Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How Much Angst Can a Writer Write if a Writer Has No Angst?

Miralee and her husband, Allen, live on 11 acres in the Columbia River Gorge. They have two grown children and a beautiful new granddaughter. Miralee has 7 books published, both in women’s contemporary fiction and historical fiction, with another 6 under contract. Her western romance, Love Finds You in Sundance, WY, was awarded the Will Rogers Medallion for Excellence in Western Fiction. Her newest release, Blowing on Dandelions, is the first in a three book series set in Oregon. Miralee loves interacting with people, ministering at her church, riding her horse and playing with her dogs. She also speaks at various women’s functions and has taught at conferences.

NR: Leave Miralee a comment and be entered in a drawing for a copy of her new book, Blowing on Dandelions. The winner will be announced on Novel Rocket's Facebook page tomorrow. Be sure to like us there!

How Do You Write it When You Haven’t Experienced it?

Even the strongest of women can break under the right, or should I say, the wrong kind of pressure. I’m a certified counselor with The American Association of Christian Counselors, and it’s something I’ve seen far too often with women who’ve visited my office. So many times I end up praying with women about old emotional wounds, and a large percentage of those wounds deal with family issues—often times stemming from a mother.

While Blowing on Dandelions has a strong romance thread that won’t disappoint the die-hard romance lovers, it also tackles a subject not often shown in fiction—the hurt inflicted on my heroine, Katherine, by her mother, even when Mama believes she’s being helpful or instructive. In the 1800’s, children (even adult children) respected their parents and didn’t answer back, no matter how harsh a parent’s treatment might be. Katherine is no exception, and she works hard to keep her temper intact while teaching her daughters how to relate to their grandmother in the proper way. She has no expectation that her relationship with her mother will ever change, and she is faced with daily challenges, but her quiet strength shines throughout the story—in spite of the fact that Mama has decided to move in permanently.

My editor for Blowing on Dandelions, Ramona Tucker, expressed it this way after she read my book:  “When I was the head of Today’s Christian Woman Magazine, this subject of stress between a daughter and her mother was one of the HUGE relational issues that caused women pain across the years…I was struck by the power and transformation this story can and will have in women’s lives—healing of the generations. And tears flowed…that a writer like you would have the heart, the passion, and would listen to the Lord to address this difficult subject for the world to read in a form (fiction) that they will accept. Healing will happen. I am convinced.”

Writing Blowing on Dandelions was a challenge for me, even though I’ve had a lot of experience counseling hurting women. Why? Because my own relationship with my grown daughter ,and with my mother, are so strong and precious to me. So how does an author dig deep and touch the readers’ emotions when she hasn’t personally experienced the things she’s writing about?

A writer can always find case studies in counseling books, but I wanted a more personal, hands-on experience. One way I accomplished that was by tapping into my Facebook audience and a core group of personal friends. I asked if anyone would be willing to fill out a questionnaire answering a dozen or so questions about their relationship with a difficult mother. I had over fifteen women respond who were willing to speak honestly even when it hurt to do so. Those answers were invaluable in being able to accurately portray the relationship between Katherine and her mother.

Besides counseling and praying with women, I discovered another way to make sure the emotions and behavior in my story were authentic. Pre-readers. I found women who have struggled with this same issue who were willing to take the time to read my rough draft and give me input. They made suggestions where things didn’t go far enough, or tweaked areas they felt might be over the top. The result was a book that was very true to many of the lives who read it.

And last, I had to believe the emotions and portrayal I presented, myself. I know what it’s like to have a solid, good relationship with a parent or daughter, so some part of me can also understand what the opposite would be—and how I would be impacted if my situation was reversed.

I’ve been blessed over the years to be part of God’s healing, transformational power in women’s lives—both through counseling and prayer—and now, God willing, through the words He directs me to write. And my prayer will always be that He’ll direct my books to the women who will benefit most from them—whether for healing or simply entertainment. He has a purpose and a plan for each of us, and I’m proud to play a part in whatever He might choose.

In Blowing on Dandelions, Miralee speaks to women’s heartfelt struggles—from family dysfunction to single parenthood—-while offering them the faith-filled hope they need, all wrapped in an uplifting, true-to-life romance.

You can find Miralee at her website, her blog, on her Facebook author page, and Twitter.

Blowing on Dandelions
Do Dandelion Wishes Actually Come True?

Katherine Galloway knew this moment of calm wouldn’t last, blown away like the dandelion seeds she scattered as a girl. In 1880, three years after her husband’s death, she struggles to run an Oregon boardinghouse and raise two girls alone. Things don't get easier when her critical, domineering mother moves in. Katherine must make the situation work, but standing up for herself and her family while honoring her mother isn't easy. And with a daughter entering the teenage years, the pressure on Katherine becomes close to overwhelming. Then she crosses paths with Micah Jacobs, a widower who could reignite her heart, but she fears a relationship with him might send things over the edge. She must find the strength, wisdom, hope, and faith to remake her life, for everything is about to change.


Gina Holmes said...

Funny, I was asking myself this same question yesterday. What if issues we're working out personally get worked out, what do we write then? Is the passion still there? Luckily, I've got plenty of issues and questions left. I don't think I knew you were a counselor. It's an obvious fit though. Congratulations on your new book.

Margo Carmichael said...

That's why I play Bunco! No, the game doesn't have much angst, but I hear about some.

Wonderful premise, Miralee. A universal problem. The story looks fascinating.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

What a brilliant post, Miralee. I've been wondering this in terms of writing about a soldier, something I have no experience with. This gives some solid tips on how to keep it authentic. Oh, and would love to win the book! My email is heatherdaygilbert (at) gmail (dot) com.

Miralee Ferrell said...

Hi Gina,
I don't often talk about my work/ministry outside of writing, but lately have been doing so more and more. Maybe the Lord has a purpose in sharing. Thanks for stopping by!

Margo, Thanks so much for you comment...and just so you know, the story has some laugh-out-loud moments, as well. Too much angst can be wearing, LOL!

Thank you! I don't think I've ever been called brilliant before LOL! Best wishes on your own project.

Danie Marie said...

I believe a lot of us need to read your story Miralee. My mom has Alzhiemer's, and a few years ago she told me that she always envied me. Truthfully, I've felt her jealousy and it hurt. But we've had good times too. She loves to laugh, something I inherited from her, and we love to laugh together. I cherish those times, as they are becoming a rarity.

Blessings ~ Danie