Before I get to the interview with Elizabeth Pina, I ask your further thoughts and prayers. My uncle died over the weekend. Thank you.
Now, onto the interview...
Introducing Elizabeth Pina, author of Learning To Let Go and an awesome person to boot. I met her at the Todd Stone Conference, and she's a member of the local RWA chapter I'm a member of and we have a lot of fun talking and laughing and hanging out at the meetings.
Anyway, so I emailed her some questions about her book and the craft and she was kind enough to write back with her answers and you all get to see what I asked and she said:
Elizabeth: Hi Bethany and thanks so much for inviting me to stop by.
1. What triggered you writing Learning To Let Go? Was it a personal situation or just one of those flashes of inspiration?
Elizabeth: It must have been a flash! I’d had the idea of someone with problems being inspired by music coming from a church for a long time, but where the rest of the story came from I’m not sure, it just grew. Fortunately I borrowed a lot of eyes along the way to help me cut out the ‘junk’ and shape the story.
2. How did you end up with White Rose Publishing as your publisher?
Elizabeth: A contest win! [Insert plug for contests here.] LTLG had been on the contest circuit for a year. It began in Gotcha! 2008 where it was ranked almost at the bottom, a year (and a lot of work) later it won that contest. At the same time it also won the Southern Heat contest where it was spotted by a WRP editor. They asked for a full and very quickly I had a contract in hand. Very exciting.
3. What made you decide to make the male character, Keith, a neurosurgeon? Did you do a lot of research for his character? Was it hard writing his conversion experience or did you feel it come to you as naturally as it comes across on the page?
Elizabeth: I wanted him to be a doctor, and make it plausible he’d be tired and hoping he could get someone else to change his tire. Enter neurosurgery! Which I knew absolutely nothing about. I did a lot of research, added information, found my research was out-of-date, and started over! It is fascinating and I spent hours reading books and Googling medical web sites. I tried to make him more ‘returned’ than converted. Very often people are bitter and blame God for their tragedies. I wanted Keith to trust God enough to know that when people’s lives are in the balance he should allow God to guide his actions.
4. In Inspirational there is a balance between the personal life of the characters and their faith in God. Your character, Emma, exemplifies this balance by who she is. Did you find it hard writing this kind of a balance in someone who had real, deep human emotions, but also a devout, and loyal faith in God?
Elizabeth: To be honest, Emma is based on my cousin Gill. Gill is a nurse and a more loving, caring, and cheerful person you could not wish to meet. She is also one of the most faithful people I know, despite having been through a lot of personal tragedy. Also, I had a moment in that book when Emma was not so nice. A wonderful friend of mine, Tracy Ruckman, told me to cut that out! So I did and Emma went back to being Gill.
5. Do you plan to write more Inspirational novels or are you looking to cross genres?
Elizabeth: I love writing Inspirational and have a novella under contract at White Rose (they ROCK!!) and several more WIP’s. I also have a couple of straight contemporary stories and a romantic suspense novel, but even they have some Christian elements and/or characters. I don’t want to be preachy but faith is part of who I am and it will eventually show up on the pages.
6. What has been the most rewarding part of being published (aside from having your story in print)?
Elizabeth: The knowledge I can do anything if I try hard enough, and the confidence to offer advice to others.
7. Is there a piece of advice that you found particularly helpful that you can share?
Elizabeth: Keep trying, don’t give up, learn, and listen. Not only to your inner voice but to others that really know what you need to do to get published. If I hadn’t listened to those first Gotcha! judges then I’d still be struggling. Not that all my contest judges have been as – um – encouraging, but the majority have all contributed to my success in one way or another. Hey people, if I can do it anyone can!
8. What helps you overcome writer's block?
Elizabeth: Sometimes it’s not so much block as over-crowding. I rarely work on one manuscript at a time and my head is always full of ideas (and people) and trying to hush the characters I’m NOT working on is a battle. In those rare times I need a little extra I use music or will print and read what I’ve written so far. When I’m relaxed and in tune with my characters the ideas flow!
9. For fun: What's your favorite color?
Elizabeth: Blue. No, purple. Maybe black. Maroon? Hmm. Not yellow.
10. Also for fun: What's 3 of your favorite novels?
Elizabeth: I have to put Pride and Prejudice as it was reading that (again) that got me writing in 2007. Only three? Eek! Sorry, can’t do it. I grew up reading Biggles and Agatha Christie novels, and remember desperately waiting for each release of the Left Behind series not that long ago. But lately I like anything by John Foxjohn or Bill Crider so go figure!
(11) Finally, is there anything you'd like to add that I haven't asked you?
Elizabeth: Yes I would LOVE a piece of apple pie!
Sorry, couldn’t resist.
I’d like to thank the Academy and…
Couldn’t resist that either. To be honest, probably not. But I would like to put in a plug for all the writer’s groups (especially RWA and ACFW) and the local and online chapters of each. Plus all of the wonderful VOLUNTEERS that hold everything together. To you I owe my success.
Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for taking the time to answer my questions and allowing me to share this on my blog! You're so cool :-)
Everybody Have A Marvelous Monday!