Today, Love Lines welcomes my friend and author, Norma Gail.
Welcome, Norma. Tell us, when did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?
I remember wanting to write as soon as I could read. Even as a child, I made up stories. I have notebooks full of stories written in junior high and high school. One of my great aunts was a wonderful storyteller. I sat at her knee, listening, and wanted to write down the stories she told. I longed to see my name on the cover of a book.
In 2006 or 2007, when a story about a couple in Scotland kept growing instead of going away, I began to write it down—from the seat of the pants with no planning or plotting. It was too long and not very good. I began attending writer’s conferences and working to improve my book. After my second writer’s conference, I received a contract for Land of My Dreams from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. My dream came true.
Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from?
My ideas come from a lot of places: other books, stories I’ve heard, abandoned houses along the highway, an interesting person in the grocery store. Land of My Dreams actually came from a recurring dream around the time we visited Scotland. I love family history and have found some great stories I would love to turn into historical fiction.
Why do you write what you do?
I enjoy working to create characters and circumstances readers relate to until they can’t stop turning pages. I long to challenge people to examine their hearts, and grow as the character grows. From my heart and soul, I write what I love to read—the emotions we all experience and struggle with.
What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing?
The most difficult thing about creating a story is to bare your soul and to put your heart and emotions into words others will read. And sometimes, life intervenes in the process, as it did between my first and second books. Within Golden Bands is due to release spring 2020. It was hard to follow up the lives of characters I created many years before. One quarter of my reviews requested a second book, but I wanted it to be better, to dig deeper, and to arouse intense questions in the hearts of my readers. I wanted them to feel the agony of an infertile woman who longs to give her husband the family he was denied by the death of his first wife and child.
If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future?
The Christian market is a difficult sell for books. Publishers want cross-over books, acceptable to both the secular and Christian markets. It is possible to write good, clean fiction most readers will enjoy. However, to remain true to my heart and my calling as a Christian writer, my characters must grow in their walk with the Lord through my book, as my growth led to the story.
As Christian authors, we’re writing in a time when Amazon is not overly friendly to books categorized as Christian. Facebook and other social media censor many Christian posts. The world tells us we must not offend, yet Christ very often offends.
Life is difficult, and people need to see characters who triumph over their circumstances through Jesus Christ. As writers, our stories must be biblically sound. That doesn’t mean to quote scripture at every turn, but we do need to point to God’s Word as the source of our character’s victory. We must write from a place of pain and longing to resonate with our readers.
If you would, please tell us what was the hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your books?
The hardest thing about writing Within Golden Bands was first to find the struggle the characters from Land of My Dreams would face in a new marriage. For an American college professor to give up everything she’s ever known to marry a Scottish sheep farmer and pastor in a foreign land doesn’t go quite far enough. I wrote about three stories before I knew Bonny and Kieran’s struggle was infertility and adoption. It’s a painful battle I know well, as the mother of two adopted children. However, because my children are now adults, it required me to dredge up the emotions experienced over thirty-five years ago, and those of other couples we knew.
Land of My Dreams was published in 2014, so the span between my first two books is six years. I’m that slow of a writer, but there’s a degree of insecurity about being up to the task. It’s a challenge to fit marketing and writing into daily life without it taking over. Also, there is the need to carve out time to write when life, health, and aging family members intervene.
Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.
Only three? First, I find it very intimidating to pitch a book to a publisher. It’s like sending your child into the cold, cruel world to be bullied and rejected. Second, the time required for social media and marketing cuts into writing time. Third, it’s a challenge to reach new readers for a book that’s been out there for a few years.
On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?
I’ve been living with the same set of characters for a number of years. Their story is told, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. I have a novella almost ready for an editor, so I’m anxious to see how my new characters and their story are received. I have ideas for a historical series based on old family stories that are begging to be written. I’m excited to sit down at the computer, write from the seat of my pants again, and see where research and my imagination take me. It’s fun and exciting to live in a world of your own creation with characters who constantly surprise you by doing things you didn’t plan and aren’t certain how to fix. It’s an exercise in allowing God to lead me to the story he wants me to tell.
What are you reading now, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?
Because I’m heading toward historical fiction where my heart has longed to go for a while, my new current favorite author is Lori Benton. I love the way she uses words and weaves storylines together. Davalynn Spencer also uses verbs in a wonderful way, paints characters I relate to, and writes about Colorado, which is one of my favorite places to visit. I enjoy Liz Curtis Higgs for the time period and Scottish setting. My all-time favorite is Michael Phillips for the spiritual depth of his books. He even endorsed Land of My Dreams.
Could you give the readers your buy links?
Within Golden Bands is not yet listed on Amazon.
Land of My Dreams:
And what are your social media links?
Thank you so much, Norma, for spending a few minutes with us today. We wish you the best with your new book.
Norma Gail is the author of two contemporary Christian novels set in Scotland. Her heart’s in the highlands, and there’s no place she’d rather be than the mountains. She led women’s Bible studies, both in Bible Study Fellowship and her local church, for over twenty-one years. Her main focus now is caring for a ninety-two-year-old uncle and writing. Her devotionals, which have been published at ChristianDevotions.us and in The Secret Place, come from the heart of her relationship with Christ.
Norma lives in the mountains of central New Mexico with her husband of forty-three years. They have two adult children. She and her husband enjoy traveling the country in their RV, where she always manages to fit in some family history research or visit sites that feed her love of history.