My sincerest apologies to you, Niki. The interview and giveaway was supposed to be posted on Monday. Also, I apologize to you all for the formatting weirdness going on here, but I am having some serious issues since being forced to switch to IE for my browser. I have no idea how to fix them.
I’m an only child. My mother taught me to read before kindergarten, and books became some of my best friends. All through high school I planned on becoming a writer. And then I married my high school sweetheart and had four babies in seven years. I took a LONG time off from writing to raise and homeschool my children, and help my husband plant a church. I only started writing again in 2007 or 2008 as a way to reduce stress. Entering writing contests and finding other writers to interact with was so much easier than it was back in the ‘80s! I entered RWA’s Faith, Hope & Love contest in 2009 with my first completed manuscript and won second place. Participation in ACFW has led to my taking on the role of Colorado Area Coordinator this year. I also started working a full-time job from home this fall (the job, the area coordinator position, and the release of Sadie’s gift all took place in the same week!). I’m still trying to figure out how to fit my writing life into my new schedule.
Wow! You are super busy. What do you think makes a good story?
Oh, I struggle with this. Is it the characters? Is it the plot? Setting? Excellent writing? I’m a dreadful literary critic. I know I love a book when that book sucks me in and keeps me there, and when it stays with me after I’ve closed the cover, but I have a hard time identifying WHY the story was good. To a degree, I think it depends on the genre. In romance especially, it’s important to like and identify with the characters. In suspense, the plot has to keep surprising you. My ultimate writing goal (and favorite genre to read) is romantic suspense. Figuring out how to blend likeable characters with a well-paced and intriguing plot (and don’t forget the spiritual journey) is quite a challenge!
I love a good suspense! It absolutely MUST draw me in and keep me on the edge of my seat. Where is your favorite place to write?
When I started writing as a teenager, I used an antique manual typewriter that originally belonged to a well-known Denver Post sportswriter. Because I’m an as-I-go self-editor, writing on the computer is SO much better than correction tape and carbon paper! Does anyone else remember correction tape and carbon paper? These days I write on my laptop, either at my desk or in my pink (yes, pink) recliner. I recently had to switch from OpenOffice to Word2013 and it has been a struggle! I’ve recently discovered that for plotting and planning I need a notebook and a pencil and background noise.
Yes! I do remember correction tape and carbon paper, and the keys would get stuck together at times, too. Tell us a little bit about your novella and why you wrote it?
Sadie’s Gift was totally a “God thing.” I signed my first traditional publishing this spring. I was waiting for edits when my Inkwell Inspirations sister and mentor Gina Welborn asked me if I would be interested in the Christmas Traditions collection. When I saw the list of ladies who had signed on I was floored—of course I wanted to participate!
As a child I read “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry and the story stuck with me. When you are willing to sacrifice what’s most valuable to you for the sake of another, that IS the spirit of Christmas, and a Christmas tradition that should be perpetuated in every generation! I wanted to share that same kind of message in my story.
My original idea was for a contemporary highlighting The Giving Tree program. But when everyone agreed to go with historicals, I had to scramble. The Giving Tree wasn’t instituted until much later in the 1900s, but I figured Sadie could have tried something similar in 1921 Colorado Springs. I spent a weekend doing research about Colorado Springs (my great-grandfather was the county clerk pre-1910, and I was born there much, much later) and learned that the tuberculosis epidemic and subsequent establishment of sanatoriums to treat the sick was a huge economic boon to Colorado Springs. That led me to preventoriums, where children who had been exposed to the disease lived in a kind of foster care system. Voila! Children plus Christmas equals Christmas story! The story came together in less than a month, and Sadie and Nathan have become two of my favorite characters.
The Lord is good like that to His children! Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and just have to get up and write down a thought? If so, do you keep a tablet on your bedside table or go to the computer?
Nope. I wish I did. I often dream entire novels and screenplays in Technicolor, but as soon as my eyes open, it’s gone. These days (hello post-hysterectomy 40s) I just want to sleep all night without having to get up to get a drink, let the dog out, or use the potty.
Oh yes, trying to remember something in the morning is a nightmare ;) Do you talk to your characters? Keep story boards? Pictures?
I’m an SOTP (Seat Of The Pants) writer. As I told my husband the last time I tried NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month), I find out what’s in my story and who my characters are as the words fall onto the page. It’s messy. I’m gradually learning tricks to make it less messy, but it’s a process! I frequently forget my character’s last names, eye color, etc., and have to go back and search it out. Using spreadsheets, or a notebook, or something, would help me with that, but I haven’t gotten there yet!
One thing I have come to LOVE, especially for historicals, is Pinterest. It’s so easy to create a Pinterest board devoted to a particular story, and use it for ideas of what your characters look like, or your setting. For Sadie’s Gift, my Pinterest board was invaluable for picturing Colorado Springs in 1921. It is astonishing how much information is available to us at the click of a mouse.
Pinterest is amazing! I already hopped over there and started following your boards :) Can you give us a glimpse into your next book or story idea?
My official “next book” will be published by Pelican Book Group as part of their Passport to Romance collection. It’s titled “Santiago Sol.” Edits are finished, and I’m just waiting for a release date.
As far as what I’m working on? I’ve got a contemporary romantic suspense under way, the beginnings of a dystopian YA, and plans for three historical romantic novellas. Ack! Sometimes picking which one to work on is like playing Whack-A-Mole at the carnival!
Sounds like you have your hands full. Have you traveled to locations that your books are set in? Where is the one place you would love to set a book but know you can’t possibly go there? Would you write it anyway?
Santiago Sol is set in Chile, where I visited three times to teach in a ministry training school. It’s the only place besides Mexico I’ve been outside the U.S. I set most of my books in Colorado because that’s where I’ve lived all my life and I’m kind of stuck to that “write what you know” rule.
To me, writing historicals (or dystopian YA, which is future), requires writing about somewhere we can’t possibly go. It’s challenging, but fun!
I always enjoy reading stories set in exotic places. In your spare time, do you have any hobbies you enjoy?
I have a Pinterest board titled “Projects I CouldBe Doing.” There are so many hobbies I would love to spend time pursuing, but even when I have spare time, I never get around to them. If I defined my REAL hobbies by what I actually do with my spare time I’d have to list reading, shopping in thrift/consignment stores, and gardening.
I do believe we have something in common. I enjoy Pinterest, thrifting, and reading, too. Do you have a favorite book? What about it makes it stand out from others?
I feel guilty for saying this… I don’t have a favorite book. I have a few authors I particularly enjoy, and some I don’t, but I really don’t have one particular favorite.
You're right. There are so many good books out there. Why pick just one? :) What’s the one food item you can’t live without?
Authentic Italian food. Note: I’m not even a tiny bit Italian, but I LOVE Italian food. In a pinch, pizza will suffice, but if you really want to win me over, take me out for an authentic Italian meal. YUM!
The aroma of Italian food is amazing! What is your favorite Christmas tradition? Why?
We try new things every year. One of my favorites was the year we decided all our gifts would be thrifted or homemade. It took so much stress out of the season, for me, anyway. Now that I have grandchildren I bow to the Christmas whims of their parents, as I believe grandparents should!
We did that one year when the children were young. They enjoyed 'sneaking' around and making surprises for others. Where can you be found on the internet?
Facebook is my social go-to. Twitter confuses me. I blog once a month at Inkwell Inspirations, and whenever I can at In Truer Ink. And Pinterest!!! You can check out my Sadie’s Gift board and my Santiago Sol board!
Is there a question you would like my readers to answer in order to be entered to win an e- copy of your novella?
Can’t think of anything! Just commenting is worth an entry to me, but if you have some other idea, go for it!
Doesn't Niki sound like a great person to get to know? I can sense she is fun and enthusiastic about life just by her answers.
In order to be entered in the drawing please leave a comment encouraging Niki in her new job because we ALL need encouragement! Leave an email address so you can be contacted, too.
Drawing ends Nov 19th and I will announce a winner on Nov 20th. I am assuming since it is an e-book it is open internationally. I'll make sure and put an update at the top of the post, if not.