Patty has been a significant encourager to me (Ane) personally. A member of a local writers group with me, she whipped my writer's-tail until I began to make and meet a daily word count. I'm tickled pink to host her debut Novel Journey interview.
A romantic at heart, Patty Smith Hall is an award winning, multi-published author. Her stories of encouragement and hope can be found in Guideposts, Journey and Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul. Her Genesis award winning manuscript, Hearts in Flight, will be released by Love Inspired Historical in July, 2011. Patty resides in Georgia along with Dan, her husband of 28 years, two daughters and a Yorkie who loves to cuddle. Patty joined Novel Journey as a columnist in July of 2011.
Tell us about your new release:
Hearts in Flight
Wesley can see that Maggie's a first-class pilot. She's also too fearless by half. The war has cost Wesley so much already. Can he let go of his guilt for a chance at happiness—and can he learn to trust in God…and Maggie…enough to believe in love for a lifetime?
How did you come up with this story? Was there a specific 'what if' moment?
When my girls were younger, they spent a summer studying WWII—I don’t know if it was the Ben Afleck movie or a real love of history that got their attention but hey! It got them reading about one of the greatest times in history. Anyway, I was big on the girls knowing that women played a significant role in the war effort, so I was always looking for articles and books on women in WWII. One of them had a PARAGRAPH—one measly paragraph on the women pilots and I was totally hooked!
Did anything strange or funny happen while researching or writing your book?
The greatest thing that happened was that my grandma played a part in picking out the setting. We were going to a family wedding at this fantastic plantation house a few miles down the road where I grew up. Now, this house is so neat—it served as a union hospital slap dab in the middle of North Georgia! Anyway, I was walking Grandma into the house and she starts telling me these stories. Seems my great aunt and uncle had rented this house in the late ‘30’s and early ‘40’s, and turned it into a boarding house. Grandma even pointed out a mini ball in the second level bedroom door frame.
Every novelist has a journey. How long was your road to publication? How did you find out and what went through your mind?
I started playing at writing about ten years ago. I say play because I didn’t actually sit down and write! I took the classes, went to conferences but didn’t do the writing part. It wasn’t until my daughters graduated from high school and college that I truly turned my focus to writing full time.
Last March, I finally finished Hearts in Flight and turned it into my terrific agent, Tamela Hancock Murray, who gave it to Rachel Burkot at Love Inspired Historical.
Then the wait began—I swear, it was like waiting for Christmas morning, wondering if you’re going to get the big gift or a lump of coal. On August 5th while I was driving through the Chick-fil-a, Tamela called. LIH had not only offered me a contract, my book was going to be fast tracked for publication in less than a year! I still get choked up just thinking about it!
Do you ever bang your head against the wall from writer's block? If so, how do you overcome it?
Everyone has those head banging moments! But I’ve found that if I just keep writing, even if it’s not the best thing I’ve ever written, the block eventually goes away.
Do you consider yourself a visual writer? If so, what visuals do you use?
I’m a huge visual writer. Most of my descriptions come from old black and white pictures I found at the Marietta Museum of History, particularly the ones about the Bell Bomber Plant.
But I love hands on research. It’s nothing for me to climb into the cockpit of an old bomber or pan for gold. I remember feelings—how something felt in my hands or what muscles I had to use to do something. To me, those types of experiences help the reader go deeper into the story and the characters. And I just love doing that kind of stuff!
Novelists sometimes dig themselves into a hole over implausible plots, flat characters or a host of other problems. What's the most difficult part of writing for you? How do you overcome it?
I use to be a pantser [seat of the pants writer] but I found it frustrating—it seemed to take me forever to finish a manuscript. So three years ago, I decided it was time to learn to plot. At first, I wasn’t sure I could even do it—I was a pantser for Pete’s sake. But I discovered through Laurie Schnebly’s Plot Via Motivation class that even I can plot! It changed the way I worked through my story.
Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy attic nook?
This would have been a loaded question a few months ago because I didn’t really have a consistent writing place. I wrote Hearts in Flight at two places; either on the couch flat on my back or in the teen section of the local library.
But recently, my darling husband decided that I needed a place to go to write so now, I have a lovely office five minutes away from home where I get so much done!
What does a typical day look like for you?
I generally wake up around 7:30, eat breakfast, and do devotionals. Then I head to my office where I work from 9:30 to 2:30 or 3:00. After that, I come home, get things set up for dinner, then head off to meet my husband at the park to walk. Evenings are for spending time with Dan or our girls, reading, judging contest entries and watching Castle when it’s on!
Some authors report writing 5-10 thousand words a day. Do scenes flow freely from your veins or do you have to tweeze each word out?
Not me! I’m doing good to get about 2 thousand words a day. But some days, the story flows and before I know it, I’ll have 3500 words down. I love those days!
What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?
The one thing I took away from the 2008 ACFW conference changed how I looked at my writing. Set a daily word count and try to meet it. Even if you don’t, you’ve got more words down than you started out with.
Do you have any parting words of advice?
Writing is a waiting game so to paraphrase Winston Churchill—never, never, never give up!
NJ: To get on the notices for Laurie Schnebly's classes, click here.