I’ve been writing since I crafted a poem about kittens in elementary school. When I hit fifty (five years ago), I figured if I was ever going to get serious about writing an actual book, I’d better start. Now, I don’t think I could stop writing if I tried.
The Philippines is an unusual setting for a book. Why did you choose that particular country?
My brother has lived in a suburb of Manila in the Philippines for over thirty years. He’s a missionary, seminary professor, and church planter and I was privileged to visit him a few years ago. He’s always talked about how difficult it is for a busy missionary man to find a good woman. It would be a great deal easier to just send out an application and choose a mate without all that fuss, muss, and emotion. He was kidding of course, but hey, what if he wasn’t? What if there was a man out there who would have the audacity to advertise for a wife in this day and age? What started out as a joke made for a good book premise.
What does your writing process look like?
I write on my laptop while sitting on the couch in my living room, feet crossed up under me, a cat or two plastered to my side. My husband is generally watching TV while playing on his computer, and we often converse back and forth concerning the show or an article he is reading. In between all of that noise, I come up with plot, characters, and dialogue (he’s great at helping me with male dialogue). I’ve tried writing when it’s quiet, but it doesn’t work as well. Weird, huh?
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
I'm an introvert and a homebody. When I write, I sit cross-legged on my living room couch with my laptop in my lap, a cup of hot tea on the coffee table, and a warm cat on either side of me. On a typical night, my dear husband is close by lounging in his easy chair watching Maryland Terps Basketball. When I need a little help with word choice, grammar, or male dialogue, he's my go to guy. How much better can it get?
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
Find a good writers group that is both encouraging and honest. Your mother can tell you you're already a wonderful writer. You want your writers group to challenge you and help you stretch and grow. Conferences are also a great way to learn an amazing amount about the craft in a short period of time. Also, join a group such as the national organization, American Christian Fiction Writers. They have been a tremendous inspiration to me in many ways and I give back by serving as the Maryland Regional Coordinator.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
When I get stuck on a plot point, I brainstorm with my local writers group. Listening to ideas flying around gets my creative juices flowing. I’ve also found that it’s good to stop writing in the middle of a chapter and sometimes even in the middle of a sentence. That way my subconscious work all night on how to finish the thought. Some of my best ideas are formed deep in the dark of night.
What it’s really like being an author?
A lot of work, but fun work…most of the time.
It all began as a lark. Shay Callahan’s life was just fine, thank you, but when the seemingly misogynistic missionary, Timothy Flynn, places an advertisement for a wife in a Christian magazine, she decides to give it a whirl and sends in the five-page application. Why not? After all, she’s not currently seeing anyone, and this man truly needs to be taught a lesson.
With ten minutes to kill before my flight boarded, I reached into my purse for the letter from Dr. Timothy Flynn. Smoothing the creased page, I read the words e-mailed a few weeks before:
The marriage application you submitted has been approved. You will be happy to know you passed scrutiny on all five sections with commendable marks. I am particularly pleased with the informative answers you furnished on the essay questions (section four), and the fact that you have read numerous books in the past year—even if most of them were fiction—has unquestionably placed you ahead of the rest of the applicants.
Your PhD in computer science indicates that you are likely intelligent and gifted in several fields of study. I have urgent need of such a partner, one who possesses a keen mind, and a rational outlook on life. I will not put up with shallow, brainless women.
By return e-mail, please inform me of when you are available to come to Pacific Rim Theological Seminary, where I am the church history professor and academic dean. Sometime in May would be best for me, but June or July will also be suitable as I am on sabbatical until the end of the summer. I feel a period of two weeks would be a good length of time for us to evaluate each other.
I look forward to meeting you at your earliest convenience to discuss the next step in finding a mutually beneficial arrangement for the two of us. A round-trip, first-class airline ticket will be forthcoming when you have made your plans.
Blessings in Christ Jesus,
Dr. Timothy Flynn
P.S. The photograph you attached of yourself is satisfactory, although as per the application instructions, I will also require a picture of your mother. If you would be so kind as to bring one with you, it would be appreciated.
Phew. The letter had me shaking my head to think men like that still existed, but most of his letter made me squirm—which brought up the question what was I thinking? I pulled Dr. Flynn’s picture out of the side pocket of my purse and angled it so the light fell full on his face. OK, so maybe his leading man good looks softened the bite of his words—a little. He was one of the finest specimens of manhood I’d ever had the privilege to behold. Nonetheless…Timmy-boy was a first-rate, sexist jerk. Stealing one last look at the photo, I stuffed it back in my purse.
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