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 Our Interview with Lauralee Bliss


 

What is your favorite Bible verse?

Philippians 4:13I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

What was your inspiration for writing in the CBA market?

I have a desire to reach out to Christians by conveying spiritual truth in the framework of an enjoyable story. I strive to bring forth a page-turning tale, supplemented with spiritual “take-away” nuggets to nourish the soul.

What inspired the concept for Love Finds You in Bethlehem, NH?
 
The story evolved from the old adage of – ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ that is, not to judge by outward appearance only. Many times we tend to judge a person this way rather than seeking the inward soul and heart as God sees it. This is what I explore within the context of this story.

Is any part of Love Finds You in Bethlehem, NH factual?
  
The setting of the book is in the actual town of Bethlehem with the backdrop of real hotels and the famous Coaching Parade that takes place each summer. And of course, there is the famous Old Man of the Mountain rock formation that many artists of the time liked to capture in their landscapes (but which unfortunately collapsed on May 3, 2003).


How closely is Love Finds You in Bethlehem, NH based on your life experiences?
 
I used to judge my own outward appearance rather harshly, so you might say the story came forth out of my struggles. The book reconciles the outward with the inner appearance of man. And to know that God Himself makes us beautiful on the inside as well as the outside, a fact I have come to accept in my own life. 

 

How did you choose the location for the setting?

I have a great love for the White Mountains, having done extensive hiking in the area. It’s a place I’ve always desired to write about. My first book ever published (Mountaintop and reprinted in the collection, New England) was set in the White Mountains, so the love of writing in this beautiful area continues in this latest work.

How long did Love Finds You in Bethlehem, NH take you to complete?
 
It took me approximately three months to write this book and then a month of revision.

Do you have a favorite character in Love Finds You in Bethlehem, NH? Why?

Actually, I like the hero in this book, Tom Haskins. He tries hard to succeed in the talent of painting that God has given him but feels compelled to please his mentor and his friends. Yet deep inside he desires to be a God pleaser and know God’s will. He also struggles with judging outward appearances rather than the inward man; something we all tend to deal with from time to time.

How much research did Love Finds You in Bethlehem, NH take?

I did online and book research. I also made a trip to Bethlehem to talk to the town historian who gave me a tour of their small but quaint museum highlighting the town’s history.

What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing Love Finds You in Bethlehem, NH?

I had no idea when I began writing the book that this little town way in the far reaches of New Hampshire was THE place for city dwellers in the late 19th century to come for a vacation, with its many hotels and guesthouses. I was also interested to learn about the famous Coaching Parade held every August that drew huge numbers of visitors to see the elaborately decorated coaches.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
 
What many face - hours and hours of work with seemingly little results, doubt, procrastination, handling rejection without making it personal, patience as projects are considered (some of which have taken years for approval!) – but after all this - joy in seeing your work brought to life in the printed page and watching how that work changes lives.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

Having a reader tell me how my story has changed their life. This means a great deal to me.

 

What is your writing style?   (Do you outline?  Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants?   Or somewhere in-between?)

I used to be an SOTP writer. But the necessity these days of needing a synopsis and/or a chapter by chapter synopsis for editors has helped me in story construction and flow. Though I still tend to add in details not in the initial synopsis. I never want my creativity to stop just because I have a synopsis. It serves as a guide only.

Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?

Oh, yes! I think of the sculptor Michelangelo who believed his subjects were caught within the white marble and needed his chisel to break free. In the same way I am bringing to life these characters and their stories as the written word unfolds on a computer screen. I don’t think of them as my own, I think of them as real people in real situations that God has enabled me to bring them to life. And they become my friends.

What other new projects do you have on the horizon?
  
I am currently working on a three book contemporary romance series set in the beautiful state of Utah, contracted by Barbour Publishing and due out in 2010. I am also endeavoring to complete my non fiction account of my hike with my teenage son in which we completed the entire Appalachian Trail together.

Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?

A woman named Jennifer Ferranti who did freelance magazine work. She encouraged me greatly in my early writing days when the rejections were many. She always believed in my work and said when the time was right the door would open. And as she used to say, rejections meant I was one step closer to being published.

What message would you like your readers to take from Love Finds You in Bethlehem, NH?

That you are special. Your talents and gifts can be used for God’s glory, no matter your background or your outward appearance. And to trust God with your secret desires and dreams, allowing Him to reveal it in the way He wishes and not to strive in your own strength to make it happen. 

What is your greatest achievement?

Many would probably look into my life and say- wow, it must be the 14 plus books you have published. Or completing a hike of the entire length of the Appalachian Trail (which I finished with my son in 2007). But the first thing that came to mind when I saw this question was – I homeschooled my son from the time he was 4 years old until 16 years of age. And that to me is probably my greatest (and toughest) achievement.
 
What is your goal or mission as a writer?

As I like to describe in my bio – my goal is that readers will come away with both an entertaining story and a lesson that ministers to the heart.   

What do you do to get away from it all?

Oh, I love to hike! I put aside two months a year to take week long wanders along the Appalachian Trail which is still near and dear to my heart, even though I have hiked its entire length. I am also a traveler, going to visit new places and scenic sights, and always with an eye and ear open for a new story to tell.

 

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