SKC: Tell us, Miralee, about that favorite part of your newest book and why it is your favorite.
MF: That’s kind of hard, as it would be giving away something near the end that the reader will want to discover on their own. Let’s just say it’s a very emotional twist that happens concerning a young, orphaned sister and brother. I found myself getting teary eyed when writing it and again later when reading it. I love the places that go into deeper point of view where the reader truly connects with a character, as well.
SKC: I love those books that bring the tears. What inspired you to begin writing in the first place and what keeps you going?
MF: I’m not typical of most authors who have always wanted to write. I loved to read and enjoyed writing letters to friends, and even writing projects in school, but I never envisioned myself as an author, nor did I write short stories, even in my head.
What inspired me was a visiting pastor who prayed for me at a special service almost 5 yrs ago. After praying for a couple of minutes he shared with me that the Lord had told him I was supposed to be writing, and that whatever it was, it needed to be published. I prayed about that for 2 weeks, felt a definite confirmation, and started out.
To begin with I wrote out of obedience. Now, I write because I love it and can’t imagine not writing.
SKC: What an interesting story. Thanks. How would you say you come up with some of your dialogue in your book to keep it realistic with each character?
MF: Being a prolific reader over the years has helped a lot. Plus, I ‘hear’ the characters in my head…their dialect if they have one, their voice inflections, the way they phrase their words. Sometimes they talk to me (especially after I’m in bed, LOL!) and force me to get up and write down what they have to say. Also, I’m old enough to have met many thousands of people in my lifetime, and there are dozens (if not hundreds) of individual communication styles to draw from.
SKC: Isn't that the truth! How do you settle in on creating your settings? Your backgrounds? Creating your color schemes? Any magic formula?
MF: No magic formula…my two historical romances are set in a specific town that my publisher chose (and I helped), so it was easy. The books needed to closely reflect the locale during the era I chose, so I carefully researched what was there at the time. I also visited both areas (which are now ghost towns) to get a feel for the topography, the vegetation, wild life, the weather, etc. I took pictures, studied old books, and in both cases was able to discover and meet with a local history buff who gave me a wealth of additional information.
My two contemporary novels are both set in the area where I live, so it was easy to create the world where my heroines lived and make it realistic. I think of all four books, the two historical ones have the strongest, most vibrant settings.
SDC: As someone who is published, what insight would you give to an aspiring writer today?
MF: Never give up if you feel this is what you’re called to do. And don’t let others discourage you with their stories of rejections and struggles. Yes, you’ll have them, as we all do. Some sooner than others, some later, but there’s no sense in dwelling on what might be. Get connected with other writers who will encourage you, while staying open to constructive criticism from writer’s who’ve been down the path ahead of you and can help you avoid pitfalls. Above all else, cover everything you do in prayer. If God is in it, nothing can stand against you!
SKC: Amen to that. And you are so right. If God is leading the way, we can't give up. I know how easy that can be. Part of it speaks to living that disciplined life, doesn't it. Miralee, do you have any point in your novel writing when you come to a stand still? If so, what do you do to get yourself going again?
MF: The Other Daughter is the only book I’ve written where I never came to a standstill. That book flew off my fingers and onto the keyboard. Since then I often hit snags in the plot. I know the big plot points, but it’s trying to come up with the smaller twists and scenes that are challenging. Right now I’m about 40% of the way into a new book (an old west romance) and wracking my brain on where to go for the next couple of chapters, before another ‘big reveal’ happens.
What do I do? Usually sleep on it. I’ve had some of my most productive writing at night time. If I’m having trouble, I’ll often try to work on my book late, instead of watching TV with hubby before going to bed. Writing gets my mind going and doesn’t allow me to fall asleep easily. Usually not a good thing, but if I’m stuck, it often helps. I’ll start thinking of new ideas as I’m drifting towards sleep. The key is to get myself woke up enough sufficiently to write them down before they disappear, LOL!
SKC: What do you think is one of the most important things you have learned so far since becoming a published writer?
MF: There are so many! I remember about two years into this journey my husband was feeling a bit overwhelmed on my behalf. My debut novel was due to release, and I’d been deep in edits, revisions, and premarketing. He asked me “If you’d known how much work this was before you started, do you think you’d still have done it?” I had to answer yes. It’s stretched my mind, pushed me to think in new ways, kicked in my creative brain cells that hadn’t been used in years. I’ve met an entire new world of people that I didn’t know existed and made so many friends….my agent, editors, other authors, people who help influence others to buy my books…I think that’s the most important thing to me….the people. I’ve also had many ministry opportunities as a result of writing, and that’s always what this has been about for me. I never cared whether or not I was published for the money sake, I wanted to reach hearts and touch lives.
SDC: As we are learning more about you we would love to know about some of your favorite books as a child. Tell us about them. Did they have any effects on how you write today? I like to ask this question on occasion because it is true of so many of us writers.
MF: I have a lot of them that I loved. As a preteen it was the Nancy Drew mysteries. I collected many of them, and still have the old hardbacks today. During that same time period I also read and collected Cherry Ames and Sue Barton nurse books.
As I got a little older (in my teens) I discovered Zane Grey westerns. He writes at a lot deeper level than Louis L’Amour, and I fell in love with Grey’s descriptions of the old west, the history, the characters and the stories he would weave. I also stumbled onto another couple of old authors, Gene Stratton Porter who wrote Freckles and Girl of the Limberlost, among others, and Harold Bell Wright, both amazing authors for their time period. I read and still own every novel they both wrote and have read all of them at least twice.
Yes, I’d have to say my reading has influenced my writing. I often think of Zane Grey as I’m working (currently) on my new Western romance. It’s not your typical prairie romance, it’s more old west with cattle rustlers, cowboys, horses, and yes, even some gun fights, LOL! I don’t go to the depth on my descriptions that he did, but I’m trying to make sure that the scenery and local come alive for my readers, and the characters truly stay with them after the last page is finished.
SDC: I would say so! By the way, do you enjoy working with an agent, or do you go the route alone?
MF: I have a wonderful agent, Tamela Hancock-Murray with the Hartline agency. I signed with her when I was shopping The Other Daughter, and it’s evolved from a working relationship to a friendship. I do well at pitching new proposals and am not a bit shy about talking to an editor, but I like having the covering of an agent when it comes to the contract process, or if I hit any snags during the publication process.
SDC: What is next on the horizon for you in your writing?
MF: As I mentioned, I’m working on a proposal right now for a Western romance. I’m presenting it as a three book set and have two publishers interested in seeing it. I’ll be sending it to the first one in the next week or so. I’m also working on a possible third book with Kregel that would follow secondary characters we’ll meet in Finding Jeena (which release April 2010, and a women’s contemporary that’s burning to be written as soon as I can make time.
SDC: I understand you have a book to offer to one of our guests that write in. Tell us about it, and what question might you have for our readers?
MF: Here’s the back cover blurb for Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon…
Against the backdrop of the breathtaking Bridal Veil Falls in a historic Oregon logging community, a schoolteacher finds herself torn between a past love and the man who could be her future. Sixteen-year-old Margaret Garvey promised her heart to Nathaniel Cooper the night he disappeared from town. Four years later, just as she’s giving love a second chance with Andrew, a handsome logger, Nathaniel suddenly returns to town with a devastating secret. While grappling with the betrayal of those she trusted most, Margaret risks her reputation and position by harboring two troubled runaways who might be involved in the murder of a local man. As disaster strikes the town and threatens the welfare of its citizens, Margaret will be faced with the most important choice of her life.
(THAT QUESTION OF THE WEEK)
I’d love to hear from anyone who’s read both my women’s contemporary (The Other Daughter) and my first historical romance, (Love Finds You in Last Chance, CA) to know which one they enjoyed most, and what type they’d like to see me write in the future. Do you think I’m stronger as a contemporary author, or historical? And does the idea of a three book series of Western romances interest you at all?
SDC: Good question for finding out more about what people like about a person's writing. READERS, even if you haven't read Miralee's books yet, we want to hear from you your thoughts regarding Western romances.
Thank you so much for being here, Miralee. Tell us where we can find you and your books.
MF: Several places…my Love Finds You books are available in Borders, Barnes and Noble, WalMart, Sam’s Club (later this year), Amazon, Christianbook.com, and other online sites, and all my books are usually found in Christian bookstores or online. You can read more about each one, as well as upcoming projects on my website and blog: http://www.miraleeferrell.com/ and http://www.miraleesdesk.blogspot.com/
Thank you SO much for inviting me to speak to your readers. Also, if anyone has a book club they belong to who chooses one of my books, I’m available for phone chats or in person (if it’s not too far away).
THANKS SO MUCH, Miralee! THIS HAS BEEN A REWARDING MEETING.
READERS! Don't forget to write in and I hope you win one of Miralee's books!
We have a winner! Congratulations to Nannette Conway of Pinson, ALABAMA.
Be watching in the days ahead for your book, Nannette.