Thursday, February 3, 2011

Her Life Story is One of Those You Could Almost Write Your Own Story About!

Miralee Ferrell grew up in small town America, married her high school sweetheart, and has been married for 37 years. They raised two beautiful children and worked together on a variety of businesses over the years. They live on 11 acres in the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge in southern Washington State, where they love to garden, play with their dogs, take walks, and go sailing. Miralee also rides her horse on the wooded trails near their home with her grown daughter who lives nearby.

Her third historical romance with Summerside Press in their Love Finds You series released Feb 1, 2011. All the Love Finds You novels stand alone, and take place in a real town in America. Miralee’s first two are set in 1877, Love Finds You in Last Chance, CA, and 1902, Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon. Her newest, Love Finds You in Tombstone, AZ, is a spin off from a secondary character that readers met in Last Chance, a woman by the name of Christy Grey.

Miralee serves as president of the Portland, Oregon, chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers and belongs to a number of writer’s groups. She also speaks at women’s groups, libraries, and churches about her writing journey.

You can learn more about Miralee as well as see pictures from the real places she writes about by visiting her web site at

Shirley Kiger Connolly: Thank you so much for being detailed about your life, Miralee. It helps us all get to know you better. After you tell us a little about your book, tell us what gave you the urge to write in the first place.

Miralee Ferrell: Love Finds You in Tombstone, AZ, was a joy to write. The spiritual thread is a strong one, although never intrusive into the story line or ‘preachy’, but rather depicts God’s redeeming love for his fallen children.

Miralee Ferrell:  After my kids graduated and started lives of their own, I began praying about filling the time I’d once poured into my busy family. In 2005 the Lord gave me an answer. While at an evening church service the special speaker prayed with me, and stated that he believed God was calling me to write. Not only write, but that my work should be published. Two years later my debut novel, The Other Daughter released and since then four books more have followed.

Shirley Kiger Connolly: How wonderful! It's like a story in itself, Miralee. Growing up, who would you say had been the biggest influence in your life with your writing today?

Miralee Ferrell: I think for my more recent novels I’d have to say Zane Grey. I read every one of his westerns during my teen years and loved them. He had an amazing ability to transport the reader into the setting he’d chosen, as well as the old west era. He combined setting with action, strong heroes and heroines, and almost always a romance. I have a strong love for anything western, and he heightened it to a greater degree. When I started writing a few years ago I didn’t dream I’d ever venture into romantic westerns, but believe I’ve truly found my niche.

Shirley Kiger Connolly: That's great. Do you ever place your settings from an area that you've been or from the area in which you live now? Or do you venture out to other areas? How do you do research on different areas for setting purposes?

Miralee Ferrell: My two contemporary books, The Other Daughter and Finding Jeena, are both set here in the Columbia River Gorge where I live. The first was set on the WA side of the river, the second on the Oregon side, but since I grew up here it was easy to portray those settings. It was a bit more of a challenge with two of my Love Finds You novels. The easiest was set in Bridal Veil, OR, only about 40 minutes up the Gorge from my home. I spent several hours with a local historian who shared intimate details of the (now) ghost town and its inhabitants, as well as showing me the accurate locations of all the town buildings, and giving me books with records and photos of the town during 1902.

For the books set in Last Chance, CA and Tombstone, AZ, my husband and I flew into nearby cities and drove to the towns. Last Chance has long been a demolished ghost town, with very little but the cemetery, a few fence posts, basement excavations and one old shack remaining. A Forest Service archaeologist offered to drive with us the 2 hrs up into the Sierra Nevada mountains to help us locate the site and gave me wonderful historical data about the area and town.

Tombstone was much easier, as there are tons of books, photos and historical data about the town and characters that inhabited it during my time period (1880’s). But I did travel there so I could experience it for myself, and I share many details of the town, my research and who’s really ‘real’ among my characters, at the end of the book in the author notes. Warning…there are spoilers in my notes, so don’t read them until you finish the book!

Shirley Kiger Connolly: I have a large Victorian style ladies bath that inspires me when I go in and stand at my antique brass sink. In that room, I sometimes light a candle while I put on my makeup and gaze romantically at my period-style wallpaper and claw foot tub. It makes it more fun to put on that makeup and fix my hair, but I think that and my few minutes of talking to the Lord also gets my creative juices flowing for some of my writing. Now, where do you get inspired and why?

Miralee Ferrell: I’d have to say most of my inspiration comes two places—in bed when I’m almost asleep, and I’m forced to get out of bed to write an entire scene, or at least jot down notes about something a character is shouting at me not to forget. Or, if I’ve hit a roadblock in my story and don’t know where to go, I can typically take a long walk through our wooded area on a logging road, and ideas will once again start to flow.

Shirley Kiger Connolly: What was the last book you read and what did you learn from reading it?

Miralee Ferrell: I’m currently reading one for endorsement for Linda Windsor and it’s truly amazing. It’s the second in a trilogy set in the days of King Arthur. Her use of language, setting, and character development have me enthralled. I haven’t read her first one, but can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Shirley Kiger Connolly: We learn a lot from reading the books of others, don't we. Where do you go from here, Miralee and where can our readers find you and your books?

Miralee Ferrell: I’m waiting for a contract to come in the mail right now for another LFY novel. I can’t disclose when it will release yet, but it from all appearances it will be later this year. And I can tell you it will be another old west romance, with plenty of action and adventure. You can find out more about me and my books on my web site, including photos I’ve taken on location at the towns I’ve written about. Go to:  

Shirley Kiger Connolly: I know there are a lot of readers who love what you write, myself included. Since you've generously offered to share your newest book with us this week, how would you like for our viewers to ask YOU, the writer a reflective question? Most of the time I have the authors I interview think of a question for our viewers. I thought I'd take a different route with you, Miralee. 

Miralee Ferrell:  I’d love to have them ask me anything they’d like to know, especially if there is anything I’ve shared here that has sparked a thought or question.

Shirley Kiger Connolly: That sounds good. So, this time, we will ASK YOU something. In the meantime, thank you so much for joining us at A Pen for Your Thoughts.

Okay. Now we turn to you readers, and writers, and passersby. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ASK AUTHOR MIRALEE FERRELL THIS WEEK? REMEMBER, YOU CAN ASK HER ANYTHING! I WILL USE YOUR CREATIVE QUESTION TO HELP ME DRAW A NAME IN A FEW DAYS. You never know. I just might draw YOUR name. Be sure to leave us your email address.

Congratulations to Sandra Elzie of McDonough, GA. Woo Hoo! You just won Miralee's book. Be watching for it in the mail. Be sure to let us know what thought once you read it. She'll appreciate that. And THANK YOU for following A Pen for Your Thoughts. It's a joy having you drop by. God Bless


  1. Miralee, I just read your three published articles on your website. Did your Cougar Story happen where you live now on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge?
    The CR Gorge has always been a favorite place for me. In fact, for the last three years I have worked in the little town of Corbett, which is on the way to Multnomah Falls. There is never a dull moment there.
    I love your books. I have read both LFY in Last Chance, CA and LFY in Bridal Veil, OR.

  2. When you were young, did you have the desire to write? Or did the desire not come until your children were grown? Will you write only about the old West or move to the South East, maybe Georgia. I love the Love Finds You books and look forward to reading your books. Thanks for sharing with us.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  3. How did you discover Zane Grey? My mother had a small collection that I inherited because no sibling wanted it. Than for several years I carried a list so I wouldn't duplicate a title, and added books as I visited antique stores.
    The first time my hubby and I flew into Portland, we celebrated our anniversary at a restaurant overlooking the Columbia. It is wildly beautiful--we drove the Gorge on a later trip.
    Cover art adds to a title, yours is beautiful.

  4. Well, I have a question for you too, Miralee. I've been starting this particular story over and over again (the first three chapters) because I keep changing my mind as to which little town I want it to be in. It takes place in the 1880s, and I don't want to clog the market with yet another town that's already been written in as the setting. I've prayed, and it's still not clear. What do you do when you are stumped? Because the setting DOES make a difference in the story completely. And I MUST get moving here. Okay, there you are. Got an answer for me? Thanks

  5. What great questions, and I'm so tickled that several of you are familiar with the area where I live.

    Debbie, thank you for taking the time to visit my web site and read the articles, that blesses me! Yes, the cougar story took place in Snowden, a small community (not a town, just homes out in the country) outside of White Salmon, WA, about 9 miles out of town. My debut novel, The Other Daughter, also takes place there. I'm tickled you've read and enjoyed my first LFY books. My newest one set in Tombstone, is a spin off of Last Chance, so you should enjoy it as well. Blessings!!

    Misskallie---I didn't have a desire to write while my children were at home, and in fact, didn't have a desire to write even when I started. Had God not called me to write via the pastor who prayed for me, I don't know that I'd ever have started. Now, I'm SO thankful He did, as I love it a lot and can't imagine NOT writing. As to writing in other areas than the old west, I'm not sure...maybe someday. I didn't think I'd branch out of the NW when I started writing, and have ended up in CA and now Arizona...and I'm working on one set in Wyoming now. I'm more comfortable with those areas because I know them better, having only visited GA and FL once in my life, and never having been on the eastern seaboard. It would take a lot of research and spending some time there to make it feel authentic.

    LoRee. Great question that I can't answer, LOL! I honestly don't remember how I got my hands on my first Zane Grey book, but I know that once I did, I wanted all of them. I also collect them, and for years carried a list. Then I discovered Ebay and started buying there. I have all the books written for boys, as well, and many of my ZG books (about 1/3 I think) I have in either first edition or with dust jackets. And many I've read 2-3 times.

    I guess I've never worried too much about what town it's set in. I don't actually think that it matters that much even if it's been written about a number of times. The setting IS important to the individual story, but only in that it helps to bring the story alive, just as the characters do. There's truly no story/plot that hasn't been used hundreds of times in some form or other, but it's the slightly different twist, the different characters, the different play on words, that makes it unique and enjoyable to the reader. I don't think they care so much where it's set, as that it's believable and that they can envision it while they read it. Just use a town (or area--you can make up a town and put it in a known area if you want to) that you're familiar enough with to bring to life, and go for it!!

  6. Have you written any books set in locations you did not visit?


  7. Before that church service where that speaker told you that he felt G-d was calling you to write, did you have a desire to write?

    I am reading "Finding Jenna" now and not wanting to put the book down.


  8. Hi Ann,
    Thanks for your question! The book that I'm working on now is set in Sundance, WY, and due to a pressing deadline I didn't have the opportunity to visit the area. I'm using books, the internet, and the help of a local historian there to gather the information I need for the setting.

    Hi Jo,
    Thank you for your sweet comment about my Finding Jeena book, I'm so glad you're enjoying her story!
    Honestly, I never felt called to write prior to the pastor praying and speaking to me. I dabbled at journaling and writing memories, but more like diary entries. I never gave any real thought to writing stories or being published. I'm so thankful the Lord had other plans!


  9. Hi,
    Great interview and your books sound wonderful. I'm originally from Tillamook, OR (now in Georgia) but you're blessed to live in a beautiful area.

    Sandy Elzie

  10. You are the first writer I have found that didn't start off that way. That is very interesting. Thanks for a great interview. I love to read about these things.
    Betty F.
    Windsor, CA

  11. Hi Sandy,
    We're actually at the Oregon coast tonight, staying in Newport, and at Lincoln City tomorrow night, so not terribly far from Tillamook. We love coming down here to the coast to get away. Thank you for dropping in and leaving a comment!

    Hi Betty,

    You're right...most authors I know have always wanted to write, and I've also met very few that started out when they'd never considered writing, LOL! But God is in charge and He knew what I was supposed to be doing...and I'm SO glad!


  12. Miralee, I've enjoyed your first two LFY books and look forward to the next two.

    How long does it take you to research, plot, and write one of your LFY books?

  13. Do you like some of your books better than others? I've visited Tombstone and would love to read a book set there. Scribbler

  14. Hi Keli, great to see you here! I'd say that the average time for writing a LFY including the research has been between 4 & 5 months. This newest set in Tombstone was 4 months, because I was under a tighter deadline, but it worked out fine. I'd prefer 6, but I tend to work against the deadline, and seem to make it regardless, LOL!

    Hi Scribbler,
    Great question and one I've actually asked myself. Each book I end up feeling that the newest one is the best one. Part of it is the excitement of a new book, part is because I truly believe my writing gets stronger as I go. I know I've grown in the craft since starting, and I've also changed the direction/genre that I'm writing in since starting, so it's very hard for me to compare.