Friday, December 01, 2006

Sweet Home Alabama: A Heart to Heart Interview

Today is the official release of my latest book, Sweet Home Alabama! To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to chat with my co-authors who were a part of the novella collection with me. Here's my interview with Paige Winship Dooly. Tomorrow I'll announce the winners of my books and post my chat with Pamela Kaye!

Paige Winship Dooly

LISA: What was your initial reaction in finding out you sold your first book? How many books have you sold since then?

PAIGE: I’d had this niggling thought that day that I might hear something, but the mailbox only had junk mail and something that was supposed to go in someone else’s mailbox. I was on my way to visit a friend, so dropped off the mail that was at the wrong house as I went. On my way home, I thought that maybe if I had the wrong mail, someone else had some of our mail, too, and maybe I WOULD hear if I checked again. Not really expecting to have more mail in the box, I drove up, opened it, and there was a large yellow envelope. My heart jumped. It was from the publisher. I figured it was a rejection since it was large, but I opened it and they wanted to buy my book exactly as it was! I was SO excited. I drove up honking my horn and all the kids and my husband ran out. The funniest thing was, on my way up to tell them what I was so excited about, we found a turtle egg nest beside our steps and got side-tracked by the coolness of that. We almost forgot about my sale until someone asked what I’d had to tell them a bit later.

Since then, I’ve sold four novellas and another Heartsong Presents with a tentative release date of December 2007.

LISA: Tell us about your story in Sweet Home Alabama.

PAIGE: “Head over Heels” is the story of Nicole, a young widow, and her teenage daughter, Shannon, who come back to their family hometown where Nicole runs into her old flame, Jason. She’s impetuous and peppy, and had run off to chase her dreams, where he’s hardened and methodical, having stayed put to control his. She goes to work for him at his diner and Inn, and manages to keep his life in constant turmoil. Both have to learn to focus on God before expecting the pieces of their lives to fall into place. And through the journey, they find drawing closer to God draws them closer to each other and balances their differences in a wonderful way.

LISA: Can you give us an insight into writing a novella collection with three other authors?

PAIGE: It’s a great experience, yet very challenging. Sweet Home Alabama has an interwoven storyline with overlapping characters, so any change that one author would make, would affect the other author’s stories all down the line. We had to be sure each ripple was addressed so that things would flow smoothly in each following story. You have to be willing to tweak things continuously, which is harder than writing a freestanding story on your own where you only have your own thoughts to put into your work. Even the planning phase is very time consuming when you’re combining four authors’ creative suggestions and input. But it’s a growth experience and I’ve learned a lot by working this way with my various co-authors. I think the end product is well worth it!

LISA: So do I! I find in my own writing that I often grow alongside my characters, especially spiritually. Is there a character from your book who you relate to and who made an input on your life?

PAIGE: I definitely relate to all my characters, and find that as I analyze them to see how they’d react in a certain situation; I’m analyzing myself at the same time. Nicole has a habit of jumping first and thinking later, which I catch myself doing, too. I constantly have to remind myself to slow down and to seek God first when dealing with all parts of life. But I’m also like Jason, a planner who likes things to stay constant and without change. So I have to learn as he did to roll with the changes and savor them as blessings as they come along. Shannon, who at one point spouts her mother’s advice back at Nicole, reflects my children, who never seem to hear what I say when my wise words are relevant to them, but can sure quote things back on the flip side! And, of course, even my husband has to get in there and tell everyone that the romance scenes and Alpha heroes are purely modeled after him. So apparently my whole family feels they relate to the characters in some way.

LISA: What is the number one thing you’ve learned from your writing journey?

PAIGE: Patience! Or, then again, maybe I haven’t exactly mastered it and am still working on that virtue. The entire publishing process is so out of our control, which parallels the reality of life, right? We think we’re in control, but we aren’t. And I want to be in control and to know what’s going to happen when, but life and plans never happens the way I expect or want them to, which makes me more impatient. It’s nutty! All that said I know God is ultimately in control and I like it that way. But my human nature is to plan and control…Okay, so maybe I’ve learned through my writing journey that change is good. Whether the changes are edits, or a different publishing house than planned for a certain project, or whatever comes my way, I need to be open to change. God is in control, not me, and I need to sit back and enjoy the ride. The writing journey is an ongoing process. I can’t imagine ever reaching a final destination and knowing the journey is complete. There’s always more adventure, just around the next corner…if you just have enough patience to sit still and wait for it.

LISA: Any future plans for your writing you’d like to share? Any specific dreams
you’d like to accomplish in the area of writing?

PAIGE: I’m working on several projects right now, and trying to get a feel for which one is going to take my attention and run with it. Our life can get so crazy with six kids, home-schooling, and both of us working from home, that I like to write completes as much as possible before sending them out. As I mentioned above, my plans never go as expected, as I’m sure everyone can relate to. I had the summer slated to work on a mystery, but I sold the Heartsong Presents so wrote that story instead. Not a bad change at all, but I had to redirect my focus. I have several proposals out right now, and have decided to work on some completes while I wait.

As to writing dreams, I mostly want to make people smile, and to take them away into another world for a small part of their day. I don’t have any grand plans. If God wants to use me someday to write a great novel, that would be fantastic. But I’m happy to know I’ve made people think through the words of a story and that they might realize they can chase a dream and make it happen if they try. Or that times might be tough at a specific moment of a reader’s life, but better things are just around the corner.

LISA: Because I know where are many aspiring writers out there, can you share any tidbits of wisdom on getting published?

PAIGE: Put words down in print! You can study forever, but if you never get the story down, you’ll never be published. Continuously study the craft and never stop learning, but only take the parts relevant to you to heart. Don’t try to change your natural God-given style because someone tells you to do something that isn’t in your voice. In the same way, be open to critiques, and if several people are telling you the same things, give their comments some serious thought. When you get ready to send a proposal out, know the market and know which publisher will most likely appreciate your style. It’s a tough business, but well worth it when you get that hard copy book in hand!



1 comment:

  1. Hey, Lisa and Paige Dooly (without the e), Nice interview. I can hardly wait to get my hands on one of those books.