It's a great pleasure to introduce you to one of the sweetest gals I've ever met, author Deborah Raney!
A: I’ve always written. Even before I could actually read or form letters, I drew pictures that told stories. But the summer I read all of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books was the first time I realized that being an author was a career one could aspire to. I was only 11 or 12, but I knew from that day on that someday I wanted to try my hand at writing a novel. It wasn’t until I was 38 years old that I actually sat down to write seriously.
Q: How does your faith impact your writing?
A: I actually wrote two versions of my first novel––one Christian and one secular. That experience told me that I simply could not write honestly or deeply unless I was allowed to explore the faith––or lack of faith––of my characters. I know it’s important not to “preach”, but from that day forward, I’ve always included a faith thread in my novels. Sometimes it’s very subtle, or present only as allegory, but it’s always there.
Q: How long does it take you to complete a novel? How many drafts do you go through?
A: It takes me anywhere from 6-12 months to finish a novel. The actual writing may only be 3-5 months, but when you add in research, and four different edits, including a rewrite, it’s rare that I can finish a book in less than 9 months. I always say that what my editor sees as a "first draft" is actually more like a 10th or 12th draft. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I go over everything at least 5 or 6 times, especially the first half of the book, which gets read more times than the second, since––as a seat-of-the-pants plotter––I'm still getting to know my characters and figuring out my plot early on.
Q: Do you treat yourself to something special when a project is completed?
A: We almost always go out to eat or go to a movie, or something special to celebrate me writing “the end.” But the biggest treat for me is being able to clean off my desk, and then take a week or two or three off to just read for fun, and catch up on email.
Q: What do you think about writing contests? Have you participated in any? What’s the benefit to an unpublished writer?
A: I wish I could say that awards mean nothing to me, but that wouldn’t be true at all. I think writers are generally very unsure about our writing until we begin to hear positive feedback from readers and professionals. (That’s why a negative review stings so much!) The awards I’ve won have reassured me that even if my books aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, several significant someones have declared my work worthy. That means the world to me.
I think I’m a little odd in one sense, concerning awards. I can’t even analyze why, but I’ve always been thrilled to the gills about finaling in a contest, but winning simply isn’t that important to me. Sure, it’s nice to win an award, but I’m every bit as pleased about my Christy finalist medallions as I am about any first place trophies and pins I’ve won.
Q: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
A: I’ve always been very interested in psychology, especially as it relates to family relationships. I get to “practice” that a little as a writer, but I could see myself as a counselor. I also love decorating and design, and think it would be fun to give decorating advice or stage homes for Realtors, etc.
Q: What does your family think about your crazy career?
A: My wonderful husband has read everything I’ve ever written. Ken has always been my biggest supporter and cheerleader. Because I began writing when our kids were 17, 13, 11 and 3, they very much took what I did for granted. Our oldest daughter served as a talented proofreader for me, but after she went out-of-state to college, she called me one day having seen my books in a Missouri library. Apparently the librarian had been impressed to learn I was her mom. Tobi called with awe in her voice. “Mom, you’re kind of famous!” Tobi is an elementary teacher now and a wonderful writer herself. She and I wrote a Marriage Perspectives column together for several years.
Our oldest son read my books in college while donating plasma twice a week (because the blood center didn’t allow donors to play video games.) And our youngest son only read one of my books because his sweet fiancée––now his wife––guilted him into it. But he, too, called to tell me how much he enjoyed the book––and how much of our family he saw in my stories. Our youngest daughter had no choice. I read one of my books aloud to her when she was ten or eleven. I feel incredibly blessed to be surrounded by supportive family, parents, in-laws, and friends, but for the most part, to them I’m “just Deb.”
Thanks, Deb. It's always a pleasure when you come to visit!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Deborah Raney's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched her writing career after 20 happy years as a stay-at-home mom. Deb's 20th novel releases June 14 from Howard. She and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy the wildflowers and native grasses growing in the Kansas prairie garden in their large back yard. They also love traveling together to teach at conferences, and to visit four children and three little grandsons who all live much too far away.
ABOUT THE BOOK - Forever After
Lucas was a proud firefighter like his father. Now, not only has he lost his father and his best friend, Zach, in the fire at the Grove Street Homeless Shelter, but the devoted rookie can no longer do the work he loves after being crippled in the tragic event. When friendship with his buddy's beautiful widow turns into more, he wonders what he could possibly offer Jenna. Jenna is trying to grieve her husband's death like a proper widow, but the truth is, she never really loved Zach. His death feels more like a relief to her. But that relief is short-lived when she loses her home and the financial support of her in-laws. Now the secrets of her past threaten to destroy her future.
WIN THE BOOK
If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Forever After, just leave a comment on this blog. (PLEASE NOTE: Continental US only on this one, folks.) I’ll pick a winner at random on Friday, June 13th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!