Sunday, April 22, 2007

Guest Author: Trish Perry

This week we're in for another treat as author Trish Perry joins us with a fun chick-lit release to discuss.

Hi Trish. L
et’s begin with a bit about yourself. Tell us about your family and any other fun tidbits you want to share.

I live with my 15-year-old son, three nutty dogs, and Tuffy the feral cat in lovely Loudoun County, Virginia. My adult daughter and her hubby blessed me with a grandson almost four years ago. All of these family members are insane and hilarious, and my life with them is so good.

What made you want to become a writer and how long ago did you begin?

I started writing seriously about 12 years ago, while I was still in college (as an old lady, not as an actual college-aged gal). I was completing my degree is Psychology, and I planned to go to graduate school and become a therapist. But while working on my degree, I started writing quite a bit; first for Literature and English Composition classes, then for submission. I found I really loved writing! Several professors encouraged me in that direction, so I took creative writing courses while still in school. By the time I was due to begin work on my Doctorate, I had decided to write instead of counsel. But the degree still comes in handy, especially with character development and motive.

How did you first break into publishing?

First step, grasshoppah: submit submit submit! Right?

I published poetry and short vignettes first, then essays and short stories, but all the while I worked on my first novel manuscript. That book was a spiritual warfare story, and I couldn’t seem to get a break with it. The blessing was that I had an inkling of a romantic comedy idea brewing as I finished the first novel, so I started writing a chick lit next. With my chick lit manuscript I found my agent, who found my publisher. That entire process took about ten years, from first published poem to first published novel.

Wow, ten years! Gives us writers hope. :0) Now, for your new release: Tell us about your newest book “Too Good to be True.”

Actually, Annette, even though Too Good to Be True is my second release, it is the chick lit novel I refer to in the question above. I wrote Too Good to Be True first, and while my agent took it to various houses, I started writing a follow-up, which I called The Guy I’m Not Dating. When Harvest House gave me a two-book contract, they asked me to switch the order of the two books. So I had to shuffle “history” around a bit, but I think it all worked out well.

Too Good takes up where The Guy I’m Not Dating leaves off, but they’re both stand-alone books. You don’t need to read one to “get” the other. In Too Good, Ren Young, a twenty-something elementary schoolteacher, has just reached the one-year anniversary of the divorce forced upon her by her nonbelieving husband. That same morning she learns that the adoption process they had started while married has just fallen through. Then one more stressor causes her to pass right out in the middle of the boys’ department in her local Wal-Mart. Tru Sayers, a handsome young labor-and-delivery nurse, is there to “rescue” her. Eventually they become an item, but not without difficulties. They both have formidable mothers with plans of their own. Ren’s friends, all featured in The Guy I’m Not Dating, also factor into her romantic adventure, as do a considerable number of siblings and the little boy Ren had hoped to adopt. The book tackles some sobering topics, such as divorce, infidelity, single-parent adoption, infertility, and whacked out control-freak mamas, but it is fun all the way.

What was your favorite aspect of writing it?

I think the humor was what I enjoyed the most. I had just come off a rather serious manuscript when I started writing Too Good to Be True, and I was itching to have some fun. Amusing situations and lines of dialogue kept coming to me as I completed my spiritual-warfare manuscript, and I struggled to stay focused. So I wrote Too Good with a great sense of release.

How much of your own story goes into your novels?

Not much. My storylines are never autobiographical. But certainly plenty of me goes into my novels. I can’t help but bleed into my main characters, especially in their dialogue. Much of my attitude is in there, but not a great deal of my story.

One thing that I do sometimes include is, if my son and I have a funny conversation, for instance, and a particularly good line pops out there, I’ll save it in a file for a place in one of my books. Or if I’m going along minding my own business and my imagination wonders what my particular situation at that moment would be like “if . . . ,” I’ll jot that scenario down for the file, too.

But you have to watch it when you put your own life into your fiction. Real life should be appreciated and kept pretty sacred, I think. Sometimes I consider that old movie, “Starting Over,” in which a songwriter would immediately sit down to write a song based on something she’d just experienced, even if it was hugely traumatic. She viewed her real life as one big brainstorming session. She was hilarious and awful; I don’t ever want to become like that.

How much has your writing changed since your last release (“The Guy I’m Not Dating”)?

I think I’m more pensive before I start writing now. I do a bit more “head work” than I used to, before sitting down to the computer. It’s like playing chess (which I don’t do, so I’m guessing here, or possibly I’m full of baloney). Rather than just sitting down and making moves, I ponder several moves ahead now before writing anything. So I’m more likely to write something in Chapter One that is groundwork for Chapter Ten. It all works out about the same, really, because there is such a thing as revision, where you go back and make those necessary adjustments and additions during your rewrites. But this change in style isn’t deliberate. It’s just the way I find I’m writing these days.

What are you writing now and do you have release dates for upcoming novels?

No release dates yet, alas. I started the third book in my current series, tentatively titled, ‘Til Depth Do Us Part. It features two characters from the first two books, whom readers keep suggesting as main characters after reading the first two books. That makes me happy; as if I chose well for the third book idea. But I’ve had to set that aside and am now putting together something Harvest House wants to consider. In Too Good to Be True, my heroine checks out a book from the library, the title of which I made up, without a great deal of thought. My editor loved the title and asked me to think about writing a book around it. Isn’t that a fun idea? And I’m also putting together a possible five-book proposal, which my agent would like to show to some houses. All of those future books are up in the air right now. We’ll see which happens first!

Sounds exciting! What advice do you have for aspiring writers who await seeing their names in print?

Pray first, of course. If you’re writing to show appreciation for the gift He gave you, you’ll want to be sure to stay under His wing while doing it. He does such amazing things, in His own time, and His guidance is of absolute importance.

Try to get to a conference or two, join a local writing group, join an online writing group (American Christian Fiction Writers is the best) [amen!], and read about the craft. I’d be happy to supply a list of suggested reading to anyone who wants to write me, care of my website (

And just keep writing. A writer so worthy of respect is that person who just plugs away, despite not being published yet. She has manuscripts stacking up, and she keeps writing and doing the above things while submitting, waiting, hoping. When she gets signed, she’s going to have so much to offer her publishers. And when a publisher considers one of her manuscripts and asks, “How serious is this writer? Does she have anything else written?” she’ll wow the publishers with her devotion to writing. What you’re writing now, whether it gets published or not, is never time wasted.

What a great perspective. One last question, what is your biggest dream?

Yikes! I’ll stick with the writing realm for that one, just to make it simpler! I dream of a point in time when I’ll feel confident in stepping up to a podium to share the Lord and myself with readers and fellow writers. I’ve already realized part of that dream, in the form of reader feedback. When the Lord moves a reader to express joy or blessing to me because of something I wrote, He moves me a bit closer to feeling confident that others will feel joy or blessing if I represent Him well as a speaker. When I listen to a writer/speaker like Liz Curtis Higgs or Florence Littauer, I see Him using them. I dream of His using me that way.

Thanks for sharing with us, Trish! God bless your endeavors!

No comments: