Welcome! Please tell us a little about yourself: My life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of my characters, my family and I grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement, as well as our creation-care-centric church. I only hope my characters enjoy their happily-ever-afters as much as I does mine, shared with my husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
Why did you start writing? I found a job in a small-town flooring shop 12 years ago and soon found many empty hours in my days. Because I’d always dreamed of writing, I decided to give it a try at work. I’d never get a better chance! My bosses knew there was only so much dusting a gal could do (though I’m sure I could have done more) and were happy I found a way to keep occupied, yet still able to focus on clients, sales reps, and freight shipments as needed. I wrote ten novels while I worked there, and one more in the year since leaving the position.
How did you start writing? By opening a spiral bound notebook, picking up a pen, and writing. Yep, the old-school way. I typed it into our family computer at home in the evenings. The first novel wasn’t very good. I’ve never read the whole file since! But I learned two very important things from the experience. One, that I could, in fact, write 100,000 words, and two, that I needed to learn how to plot. Hmm. Maybe three things: it’s also very useful having a computer!
How did you select your genre? I write “Farm Lit with the voice of experience laced with humor,” which is my answer to “write what you know.” In other words, my genre selected me because of my lifestyle and my passion for the intersection of food and faith.
What is your writing day like? My alarm goes off at 6:30, and I spend the first hour or two writing or working on craft. After breakfast and a shower, I’ll get down to the marketing tasks and the freelance work I do to help pay the bills. When my hubby has days off, those first 2 hours a day might be all I have to pour into my writing. It’s hard to stay focused and disciplined, though. Does anyone else hear the siren cry of Facebook?
How do you organize your writing (outlines/note cards/post-its)? I use a program called Scrivener that allows me to keep all my research notes, character info, images, maps, outline (such as it is—I’ve never been able to fully plot a novel ahead of time) in one place. I love Scrivener for its versatility and intuitive style. I’m in the midst of writing the third book in my Farm Fresh Romance series, so it’s especially helpful to have all the extra info from the first two novels just a tab away while I work. Easy to look something up in just a few seconds, then carry on.
Do you have a list of characters that you’re saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters? Not really. My novel ideas don’t come to me in the form of characters demanding to have their stories told. I usually have the idea first (often situation-related, with writing farm lit) then I audition characters to find the ones with personalities that will interact with the situation to best effect. Hey, it works for me!
What does your work space/office look like? My office also serves as a bedroom for my young granddaughters when they visit, which means I need to be able to remove anything that would interest toddler hands! I have a long table that holds my printer and any notes I might need. Above it I keep a large inspiration board and a white board. Both of these help keep me on task as I write. Forming an L with the table is a low stand for my laptop, positioned where I can look out a window. I love having the long view out across our farm and our neighbors’ farms to the mountains beyond.
What is your go-to snack when writing? Sugar-snap peas. Really! I also allow myself one, homemade mocha and a few squares of organic dark chocolate a day. And meals, of course.
If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why? May I cry “unfair!” to this question? My favorite novel changes frequently. Today I’ll give a shout-out to GROUNDED, the debut novel of Angela Correll. It’s been difficult to find solid examples of farm lit from a Christian worldview, so I thoroughly enjoyed Correll’s tale of an airline stewardess who returns to her grandmother’s Virginia farm when between jobs and finds that the country life she fled may be the balm that heals her heart.
If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, not crocheting), what would it be? Why? Here I’ll go with GMC: Goals, Motivations, Conflict by Debra Dixon. I’ve never fully mastered plotting a novel, but Dixon’s book taught me to dig deep into my main characters to discover the major turning points in the story I’m telling. Using her method resonates with me.
Is there anything else you’d like to add? Wild Mint Tea releases March 1, 2014. It’s the second book in the Farm Fresh Romance series, but you don’t need to have read Raspberries and Vinegar to understand and enjoy it. The series follows the adventures, romantic and otherwise, of three college graduates who move onto a reclaimed farm where they plan to take the rural area by storm with their sustainable lifestyle and focus on local foods.
In Wild Mint Tea, local-foods chef Claire Halford envisions turning Green Acres Farm into an event destination. Weddings prove trickier than she imagined when the first one comes with a ruggedly handsome brother-of-the-bride, who has everything but a fixed address. Oh, and faith in God.
Noel Kenzie loves the freedom his reforestation company affords him. Why worry about deep stuff like God and commitment when he’s in his prime? Except there’s a woman who might make it worth giving up his wings and digging in some roots, if he dares.
Thank you so much for appearing on my blog! Have a blessed day!
Thank you, Karin! I’ll pop by throughout the next few days and answer any questions you or your readers might have. Meanwhile, if anyone is interested in connecting, come on over to www.valeriecomer.com and have a look around. I blog biweekly where food meets faith and publish a monthly newsletter with extras for my fiction fans. I’d love to have you join me there.
***Purchase links for Wild Mint Tea will be up soon on my website: http://valeriecomer.com/bookshelf/fiction-2/wild-mint-tea-farm-fresh-romance/