Today is the start of a new weekly feature on my blog, Wednesdays with… On Wednesdays I will be interviewing the author of a newly released novel. With just a handful of questions, you’ll get inside the mind of a writer and find out how they write. You’ll also get a peek at her newest novel! If you’re an aspiring novelist, maybe you’ll grab a few tips to help you on your own journey. Now, without further adieu, I’d like to get the ball rolling with my very first guest, Heather Gray and her newly released novel, Jackal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blurb

Hiding in the shadows just got harder.

When tragedy strikes, Juliana and her family must flee their home. Can they persuade a virtual stranger to help them? Juliana isn’t so sure, especially after their chaperone threatens to cane him. Even as Juliana struggles to trust him, she finds herself drawn to this mysterious man. Surely all she wants from him is refuge…
Rupert is a man whose life depends on his ability to remain unnoticed. What, then, is he supposed to do with this family he’s inherited? His life is overrun with an ancient chaperone who would terrify a lesser man, two spirited girls, and the secretive Juliana – someone he comes to think of as his own precious jewel.
With this new responsibility thrust upon him, Rupert will have to make sacrifices – but will God ask him to sacrifice everything?
                                                                                                                 
CL:  Tell us what sparked the idea for Jackal?
HG:  I wrote my first regency romance in 2013.  It was a learning experience!  Regencies are very different than other types of books, and the people who read them take their genre pretty seriously.  That book released to mixed reviews, but one thing was consistent — everybody’s favorite character was Rupert, the wounded-soldier-turned-valet-turned-butler-and-steward.  The good news was, he was my favorite character too!  Giving Rupert his own story was a dream.  I’ve already painted him as a mysterious man with a hidden past in the first book (quite by accident, might I add!), so when I sat down to tell people his story, it seemed perfectly natural to make him a covert agent, but I needed to come up with a complication big enough to ruffle his unruffleable feathers.  Insert Juliana, her two younger sisters, and her ancient and unruly chaperone .  

   

CL:  Tell us a little bit about your writing process. Do you outline before you begin to write or are you a pantster?
HG:  I’m normally a seat-of-my-pants writer, but this was my first real attempt at weaving a suspense subplot into my book, so I did a fair amount of plotting to make sure I didn’t leave any loose threads at the end of the book.  So this novel was probably a hybrid story — some plotting, some panting, some laughing, and a lot of coffee drinking.

   

CL:  What was the most difficult part of writing Jackal?
HG:  Working out the timeline of events was a challenge.  Trying to gauge how much information to weave in, how many hints to give about The Hunter’s identity without giving away too much – that was my biggest struggle.  I was uber nervous about that part!

   

CL:  Tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a published author.
HG:  Writing has been in my blood for as long as I can remember.  A busy life and insecurity prevented me from completed and publishing anything.  Then I suffered a personal tragedy, and suddenly all those insecurities seemed pointless.  So I started writing, and I kept at it, and when that first book was finished, I sent it to a publisher.  Then I started writing the next book.  I was about a third of the way through that second book when I heard back from the publisher…with a contract.

   

CL:  What advice would you offer aspiring writers on the writing business?
HG:  Learn it as you go.  Don’t let fear of asking questions stop you from learning what you need to know.  Write books you love – readers will be able to tell.  And keep writing.  Being a writer isn’t about writing one book, it’s about writing because you have to, and you can’t stop.  So keep writing, and don’t give up.  The best way to turn this thing you love into a career is to build a fan base, and the best way to build a fan base is to give them more to read.  So keep at it!

   

CL:  Any special tips for writers who are juggling writing with raising a family, working a day job or just everyday life in general?
HG:  Realize that sleep is for the weak.    When I started writing that first book I was homeschooling my son and working a part-time-from-home job that took about 20 hours/week.  Plus taking care of home and hearth.  I squeezed writing in here and there in five minute increments.  I took my laptop to piano lessons and youth bowling league.  And I stopped sleeping.  The company I’d been with for almost two decades closed its doors before my second book came out.  That freed up some of my time — and it put the pressure on.  So what advice would I give others who are trying to juggle a hundred different things at once?  Prioritize.  Let go of the things you can so that you can focus on what you need to.  When you’re being mom — be mom.  Be all there.  When you’re at your paid job, give them everything you have.  When it’s time with your significant other, grant them your undivided attention.  Then, when it’s writing time — which you have to make, or it’ll never happen — be all there, too.  Your writing will thank you for it.  Don’t squeeze in five minutes here and there like I first did.  It leads to disjointed stories and a lot of repetition in your writing because you can’t remember if your characters already said that fantastic thing you thought of and wanted them to say.  Put aside a dedicated time each day — even if it’s only twenty minutes — where you are wholly focused on what you’re writing.  Make it a habit.  Your writing and your sanity will thank you for it!

   

Heather Gray is the author of the Ladies of Larkspur inspirational western romance series, including Mail Order ManJust Dessert, and Redemption.  Other titles include Ten Million ReasonsHis Saving Grace, and Nowhere for Christmas – everything from Regency England to modern-day America.  Aside from a long-standing love affair with coffee, Heather’s greatest joys are her relationships with her Savior and her family.  Years ago, Heather decided she’d rather laugh than yell.  This theme is evident in her writing where, through the highs and lows of life, her characters find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.
You can find Heather Gray at:
Buy Jackal by Heather Gray at:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

18 Responses to Wednesdays with …. Heather Gray

  1. Lisa Orchard says:

    This sounds like an awesome read! Way to go Heather! Here’s wishing you many sales!

  2. Heather Gray says:

    Thank you for having me on your blog today Christina!!

  3. Ariella Moon says:

    I always suspected you never slept, Heather! (Either that or you cloned yourself.) Congratulations on your new release. It looks like another winner!

  4. Great advice, Heather! I need to concentrate more during my writing time. It tends to get mixed up with promo time. Nice interview, ladies!

    • Christina says:

      Patricia, I had to chime in. I so agree with you. I too end up getting involved in promo when I should be strictly writing. I think
      we have lots more company than we realize. Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by!

    • Heather Gray says:

      I know when I’m at my best (and when I’m not), so I have a specific time of day I set aside for promo/marketing — because I know I won’t get any writing done (or if I do, I’ll wish I hadn’t when I go back and read it). One of the other things that helps me stay focused on writing is that I completely log out of all social media. Sometimes I’ll even shut the wifi off on my computer. (Which works great, until I need to research something!) 😉

      • Christina says:

        Heather, that’s the best tip I’ve heard so far! I need to log out or shut off the internet so I’m not tempted into distraction. Of course the
        problem is sometimes you need just that one quick fact to check….sigh. Still, I’m going to try this over the weekend when I’ll be getting some
        serious word counts in.

        • Heather Gray says:

          Sometimes, if I’m “in the zone” or if I’m really fighting distraction, I won’t even fact check. I’ll write it the way I think it should be, then I’ll highlight it so I know to go back and check on it later, and then I’ll just keep writing. Because that 30-second fact check online can easily turn into 2 hours of wandering the web… At least for me! 😉

          • Christina says:

            That’s a great idea, Heather! It’s so true. The internet is a HUGE distraction for most writers. It’s too easy for ‘just 10 minutes’ to turn into two hours 😀

  5. Debra Holt says:

    Enjoyed this format and am looking forward to more “Wednesdays with…” The book sounds like a winner and can’t wait to read it. Congratulations Heather!

    • Christina says:

      Thank you Debra! Heather was a wonderful author to kick off the new Wednesdays with…. feature. I hope you’ll stop by again next Wednesday!

    • Heather Gray says:

      Thank you Debra! And kudos to Christina for putting all this together! It was a fun interview to do, and I look forward to seeing the other authors she features in the future! 🙂

      • Christina says:

        Thank you, Heather! I really enjoyed learning about your writing process. So happy you were able to help kick off this new feature
        on my blog. Hope you’ll stop in to meet the authors that will be following in your footsteps here.

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