Wednesday, April 04, 2012
I'm Excited to Have Amy Deardon . . .
Readers, she's giving away a book of your choice: either "A Lever Long Enough" or "The Story Template." At the bottom of this interview are the rules for entering this contest. PLUS she has a free offer to everyone. Check it out to see how you can receive it.
Now on to the interview:
How long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear “call?” Or have you just loved writing all your life?
Hi Carole. Thanks for letting me visit!
Well, I’ve loved READING my whole life. I remember during the summer vacation before ninth grade, we had to list and summarize all the books we read. My teacher was incredulous on the first day of school when I handed in a list of about 75, and quizzed me to make sure I’d really done the work.
I wrote a column for my college newspaper (circ. 25,000), and scientific articles (under a different name) because this was part of my job as a student and then scientist. Once I quit work to stay home with little children, I decided to write a novel. Fiction was different and more challenging than nonfiction, but I kept practicing and eventually became (I hope) reasonably skilled.
What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?
My novel, A Lever Long Enough, would be categorized as speculative fiction. Spec fiction describes either alternative world-type stories like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings or Rowling’s Harry Potter series, or else a normal world with one element skewed like Dekker’s Blink or Dickinson’s A Shortcut in Time (a quiet but excellent novel). However, I really like to think of Lever as an adventure story with a time machine thrown in.
How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?
I’m lucky enough to be a SAHM (stay at home mom), so have reasonable control over my day schedule. Writing a big project like a book is difficult to hook into, but once started becomes obsessive. I absolutely must keep a daily log of words written to stay on track. I have a daily quota that adds to 5000 to 7000 words per week – I’ve found if I go higher I usually end up writing garbage, although when I’m in the groove it can work. Sometimes I go lower, especially if I’ve just started a project, but don’t do less than about 2000 words per week (even if it’s just blog posts and correspondence).
Fiction is definitely tougher to write than nonfiction, and my first novel took several years on and off. Much of this time I spent practicing new techniques for writing fiction. I also ended up throwing out the equivalent of four full drafts, even though these sections were reasonably written, because the story wasn’t working. (This is why I took a detour after Lever to understand story structure as I write about in Template). After my first draft I had to learn to edit, and cut my story to its current slim length of about 90,000 words.
My current novel is going much faster; I’m clipping along and hope to finish by the end of the year. I started this about January. The research, though, is daunting.
You recently had a book published. Would you take this time to describe it to us? How and where can readers buy your books?
I have published two books so far, and plan to publish another one as an e-book in a few weeks.
A Lever Long Enough is about a small military team that travels back in time to film the theft of Jesus’ body from the tomb. Through secret fusion experiments begun twenty-five years ago in the first decade of the 21st century, the Israeli military has developed a prototypic time machine. When believers in Yeshua (Jesus) create a politically explosive situation, the Israelis must send a team of four elite soldiers back to film the theft of Jesus’ body from the tomb and thus disprove Christianity. The team, consisting of a special forces soldier as leader, an engineering specialist who is an ex-American astronaut, an archaeologist, and a linguist, must establish the precise historical conditions surrounding the death of Jesus using sophisticated technology without being observed or changing the past. There is also a hidden traitor in the military complex who is determined to sabotage the mission and seize control of the complex. Only the special forces leader operating in the past can reveal him, but he is trapped two thousand years away.
The book examines the historical, as opposed to religious, aspects of Jesus’ death and the growth of Christianity, and reaches some surprising conclusions.
The Story Template: Conquer Writer’s Block Using the Universal Structure of Story is a programmed learner that allows the writer to develop her story from chaos. The book uses a series of exercises for the writer to construct her story's four foundational pillars, learn how to use the "secret weapon" of story structure: the story template, build character depth with believable change, and construct subplots. Template then reviews writing techniques, and finishes with discussions of editing, writing the synopsis and query letter, submitting one's work to agents, and types of publishing that the writer may wish to pursue.
These books can be purchased on Amazon and B&N in print, Kindle, and Nook (or other e-book reader) formats.
What is the spiritual message in your book? What can readers expect to get from reading it?
The theme of A Lever Long Enough is TRUTH. Even though I (sadly) don’t have access to a time machine, in a strange way this book describes my own faith journey. As a scientist and skeptic, I focused on the resurrection since I knew Christianity rose or fell on this point (1 Cor. 15: 14-19). I wanted to disprove it to my satisfaction, since I knew from my upbringing that if I was wrong, and God DID exist, I was in trouble.
I took about a year investigating the historical circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus, without assuming either that God existed or that He didn’t. This was a wrenching journey for me, and I was angry for a few weeks after I admitted Jesus had indeed risen and became a Christian, but ultimately I settled down. I’ve written up some of my thoughts during this time at www.aleverlongenough.com/apologetics.php.
In reading Lever, the reader may find his faith challenged whether or not he believes in the resurrection. I wrote this book primarily as a tool for believers to give to their skeptical friends to open discussion of Jesus. It isn’t primarily a religious text though: I like to think of it as an exciting adventure story: The Case for Christ meets The DaVinci Code.
Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don’t understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you’ve gone through?
Writing is a lonely occupation. I sit for hours most days staring at the computer screen, and, if I’m lucky, write some good stuff. Sometimes what I write is terrible, and I KNOW it’s terrible, even as I forge ahead. I get up every hour or so to walk around and sigh. No one is here with me – I do my talking on the keyboard, and imagine a reader in the future understanding what I’m saying.
No, I don’t feel like giving up, per se. But it’s so easy to find other, WORTHY things to do – clean the house, meet a friend for coffee, go to Bible Study. I have to pray, then make myself sit down and write even if other things seem more attractive.
Who’s inspired you the most?
The tortoise in “The Tortoise and the Hare.”
Would you explain how you “chose” (or were chosen by) a publisher? Do you just go “inny, minny, miny, moe?” Now, that you’re published, can you sit back and relax from the success you’ve experienced?
J This is a long story involving an agent who left me in the lurch. After some deliberation, I decided to form my own publishing company and self-publish.
I’ve learned that getting a good-looking book isn’t difficult – the hard part is marketing. I think anyone who wants to take this self-pubbing route is better off publishing the book himself rather than paying a company to produce the book for him. I could write a book about why subsidy companies are a problem, but not here – if anyone has any questions, you can shoot me an email for a nickel’s worth of free advice.
I’m currently writing the prequel to Lever (about Sara’s space station disaster) and then plan to find a literary agent and traditionally publish. Although Lever has done very well, including endorsements by novelists Randy Ingermanson and Wayne Batson, two independent awards, and many good reviews on amazon, I’ve found it difficult to break many barriers for making my book available.
Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel if you could?
I'm married with two children, and spend much time taking care of our family. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research. I am a Christian who came to faith under protest through studying the historic circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus.
After my family, writing is my main focus now, and I always am grabbing a few minutes to put down some words. I also do all sorts of handcrafts: knitting, crocheting, and sewing. My family has forbidden me from mentioning the word “Kindle” to them because I love this machine so much – I’ve never been tempted by clothes, or jewelry, or redoing the house, but such easy access to a comprehensive bookstore 24-7 – yes, this is dangerous. In my "spare" time I coach fiction writing: it’s so fun guiding students to shape their unique ideas from chaos.
Where would I travel? Hmm... Really, I’d love to visit the space station!
Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you’d like to share? Promotional information?
Thanks for asking J
My website: www.amydeardon.com
My two blogs:www.amydeardon1.blogspot.com
My website has a contact form if you’d like to email me.
I have links to my blogs on my website, and post twice a week on each. The general one I write about serious or funny topics as they catch my fancy, and the other I write about publishing, story planning, and writing techniques.
My books (A Lever Long Enough, The Story Template) are available on Amazon and B&N in print format and for Kindle and Nook (or other) e-readers.
Carole will be holding a drawing for one of my books. If you win, you may choose either Lever or Template, in your choice of print or e-book formats. Readers outside the US are certainly welcome to participate!
Furthermore, since you have so graciously stuck with Carole and me to the end of this interview I’d love to give you a free copy of my soon-to-be-released e-book (for Kindle or Nook) when it’s available this summer: Eating Low Carb for Fast Weight Loss: Easy Tips for Sticking to a Strategy that will Have You Quickly Dropping Pounds While Eating Healthy. This offer is good for anyone who writes to me, and will remain active until the book is published. I wrote this book for fun after trying low carb and being amazed at how easily the weight came off without questionable health consequences. (Remember, I’m a scientist and refuse to do anything unsafe). This book gives some background for why low carb works, strategies to stick with it for the long haul (not a diet but a lifestyle change), and two weeks’ worth of recipes for you and your non-low-carb family that will work for you and not impose limitations on them.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE THIS BOOK when it is released, just go to my website and use the “Contact” form to shoot me an email.
Carole, thank you SO MUCH for inviting me to visit! This has been so much fun, and good luck with your own writing. Soli Deo Gloria.
And thank you for being here this week, Amy.
Folks check out her sites and books. Leave an email address with your comment for a chance to win one or the other of her books.