How does a book qualify for a Women of Faith series title?
Well, I’m not sure how it usually works, but in my case, my publisher asked me if I was interested in writing a Women of Faith novel, told me the theme was “Second Chances” and said, “See what you can come up with”.
Do you have a favorite character in Sweetwater Gap?
Why? Normally I’d say my favorite character is my protagonist. But in this case, I have to go with the hero, Grady. I love how strong he is and his deep sense of integrity. I love how he protects Josie, in his dark, brooding way. He’s the kind of hero every woman wants in her life.
How much research did Sweetwater Gap take?
Quite a bit. I always try and visit the setting before writing a novel. Even though Shelbyville is a fictional town, I based it on a certain area of North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My husband and I took our kids there for a few days and stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast. I took photos of the area and of the apple orchards, gathered information and talked to the locals.
Dr. Ronda Wells educated me on the medical research necessary for the story.
All the first hand information on apple orchards came from an Indiana orchard (Kercher’s Sunrise Orchards). The owner was so kind as to sit down with me, fill me in on the workings of an orchard, and take me on a tour. I found it all very interesting!
What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing Sweetwater Gap?
Well, this will probably sound pretty ignorant, but I didn’t realize apple orchards use bees to produce the fruit! Most orchards hire a pollination service that transports hives of bees to the orchard in the spring—about one hive per acre. They pollinate the apple blossoms and this produces the fruit. Who knew?
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
From a creative standpoint, it’s the fear of the blank page. Every day, a blank page (actually 6 blank pages) I need to fill. I always worry I won’t have the right words and suddenly the pile of laundry is calling my name and gee, shouldn’t I really be grocery shopping?
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
I love when the perfect phrase just pops onto the page. I love when I’m paring down sentences to the leanest form possible. I love that I get to set my own hours. I love working from home and being there for my kids. I love the people I work with—the real ones at Thomas Nelson, not my characters. And I love the other writers in my life who’ve become close friends.