Writing Wild: 7 Questions with Tina Welling

- by Dara Girard

WildWriting.inddIn Writing Wild you discuss how writing changed your life, even caused disruption, can you tell us about that?

WRITING WILD is about awareness, about waking up through our senses and discovering our interconnection to all things. This realization changes a person. In my case, it affected my relationship with myself and that created a domino series of changes in my marriage, in my mothering, in my position with my original family. In the book, I discuss how exhilarating this was for me and perplexing for the others.

Who is this book not for?

WRITING WILD, Forming a Creative Partnership with Nature is a book about becoming more awake to ourselves and the natural world. Who wouldn’t enjoy that? I have written the book in terms of creative writing and journal keeping, because that’s what I know. And it’s the path that has worked for me. Joseph Campbell said, “People say that what we’re seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive…” For anyone who wishes to enjoy a greater experience of being alive, creative energy and a relationship with the natural world are the paths outlined in WRITING WILD and they sure worked for me.

Most members of Novelists Inc are multi-published writers with plenty of ideas, what can they gain from nature?

Nature is the macrocosm; personal energy is the microcosm. What is true for the larger is true for the smaller. Nature provides patterns for us to use in managing our creative energy. For example, the natural world demonstrates that we cannot continuously produce creative material, nature has seasons and so must we as writers. We need to honor our winter time and attend to our inner lives, in other words, rest and grow our roots.

You talk about “lowering your standards” to open the flow of creative energy; how does that work?

When we hold high expectations of ourselves we put up an immediate obstacle to moving forward. We can so easily freeze up and do nothing. Lowering our standards is a phrase I borrowed from the poet William Stafford, who taught me that by lowering our expectations and the demands on ourselves we are free to move onward, to create wholly original work. We must drop our urge to compare our work to others or to our past work or to our expected work. We want to be surprised, so we need to be vulnerable and wide open to whatever occurs to us at each moment.

You say that nature triggers stories, does that really happen?
I have seen it happen over and over to students in my workshops and have experienced it myself. Although it feels mysterious with something of theTina Welling, author. CREDIT: David J Swift divine to it, science backs this process up. And it all begins with the senses. So simple. So enjoyable. I have found storylines for my novels and personal insights for my inner work. I lay it out in 3 easy steps in WRITING WILD.

Why is a book like this important now?

WRITING WILD offers reminders to go within and experience ourselves rather than react to the relentless distractions and demands of the outer world. And, of course, any way of being that points to the value of our earth may lead people to forego plastic bags, to turn off lights when leaving a room, bicycle or walk those couple miles to the store or work. The earth is required to feed and support an ever growing population without the population feeding and supporting it.

What do you mean by “there are no failures”?

Wonderful inventions have come to us through so-called mistakes – Velcro and chocolate chips cookies for example. Mistakes are openings that create a whole new set of choices for us. Failures – meaning a creative project that didn’t turn out the way we hoped – show us to let go of our expectations. They remind us that outcomes are none of our business.

Find out more  about WRITING WILD  and Tina’s other works at tinawelling.com

Covers, Covered

- by Charlotte Hubbard

an amish christmas quilt The cover of a book is supposed to lure potential readers to take your book from the store shelf—or click it, online—and read more about what’s inside. The typical path is: you like the cover, you read the back cover copy, you open the book to read inside a bit, and—hopefully—you proceed to the checkout. Cover art does these things mostly by revealing the genre of the story, telling the reader what awaits her inside, and conveying the setting and the general mood of the story.

For instance, you can see at a glance that this is an Amish story because the young woman on the front is wearing a kapp, and there’s a horse-drawn vehicle on it, and a picturesque snow-covered countryside sets the scene. Even if you didn’t see the title, AN AMISH CHRISTMAS QUILT, you’d know it was a Christmas book because of that red and green quilt on the young lady’s lap. Most of the readers and reviewers in the Amish-interest Facebook groups I belong to have raved about this cover and can’t wait to read this anthology, so this cover is doing its job. It helps that Christmas anthologies sell very well, and that Amish Christmas anthologies are a huge draw for readers who enjoy those simple, homespun, faith-based stories. In all humility, while I think my fans (not to mention fans of Kelly and Jennifer) will flock to this anthology, this book would sell pretty well no matter whose name was on the front.

Yet when I saw this cover the first time, I snorted iced tea through my nose! Why was that?

Well, think about it! Ask yourself why this attractive young woman is seated on an unhitched wagon in the middle of a snowy field—yet she’s smiling as though there’s nowhere on earth she’d rather be. Where’s the horse? Why’s she off the road?

I have no idea.

The scene has nothing to do with my story, “A Willow Ridge Christmas Pageant,” and reading the other two blurbs doesn’t suggest a connection, either. Had I gotten a preview peek at this cover—and usually I do—I would’ve pointed out the perceived discrepancies immediately.

Do I like this cover? You bet I do—the colors and the mood it conveys are perfect for this genre and holiday. I’m also pleased that in the inspirational market, we get to call it a Christmas anthology rather than a holiday book. And I will say that the cover art for my Seasons of the Heart series for Kensington have been awesome—and that the cover of my upcoming HARVEST OF BLESSINGS is the loveliest, most spot-on cover I’ve ever had on a book.

But sometimes you just have to say huh? and chuckle at New York’s renditions of country life. If the young lady on the cover is sitting in the snow, with no apparent place to go and no horse to take her there—and she’s smiling—then I will smile, too. Maybe she knows a lot more than I do!

Who Lives Here, Really?

- by Charlotte Hubbard

collageLast year I sold a new Amish series to Harlequin’s Love Inspired line. I quickly concocted a new setting, new characters, and the ideas for several potential stories, and then when the editor bought my series I wrote a complete first chapter of the first book. Because I’ve had two other Amish series in publication for a while, I then went back to those worlds to complete some books. Now I have this new collage hanging above my computer so I can write the rest of this Harlequin book, entitled DEBORAH’S CONFESSION.

 

But who are these people?? (You can probably name several of them, but because I haven’t watched TV for more than 20 years, only Johnny Depp and Sean Connery conjure up any meaning for me. The others are merely compelling, provocative faces rather than real people who’ve led various lives on the screen.)

 

When I concocted this collage to give me a visual reminder of traits and emotions I’ll be dealing with in this series, I knew I’d be coming back to this point of writing about them after living in those other two series worlds . . . and even though I’ve reread the first chapter I wrote, and have now written a couple more chapters, these folks still feel like relative strangers to me. It’s not a comfy, cozy feeling. It’s more like Who are you people? And why did I think you had stories to tell?

 

I know my heroine Deborah—middle row, far right—the best, and I know Noah, next to her, second-best. I totally understand why she’s hiding the ordeal she’s just endured at the hands of the bishop’s bully of a son, just as I understand why Noah hesitates to forgive Deborah for breaking their engagement a few months ago. And I know that all the other characters are siding with Deborah rather than Noah.

 

And I truly love the new setting—an abandoned church camp, which Noah’s mom and her two sisters have bought by selling their farms in Coldstream, Missouri so they could start a new Amish colony at Promise Lodge. Can you picture the timbered lodge building and the long wooden tables in the dining hall? Can you feel the breeze in the shade of tall old trees as you squint at the sun diamonds sparkling on Rainbow Lake? Can you smell the chicken Rosetta fried for dinner?

 

Me, too.

 

So how do I make these characters feel like longtime friends who find themselves conflicted about the hometown they’ve left? How will Deborah confess what she walked into, unawares? And what happens if she tells the truth and Noah won’t believe her?

 

Only one way to find out: stop writing this blog post (and turn off the email and Facebook) and start writing on this book again! It’s a discovery process that only happens when the author is fully engaged in coaxing her characters to reveal themselves and their deepest needs.

See you next month.

Welcome EMILY RODMELL, Harlequin’s Love Inspired Editor

- by Lina Gardiner

Emily, welcome to NINC BLOG.  It’s lovely to meet you.  Thank you for agreeing to chat with us.

 

First question and one you probably hear often.  J  Did you always want to be an editor?

I wanted to tell Margaret Mitchell to rewrite the ending to Gone with the Wind when I was in the 8th grade, so I guess I’ve wanted to be an editor at least since then. I actually got a journalism degree in college and started my work career as a newspaper editor before ending up in books a few years later.

 

What drew you to the Love Inspired line?

I actually read the Love Inspired line before I came to work for Harlequin. But when I interviewed for the job, there were several openings with no description of the editorial, so I had no idea what line I was interviewing for. So when the HR guy asked me what I liked to read, I told him that I enjoyed the LI line and I was thrilled that one of the openings was for it. I love that Harlequin has a little something for everyone whether you’re a woman of faith who wants a sweeter romance or someone who loves a good vampire story. I fall on the sweeter side of the spectrum, so I love working on this line.

 

What advice do you have for published authors deciding to write for the Christian market?

There are definitely opportunities there, but I think it’s important to feel passionate about the genre. If you don’t, you might feel boxed in by guidelines. Love Inspired doesn’t want books to be preachy, but we do want the true meaning of faith to shine through.

 

Are there any commonly submitted plot premises that don’t work for Harlequin Love Inspired?

Love Inspired books are romance books, so we need the characters to fall in love during the course of the book. We often get already married characters working on a relationship that’s already in progress, and that doesn’t work for us. We do accept reunion romances as long as the characters have been completely broken up for a long time before the book starts.

 

 Are there tried and true Love Inspired premises you’d still like to see:

Things like reunion romances and secret babies are always big draws for any line.  For LI and LIH, our readers love a good Western cowboy hero. And for LIS, a good law enforcement hero is a big draw.

 

What would be your ‘dream story’ that you’d love to see cross your desk?

My authors are so fabulous that every time I mention I have a dream story, they make sure it’s on my desk. I asked for pirates and managed to get a book for both the historical and suspense line. I’d love to see more spies (think Covert Affairs).

 

Who is your favorite actor/actress (Or Rhett and Scarlett in Gone With The Wind) J and what characteristics does he/she have that would work well in Love Inspired stories? 

 I do have great affection for Rhett and Scarlett, though they are missing one vital piece in their relationship that a Love Inspired book needs—a happy ending. I work on a lot of suspense books, so it should come as no surprise that I love procedural TV shows like Bones, Castle, The Closer, Major Crimes, White Collar, Covert Affairs etc. I think the sort of religious debate that Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz’s characters on Bones have is interesting and indicative of some of what we do in LIS, except both characters would need to be in the Christian faith by the end of the story. And I love interesting yet flawed characters such as Kyra Sedgwick’s Brenda Leigh Johnson and Matt Bomer’s Neal Caffrey.

 

What do you think of continuities?  Do they do well in the current marketplace?

 Our readers love continuity series. They often are top sellers in a line. We had great success in LIS with our Texas K-9 Unity series, so much so that we’re doing another K-9 Unit series in 2015. This one will be set in Washington, D.C. While challenging to pull off for authors, I think they’re also a lot of fun.

 

Have you ever personally ‘discovered’ an author in the slush pile who went on to great success?

I’ve acquired more than 30 authors for the three Love Inspired lines. The second author I ever bought back when I was an editorial assistant was Lynette Eason who’s gone on to have a very successful career in the CBA and still writes for Love Inspired Suspense as well.

 

Is there anything you’re over-inventoried in? And conversely, anything you’re desperate for more of?

With the expansion of LIS, we are eager to find new romantic suspense manuscripts and authors. That is where the best opportunity for publication lies. But we also acquire for the other two lines. For Love Inspired Historical, we’d love to see more Western settings and possibly some Amish.

Would you like to talk about the changes happening at Harlequin Love Inspired in May with regard to more books being published each month?

We are very excited that starting in May, the Love Inspired Suspense line expanded from 4 books a month to 6. This has given us the opening to bring 13 new authors to the line so far since the announcement. It’s always great to have fresh voices, and they’re writing new and exciting topic such as pirates, snipers, spies and more. It’s a great opportunity for writers looking for a publishing home. If you have something that fits our guidelines, feel free to send it my way.

 

Is there any advice you would like to share with published authors?

I’m a big fan of social media, Twitter especially (find me at @EmilyRodmell) but I think that a lot of published authors miss the point of it. Tweeting “buy my book” multiple times an hour isn’t effective and is more likely to turn off readers than make them want to buy your book. For every 1 sale you get, you probably have a dozen other users muting or unfollowing you. Social media is about building relationships and a following, but in order to do that, you have to offer something, not just ask for sales. If you use social media effectively to build relationships, you could build a tribe of followers that would buy your book because they feel invested in you.

Emily Rodmell picture

Emily Rodmell is the editor for Harlequin’s Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired Historical lines and has acquired more than 30 authors for the lines. She has a journalism degree from the University of South Florida and hails from sunny Florida but calls NYC home. If you write inspirational romantic suspense, historical or contemporary romance, she’d love to see your manuscripts.

 

 

Lina Gardiner

Novelists Inc. Blog host