Good morning everyone, I’m delighted to introduce y’all to my new friend and Award-winning Author Merrillee Whren!
Merrillee! I’ve cursed technology in the beginning years of my writing journey, but the time has come to confess…I just love meeting and interviewing my author friends from all over the globe via cyberspace. Welcome to the Diamond Mine!
DiAne, thank you for having me here. I appreciate the opportunity to share my experiences and books with your readers.
In preparation for this interview, Merrillee, I took at walk through your Amazon trail and gracious girl, I find numerous books bearing your name…award-winning books…books I want to read, especially your Front Porch Promises Series. But then the paper trail led me to the Love Inspired Series and the Village of Hope Series. Either you began writing at the age of two or you don’t ever sleep.
From the time I was in elementary school, I made up stories. When I was in high school, I wrote a novel and shared it with my friends. It was like a serial because I would bring in the pages I had written the night before. Somehow, I did that and my homework, too. I never thought of writing a novel for publication until I was married and had children.
I had read a lot of romance novels because I always love a happy ending. I decided to write one of my own. I had no idea what I was doing, but I started writing. I wrote and submitted manuscripts to publishers for 20 years before I finally got a book contract with Steeple Hill, which eventually became Harlequin’s Love Inspired line. I wrote 14 books for them. I believe in God’s timing. Then I started on my indie publishing journey, mainly because I had stories I wanted to write that didn’t fit with Love Inspired. Those books are my Front Porch Promises series. I have loved writing these stories.
Books I read make me want to know more about the author than the back-cover copy allows. Tells us about the behind-the-scenes Merrillee. Husband? Children? Grandsugars? (Caryl McAdoo’s sweet label for her reason for parenting) Things you do for inspiration and relaxation?
I’ve been married to my husband for forty-two years. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. We met in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I was a school teacher and he was a pharmacist. He eventually became an executive for several healthcare companies, and his job took us on a journey around the USA from small town Ohio to Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, and Chicago, until he started his own company when we moved to Florida. We have two daughters who share the same birthday, June 18, but they aren’t twins. They were born a year apart. We now have two granddaughters, 6 and 9, who keep us on our toes. We moved to Arizona to be near them, but then five years later they moved to New Jersey. We are not following them there. Too cold in the winter.
I’m an avid tennis player. You will find me on the courts three or four times a week, even in the heat of summer here in Arizona. I play mostly doubles, and I’ve been playing competitively for over 35 years.
I find inspiration for my stories in every day events. Anything can trigger a story idea.
Those story trigger affirmations are true with me too. My Roped Series came from years attending rodeos while learning to write and then spending time in the ring as a photographer for a local youth rodeo association.
I firmly believe writers stand on the shoulders of those who’ve blazed this trail before us. For all those wannabe authors, just writing their first book authors, and those fortunate enough to have a book in line for release authors, please give us some sound, sage counsel from your experience. Things you wish you’d known before that first synopsis was sent, contract was signed, or release day dawned.
My first bit of advice is: Don’t compare yourself to other writers. We are all individuals, even in the writing world. I always tell newer writers to find their own process. You can listen to advice on how to write, and use that advice to find the way that works best for you. For years I listened to people tell me how to plot, and I tried. But that doesn’t work for me. It was so freeing to learn there were others out there who didn’t have a clue what was going to happen in the story until they started to write it.
Merrillee, when you pick up a book by a new author what are you looking for and what would cause you to close the book after a chapter or two?
I’m looking for a story that makes me care about the characters and what happens to them. I like an emotional read, a story that makes me laugh and cry. If I don’t care about the characters, I don’t continue to read the book. My reading time is too valuable to waste it.
With all the changes in the publishing, technology, and advertising industries do you believe we run the risk of seeing fewer hold-in-your hand books published? I know ebooks are handy and more economical…which do you prefer?
I don’t know what will happen to print books. I believe they won’t disappear completely. Fewer may be printed. I love reading on my tablet. I don’t have to worry about carting around a pile of books when I go on vacation. I don’t have to worry about a bookmark or losing my place if the bookmark falls out. I still prefer print books for reference books and children’s books. I often do my Bible reading online, but I still take my Bible to church, while my hubby uses his phone during the sermon.
What’s running circles in your mind or marked WIP (work in progress) on your computer…what’s next?
I’m at a crossroads right now. The fifth book in my Front Porch Promises series, A BABY TO CALL OURS, has just released. I plan six books for this series, and I have a page written for #6. But I’ve also just received the rights back from Love Inspired for my Kellerville series, which I plan to rename, Kellersburg, (my original name for the town in the books). I plan to reissue these books and would like to expand the series. I’m debating about whether to start book six of the Front Porch Promises series or start book four of the Kellersburg series. And I have two novellas set in a fictional town in Maryland. I’d like to add a third to that series. Decisions. Decisions.
It’s been interesting and entertaining having you visit with us today. I’ve seen your name on correspondence through the years, but have enjoyed getting to know you today…at least a little or ’til we have that glorious Writers’ Conference when we all get home. Do you think writing will be easier in our eternal home? I’m bettin’ it’ll be lots more interesting, fun, and factual, when we get to see Jesus—face to face.
‘Til then, thanks for being with us today. And y’all Merrillee’s offering her ebook, A Place To Call Home, from her Front Porch Series as a give-a-way drawing. All you have to do is answer in your comment, what did you want to be when you were in high school, and did you follow through? Go to Amazon.com and shop through Merrillee’s vast selection of summer reading fun.
Merrillee Whren, USA TodayBestselling Author
Front Porch Promises
A Baby to Call Ours, Book 5
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