Connie Mann loves stories of suspense, adventure and second chances. She offers encouragement to busy women on her blog and is an active member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. She’s also a USCG-licensed boat captain, so when she’s not writing, she’s usually on Central Florida’s waterways with local school children or her fabulous family. Please visit her online at: www.conniemann.com or send her a Tweet @CaptConnieMann.
How long did it take you to get a full-length fiction contract?
Angel Falls’ journey to publication is partly about my stubbornness, partly about my wonderful editor, Ramona Richards, who championed this story for many years—but mostly, it’s about God’s always-perfect timing. Angel Falls was sold before, then unsold because I couldn’t make the changes the publisher wanted without ripping the heart out of the story. But God had his own timetable and now, ten years after I first wrote it, the book of my heart is out from Abingdon Press! To my fellow dream chasers, I say never, ever give up the dream God has planted in your heart.
Was there a specific 'what if' moment to spark this story? Tell us a bit about the writing of this book. Did it give you any problems? If not, how did you avoid them?
The what-if of Angel Falls started on a trip to Porto Alegre, Brazil, where my father grew up. For years, street children roamed the downtown area, and I wondered, “What if you were abandoned to the streets as a six-year-old? How would you survive? Who would you grow up to be?” Those questions became Regina, my fiercely protective, switchblade-toting orphanage director.
Do you have a full or part time day job? If so, how do you balance your writing time with family and work?
I realized I go stir crazy if I’m home alone in my office all day, so I am also a USCG-licensed boat captain, which gets me outside and around people several days a week. I work for our local school system and get to take curious 5th graders on the Silver River and show many of them their first alligator! In the evenings, I have to remind myself to turn off the computer and stay out of my office. It’s a constant balancing act.
Did anything unusual or funny happen while researching or writing this book?
When we were at Iguacu Falls—one of the largest waterfalls in the world—we got to see it from both the Brazilian and Argentine sides. On the Argentine side we found ourselves on catwalks suspended directly above the rushing water, the spray in our faces, the water falling away right under our feet. As we inched along the concrete slabs, they shifted and moved with every slippery step we took. We clung to the railings, exhilarated and terrified at the same time. I decided this had to be where Angel Falls’ climax scene took place!
Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy attic nook?
My favorite writing space is the chaise in front of the fireplace. It’s the most hotly contested piece of real estate in the house. iPad, cozy throw, coffee…I’m set.
Do you consider yourself a visual writer? If so, what visuals do you use?
I absolutely need visuals, so I keep photos of what I think my hero and heroine look like, maps of my locations (I draw my own sketches for made-up locales), and photos of houses and other important story places strewn about my desk where I can see them.
Are you a plotter, a pantster, or somewhere in between?
I’ve discovered I’m a hybrid. If I try to plot out each chapter ahead of time, I feel like I’ve already told the story, and I lose interest. I need a general, big-picture plotline--opening scene, several turning points, the big scenes, the ending. Otherwise, I can’t start writing, because I don’t know where I’m going.
Have you discovered some secret that has helped your process for writing?
I’m not sure it’s a secret, but I’ve learned it works: get that first draft written as quickly as possible. Spit it all out while it’s fresh and new and you’re excited about it. THEN go back and edit.
What are your thoughts on critique partners?
I’ve had the same critique partner for almost 15 years and I can’t imagine writing a book without her! Her insights and perspective are invaluable. I’m also part of a critique group and the fact that we all write different things gives me a depth of perspective that’s fabulously helpful. I definitely recommend a good group or critique partner. It’s a major investment in your writing career.
Do you ever pound your computer over writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it?
I think every writer does this at some point! When that happens, it’s usually because I’m trying to force a scene or action to fit my plotline, but my subconscious knows I’m heading the wrong way, so it balks. Once I sit down and let myself think about it, I usually figure out where I got off course.
Novelists sometimes dig themselves into a hole with implausible plots, flat characters or a host of other problems. What's the most difficult part of writing for you?
Openings are my biggest challenge and frustration. I wish it were different, but I usually re-write the opening a minimum of 6-7 times. I’ve realized I can’t get it right until after I’ve written the whole story.
What's your strength in writing (characterization, setting as character, description, etc)?
I’m a plot-first writer, so I usually have to work at writing emotion. I’ll think I’ve gone all sappy-gooey and my critique partners will ask, “Where’s the emotion?”
What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?
I love Anne Lamott’s advice to give yourself permission to write really lousy first drafts. That’s so freeing. And I’ve found it works.
Do you have any parting words of advice?
Thanks so much for having me here! I enjoyed it so much. My advice: never, ever give up on the dream God planted in your heart.
Two pasts collide in a deadly race to save an orphaned baby.
Regina da Silva and Brooks Anderson have both been broken by their violent pasts. But while Regina is determined to keep her orphanage children safe, Brooks, a former Army Ranger, never wants to protect anyone again. When circumstances force them together in Brazil, they find themselves pursued by a killer as they protect an orphaned baby. As the danger heightens around them, so does the attraction between Regina and Brooks. Will their pasts stop them from realizing their true feelings for each other when their pursuer strives to keep them apart forever?