Welcome, Miralee! Congratulations on the release of your debut novel, The Other Daughter! I know you're excited, and we're all excited for you.
As a reader, I'm fascinated by the primary topic in your book - that of an unknown daughter showing up on the doorstep, and the unavoidable upheaval in the lives of those people her appearance impacts. What prompted you to write about this type of circumstance?
Thanks and yes, I'm very excited that it released recently. A friend suggested that my first book be based on something from my life, as I'd have an easier time fleshing it out. I began to brainstorm a few 'what ifs' from our marriage. What if the 18 yr. old girl who'd written my husband a letter claiming to be his daughter, had been a young teen without a mother, and we had to raise her? What if her conception had happened while he and I were dating, rather than prior to our meeting, as was the case? What if I were NOT a Christian and he was, and I struggled with Christianity? Hmmm....well, that's exactly what it took to ignite the story within and it grew from there and became, The Other Daughter. And to answer anyone panting to know, LOL---yes...the 18 yr old girl WAS his daughter from his 'Before Christ' days and yes, we keep in touch and have a solid relationship with her and her family.
Interesting! Now ... as a writer, I'm interested in your character development. How did you go about choosing the various personalities, quirks and habits of your characters? Are they based on actual people you know?
Excellent question and one I'll enjoy answering. In this book, the two main characters both have some aspects of my husband's and my personality or outlook on life. Susanne is much more of my hubby Allen, than me. He struggled with Christianity for years, even though he got saved prior to our engagement. His main issue was the need to be in control of his life and not bow to an outside authority, even God. He also dealt with some drinking issues, as did Susanne, and some of her arguments at one time or the other, came from his lips.
Josh and Megan, the two children of David and Susanne are very similar in personality and interests as our son Steven and daughter Marnee. Steven loved to dismantle things as a child and Marnee was horse crazy (still is as an adult).
I'm in there somewhere....probably more in the frustration David felt in dealing with Susanne's attitudes toward his faith and drinking.
How long did it take you to write the book, from the first spark of an idea to delivering the manuscript to a publisher?
The rough draft flew out of my head and onto my computer....5 weeks from the first word to the last, of an almost 100,000 word document. It was one year later that I submitted to several houses for consideration, and part of that time was spent hunting an agent and sending it out to a couple of houses on my own, prior to signing with Hartline Agency.
That said, 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 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.
Miralee's website: http://www.miraleeferrell.com/
She's an amazing lady, and her book promises to be just as fantastic! If you want to follow her blog tour, the schedule through the end of this month is below. Links for the rest of her tour can be found on these blogs. Remember to comment here at The Melody Within and again at each stop you visit - you'll be entered into a drawing for a copy of her book every time you comment! The more entries, the better your chance of winning, right?
28th Jennie McGhan---Jen's Life Journey
29th Susan Lohrer -Inspirational Editor
30th Carla Stewart - Carla’s Writing Café
31st Christina Berry - Posting with Purpose