Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Michener Epic Writing Journey ~ With a Happy Ending

Camille Eide writes tales of love, faith, and family. She lives in Oregon with her husband and is a mom, grammy, church office & preschool administrator, bass guitarist, and a fan of muscle cars, tender romance, and Peanut M&Ms. 

Her debut novel, Like There's No Tomorrow, a contemporary love story, released September 30, 2014 from Ashberry Lane Publishing.

This is your debut novel. What sparked the story?

When my friend’s Norwegian sister visited the US, she met my brother at a BBQ. After she returned home, they began corresponding, fell in love, and soon married. My friend and I thought that was very romantic and played around the idea of me writing their story as a novel. Because, you know, anyone can write a book. Although Like There’s No Tomorrow isn’t my brother and his wife’s story, their meeting and falling in love through correspondence did inspire it.

What would you do differently if you were starting your publishing career today?

I can be transparent here, right? “Today” is much different from the day I began writing to publish in 2007. Back then, while traditional publishing contracts for unknown writers were becoming available, competition was quickly growing. So whenever an editor asked to see a full manuscript of mine at a conference, I felt a ticking clock to get my book finished or shaped up and sent in as soon as possible. Which means I spent a LOT of time in my writing cave (locked away from family) intending to follow through as promised and strike while the iron was hot. I wanted to send an irresistible manuscript and have a chance at an open slot before others filled it.

But today, things are different. The opportunities for new (and not so new) novelists with traditional houses seem to be fewer, while the competition continues to grow. Today, writers are taking a step back and weighing all our options—and there are many. The timing for publishing a book is also different now, so the pressure to “strike” the traditional market has changed.

What would I do differently if I were starting my publishing career today? I’d probably back off on the 24/7 write-a-thon (though it was a valuable learning lab) and balance my time better between writing and being present with people. Take a walk. Invite the adult kids over for dinner and laugh myself sick at the comedy ricocheting around the table. Take the motorcycle out for a spin. AND continue to work on my craft, write the best books I can, and pray for the right avenue for publishing them.

Share a bit of your journey to publication.

My publication journey is a novel. Not a pretty, slender Love Inspired that you can tuck into your pocket, but one of those fatty ones. A Michener epic. With chocolate smudges on tear-stained pages, flaking creases on the spine, whole chapters missing from being ripped out and shredded, nicked corners from being flung against a wall. It’s a 7 year journey from birth to gut-wrenching surrender to death to second birth.

I think that’s about all you have room for.

I love the Michener reference and can relate to that. Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

A tidy little haven. The wallpaper on my monitor screen is a photo of Jane Austen’s writing desk, my little added inspiration. J

What would you do if you didn't write?
Probably shuffle in little circles in a corner while clutching a ratty copy of Catcher in The Rye and muttering.

What issue makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

Gotta be honest again — you okay with that? I struggle with the temptation to make Tidy, to wrap up with the answers. I have to remind myself life isn’t tidy, I don’t have the answers, and even if I did, that’s not why people pick up a novel. I try to remember to lay down my little ego and give God the lead as I’m crafting a story, and remember it’s a collective journey for us all — the reader, the characters, and me.

What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer?

1. STUDY the craft until your fingers bleed and your brain falls out.
2. READ excellent writing to train your instinct. 3. Then TRUST your instinct.

Then what 3 things would recommend not doing?

1. Don’t lock yourself away with a typewriter and a fifth of bourbon and tell yourself you’re the next Ernest Hemingway. He could do that and sell books because he’s Hemingway. You’re probably not. Do the work, learn from others, get feedback.

2. Don’t dismiss correction and instruction. Stay teachable. Some of the most prolific writers in my acquaintance impress (& humble) me by taking classes alongside noobies and admitting they always have something to learn.

3. On the other hand, Don’t listen to everyone when it comes to flaws with your story or your voice; learn to distinguish helpful feedback from impulse-driven, opinionated flap. Which is not always easy to do. Since useful advice can be just as tough to hear as flap, you can’t judge its merit by how hard it is to hear. Ask God to help you stay teachable about the things you need to hear, and confident about the things that make your voice yours and your story a strong one.

Some say a writer is born and others say anyone can learn. What do you think?

If you’re talking about fiction, anyone with a fair grasp of language can learn to string words together into a story. Some people are gifted Wordsmiths, and if they study Story, they can write fiction well enough. I believe others are blessed with the gift of storytelling — Storysmiths. They can spin a tale and captivate an audience with little understanding of grammar or The Rules. (Boo. Hiss. Oops, sorry.) If you are a storyteller by nature, and are willing to learn wordcraft, you can potentially do very well. (Debbie Macomber is a great example.) If you are crafty with words but not a storyteller by nature, you too can learn, but I believe it’s a tougher road to be as captivating. All this is one fool’s opinion, by the way. You did ask. J

What's the strangest or funniest experience you've had in writing?

Strange: When I was just starting out as a novelist, a friend of mine was in a bookstore at the mall (20 miles away) and met a woman in the Christian Fiction aisle who said she writes novels. My friend told her about me wanting to write, so this nice lady gave her some helpful book titles for me. Then she told my friend a story about meeting Francine Rivers under a tree at a writer’s conference.

Meanwhile, I joined an online writers’ group. I was welcomed by several members including Kellie Gilbert, who rarely visited the group, and who was at that time the president of a new local ACFW chapter. She saw I was from her area and invited me to attend. At my first meeting, Kellie started the meeting by telling a story about how she met Francine Rivers under a tree at a writer’s conference. Kellie was the woman my friend met in the bookstore—in an entirely different town from where I live. I ended up joining Kellie’s critique group. That strange coincidence was the first of several divine appointments that helped affirm my call as a novelist.

Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? How do you feel about research?

Creating gets the story rolling, but I probably do my best work while tweaking/editing (word freak). I confess I am research-challenged and lapse into evasive behavior (grazing for chocolate, fainting spells, etc) when any real research needs done.

What are your writing rituals?

I keep a little dish of peanuts and raisins nearby (ok, some of the raisins are chocolate chips), especially if I’m trying to push through something difficult. Actually, I have no idea if it helps writer’s block, but the carb rush is fun.

Do you work best under pressure or do you write at a leisurely pace??

I’m slightly OCD, so there’s always pressure and no such thing as leisure.

What are your thoughts on critique partners?

If you are lucky like me, CPs are reeeeally helpful and can turn critique sessions into mini workshops, drawing valuable lessons for everyone from all the writing samples. Or maybe that’s only if your group leader is Randy Ingermanson. Oops. Sorry. J

I think critique groups and partners are potentially priceless, if you get a good fit for your style and genre.

Any final thoughts?

I’ve been a fan/follower of Novel Journey/Novel Rocket since my own journey began, and I consider it a great honor to be invited to hang out here among some of the coolest and finest authors on the planet. (Can we get a group selfie?)

Like There's No Tomorrow

What if loving means letting go?

Scottish widower Ian MacLean is plagued by a mischievous grannie, bitter regrets, and an ache for something he’ll never have again. His only hope for freedom is to bring his grannie's sister home from America. But first, he'll have to convince her lovely companion, Emily, to let her go.

Emily Chapman devotes herself to foster youth and her beloved Aunt Grace. Caring for others quiets a secret fear she holds close to her heart. But when Ian appears, wanting to whisk Grace off to Scotland, everything Emily is trying to protect—including her heart—is at risk.

Like There’s No Tomorrow is an amusing yet heart-tugging love story about two kind, single caretakers, two quirky, old Scottish sisters bent on reuniting, and too many agendas. It’s a tale of family, fiery furnaces, falling in love, faith, and the gift of each new day.


Sherrie Ashcraft said...

What a great interview, Camille! I love how your personality shines through everything you do. And thanks for letting Ashberry Lane be part of your journey. :)

Christina Tarabochia said...

If you didn't get a least a chuckle out of this interview, then DO NOT read Like There's No Tomorrow as it's just more of the same fun, witty, emotionally true stuff. ;)

Thanks for being so wonderful to work with, Camille!

Rebecca George said...

Great interview! :D I loved reading about your journey, Camille. It's inspiring.

Camille Eide said...

Thanks for having me, Ane & Novel Rocketeers. I appreciate all that you do for writers. Keep it up! God bless!

Sam Hall said...

I agree with Sherrie; you're transparent & believable. Love your humor and am impressed by how you've thought thru the writing process and know yourself. As long as you can get in front of people, you'll sell books.

Camille Eide said...

Thanks, Sam. You have a thing or two to say about the process too, I imagine. :)

Kellie Coates Gilbert, Author said...

Camille - I grinned ear-to-ear at the story you cited in the interview about how we met. It's such a testament to how God is involved in the details of our lives! Who would have ever thought we'd both be published authors now....and more importantly that we'd be Grammies exchanging photos of our precious wee ones? For anyone happening on this comment who has not read Camille's new release, you are missing out on this tender (yet funny) story. I am a Camille Eide fan!