Sunday, June 16, 2013

No Filet Mignon for Me this Fathers' Day

To all of the fathers of the world: Happy Fathers' Day!

And to Joe Scraper Sr. of Baldwin City KS, I hope you're having an extra-special one! (Joe is Wifey's 82-year old dad who also happens to be the only man I can now logically refer to as "Dad" since both my birth-father Harry McLaren and adopted-father Dean King have taken leave of the planet.)

So what in the world am I doing slapping together a blogpost on Fathers' Day? Shouldn't I instead be feasting upon a 2" filet mingon, grilled to medium-rare perfection, of course, while watching Tiger Woods struggle his way back from a 10-shot deficit to win this year's US Open?

Or at least enjoying the quiet afternoon to work on the next iteration from The Land of Betrovia?

And then there's this interview with Christian romantic fiction writer and overall inspirational Laura "SuperMom" Marshall I had hoped to have uploaded a few days ago ...

Bah! It's Fathers' Day! I'm a dad of nearly 25 years! (Got that right! Ethan is almost that old!) I can do whatever I want (even though my Fathers' Day lunch centered around a lukewarm Sonic cheeseburger and a little iced Folgers Colombian).

Now who is this Laura Marshall person? Even though one of her younger fans called her "Lois Lane" not too long ago, she may prefer to be referred to as "Wonder Woman."

According to her author website, one thing Laura has aspired to do since she was quite young is write: "Since I was a child, I have loved to write and dream up my own stories. Several years ago, I decided to explore, study, and learn the craft of writing, my passion, hoping to transport the reader to another place and time; to help readers experience life outside of their own four walls."

On another somewhat-related note, Laura, via her blog, recently posted a curious allusion to door-to-door salesmen: "When faced with someone who walks up to me and asks about my book or inquires after it online, I can have confidence that I am helping that person. I can have assurance that I'm not selling snake oil or sugar pills."

What?!? Tiger's not going to storm back to win this thing? Bad day for Tiger!

Anyway, before I get completely sidetracked, here's the actual interview ...

Complete this sentence: "Self-publishing compared to working along side traditional publishers is like ... "

Since I have not worked with a traditional publisher other than some great feedback from a reputable publisher and an agent, I’m not quite sure. However, I know self-publishing to be a lot of hard work and a lot of being your own cheerleader. I trust God has put this love of writing in me for a reason though, so who am I to squander it?

How did you come to the realization that you wanted to write Christian fiction? Or be a professional writer of anything?

I started writing children’s stories and it grew from there. I realized when I couldn’t find a particular type of book on the bookstore shelf, that the story was in my head and if I ever wanted to read it, I best get about writing it. That story was Christian Fiction and what became Persistent Love.

Along the same lines of the previous question: with the literary landscape cluttered with a glut (nearly 6000 listed on Amazon alone!) of Christian romances, what is your goals for hoping to make your books something that will stand out in the crowd?

Wow, is it “cluttered with a glut of Christian romances?” I had no idea. I write the stories that are in my heart. I’m writing a Christmas story, a devotional, a contemporary summer romance, and a historical romance. I also have written the beginning of a historical fiction story about a woman in Stalin-era Russia at the time of the Gulag. I’d love for them to sell and touch hearts and lives, but that’s all in God’s hands. I’m just being obedient to the calling I believe that God has placed on my life ... to write.

Persistent Love, your first venture into the Christian suspense/romance genre, is not quite long enough to be considered a novel. What were your original plans for PL as you started writing it?

My plans were to write the story as I saw it in my mind’s eye; other than that, maybe to see if I could indeed write it. I originally wrote Persistent Love with a different ending, yet it didn’t quite fit where Tara was by mid-story so I revised it.

For those wanting to read more about Laura's literary journey into the past, the novella's Goodread page is a "good" place to start: Persistent Love.

"Christian writers should only focus their craft on bringing the lost to Christ, not so much entertaining/enlightening those who are already following the Lord."  Agree or disagree? Why?

Disagree. We are to build each other up as well as reach the lost for Christ. I’ve been encouraged in my faith through stories, fiction and nonfiction. You never know where God is going to use your words to minister to another, either of the faith or someone who has yet to accept Jesus as their Savior.

You've decided that the setting for A Heart's Home is 18th Century India. Why India? And why that particular time period?

I have a fascination with other parts of the world. I love to read about the heat, the food, the beautiful people of India: the cadence to their speech, the love they have for their country. It’s a way I have of visiting the country without really going there. For some reason, I’ve always been drawn to the days of castles, gowns as day-wear, and Lords and Ladies, so that is inevitably where I began in writing.

Do any of the Kenward sisters, Tara, Rachel and Kate, the sisters from Persistent Love, make an appearance in A Heart's Home? Tara wanting to take off for India in search of their mother's killer makes me wonder if she just might be the protagonist of this new book.

They do not make an appearance. A Heart’s Home is a stand-alone book. I toyed with the idea of a trilogy, but I had some second thoughts on that as they are novella length. Kate from Persistent Love will have her own tale, however, called Reckless Kate which I have started writing. There is a sneak peek of Reckless Kate at the end of A Heart’s Home.

Ravens, those wonderful flying creatures made famous by that quirky poem, were a major symbol in Persistent Love. Give us a preview of an important symbol we can expect from A Heart's Home.

A white stone is an important symbol in A Heart’s Home. It appears in the beginning and is representative of certain things in the story. It is also found in scripture in Revelation 2. (What an interesting coincidence! Pastor Lowell via his sermon this morning talked about that very thing!)

One of Persistent Love's reviewers commented that there were some historical errors/miscalculations in the novella. What research have you done to help keep readers like that reviewer on track with the conflicts and characters of A Heart's Home and not be distracted by any factual missteps?

I did read that review; it mentioned a piano not being available at that time. It pained me to read that, as I did do extensive research to be as accurate as possible. I considered revising the manuscript, but at this point am happy with the story as it stands. I do not believe it takes away from the experience of the time period. I do the best I can with my research.

A Heart's Home is now available via Amazon! Woot!

Now for some FUN with a few totally-unrelated questions!

What's the most-irritating thing that the people in your family too often do that distracts you from your writing?

Breathing, moving, crunching, fighting, watching TV, being awake, laughing, gulping. I don’t generally write when my children are awake. I have five sons, with four still home and three quite close in age and in the tumble and wrestle stages.

Tell us about your favorite "creative foods/drinks," the goodies that best "fire you up" for a productive writing session.

Hmmm, chocolate is good and Jelly Belly Jellybeans. However, as I try to stay on a low-carb diet, a nice iced coffee can usually do the trick.

Complete this sentence: "Writing is like ... while editing and revising is like ... "

Writing is like that long-awaited slow dance with your first crush while editing and revising are like having your older sister hold you down and pluck out each individual hair out of your eyebrow. No, but seriously. I actually love the editing stage ... adding layers of the scene or making sentence more compact and effective.

What famous author (or infamous, if you so choose) who is no longer around would you love to "resurrect" to recruit to be a beta reader for your novels? Explain.

Barbara Cartland. I found her books after I started writing and I believe I’ve read about 50 of them, all in the name of learning. I love her covers and the way she draws you into the story. She is my secret romance writer crush.

What book from the last few years would you love to jump into and become a part of? Explain.

I’m a tough cookie when it comes to finishing a book. If I don’t love it, I don’t continue reading after the first 10-15 pages. I’d say the best book I read last year was Where Treasure Hides by Johnnie Alexander Donley. I don’t know that I’d want to jump into it though. I’d love to jump into my own stories, but that’s why I write what I write.

To conclude, here's a peak at yet-another kind of fiction Laura seems to be working on: Faith, Love and Fried Chicken.

So much for sticking to Victorian-type Christian Romance, eh, Laura? :)


  1. My favorite part of the interview: ". . . editing and revising are like having your older sister hold you down and pluck out each individual hair out of your eyebrow." So true! And yet I love that part of the process, too. Great interview!

  2. Hey there Johnnie!

    Even though I like to write, over the years I have learned to like the editing/revising process even more. I guess this is due to chopping away on my HS students' essays and research papers.

    Thanks for reading and commenting on my blogpost!