Teryl: Thanks for having me—it’s an honor!
SDC: Tell us about yourself!
Teryl: I was born in Texas, raised in PA and remain a Gemini in personality too. I am fortunate to have published an inspirational Regency romance (A Sensible Match), a play (Good Friday Grace) and curriculum (lots of stuff at Group Publishing). My day job is as Director of Adult Ministries at my church, but my most important 24/7 “work” is as Mom. I have a degree in Elementary Education, but have focused on inspirational writing in all genres at this point of my life.
SKC: Before you tell us about your writing, we’d like to know what you do when you aren’t sitting at your computer! In other words, what are your hobbies, loves, things like that?
TC: I love to read of course. But I am also a big fan of creative problem solving (reading about/creating inventions or ideas). I sometimes work on origami, curriculum and plays. I have also been trying to learn more about moviemaking, music and art to enhance the “write” side of life. I like to teach, horseback ride and make fun of reality tv in my spare time.
SKC: Now, Teryl, will you tell us about the book you have out or the newest project you are working on now?
TC: A Sensible Match, my first novel, is based on the idea of whether a part time Good Samaritan can pick and choose whom to love as well as whom to show charity. I’ve been out doing the book talks and signings and enjoying the status of “real” writer from this blessing.
I recently finished the sequel/companion to A Sensible Match. This book follows Abby’s sister to Bath and describes her (literal) pursuit of romance. Courting Constance asks if you can “make” someone love you and the results of the answer to that question. It has been a blast to write because Constance is so funny. For example, her attempt to serenade her chosen conquest with a flutist fails with the mistaken hiring of a bagpiper. It was a joy to make all her attempts to impress backfire, because I actually did use some of the “wooing” ideas on my poor spouse and was fortunate that they worked!
SKC: What inspired you to begin writing in the first place and what keeps you going?
TC: I think God inspires everyone with ideas; we just have to be intentionally looking for and using them. I’ve been writing or telling stories since I was at least in first grade that I can remember. I keep going by getting excited to see where the story takes me because I am as much a reader of my own stories sometimes as those that might read it later.
SKC: How do you come up with some of your dialogue in your book, Teryl, to keep it realistic with each character?
TC: I daydream it as if it’s a play happening in front of me. I also use some techniques from playwriting such as “plants” (foreshadowing) or surprise twists (have the dialogue not follow the expected route). I often give each character a catch phrase to help keep them separate as individuals too.
SKC: What are some favorite writing helps books you’ve used, to help you in your craft?
TC: I am not traditional—I love the creativity books to help me write such as Caffeine for the Mind, IdeaSpotting and A Whack on the Side of the Head. If I use writing books at all, I try to focus on unusual ones to get unique ideas such as Save the Cat! (Screenwriting), Word Magic, Secrets of Comedy Writing and that neat writing book by Patrick McManus (Deer on a Bicycle).
SKC: How do you settle in on creating your settings? Your backgrounds? Creating your color schemes?
TC: I try to choose an interesting place that hasn’t been done to death but has some meaning to me—whether in its beauty, in the story structure/theme or even in my own background. Settings are something I am still working on, because I usually “hear” my stories instead of envision them. Some writers can see the story as they write, but my characters talk to me so I feel a stronger connection to the dialogue and getting the voices right. I guess my “radio writing” is due to starting in plays first, but historical fiction demands that setting is just as much a character as any other in the story.
SKC: How do you come up with the names of your heroes and heroines?
TC: In A Sensible Match I used symbolism—Abby doesn’t want to be a preacher’s wife (hence the humor in her name) and Edwin is her dueling counterpart (and foreshadows with his name). Some of the people have last names of actual places in the Cotswolds as a tribute to the place while some of my favorite authors’ names are snuck in with some inside jokes due to the characters they play. In some other books I’ve used baby name books to get the right “meaning” to a name or I’ve used street and place names as a personal tribute, but I have to admit some names just come to me.
SKC: Sometimes writers have a difficult time with their sagging middles. Do you have any point in your novel when you come to a stand still? If so, what do you do to boost yourself? To get going again? To get out of that lull that sometimes comes?
TC: Every once in a while I “paint myself” into a corner by not always following the outline or by letting my characters take over and run wild. Then I may ask my kids for help (creative outsourcing of ideas) or skip over the writer’s block to write a scene I’ve been waiting to do and then come back to the problem (which is then easier to chip away at from the backside). Usually these ways help or brainstorming it out will do the trick. (Oh, and if the kids do come up with the “best” idea —the one I actually use—they do get a royalty payment!)
SKC: What do you think is one of the most important things you have learned so far since becoming a published writer?
TC: There’s never enough time to promote your book or thank the readers who do it for you and second, all writing skills are needed to be successful, not just the ability to tell a good story.
SDC: What is the most difficult for you, the beginning or the end of the story?
TC: The beginning of a story is harder. I love good endings so often I have the title and direction of a book first; it’s just hard for me to pick the best place to start the adventure. You set the tone or hook with the start, so it really matters where the characters are and what they do first.
SDC: What were some of your favorite books as a child? And did they have any effects on how you write today?
TC: I loved everything—folktales, horse stories (Walter Farley), mysteries (Encyclopedia Brown) and humor (O. Henry, Twain). These influenced my books today by helping me know the heart of the story—the characters. In my teens I read Georgette Heyer and Louis L’amour which taught me a great deal about dialogue, research and how to fall in love with a specific time and place.
SDC: You and I write for the ABA, which has given us the opportunity to reach out to a different audience many times. Is there a reason you chose this market, specifically, and will you spread your wings further in the future or do you plan to stay over here?
TC: ABA--(American Booksellers Association). I intend to be a “Roaring Lamb”, writing inspirational things that can also be marketed successfully in the secular sector—so I hope to write for many audiences. My goal is to write several different types of stories so that I stay out of a rut, develop name recognition and can market to various readership niches.
SDC: What is next on the horizon for you in your writing?
TC: I have a western still out under consideration and Courting Constance under consideration as well. This fall I will work on a sci-fi book that is “historical” and I hope to get another play in to Contemporary Drama Service. I’d love to work on a book with my daughter after these are completed and I have to go over my son’s screenplay when he’s done too.
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