Every writer has a unique backstory, and Myrna Parks is no exception. Hailing from rural Kentucky and overlooking the Mississippi River, Myrna writes romantic and inspiration fiction because, well, she’s called to. Here’s a look at Myrna’s start and her writing life today.
Welcome! Please tell us a little about yourself.
As a sharecropper’s daughter, I grew up in rural Kentucky surrounded by blue skies and butterflies. I married my second husband, a local farmer, one month after my seventeenth birthday. More than a decade ago, after struggling with depression for much of my life, God supernaturally delivered me from the quicksand of despair. Free and overjoyed, I began to share the message of hope that comes through the love of Jesus Christ by teaching, writing and motivational speaking.
My husband and I have two children, five grandchildren, and two grand-dogs that sleep with us whenever their Masters travel out of town. We continue to live in our little hometown of Hickman, which sits atop scenic bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River.
Why did you start writing?
Writing is a calling, for me, and is something I would never have envisioned for myself.
How did you start writing?
While attending a workshop in Paducah, I met an experienced writer who was teaching one of the classes in which I had enrolled. Mrs. Roberta Jones became my mentor and encouraged me to pursue writing as a career. Feeling inadequate and yet excited, I purchased several of the books she recommended, and then like a teenager learning to drive, I slid behind the mental steering wheel and began to wobble down the road of make-believe.
Initially, I planned to write only inspirational books and articles. However, since repetition is essential to mastering any craft, I decided to write fiction as a practice exercise. The way a potter fashions a lump of clay upon her spinning wheel, I squeezed, shaped, molded and spun characters within plots until I knew my pretend-people and places better than I knew myself. That which started as practice soon turned into an obsession. Even though my first novel lies hidden like a lopsided pot within the deep recesses of a file drawer, somewhere between the tortuous pages of a manuscript that was written, edited, deleted and rewritten again—an author was born.
How did you select your genre?
I have published in both romance and inspirational genres.
I selected romance because it flows naturally into my plots, and also has the broadest market.
I write inspirational books because my life’s verse is Psalm 105:1 “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.” (NIV) My devotional, To Clean Or Not To Clean: Is That Your Question, was published to help raise money for a school in the Dominican Republic that helps rescue little girls from sex trafficking.
What is your writing day like?
My goal is to work from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM, five days per week. I begin each day with prayer and Bible study. As I dress, tidy my house, and prepare to write, I mentally slip into the plot of my current novel or book. Often, I edit one or two prior chapters, which helps to restart the engine of my imagination.
How do you organize your writing (outlines/note cards/post-its)?
I keep files on each project. Each hanging folder includes research materials along with a spiral-bound notebook that contains detailed descriptions of characters, places, dates, etc. For fiction, I also maintain a small notebook to use for quick reference of characters and locations.
What’s the most surprising thing a character has “told you?”
Near the end of one novel I was shocked to discover the main character was already married to one of the men trying to woo her.
Do you have a list of characters that you’re saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters?
Absolutely, yes! I have physical descriptions, birth dates, habits, strengths, and weaknesses. Also, I keep notes on things of which my characters are afraid; even if I do not divulge this to the reader this insight helps me understand what motivates a particular individual to act as they do.
What does your work space/office look like?
Four years ago, my husband converted our garage into an office for me. With a comfy reading chair, tall bookcases, and everything within easy reach of my desk, I am blessed with a peaceful setting in which to write. I’m fairly organized, not excessively neat, but do require a sense of order before I can work productively. Our house sits atop a tall hill and with windows overlooking the eastern horizon, I have a quiet view of the neighborhood below.
What is your go-to snack when writing?
Pretzel crackers or veggie straws are my preferred go-to snacks when writing.
If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why?
After giving this difficult question much thought, I recommend All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. I’ve laughed, cried, sighed and longed to visit the Yorkshire Dales of England while reading this book. I’ve read my dog-eared copy multiple times. The author’s skill in painting pictures using words is, to me, just as amazing as the paint dabbed upon the canvas of a Rembrandt.
If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, no crocheting), what would it be? Why?
Lawrence Block’s manual Telling Lies For Fun & Profit is my go-to instruction book on writing fiction. One of the first books I purchased while learning the craft of plotting, characters, and intrigues, this volume holds a prominent place within my bookcase.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I would encourage every writer to use criticism as a tool with which to hone your craft and not a method of self-torment. Wait days, weeks, or even months before self-editing for that which appears to flow seamlessly during creation can reveal many flaws when re-visited.
Thank you so much for appearing on my blog! Have a blessed day!