Merrillee Whren is an award-winning author who writes for Steeple Hill Love Inspired. She is the winner of the 2003 Golden Heart Award for best inspirational romance manuscript presented by Romance Writers of America. Her second book, An Unexpected Blessing, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award and the Maggie Award. She is married to her own personal hero, her husband of thirty plus years, and has two grown daughters. She has lived in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas and Chicago but now makes her home on one of God’s most beautiful creations, an island off the east coast of Florida. When she’s not writing or working for her husband’s recruiting firm, she spends her free time playing tennis or walking the beach, where she does the plotting for her novels. Please visit her Web site at http://www.merrilleewhren.com/.
SDC: As we look forward to learning more about you, Merrillee, let’s take a couple of minutes together, okay? How about, after a long day of writing or revisions in a story what is the very first thing you do?
MW: Since I do most of my writing in the evening, I probably go straight to bed.
SDC: Can you remember how many rejection slips you received before you got your first contract, and if so, what did you do when you got your very first one?
What then encouraged you to continue writing?
MW: I never did keep count of the rejections, but I did keep count of the years. I wrote and sent in manuscripts for twenty years before I made my first sale. After the first rejection, my dear hubby sent me roses. I remember that part, but I don’t remember whether I cried. I know I did cry after some rejections, especially the ones where my hopes were high. I wasn’t discouraged by that first rejection. I think in the back of my mind I expected it. Rejections were part of the learning process. I had one rejection that nearly made me quit, but after a couple of months those characters in my head wouldn’t leave me alone until I told their story. This book became my first sale.
SDC: What advice do you have for other authors new in the field of writing who may not yet be published?
MW: Keep writing. Keep learning. Keep submitting. Don’t give up.
SDC: I always seem to find at least one ghastly mistake in my novels AFTER they are published, and if anything keeps me humble that does, because it is too late to fix what is already in print. What is the one thing that keeps you humble about being a published author, Merrillee?
MW: Reviews and reader mail keep me humble. These two things remind me that not everyone loves my work. I’ve had some wonderful reviews, and I’ve had some that weren’t so wonderful. I’ve also had reader mail that makes my day because the readers praise my books and tell me they can’t wait for the next one, but I also get mail that isn’t so complimentary. I had a letter from a woman who said my books were the only books she could read all the way through. She had tried others, but no books were as good as mine. The same week I got another letter in which the reader told me she couldn’t get past the second chapter in my book. It was only the second book in all the hundreds of books she has read over the years that she couldn’t finish. Talk about keeping me humble. That will do it.
SDC: What is your MERRILLEE secret to writing a good book? Willing to tell us?
MW: I have no secret. I’m an organic writer. When it’s all finished, I wonder how I did it. However, there is one thing I try to do with all my books—put myself in the place of my characters and feel their emotions. And I ask God to guide me as I write.
SDC: It’s been so great having you here. I understand you want to donate one of your books to a reader. Tell us about it, and also where people can go to find your books.
MW: My latest book is HOMECOMING BLESSINGS from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. Here is a blurb:
Big-city businessman Peter Dalton doesn't think he and fresh-from-the-field missionary Ashley Hiatt have anything in common. Until his boss—her father—pairs them together on a special project to help those less fortunate. Suddenly, instead of making money, Peter is making dreams come true. He's a changed man. Well, maybe not when comes to settling down. With his past, he's just not cut out for family life. But lovely Ashley seems to think otherwise...and is making it her mission to prove it for good.
You can visit my Web site: http://www.merrilleewhren.com/
I have numerous links to places where you can buy my book online, or it can be found at most Wal-marts, K-Marts, Targets and many grocery or drugs stores across the country during the month of April. You can also order it at any bookstore.
READERS, WRITERS, and OTHER GUESTS...
What are some things that keep you best in the state of humility?
Send in your comments and win one of Merrillee's books!
CONGRATULATIONS TO SHERRINDA KETCHERSID of TEXAS, who just won a copy of Merrillee's new book! Woo Hoo! Watch for your book, and be sure to let us know your thoughts!