It is an honor and a joy to be with you. Thank you for asking!
Linda, tell the readers how you first became a published author.
I began writing back in the “dark ages” before internet, ebooks, and writer software—back when manuscripts were printed out on rickety dot matrix machines and snail mailed in big brown envelopes to New York. Then the agonizing weeks and months ticked down while I awaited a reply. This was before there were online groups and workshops to teach the craft, so I had to figure out how to write a book pretty much by myself. My first five manuscripts were a learning process, and only one of them was ever rewritten to the point of publication. Yes, FIVE complete manuscripts. Fortunately, in 1999, I was a Golden Heart finalist and attended my first Romance Writers of America conference. I didn’t win the GH but I met an interested editor and the book I pitched to her sold within a year. I’ll never forget the date. January 31, 2000, when a New York editor called me, offering to buy For Her Child. From that point on, I’ve sold steadily and been blessed with a nice career. And I still work with that same wonderful editor, a rarity in this tough business.
If you could change anything in your writing career what would it be and why?
Writing is a constant learning process so there are many things I’d do differently. The main one, I think, is that I would never write anything that didn’t specifically point people to Jesus. None of my books are ungodly but some lack a direct faith element, and I regret that. Our world needs more of Him.
Linda, you’re right. The world does need much more of Jesus.
I know He gives you the right inspiration for the readers.
What inspired you to write The Rain Sparrow?
It sounds wonderful. What is The Rain Sparrow about?
Here’s the back cover copy to whet your appetite. (I hope!)
A stranger's arrival in a small Southern town stirs up old secrets and new dreams in this beautiful story full of hope and haunting mystery, and with the power to win your heart..
Renowned yet private, thriller writer Hayden Winters lives a life colored by lies. As he is deeply ashamed of his past, his hunger for an honest relationship and dreams of starting a family remain unsatisfied, and he can trust no one with his secrets. He's determined to outrun his personal demons, but the charming old Peach Orchard Inn and a woman whose presence is as gentle as a sparrow's song stops him in his tracks.
Carrie Riley is afraid of everything from flying to thunderstorms, and pretty much of life itself. But meeting the enigmatic writer staying at the inn emboldens her to learn everything about him. When they discover a vulnerable boy hiding at the inn, Hayden is compelled to help Carrie protect him. Soon they're led to a centuries-old mystery that haunts Hayden's sleep, and his only safe haven is Carrie. As the secrets of the past and present cause their lives to become entwined, all that's left to come to light is love—if the grim truth doesn't tear them apart first.
What is your favorite scene?
Oh! Difficult question because I have many favorite scenes in both the historical and the modern storyline. Because the historical heroine is a bit of a spitfire with prejudices to overcome, she was fun to write. The modern hero is a favorite too. He is brilliant and broken, and I loved watching him come into the light as he fell in love and stepped beyond his fear.
Here’s a mini-scene from Hayden’s viewpoint as he grapples with his past and his growing feelings for Carrie:
Hayden plopped on the motel bed, hands behind his head and insides in a boil.
He wished he could talk to Carrie, to share all the putrid filth of his life, to vomit it out and be done with it instead of living with the fear that someone, especially her, would find out.
He should have called her before he left. He could have made some excuse about rushing back to New York on business.
Lies. He didn’t want to lie to Carrie.
Reaching for his cell, he flipped through the contacts and highlighted her name. Carrie. Not Carrie Riley. Just Carrie.
She’d want to know where he was, what he was doing. She’d care that he was exhausted and worried and lonely.
He couldn’t tell her where or why.
With a beleaguered sigh, he tapped the screen to black and put the phone away
Is there a message in this novel that you hope readers will receive?
The Rain Sparrow has a number of messages including “don’t let the past define you.” Another is from the writings of the Apostle Paul about the worthiness of each individual, regardless of background or genetics: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
I like that verse too. I think it keeps us humble and reminds us to keep our focus on the Lord. Are you working on a new project you can tell us about it?
Yes! Book three, The Innkeeper’s Sister is currently in the editorial mill at HQN. It’s a book readers asked for, and I’m excited to share Valery’s story. She’s quite a mess and we have to get that girl straightened up! Here’s a little blurb for you.
Welcome to Honey Ridge, Tennessee, where Southern hospitality and sweet peach tea beckon and where long-buried secrets lead to some startling realizations...
Grayson Blake always has a purpose—and never a moment to lose. He’s come home to Honey Ridge to convert an historic grist mill into a restaurant, but his plans crumble like Tennessee clay when the excavation of a skeleton unearths a Civil War mystery…and leads him back to a beautiful and familiar stranger.
Once a ballet dancer, now co-owner of the Peach Orchard Inn, Valery Carter harbors pain as deep as the secrets buried beneath the mill. A bright façade can’t erase her regrets any more than a glass of bourbon can restore what she’s lost. But spending time with Grayson offers Valery a chance to let go of her past and imagine a happier future. And with the discovery of hidden messages in aged sheet music, both their hearts begin to open. Bound by attraction, and compelled to unravel an old crime that links the inn and the mill, Grayson and Valery encounter a song of hurt, truth…and hope.
Mary, thank you for inviting me to your blog. I’m giving away a signed copy of The Rain Sparrow to one commenter. If you enjoy the book, I’d truly love it if you would leave a review on Amazon or other review sites.
How awesome is that readers? Simply answer her question below and leave your email address.
This series of books is set in rural Tennessee, a place I dearly love. Do you have a favorite setting for stories? Ocean, mountains, rural, small town, big city or other? What’s your favorite?
Linda, thank you for being on my blog. Many blessing that you’ll continue to do what God entrusted you to do.
Don't forget to comment.
Buy links for The Rain Sparrow:
Barnes and Noble