I have been married for 40 years to the wonderful man that God sent to me. He has spoiled me and put up with me when no one else could have. I have three children, two wonderful sons, one beautiful daughter, four grandsons, one grandaughter, and one soon-to-arrive grandaughter. I am now retired from teaching high-ability students in grades kindergarten through sixth and also served eight years as an elected member of the school board. I play the bassoon, clarinet, and the oboe and have performed in various symphony orchestras, concert bands, operas, community bands, and churches. I am currently working on a children's book and a Christian suspense novel.
Please join me today in welcoming Becky Melby, the author of Christmas Crazy, one of four novellas in the delightful Christmas collection, A Door County Christmas. Becky, welcome to Write About Now. Would you please give us a brief biographical background for those who have never met you before?
I have been married for 38 years to Bill, my high school sweetheart. We have four married sons and eleven amazing grandchildren ranging from almost fifteen to five months. Two of our sons live close, so we have six of our grandkids near enough to see every week and thanks to Skype, we can pretend we’re in the same room with the others. I’ve co-authored nine books with my good friend of thirty-plus years, Cathy Wienke. I’m currently working on the first of a three-book contemporary series for Barbour Publishing. Tomorrow’s Sun will be released in the fall of 2011.
Sounds like a wonderful family. It must have been interesting living in a house filled with males!
Becky, I saw your tagline on your blog page and I really like it. For all of you readers, her tagline is "Warm fiction with dollops of faith and sprinkles of joy." Doesn't that sound delicious?
Tell us a bit about your typical (if there is such a thing as typical) day.
Bill is a chiropractor and he works three full days and two half days, so I try to keep similar hours. On my full days, I start out by fixing a cup of tea and a fruit smoothie, curl up in my prayer chair and do my Bible study (currently in a study on Jonah by Priscilla Shirer), spend some time talking, and hopefully listening, to the Lord, check email, read a bit of what I wrote the day before, and start writing. I’ll take breaks to throw clothes in the dryer, stretch on my exercise ball, or grab another cup of tea or a handful of almonds, but my full days are pretty much spent at the computer.
Pretend you just finished your book two days before deadline. How will you celebrate or reward yourself?
I’ll have what my oldest son and his family refer to as a “Jack Squat Day”—stay in your jammies, eat whatever you want, watch movies, read...do nothing that is not convenient. The next day I’ll start cleaning and organizing all the things that have been neglected.
Ah, that sounds like my kind of day! Everyone needs one of those every now and then. What is your favorite Bible verse?
John 15:4: “Abide in Me, and I in You.”
That verse says it all! Can you describe your approach to beginning a new book?
It’s like walking up to a gorgeous buffet table! So many possible choices for characters, conflicts, settings. I start with pencil and paper and scribble down ideas until I know my characters, the major conflicts, and where it’s going to end. Writing that first sentence has a Christmas-morning feel to it.
How do you overcome writer’s block? Or is that a foreign concept to you?
A mandatory weekly word count is essential for me because I’m not a self-starter. There are many mornings when the words crank out very slowly at first, but pick up as I get reacquainted with the original spark that started the story in motion.
What (or who) most inspires you?
I am in awe of the Creator of the Universe who gifts all of us broken and undeserving humans with creativity in so many forms. That he has allowed me to write words that I pray will please Him is so humbling and just makes me want to write more.
If not writing, what would you rather be doing?
Reading someone else’s writing. Can't wait to read another one from Cynthia Ruchti! I relished every word of They Almost Always Come Home. At the moment I'm reading Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist. I knew within the first few pages that I'd be buying the rest of her books. Besides the pile of recent releases by my bedside, I'd love to have time to read classics I should be familiar with but have never read.
Can you share some words of wisdom for those who are just starting out on the path?
Write. Lots. I was lamenting some time ago about all the unpublished stories collecting dust in drawers or taking up space in My Documents, and then I thought of my third son, who has an Art degree. The practice drawings that boy threw out could paper a small house. But the ones framed in my downstairs hall are beautiful. It’s all about practice. If you want to get good at something, do that thing, and then do it some more.
Where would be your favorite place to live?
I want to be a Gypsy! There are so many places I want to experience for a short time—longer than a vacation, but not long enough to get bored. A high-rise in Chicago, an adobe home in New Mexico, St. Augustine, San Francisco... My hubby and I dream of selling the house and upgrading our RV so we can hit the road (with frequent stops back in the Midwest to love on grandkids!)
That would be a fascinating way to live. I wonder if you would ever get tired of moving around so much. It seems to me that there is so much to see and do that there would never be enough time to see it all. What places have you not been that you would like to visit?
Alaska, Australia, the Pacific Northwest, and New England. Oh, and Italy, Ireland, Norway...
It sounds like you wouldn't run out of places to go for a long time! And just think of the material you could discover for use in future books. When did you know that you were destined to become a writer?
I’d been writing stories since I was eight, but in fifth grade my teacher put my poem about a bunny (cotton ball tail and all) on the hall bulletin board with a huge red A+ on it. At that moment I knew!
It was almost like that for me too, but I really got sidetracked along the way. How much of ‘you’ can be found in your characters?
According to my husband, all of my female main characters are me. I will agree that bits and pieces of me get woven into every character, but they are usually gutsier, more confident, and more out-spoken. Vicarious living is so therapeutic—I project my fears and short-comings onto my characters and they figure out ways to overcome!
Are you a plotter or do your characters tell you what direction to go?
I’m very much at the mercy of my characters. I have to know how the story will end before I can begin, but I leave a lot of the journey up to them. A big part of editing is lopping off rabbit trails.
Anything you would like to add?
Besides the obvious advice of write, write, write, the most essential thing for a Christian writer is to seek the Lord before you begin a project or the day. Make it your goal to please an audience of One first and foremost.
Thanks for visiting with us today, Becky. It has been a real pleasure to have you. For more infomation about Becky and her previous books, you can click here to go to herblogor herweb page.
Be sure to join us tomorrow to meet Becky's fellow writer, Eileen Key.
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