I’ve had many pen pals throughout my life, mostly from junior high through high school. Before my teen years, I wrote Jenny whose family served as missionaries in the Philippines. After my first time at a sleep away camp the summer between my seventh and eight grade years, I gained a few more pen pals. Doug and April wrote fairly often. Tara and I stayed connected a little longer.
But there was one person I became pen pals with that became one of the best friends I’ve ever had. I met Craig that same summer I started writing my other new friends. We continued writing regularly all the way through high school and into college. Even after we were both married, our families would send Christmas cards to each other.
How did the friendship last that long when all we shared were letters? There’s a lot you can say in a letter. We chatted about the unimportant stuff that made up the bulk of our days. But we also shared our dreams and struggles and faith with each other. We could be completely ourselves in the letters we wrote, and it created a friendship I’ll always be grateful for.
Old-fashioned, snail mail letters can connect people who never get together physically in deep ways. It’s not only the truth, this is also the premise of Writing Home by Amy R. Anguish.
Christiana longs for that deeper connection. Jordan’s cousin encourages him to write Christiana. It comes as a surprise to find they’re both struggling with making the place they live feel like home.
As they continue to write and encourage each other in various aspects of their lives, their relationship deepens as Christiana hoped it would. She can talk to Jordan about the mundane and the struggles, and he can do the same with her. They challenge each other’s perspectives and cheer each other on to growth. In doing so, Christiana and Jordan learn more about themselves and find their daily lives can have some of those things they’d been missing.
Friendship has been the goal from the start, but as they grow closer they wonder if friendship can turn to lasting love when they’ve never met. If so, where does that leave them? Miles separate the people that the letters have brought together.
Writing Home is a sweet romance that reminds each of us to seek deeper connection, learn about ourselves, and find home. For me, the story also brought up special memories I have of the friends I made through writing letters. I may never have fallen in love through writing, but I recall how it felt to be connected over the miles through the words on a page.
I’m essential. I’ve never seen that as a bad thing, but considering it in light of Corona virus, I’m beginning to wonder. Don’t get me wrong. I know how blessed I am. In a time when others are without their usual income, mine has stayed fairly steady. I’m beyond thankful for that.
But I’m an introverted author with another full-time job and a family. To me, staying home (which I do not get to do) sounds amazing. I have trouble understanding the issues for my more extroverted friends who take to Facebook to complain about their boredom. I’d love to be home working on my next book and keeping caught up on all the marketing and social networking aspects of writing without the countdown clock of the weekend ticking away in my ears.
Even without the added issues dealing with this virus brings to our lives, my week is busy. Because my hours are set at work, I feel like my writing life takes a back seat to my 8-5 work.
But we are dealing with the virus and social distancing and businesses being shut down and stores running out of essential items. Because of these things and the fear they often bring, my 8-5 job as a receptionist in a doctor’s office has become five days of hectic frustration a week. I’m sure it’s the same with any job dealing with people.
This makes my job as an author even more hectic and difficult. I have to take more downtime when I get home. I’ve had more migraines. I find myself trying to fit everything I have to do as an author into the two days I’m home for the weekend. Sometimes it feels like I’m an author who never gets to actually write!
But that’s okay for now. We’re all dealing with stuff. I’ve been blessed with the ability to work in a writing ministry that I love. I never want to forget that. Today, tomorrow, and maybe all of the month of April may be completely wonky. I may be able to write a little, or I may not be able to finish a paragraph on my next book. Whatever happens, it’s okay. I’m giving myself permission to take the time I need to keep myself strong physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I encourage you to do the same. If it’s crafting that sets you straight, then take that time. Dusting the mantle can wait. If you need to get out and take a walk, do it (maintaining social distancing as you do). The kitchen floor can be mopped tomorrow.
If you reset with a good book, I’ve got some help for you. From April 4-8, Faith’s Journey is available as an eBook on Amazon for free. In addition, I’ve got a thread started on my Facebook author page that includes ads for other free Christian fiction books you can get at this time. Fill up your eBook library, and enjoy your You Time. You can find me on Facebook by searching @AuthorHeatherGreer. The post you want to follow begins with this ad. Happy Reading!
Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Hope Toler Dougherty, author of Rescued Hearts, Irish Encounter, and Mars…with Venus Rising. Keep reading after the interview to find out a little more about Hope’s books and where you can connect with her on social media. Welcome, Hope.
What character from the books you’ve read has impacted you more than all the others?
Jane Eyre! Despite being an orphan with plain looks and nothing but her intellect and strong will to help her navigate the world, she remains true to her Christian character. Jane Eyre is a classic novel, not Christian fiction, but Charlotte Bronte wrote Christian lessons throughout the whole story.
What character you created was the easiest to write? The hardest?
I loved writing Agnes in Irish Encounter, Jancie and Winnie in Mars…With Venus Rising, and GiGi in Rescued Hearts. They’re senior saints who have a zest for life. They were so much fun to write! I hope to be like them many years from now!
I’m struggling with a character in my fifth manuscript. I know a few things about her, but she’s pretty quiet about her real main goal. She’s a tough nut to crack.
I have no doubt you’ll find out exactly who she is and be able to share her with the rest of us! Scripture is full of real people who had character to spare. Which one do you most relate to or enjoy reading about?
You know when Paul writes in Romans 7:15 about knowing what to do, wanting to do it, but then doing what he hates to do? Sometimes I feel like that, like the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
I wish I was bold like Moses’ sister, Miriam, when she appealed to Pharaoh’s daughter or Abigail when she appealed to David when her husband, Nabal, was being foolish or like all those new Christians in Acts who spread the Gospel amid so much persecution and fear. I love reading about average people acting courageously for God.
I don’t know about our readers today, but I can also relate to that verse and the reasons you chose those people. Do you plan your characters and their back stories before you begin writing or are you as surprised by them as your readers?
I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, but I try to get to know my main characters as much as I can before I begin. I have a character sketch activity with about 100 questions from a writing class I took at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writing Conference. I fill out as many of those questions as I can before I begin because it makes the writing easier for me.
I think Blue Ridge is where I first met you. It’s a great conference. If someone wrote a movie about you, who would you like to play your character? Why?
Maybe Sandra Bullock. She’s got a quirky vibe going even when she’s dressed up. Plus, we both studied at East Carolina University, but I never saw her there.
I love her, and I like that you have that connection to her, no matter how distant. I can’t think of anyone famous that I’m even distantly connected to. Just two more questions and a fun fact. What is the most encouraging thing you’ve heard or experienced as an author?
A couple of years ago, I was shocked to find myself sitting beside Steve Laube, a top literary agent and owner of his own agency, at a meal at ACFW. During dessert, he asked what I write. I answered, love stories. He asked, “Do you mean love stories between men and dogs or men and cats or…?” I said, “No, men and women.” He replied, “Ah, romance. Then you should say it. Own it. Romance is the biggest genre in the publishing world. It’s the biggest for a reason. People love it.”
I’ve always struggled a little with the idea of writing romance because I used to teach real literature. Now I’m trying to focus more on gratitude for the perfect path God’s created for me. I write romance!
What a great reminder for the tough days as an author. What is your biggest challenge as an author?
Marketing. I’m sure that’s true for a lot of introverted writers.
I hated selling Girl Scout cookies, and they should be the easiest thing in the world to sell. I don’t even like asking people for reviews. If they’ve shelled out money to buy the book, taken the time to read it, taken more time to tell me in person or my message or email that they like, I feel greedy asking for one more thing. And those reviews are so important!
And now I’ll share a fun-fact Hope included as the answer to an alternate question. Her favorite go-to snack whether writing or not? It’s Cheez-Its. I couldn’t pass up sharing that one since it’s also my youngest son’s go-to snack! And now a little about Hope’s books and where to find her.
Back cover copy for Rescued Hearts:Children’s clothing designer Mary Wade Kimball’s soft spot for animals leads to a hostage situation when she spots a briar-entangled kitten in front of an abandoned house. Beaten, bound, and gagged by the two thugs inside, Mary Wade loses hope for escape when a third villain returns with supplies. Discovering the kidnapped, innocent woman ratchets the complications for undercover agent Brett Davis. Weighing the difference of ruining his three months’ investigation against the woman’s safety, Brett forsakes his mission and helps her escape, the bent-on-revenge brutes following behind. When Mary Wade’s safety is threatened once more, Brett rescues her again. This time, her personal safety isn’t the only thing in jeopardy. Her heart is endangered as well.
Hope’s bio: Hope Toler Dougherty holds a Master’s degree in English and taught at East Carolina University as well as York Technical College. She’s a member of ACFW and RWA, and her novels are Irish Encounter, Mars…With Venus Rising, and Rescued Hearts. A native North Carolinian, she and her husband, Kevin, look forward to visits with their two daughters and twin sons.