Monday, August 23, 2010
Everyone Gets Excited When the UPS Guy or Gal Comes to the Door!
PZ Hello, Shirley. I love A Pen for Your Thoughts and am honored to be here! I am the wife of one, the mother of two, and the author of four books. I’ve also written numerous articles for national and regional magazines on the subjects of health, fitness, inspirational, and children and family articles. My number one ministry is my children and raising them for the Lord. I have wanted to be a writer since I was in second grade, and I have a passion for bringing real-to-life characters to life in my books.
SKC Now, let’s hear about that new book of yours, McKenzie. You must be so excited.
PZ. I am so excited about McKenzie! There’s just something so thrilling about holding the finalized product in your hands, and, of course, exercising self-control when the UPS guy comes to deliver your books!
The book opens with McKenzie Worthington desperate to rescue her younger sister from an abusive husband. She runs away from her stately Boston home as a mail-order bride for a rancher in the rugged Montana Territory. Desperation also prompted Zach Sawyer to post the ad for a bride, and he eagerly awaits woman God has chosen as his wife. When they meet, McKenzie tries to keep her distance, but she can’t help feeling attracted to Zach and his selfless ways. The question of the day is…what will become of McKenzie’s plan to annul the marriage when she finds her sister?
You know, Shirley, one of the things I love most about McKenzie is the humor aspect. I love to infuse humor into my fiction and place delightfully silly characters within the pages amongst the more serious characters. Readers will discover one of those characters in Lucille Granger, the mercantile owner. After McKenzie and Zach, I’ve been told by some readers that Lucille is their favorite character.
SKC. I'm sure it sounds good to a lot of people reading this now. Great premise.
Almost everyone has had some sort of inspiration to draw them to writing a particular story. What was your inspiration for this book?
PZ I love historical Christian fiction and especially the 1800s era. My first love is fiction (although I do enjoy writing nonfiction as well). When the Lord gave me the idea for McKenzie, it actually surrounded interesting circumstances. My family and I were in a car accident a couple years ago where I suffered neck and leg injuries. During that time period of seven months, I was also hit with back-to-back bacterial infections. Because of the injuries and illness, I was pretty much homebound and my active athletic lifestyle suddenly became limited. I look back now and praise God that He gave me McKenzie, as well as two other manuscripts (another historical and a contemporary) I wrote in that seven month period of pain and illness. God took what was a difficult time for me and turned it around to something positive that can be used for His Kingdom – taking the time to write the books that I had always wanted to write. He has since healed me and I pray daily that the path I have chosen in life will glorify Him. I think that’s why Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “’For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” is so close to my heart.
SKC. Jeremiah is so full of wonderful nuggets, isn't it! Do you have other works contracted with any particular publisher, and if so, are you free to tell us about them? And tell us also how long it take you (on average) to write a book, from first word to putting it either in the publisher’s slush pile or hopefully into their hands?
PZ McKenzie is the first book in the Montana Skies series contracted with Whitaker House. The second book is set for release in 2011 and is titled Kaydie. I’m excited also for Kaydie’s release as it is such a touching book of trust and God’s provision. There is also a third book in the series, which is currently under development. I recently started a second Christian fiction series (not yet contracted) with characters during the Civil War era.
The time it takes me to write a book varies greatly. I have written a first-draft manuscript in as little as two months. To the other extreme, there’s a contemporary manuscript I’m working on that I’ve been working on for the past three years since it’s so involved and touches on so many aspects of life. For the two nonfiction books I’ve written, it took me nine months for each of those. I give each book to the Lord and ask that He would have me complete it in His time.
Once the manuscript is accepted, so many exciting things begin to fall into place over the next approximately a year period (although some publishing timetables are closer to two years). You’ll be asked to do some revising and the publisher will work on editing and refining your manuscript. The cover is designed (one of the most thrilling parts of the process!) and you are asked for bio and dedication information. You’ll work closely with your assigned editor, the author liaison, and the publicist to present the best possible book. Your mind will be filled with ideas for marketing, book signings, and who you can ask for an endorsement. There’s never a dull moment in the publication of a book. An important thing to remember: the process doesn’t end when the manuscript is completed – it begins!
SKC What do you enjoy least about writing, Penny? And most?
PZ There’s nothing I don’t like about writing, as I love it all – it’s my passion. However, I would have to say my least favorite thing is revising. The thing I enjoy most about writing is building the characters and their personalities so they will come alive in the reader’s mind. For example, I love writing dialogue and thinking about how each character would react in each scenario. The creation of the characters is so exciting because I love the newness and freshness of the ideas God gives to me.
SKC I think I already know the answer to this, but I'll ask it anyway. Do you ever get any ideas from the scriptures? If so, tell us about some that have jumped out at you. And if not the scriptures where are other places you might look for ideas?
PZ I do get ideas from the scriptures often and I build my book around certain Biblical themes, such as, forgiveness, redemption, etc. My Christian characters pray and seek God for direction. Speaking of seeking direction…I am in constant prayer for wisdom, guidance, and that my books would be life-changing – that they would bring others to the Lord or closer to the Lord. Writing is a ministry, and I have chosen Psalm 19:14 as my life verse: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
SKC: We all need those life verses, don't we. Here at A Pen for Your Thoughts, we look forward to the opportunity afforded us to possibly win a copy of authors' new books. Thank you for offering yours too, Penny. If you were to meet a reader or fan face to face, what might you ask her or him?
PZ When I meet a reader or fan face to face, I love to chat with her about what she envisions herself doing for God’s Kingdom and how can I pray and encourage her in that pursuit. If she is pursuing her dream as a writer, I tell her that one of the most important things to remember in being a writer is that if God has called her to do it, He will guide her through it. In November of 2000, I gave my writing to the Lord. I quit my fulltime job with a social services governmental agency so I could stay home with my infant daughter. That was the start of my career, beginning with the magazine articles. I would advise her to give her writing to the Lord and to not give up! I speak from experience when I say that when He closes one door, He opens another (much better) one.
SKC Thank you and thank you for being here with us for the next few days. Tell us where we can find your books and you on the web.
PZ McKenzie can be purchased anywhere books are sold, including Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/McKenzie-Montana-Skies-Penny-Zeller/dp/1603742166 and Christian Book Distributors at http://www.christianbook.com/1-mckenzie-penny-zeller/9781603742160/pd/742160
Congratulations to Nancy Farrier of Apple Valley, California. The book is soon on its way to you! And thank you so much for your participation in A Pen for Your Thoughts.