CAFE: A gathering place. A place of refreshment.

Thirsty for the latest releases in Christian fiction? Ready for a peek into the world of publishing and writing conferences? Hungry for spiritual and real-life nourishment? Pull up a seat; you're in the right place, and I'm so glad you've stopped by.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Interview with Miralee Farrell

Today I'd like you to meet a new author who has just had her first book, The Other Daughter, published. I am honored to be able to help her spread the word and have her for my guest today at the Cafe. Grab a cup of coffee and join us.

Carla: Welcome, Miralee. I enjoyed meeting you at the ACFW conference in Dallas. Please tell me a little bit about yourself.

Miralee: I'm over 50, married for 35 years this July, and have two wonderful children, Marnee and Steven. I'm active at our small church, serving on staff with my ministerial license and working with women in a counseling/ministering capacity. My husband and I are looking forward to full retirement soon and taking off for a few months at a time on our 51' sailboat, where my writing will take on an entirely new creativity. We have a horse, a dog and three cats that my daughter and her husband will inherit while we're gone. Thankfully, they live on the adjoining property and are animals lovers.

Carla: The sailboat sounds fun. And so does having your first novel published. How did you get the call?

Miralee: It was rather unexpected. My agent submitted the manuscript to six different houses, then a few weeks later, I requested that she ask each to wait on completing their review, as I decided to make several major changes to the first few chapters. Five of the houses replied affirmatively, but we didn’t hear from Kregel. We assumed they hadn’t started reviewing it yet, and I moved forward with my revisions. Just as I was finalizing my changes the publisher from Kregel contacted my agent and made the offer.

Carla: What was your reaction to the news that your first baby had been purchased?

Miralee: Stunned and a bit worried at first. I know that sounds strange and I should’ve been bouncing around the house, but my first thought was, Oh no! They read the old version and I’ve made all these changes! What if they don’t like what I’ve done and want to keep the old one? I knew the new version was much stronger, as did the editor I’d been working with on the first 1/3 of the book, so I prayed and my agent asked Dennis, my soon to be publisher, if they’d take a look at the changes. They did, they liked what they saw, and the offer extended to the new book. THEN reality set in and the explosion of joy and incredulity hit me. It took several weeks before I really took in that it was sold.

Carla: That must have been exciting. How long did it take from the first word to sale? What was your journey like?

Miralee: It took me five weeks to write the first draft, then the next six months of revising, editing and polishing before it was presentable. This was such new territory for me. I’d written several non-fiction short stories that were published in magazines just prior to starting off in fiction, but I had no clue what I was doing when I began to write this novel. I’d never read a book on writing, had no teaching on structure, plot, POV, characterization, dialogue, or anything else. It wasn’t until three months before Kregel made their offer that I discovered ACFW and joined. My sister, who has done some professional editing, and a friend who is an editor and author, both helped tremendously, mentoring and supporting me through the first two drafts, or I wouldn’t have made it this far.

The Lord brought Tamela (my agent) into my life in a series of miraculous events that only He could have orchestrated, and seven months later I received the offer from Kregel. When the book is released, it will be two years since writing the first draft, and nine months since signing my contract. Kregel graciously put The Other Daughter on the fast track to publication, beating the usual 12-16 months for publication by quite a bit.

Carla: What advice do you have for those of us still dreaming of our first sale?

Miralee: I know what I wish I would’ve had, when I started out. Critique partners…they are invaluable. I didn’t belong to a group until well into the writing of the second book in my series. Through ACFW I was able to get connected and our small group of four is a perfect fit for each of us.

Don’t be too shy to ask for help and don’t be too proud to take constructive criticism of your work, when it’s offered. You don’t have to change everything that’s suggested, but if more than one person points out something wrong, take it seriously and be willing to learn. And most of all, don’t give up. If you believe that God has given you the gift or desire to write, then be obedient, even if it’s never published. When I started out, I thought the best I’d attain would be publication in magazines….having a book published didn’t seem possible. The Lord gave me this story and it needed to be written, and the rest was up to Him. My responsibility was to write it, then keep moving forward in whatever direction He pointed out.

Carla: Most writers are also addicted readers? What books on your shelf do you keep coming back to?

Miralee: I discovered Gene Stratton Porter and Harold Bell Wright in high school when I first read Freckles, Girl of the Limberlost, and Shepherd of the Hills. I love anything these early twentieth century authors wrote and own first editions of several of their works. The writing in the early 1900’s had so much more depth than much of what’s being written now. The descriptions were exquisite…that’s the only way I can describe how they wrote. The stories were unusual and you knew the characters personally, and cared about them deeply. H B Wright especially had thought provoking messages woven through his fiction that would stay with a reader for days, if not weeks to come.

Carla: What’s next for you? A sequel or something different?

Miralee: I’m working on Past Shadows (might also be called “Sheltered”), the sequel to The Other Daughter, and hope to have it ready to turn in to my editor in early November. I’ve also started something new for me, an 1880’s novel set in Washington state…I’m hesitating to say it’s a romance, but it looks like it might be heading that direction. I’m playing around with another idea for a stand-alone women’s contemporary with an unusual twist. I’m hoping to start it as soon as Past Shadows is finished. There could also be a #3 in this series, and if so, we’ll return to Brianna, the 13 yr old girl who arrives at the Carson’s door…at the age of 23.

Carla: I wish you much success with The Other Daughter. Do you have any early signs of how it might be doing now that it’s released.

Miralee: Thank you. YES! The Romantic Times Review gave it FOUR stars. I was thrilled. And I hope that my readers love it!

Carla: I’m sure they will. Thanks for letting me be a part of your blog tour. It’s a first for me, too. And a reminder to my readers. Miralee’s Tour continues until Nov. 16. Here are the links for the remaining dates.
Blessings to you, Miralee!

BONUS: Leave a comment and you will be entered in the drawing for a copy of The Other Daughter.
Read the opening scene at Miralee's web site:

The Other Daughter is available now in stores near you or from or

The BLOG TOUR continues until mid-November. Miralee will be doing interviews all along the way.
October 31st Christina Berry--- Posting with Purpose
November 1st Bonnie Leon---Bonnie's Blog
November 2nd Jan Parrish---Bold and Free
November 3rd Tina Helmuth---The Ink's Not Dry
November 4th Teresa Slack---ShoutLife Blog
November 5th Pam Meyers---A Writer’s Journey
November 6th Betsy St. Amant---Betsy Ann's Blog
November 7th Megan DiMaria---A Prisoner of Hope
November 8th Christa Allan---CBAllan WordPress
November 9th Susan Marlow---Suzy Scribbles---Homeschool Blogger
November 10th Jamie Driggers---Surviving the Chaos
November 11th Cindy Bauer----Christian Fiction Author & Speaker
November 12th Angie Breidenbach---God Uses Broken Vessels
November 13th Patricia Carroll---Patricia PacJac Carroll
November 14th Toni V. Lee---Spreading Truth Through Fiction
November 15th Camille Eide---Faith Inspiring Fiction
November 16th Lisa Jordan---Musings


Erica Vetsch said...

A very good interview, and how nice of you to host Mirralee on your blog. I've heard good things about this book.

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks for sharing your insight, Miralee. Carla and I have critiqued together over the past year, so I know how valuable great feedback is (high-fives to Carla!). I also agree that it's our responsibility to do the work and then trust God for the results. Easier said than done sometimes, but so, so important to remember.