Saturday, June 14, 2008

Guest Author: Debra Ullrick

I'm excited to host Debra Ullrick, author of "The Bride Wore Coveralls." This book was fun to read, even though I know very little about mud-bog racing. The cover is so great, I had to find out more about it---see below. I enjoy stories where the hero is more noble than the heroine understands, but he plays it cool and lets the truth be discovered. This story's hero and heroine had that dynamic. Then, you throw in the romance and you're hooked.

Here's my interview with Debra:

Welcome, Debra. Tell us a bit about “The Bride Wore Coveralls.”

The Bride Wore Coveralls, is about pride, acceptance, forgiveness, and love.

Camara (pronounced Ca-mare-ah) Cole is a southern female mechanic, who loves to race and build bog trucks. But several of the jealous old fashioned men she competes against strive to make it extremely difficult for her—especially her long time rival Chase Lamar.

Camara, a Chevy lover, and Chase, a Ford lover, have been bitter rivals for years. Not just in the mud pits either. Camara sets out to prove to Chase, and all the other men, that she’s just as capable of building and racing bog trucks as they are. Her goal is to win the mud-bog racing championship at Swamper Speedway, and hopefully earn her fellow workers and competitors respect. When Chase becomes a Christian, Camara has a hard time believing he’s a changed man. Just when she starts trusting him and even liking him, someone starts sabotaging her bog truck. And who else but Chase would do such a thing? After all, he’s done it before.

Chase Lamar is a changed man, but proving that to Camara is his biggest challenge. That, and overcoming a controlling father who hates the Coles. When his feelings for Camara begin to change, he tries desperately to win her heart. But Camara doesn’t trust him. And he doesn’t blame her.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

For years I wrote poetry, usually in the form of my deepest thoughts and expressions. Never once giving thought to writing a book. In fact, that was the furthest thing from my mind. Then one day I prayed for God to give me something to replace a bad habit. As I was reading a novel, a thought popped into my head. I wonder if I could write a book. This story idea came to mind. I sat at my computer and wrote a book in two-and-a-half weeks. Of course I didn’t know anything about POV, active vs. passive, showing vs. telling, or succinctness at the time. But writing that one book hooked me. So here I am writing novels.

Was there anything that intimidated you about writing/publishing/submitting manuscripts? If so, how did you conquer your fears?

Not doing it perfectly was my biggest fear. I was so afraid of making a mistake, mostly because I learned that you have to send in your best work because there are a scads of writers out there and if yours isn’t good it will go in a slush pile. So needless to say, being rejected intimidated me. Another thing that scared me was I’m a hands-on learner. I have a hard time comprehending instruction manuals or how-to-write books. I can grasp some of it, but usually I just end up confused and frustrated. Then the Lord sent me a friend in the most bizarre way. This person worked with me right where I was at. She never tried to change me or my writer’s voice. She spent endless hours pouring over my manuscripts, proposals, and synopsis. As an English teacher, Staci Stallings exercised great patience with me and never gave up on me. Jeanne Leach did this for me too. In fact, she was my first mentor. She believed in me, encouraged me, and helped me. Whenever I got frustrated and thought I didn’t understand something, I would call Jeanne. She always said, “Deb, you know it. You just don’t know that you know it.” Today, these ladies are two of my dearest and most treasured friends.

What was the process for seeing The Bride Wore Coveralls accepted for publication?

It was a long process. I pitched my story to Jim Peterson at the Denver ACRW conference in 2004. (I think that was the year it was held here in Denver.) When I finally finished The Bride Wore Coveralls, I sent it to him. However, by then the guidelines had changed. So under the new guidelines, Jim had to reject it but said if I would make some changes he would consider it. So, I spent months revising it and resubmitted it. By then, Jim and Traci Peterson had handed the reins back to Barbour. They no longer bought for Heartsong Presents. I asked Traci where my story was, and she assured me it was in good hands. Then in December I received news that I would be getting a contract for The Bride Wore Coveralls. In April of 2007 the contract came.

I love the cover for your book. How do the book covers come together for Heartsong Presents novels? Is there one specific artist who designs them? Do they use models, or only descriptions from the authors?

I’m not sure if they use live models or not. All I know is, they sent me a cover art questionnaire to fill out, and I was allowed to attach pictures.

Tell us about your next project. Are you doing a series for HP?

Actually, I have several projects going. Twenty-eight books started. (I wrote several chapters of each, as I didn’t want to forget the story ideas.) One of them is my first historical, You Ordered What?

As for an HP series, Déjà vu Bride, the sequel to The Bride Wore Coveralls, is sitting on my acquisition editor’s desk. I’m also working on, Powder Puff Bride, the third and final book in the racing series.

My romantic suspense, Forewarned, is in need of a home. *smiling*

Do you have dreams where your writing is concerned? Would you mind sharing them?

My biggest goal is to minister and offer hope to those who are hurting through my stories. And of course I would love to see them all published. Right now, I’m happy writing for Heartsong Presents. I’d like to write a 100K story and submit it to Barbour. They are a wonderful company to work for. And I’m praying about whether or not to turn, The Bride Wore Coveralls, into a screen play and submit it into a Christian screenplay contest in October. I know that motor sport movies are extremely popular. And let’s face it. Have you ever seen a movie about mud-bog racing? I truly believe it has a chance of winning because of its uniqueness, its hot rods, and its racing content. Am I dreaming? Perhaps. But nobody can take away my dreams. *smiling*

Ooooh, I love that attitude, Debra! I’m behind you 100%. Thank you for visiting!

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