doorstep of strangers by her alcoholic uncle who doesn’t want to care for her. Brianna’s mother has recently died and she left instructions for the girl to go to her biological father, David Carson and his wife Susanne. The problem is, neither David nor Susanne know Brianna exists. She was conceived when David was a rebellious young adult and before he was saved—but unfortunately, when he and Susanne were dating. The sense of betrayal is deepened for Susanne when she sees how much the girl looks like her father, and because David is now a Christian and Susanne is not. It deals with marriage issues, family and step-children concerns and the need to forgive. There are several very strong secondary characters in the book, including David’s Native American grandfather and David and Susanne’s two younger children, Meagan and Josh. Also, the reader will meet Jeena Gregory, Susanne’s friend who tries to turn Susanne against David. The second book in the series is the sequel, Finding Jeena, and we’ll discover why Jeena made the choices she did and what it’s going to take to turn her life around.
Interesting….and I noticed in the first question you said you wrote from your own experience with The Other Daughter. Can you explain that?
A number of years ago my husband got a letter from an eighteen-year-old girl claiming he was her father. It shook us both. My husband had been with her mother one time, and it was prior to his salvation, but the difference was, he and I hadn’t started dating yet. He always regretted that episode and never saw the girl after that. Not much later she and her family moved out of the area and he never heard from her again. We investigated, talked to the young lady, saw baby pictures that looked eerily like our daughter at the same age, and considered a blood test. But when we saw the family resemblance and how badly this girl wanted/needed a dad, we accepted her as our own. She didn’t need a home, and there was no huge upheaval, although I did struggle a little with my husband having a daughter I didn’t know about, but we overcame that, and she’s a continuing part of our family today.
Every writer takes a different approach to how they work and how they successfully bang out new material. Tell us about your writing regiment.
Varied and inconsistent is the best way I can describe what I do when it comes to my writing, LOL! If I’m on a deadline for turning in a book like I am now, I figure out roughly how many words I need to write per day, five days a week, leaving myself at least 2-3 weeks for polishing. I try to achieve that word count and if I don’t, I have to double up another day or work on a weekend to make up. Sometimes I’m ahead on my count, sometimes I fall behind, but I’ve never been late yet. I often find that I’m more creative at night. Probably because I have so much pulling me different directions in the day time, but I don’t get much real creative work done then, although I do my marketing, research, and other writing related activities during the day.
I don’t do a detailed plot, I’m definitely more seat of the pants on my writing, but I like to have a synopsis written ahead of time so I know the major plot points and where I’m headed. That still gives the characters and the story room to grow but I have an easier time staying on track and not getting lost.
With the books you’ve written and with future books, how do you want your words to affect your readers? What do you hope will be the takeaway value?
I’ve always written with an eye to ministry in the area of restoration—in relationships, in self value, in understanding who someone is in Christ. All of my books deal in some way with redemption or restoration or both. My heroines are always strong women who have some kind of inner struggle as well as external issues to overcome. I write women’s contemporary fiction which is more issue and character driven, as well as historical romance, but I season it with internal issues and layer my characters to give them depth and make them memorable. I want to read a book where the characters stay with me for hours or days afterwards, and my goal is to give that same sense of ‘knowing’ to my readers, as well. If I accomplish that and touch lives in the process, I’ll have done what I set out to do.
This contest is a little different, so be sure to follow the details. To enter the drawing to win a copy of Finding Jeena, all you need to do is leave a comment below. In addition to this contest on my blog, you can also enter the drawing to win a book on Miralee’s blog. To enter the drawing on Miralee’s blog all you need to do is become a follower of her blog and then leave a comment on her blog indicating you’re now following her. The contest on my blog will run through May 5th and the winner will be announced on May 6th. As always, this contest is only available to U.S. residents. Chances of winning depend on the number of entries.