Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I am so happy to have author Rachel Good. I found myself thoroughly enjoying this interview — especially the part about her trip to China. Rachel is also giving away a copy of her latest release, Buried Secrets. Read on to see how you can enter to win!
Tell us a little bit about yourself: After spending several years in Africa, where my father helped start the first Christian radio station, I lived in New York, New Jersey, and then Pennsylvania. Our home in PA was close to Lancaster County, the setting for my Amish novels. Later in life, my husband and I moved to North Carolina.
I had several jobs before I became an author: teacher, mother, cake decorator, and librarian. I’m now a full-time author, editor, and illustrator. I have 36 books in print or forthcoming under several pen names. As Rachel J. Good, I write Amish series for different publishers – Sisters & Friends, Hearts of Amish Country, and Love & Promises – as well as some Amish anthologies, and the Amish Quilts Coloring Books. Angels Unaware, the first book in my contemporary inspirational series, Hope Chapel, came out recently.
Tell us about your current release: Buried Secrets is Book 2 in the Sisters & Friends Amish series. In Book 1, Change of Heart, Lydia tries to keep her younger sister Emma from getting into trouble during Rumpschpringa, the Amish running-around time. She’s not as successful as she hopes, and Emma’s rebellious ways cause her family terrible heartache.
Book 2 is Emma’s story. Following an accident, Emma has no memory of her wild teen years. After she recovers physically, she moves to another town to stay with her sister Lydia, who’s expecting twins. Emma falls for their handsome next-door neighbor Sam, but then her memory slowly returns. Faced with some devastating secrets from her past, Emma becomes convinced she’s not only unworthy of Sam’s love, she’s also unworthy of God’s love and forgiveness.
Buried Secrets is a story of forgiveness and God’s unfailing love.
Here are two quotes from readers about Buried Secrets:
“I found myself reading this book as quickly as I could so I could solve the mystery of Emma’s past. The author was fantastic at grabbing your attention….There was also a twist near the end that really tugged at my heart.”
“If you like Amish stories…this one will surprise you with all the twists and turns….I really liked this story of secrets, family, faith, and recovery.”
If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Yes, definitely. I would consider it a blessing and a privilege to touch even one person.
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? I usually begin with the plot fairly well laid out and a good idea of the characters and their motivations, goals, and personalities. I also like to know the ending of the story before I start writing. But along the way, my characters often surprise me by taking the story in unexpected directions. Usually they deepen the storyline and make me rethink my plans. Somehow all those detours come together to create a better story than the one I’d originally envisioned. But those inspired parts never feel like they came from me, but from a source outside myself, so I thank God for that inspiration. The odd thing is that, even with all the changes, the story often ends up in the place I imagined.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Write the story that’s on your heart. God has placed it there for a reason. It may be to help others, or perhaps it’s to bring healing or comfort to your own life. Write to discover what you need to know, to heal old wounds, to understand and forgive those who have hurt you, to wrestle with doubts and fears, to find your way to a deeper faith. That way, even if you never get published, your writing will be beneficial and therapeutic. I’ve often found when I’m writing, I don’t realize how much of me I’m pouring onto the page. But after I go back and reread it later, I see the connections. And I see that I’ve worked my way through a challenge in my own life, and I needed the answers my protagonists discovered.
Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever had a great writing idea? I don’t know if this was the strangest place, but it was the most unusual experience I’ve ever had. I was standing in the gardens of the Forbidden Palace in China and heard someone say, “You have to write my story.” I whirled around, but I was completely alone. I stood there asking questions and getting answers from the girl who would later star in the book I’d write. I’m sure other tourists wandering the palace grounds wondered at this strange lady standing under a tree mumbling to herself.
I’d gone to China with friends who were adopting a baby and as soon as I got home, I started writing the story. It’s taken me many years to write, but Dragons Unleashed is now out on submission.
I’m always intrigued by how writers get started…did you always have these books inside you and knew that you wanted to write them or did the idea just pop into your head one day and you decided to put pen to paper? After having five children in seven years, I turned to writing to keep my sanity. I began by writing magazine articles for children and stories for Sunday School papers. I progressed to writing for educational publishing houses – first articles and then books. I loved researching and writing nonfiction, but in my heart, I really wanted to write fiction.
I prayed about it and spent time learning the craft, but God led me in a different direction. I became an editor and later a publisher. That was a wonderful learning experience and helped me hone my writing and plotting knowledge as well as my editing skills. Looking back, I can see God’s hand in the process. He knew I needed time to grow as a writer before I was ready to have my novels published. Meeting my agent, Mary Sue Seymour, at a writing conference set me on that journey. She was actually the one who encouraged me and suggested I write Amish novels.
What do you do when you hit a roadblock and have NO idea what to write? When authors have writer’s block, I think it’s because of fear. Subconsciously they know they’re going to need to become vulnerable and transparent; they need to write something they fear facing, something they aren’t ready to reveal, something that exposes a dark or hurtful place or experience, something that petrifies them.
When I come to those places I have a three-step process:
1) I know God has brought me to this place to help me confront a dark place in me that needs to be brought to the light, so I pray for courage.
2) I do visual journaling. I have a 9×12 sketchbook I use, but even blank pieces of paper will work. I close my eyes, ask which part of me is preventing me from writing, and then I try to visualize those parts. When I open my eyes, I choose whatever colors feel right, and sketch or scribble in the sketchbook. Scribbles are actually the most helpful.
3) When I feel like I’ve scribbled enough, I take a blank piece of paper and freewrite about the scribble. It’s amazing what comes up when I do that. Then on another blank paper, I free-write about the scene that was blocked, and the words flow. Once I’m moving ahead on the chapter, I return to the computer.
Thanks so much for having me, Hallee!!
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