Jude has written nearly all her life in some fashion, but only with retirement a few years ago, has she been able to indulge her passion. Since then, Jude has produced a non-fiction book (in both print and eBook format), magazine and newspaper articles, and two inspirational romance novels in eBook format. She has been a columnist for four years with Maximum Living magazine and currently has her third novel with a publisher for review.
Jude, you've published a co-authored non-fiction book, short stories and articles. How long did it take you to get a full-length fiction contract?
In 2005, I scoured long and hard for a publisher of the true story my daughter and I had written about our family’s journey through her traumatic brain injury. The way I hooked that publisher surprised, to say the least. I had called because they had left the submission guidelines off their web site. One thing lead to another and the publisher asked for a proposal! The book was published in 2006.
I began to write fiction after that first book, but did not receive a contract until January, 2011. A lot of rejections filled that time. It was a time of honing my craft, taking classes, going to conferences. And rewriting. And rewriting.
Was there a specific 'what if' moment to spark this story?
The Chronicles of Chanute Crossing series focuses on spinning tragedy into triumph, which is an evergreen and universal phenomenon, I believe. The stories start in the post-Vietnam era, which will always remain in my memory for several reasons. The other ‘what if’ moment relates to the fact my mother wrote sweet, love stories in the 1930s with this same setting (that ‘center of the universe’ in Tennessee where we both were born). So it was fun to take off from this vantage point, too.
Do you have a full or part time day job? If so, how do you balance your writing time with family and work?
Ane, I’m “retired” but nearly as busy as when I worked, just don’t get paid! One would think it would be a cinch compared to young motherhood and, while it isn’t as all-consuming, a balancing act is still required. I volunteer at church, in the community, still do an occasional day of paid work, and have a huge family, including a good husband, to love and cherish. All of which takes considerable time.
I write usually in the mornings and whenever Conrad, my husband, is gone! Sometimes I just quit and run those ‘errands’ with him.
Did anything unusual or funny happen while researching or writing this book?
Not so much unusual or funny, but I sure enjoyed visiting the setting in Tennessee and meeting and befriending folks. I even lapsed into southern dialect at times! On one visit, we tried to reach “Bald Rock” (a mountain in the story), but became so concerned about our car getting stuck we abandoned the adventure.
Are you a plotter, a pantster, or somewhere in between?
I started out as a plotter and an outliner. I don’t have the oomph or daring to be a pure pantster, so accept I am somewhere in between. My characters sometimes take over and give me word upon word, which is pure joy for a writer. Once in a while, I must place them back on the page where they belong and let them know I am the author.
Have you discovered some secret that has helped your process for writing?
Oh, Ane, would that I had! I’d certainly share, but my notion is this is different for each of us. The music I play, the little rubber frog (FROG=forever relying on God) I keep close by, the candle I burn and the pin-covered baseball hat I wear all help, but none are magic.
That said, relationships with other writers help tremendously in our solitary world.
What are your thoughts on critique partners?
The best writing tools in our toolbox. The partnerships take time to develop, but are worth the effort. I’ve also found it best to critique with writers of like genres.
Do you ever pound your computer over writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it?
Certainly figuratively! I let things ‘stew’ and do something else for a while. Or use someone for a brainstorming session.
What's the most difficult part of writing for you?
I’d say creating conflict takes me the most time to thoroughly develop. I’m a pacifist kind of gal (hangover from the 60s maybe) and I have a hard time taking my beautiful characters through hardship. I also write women’s fiction, combined with inspirational romance, where the journey traveled becomes a slower-moving conflict.
What's your strength in writing?
From contests entries, I’ve been told ‘voice’ and character development are strengths. I feel that honing our craft is an ongoing process and all areas can always be strengthened.
Did this book give you any problems? If not, how did you avoid them?
My first two novels have been eBooks, but will be in print next year. Marketing has been more challenging than with a print book. Not everyone, especially older readers, is on board with an electronic reader or even a computer. It has taken more creativity, but has also been fun to be part of the cutting edge of electronic publishing. Through Kindlegraph, eBooks can also be autographed.
In a condo! We have a great room and this is where I write. At one end of our big, dining table. I have an extra book table to my side, holding my most important items. Everyone knows all the action happens in a great room and sometimes that is distracting. The magical feature though is I look out patio doors at a beautiful and secluded yard where woodland creatures, flowers, and tall cedars speak to me.
When I really need a break or want to exercise, I take the nearby ‘river walk’ for a time of regrouping.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?
We not only write, we must rewrite.
Do you have any parting words of advice?
Write because you want to and know being published doesn’t necessarily validate you as a writer. Know it takes discipline and perseverance to accomplish goals.
Nurtured in Purple, Book Two in The Chronicles of Chanute Crossing, continues the now-married love story of Seth Orbin and Kate Davidson of Joy Restored, Book One, but nemesis' Willard Wittenberg and Elizabeth Koger come center stage still pursuing personal vendettas against Seth and Kate.
Seth again faces potential loss of wife and child with Kate's life-threatening pregnancy complication, while Willard maneuvers to ruin Seth's business. Willard and Elizabeth, once lovers, engage and marry, but her flame for Seth has never died. Married life proves ragged. Late-blooming love comes to Ninville Cornelius and Margie Craig and new characters of Ruby Moody, alcoholic wife of a deceased Vietnam vet, and her small son Bobo are introduced.
Can Seth and Kate, modeling God's grace and forgiveness, bring hope and light to Willard and Elizabeth and Ruby and Bobo, all so needy of God's redeeming love?