I'm over 50, married for 35 years this July, and have two grown children, Marnee and Steven. I'm active at our small church, serving on staff with my ministerial license and working with women in a counseling/ministering capacity. My husband and I are looking forward to full retirement soon and taking off for a few months at a time on our 51' sailboat, where my writing will take on an entirely new creativity. We have a horse, a dog and two cats that my daughter and her husband will care for while we're gone. Thankfully, they live on the adjoining property and are animals lovers.
Hey Miralee! It's great to have you with us. Tell me, how did you come up with this particular story? Was there a specific 'what if' moment?
An editor friend and I were brainstorming about what I could do for my first book, and she suggested using something I knew, possibly from my own life. That triggered the idea of using an episode from me and my hubby’s personal life—we received a letter from an 18 yr old girl a number of years ago, claiming to be my husband’s daughter. After investigating and meeting Trisha, we accepted her into our lives and hearts, and have continued a relationship with her.
Whoa, what a story! So what was your reaction to the news that your very first novel had been purchased?
Stunned and a bit worried at first. I know that sounds strange and I should’ve been bouncing around the house, but my first thought was, Oh no! They read the old version and I’ve made all these changes! What if they don’t like what I’ve done and want to keep the old one? I knew the new version was much stronger, as did the editor I’d been working with on the first 1/3 of the book, so I prayed and my agent asked Dennis, my soon to be publisher, if they’d take a look at the changes. They did, they liked what they saw, and the offer extended to the new book. THEN reality set in and the explosion of joy and incredulity hit me. It took several weeks before I really took in that it was sold.
Wow, that's fantastic! How exciting. Tell us about your agent.
Tamela Hancock-Murray from the Hartline Literary Agency. The Lord put us together and I feel tremendously blessed to have her for my agent. She’s been a joy to work with and goes the extra mile in working for me.
As a new client with Tamela myself, I wholeheartedly agree! =) Any advice for those still dreaming of that first sale?
I know what I wish I would’ve had, when I started out. Critique partners…they are invaluable. I didn’t belong to a group until well into the writing of the second book in my series. Through ACFW I was able to get connected and our small group of four is a perfect fit for each of us.
Don’t be too shy to ask for help and don’t be too proud to take constructive criticism of your work, when it’s offered. You don’t have to change everything that’s suggested, but if more than one person points out something wrong, take it seriously and be willing to learn. And most of all, don’t give up. If you believe that God has given you the gift or desire to write, then be obedient, even if it’s never published.
Any fun things happening right now, while your book is releasing?
Yes! I’m so excited! I received a Four Star review from Romantic Times Review Magazine. I assumed that Five Stars would be the top rating, but I was so blessed when I found out Four and a half was the best you could get, making Four Stars quite good indeed. I’ve also gotten some very good reviews, including a glowing one from Novel Journey, one of the top Christian review blogs. I also have a major motion picture company considering it as a potential family movie. It’s in a holding pattern with them right now, until the agent making the decision is freed from several large projects she’s working on.
What else are you working on? Inquiring minds want to know... =)
I’m working on Past Shadows, the sequel to The Other Daughter, and plan to turn in to my editor in mid November. I’ve also started something new for me, an 1880’s novel set in Washington state…I’m hesitating to say it’s a romance, but it looks like it might be heading that direction. I’m playing around with another idea for a stand-alone women’s contemporary with an unusual twist. I’m hoping to start it as soon as Past Shadows is finished. There could also be a #3 and 4 in this series, and if so, we’ll continue on with the characters we meet in #2, then return to Brianna, the 13 yr old girl who arrives at the Carson’s door…at the age of 23.
Sounds great! Wow. So, how much marketing do you do? What have you found really works for you?
I’m one of those rarities in the writing world who actually enjoys the marketing part of writing. A lot of authors I know prefer to hole up in their office and write and not mess with promotion and marketing…not me. I love it. In fact, I probably spend too much time on it, and not enough on writing. Currently, I have a blog, web site, ShoutLife profile and moderate a marriage group there, as my book deals with marriage issues, a My Space site, a 60 second book trailer on God Tube and My Tube, an email campaign, free book drawings, and try to stay active on a couple different writer’s groups. I also keep in touch with about 300 people who’ve signed my guest book on my web site, and offered to help with marketing. Those people have been amazing in passing along the word to their friends. I decided I didn’t want to put out the money to have someone else put a blog tour together, so jumped in and made that happen, too. I can tell you one thing, there’s not enough hours in a day for writing, marketing, husbands, houses, animals, friends, church and all the other things I’m supposed to be doing…but thankfully, I’ve not been kicked out of church, my family and husband haven’t disowned me, and my house isn’t falling down around my ears… yet, LOL!
Tell us how much time do you devote to writing on a daily basis?
I always cringe when someone asks this question!! I know writers are supposed to write EVERY DAY....but I just can't. My life is pretty crazy most of the time. We spent the last full year building a new home, with the final four months mostly on our shoulders, as we did almost all of the interior finish work and it's a custom home. Since we moved in, we've been trying to get a yard and flower beds in, get a son married off, attended ACFW conference....the list goes on. When I do write, I make it count. I normally write 1,500 to 3,000 words in a sitting, sometimes more. But much of my time is spent on other types of writing...the promotional part, which eats a lot of my time at the computer.
What have you learned throughout the process of writing, pitching - and now, promoting - a novel?
I didn't come down the usual path that many writer's come....I started writing Christian fiction just two years ago, when I started The Other Daughter, and didn't belong to any writer's groups, hadn't read a single writing book, didn't have a crit partner, and only had my sister and one other gal who's an editor of E-books, that helped keep me on the path. They both had experience in editing and pointed out many of the mistakes I made...common ones such as Point of View and telling the reader what was happening rather than showing.
Marketing on the other hand, is a joy and very easy for me, as I worked in sales much of my adult life before starting to write. I spend anywhere from 2-4 hrs per day on the computer with marketing...not every day or every month, but that's been the average per day since about two months ago when I began to push hard on marketing The Other Daughter.
What have I learned? That other Christian writer's are some of the most unselfish, caring, giving people on the face of the earth. Instead of competing and trying to cut one another off at the knees, they practically break their necks to help.
I've also learned that if you're not giving God the glory and asking Him to keep your priorities straight, writing will become an albatross around your neck instead of the joyful journey He means it to be. HE is the one who has brought me success in my book by acquiring an agent, then a contract, so quickly, I can claim no credit for that. I've written a summary of my entire journey from start to contract on my website....HE is an amazing God and I write for Him. If I wrote for myself or for the readers, I'd probably have given up by now.
That's very inspiring, Miralee. So, with The Other Daughter, what were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?
The most difficult parts were the revising. I didn't really experience any struggles in the initial writing...it flew from my fingers and mind onto the computer screen as fast as I was able to type. I did the initial rough draft in five weeks, but the revising and editing and additional scenes took several times that long, as I had so much to learn. I found it difficult to tone down a couple of people who needed to be rude and or snotty, but also had to do so in a believable way. My first attempt was very sad....they were straight out of a Grade B movie, LOL!
Okay, here's a biggie - how do rejections make you feel and what do you do to overcome the blows?
I was sooo new to this that I was honestly shocked it even made it to a publishers desk. I’d only been writing fiction for a year when I signed with my agent, and had started writing non-fiction just six months prior to that….so rejection didn’t hit me very hard. I think I was more surprised when the book was accepted, as I’d heard so many stories of excellent books that took years to find a publisher.
Thanks for visiting us today, Miralee! I pray your book finds much success!
Read the entire opening scene at Miralee's web site:http://www.miraleeferrell.com/
Don't forget to leave a comment to this blog and be entered in the drawing to win a free copy of "The Other Daughter"!
November Blog Tour!
1st Bonnie Leon---Bonnie's Blog http://www.bonnieleon.blogspot.com/
2nd Jan Parrish---Bold and Free http://www.caregiverscorner.blogspot.com/
3rd Tina Helmuth---The Ink's Not Dry http://tinahelmuth.blogspot.com/
5th Pam Meyers---A Writer’s Journey http://pammeyerswrites.blogspot.com/
6th Betsy St. Amant---Betsy Ann's Blog http://www.betsy-ann.blogspot.com/
7th Megan DiMaria---A Prisoner of Hope http://www.megandimaria.blogspot.com/
8th Christa Allan---CBAllan WordPress http://www.cballan.wordpress.com/
9th Susan Marlow---Suzy Scribbles---Homeschool Blogger http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/SuzyScribbles/
10th Jamie Driggers---Surviving the Chaos http://www.survivingthechaos.blogspot.com/
11th Cindy Bauer----Christian Fiction Author & Speaker http://www.cindybauer.blogspot.com/
12th Angie Breidenbach---God Uses Broken Vessels http://godusesbrokenvessels.blogspot.com/
13th Patricia Carroll---Patricia PacJac Carroll http://patriciapacjaccarroll.blogspot.com/
14th Toni V. Lee---Spreading Truth Through Fiction http://tonivlee.blogspot.com/
15th Camille Eide---Faith Inspiring Fiction http://camillecannon.blogspot.com/
16th Lisa Jordan---Musings http://lisadjordan.blogspot.com/