First off, what inspired you to write Head in the Clouds?
Since I enjoy regency romances as well as those set in the American West, I thought it would be fun to blend the two by bringing an English nobleman to Texas.
Oh that's cool! It did make for an excellent book!
How did you mold your character's personalities? Did they choose them for themselves?
Some of the characteristics evolved naturally, but others sprang from the theme and plot. I knew I wanted my theme to delve into the idea of how we deal with situations when God seems to be silent. How better to demonstrate this than with a heroine who is naturally impulsive and impatient? It would be that much harder for her to wait, since it goes against her natural inclination. Adelaide's adventurous spirit and imaginative ideations were products of her love for novels, however, and came about more naturally.
Gideon is my representation of Prince Charming. He's rich, he's genteel, he knows how to turn
a pretty phrase—he's everything Adelaide ever dreamed of. Yet he's more than that storybook
facade. He's also hard working, willing to get his hands dirty, and willing to sacrifice everything
for those he loves. So for my plot, he started out as Prince Charming, but as the story progressed,
he revealed more and more depth.
Gideon was quite charming - and perfect for Adelaide, too!
How long did it take you to write Head in the Clouds?
My typical pace is about one book a year. I spend a few weeks at the outset doing research and brainstorming plot, then I take about 40+ weeks writing the actual manuscript. I'm one of those odd ducks who prefers to edit as I write. This makes my pace slower (about a chapter a week), but when I reach the end of the book, the editing is already complete, so I don't have to go back for rewrites until I hear from my editor.
Which book took you the longest to write?
Head in the Clouds took longer to write than A Tailor-Made Bride. Tailor-Made was the book Bethany House wanted to launch me with even though Clouds had been written first. Because of tight deadlines, I finished Tailor-Made in about 8 months where Clouds took me closer to 11 months.
My journey was crazy, but looking back, I can definitely see the hand of God at work.
In 2007, I took my first completed novel to the ACFW conference in Dallas. I arrived a day early and worked at the volunteer station stuffing envelopes. A woman worked beside me who shared my first name. That's fun, I thought. However, as time ticked on, I picked up clues to her identity from others in the room. This was Karen Schurrer, an editor from Bethany House, my dream publisher. Only the Lord could have orchestrated such a meeting. I resisted throwing my pitch at her, but two days later, I sat at her lunch table and after everyone pitched their projects, one brave writer asked if we could send her our proposals. She said yes.
After the conference, I sent in my proposal and soon had a request for a full manuscript. Surely a contract
was right around the corner since the Lord was at work, right? Wrong. The acquisitions editor rejected my
manuscript. Nevertheless, she complimented my writing and said there was one component to the story
that she really liked—the dress shop. Could I come up with a new idea surrounding a dress shop?
Now, in the original story, the dress shop burned to the ground in the prologue. Yet she wanted me to
create an entirely new book from scratch based on this shop idea. I was faced with a choice: do I seek
publication elsewhere or do I keep my foot in this door?
Since publishing with Bethany House was my dream, I started brainstorming ideas for a dress shop book,
and even met with the editor in person at the 2008 ACFW conference where she gave me feedback and
encouraged me to resubmit. By January 2009, Bethany House offered me a three book deal launching
with A Tailor-Made Bride.
What was the most valuable thing you have learned when it comes to writing?
Depend on the Lord in everything – inspiration, plot, word choice, character development,
theme, everything. No aspect of writing is too small. Bathe your work in prayer, surrender to his
leading, and ask him to provide the discipline to write even when the desire flees.
What is a word of advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Be committed to mastering the craft, tenacious in submitting your work, flexible enough to move
when the industry moves, and grounded enough in who you are as a person and as a child of God
not to lose heart when rejection comes. Accept the lessons of humility you learn now, for you
will need them later when you find success.
If you could enter and book you wanted to and live it out as the main character, which
book would you enter?
Great choices! Thanks for visiting!
This month we are giving away a copy of Head in the Clouds to one lucky commenter! Thanks, Karen, for providing us with a giveaway copy!