Thursday, October 29, 2009

Author Interview - Rachel Rager

I finally got around to asking Rachel for an interview, and lo, in less than a quarter hour I heard back from her.  Now, that's what I'd call expeditious.  I could take lessons from her.  Here's what she answered:


Thanks for asking me do this! I always learn more about myself every time I do an interview.


What age range are you in?  twenties, thirties, forties, (which I doubt).

~I’m 28 and will be 29 in December.


You have three children.  All three daughters?  Would you like to tell me more about them?

~Yes, I have three beautiful handfuls! If I’d had the last one first I may have stopped! They are angels on occasion and I love them. Lylli is 7 and in the 2nd grade. She’s quiet and positively brilliant (and I’m not just saying that.) She tested into the GT program in Casper, but they didn’t have room for her. She loves school in Provo, though. Layla is 4 and the source of happiness at our house. She loves people and making friends and seeing everyone around her smile. Seryn is 2 and a Mama’s girl. She is energetic, always getting into things, loves her sisters and a whirl of excitement. One fun tidbit about my girls is that they are all born within 5 days of each other!


Where did you grow up? And how long have you lived in Casper?

Did I hear you are in Provo now?

~I was born in Provo, UT but moved to Casper, WY when I was 2. I lived there until I was 18 when I moved to Sacramento after I graduated. I was a nanny for a few months and then returned to Casper, where I met my husband, who also grew up in Casper. We were married in San Diego and returned to Casper where we lived for 8 ½ years while my husband went to school and got his Master’s. We just moved to Provo, UT about a month ago. My husband woke up one night and decided he wanted to get his PhD. At BYU. So, here we are. And we are enjoying it. It is much less windy here and, believe it or not, lots warmer.


What setting did you envision for “By Love Or By Sea”?  Which century?  Place?

~This is a question I’ve encountered before. The setting is obviously by the sea. It is completely imaginative, but if If I had to actually state a location on a map, I’d say it was somewhere between the Netherlands and Belgium. Originally Belgium was a part of the Netherlands but they rebelled and in 1830 or so, gaining their independence. In my mind, this kingdom is simply a small section of the land in between. Neither here nor there. Obviously I took some liberties. Since this kingdom exists in my mind, the weather obeys my every desire! (evil chuckle)


What did you experience in getting it published?  Did they require any editing or re-writing?

~I have never liked English and have never been able to spell worth a hoot. (Thank goodness for spell-check!) I didn’t even enjoy reading! When I woke up one morning and decided to write, my husband thought I had fallen off the wagon but supported me. When I actually finished, I was ecstatic and read through it and submitted it. Obviously it was rejected, and I was devastated. So I wrote another one – did research, had a few people look over it and submitted it. Same outcome. Of course, during this time, I was doing lots of reading and learning how to go about certain things. And with each thing I wrote, I progressively improved. I finally began writing By Love or By Sea, which had begun to form in my mind shortly after I started the second story. When I finished, I spent many long grueling hours trying to figure out how to go about submitting it properly and getting someone to actually read it! I had my cousin, my mom and my sister read through it and did some editing, but no major rewrites. Finally, I submitted it. I decided I’d keep submitting it until someone took it. And yes, I got several rejections before I received a contract. But finally, success!!! Oh, sweet success! From the day I started writing until I actually held my first novel, it was just over 6 years.


How did you find out about ANWA?  Do you belong to any other writing groups?

~This is where you are going to learn how dense I am. I accidently ran into ANWA years ago while writing my second book. But, not knowing how beneficial it would be, I saw that it was $10 a year and ran away with my tail between my legs. However, I did mark the ANWA homepage as a favorite and visited it from time to time. I finally decided to join about the time I decided to start submitting By Love or By Sea. I quickly realized how silly I’d been. I could have saved myself so many headaches if I’d signed up with them earlier! They are wonderful ladies and such an enormous help!! I also belong to LDSstorymakers and participate in several other groups on Goodreads and a few others. I cannot believe the support! I really should have done this years ago!


Did you sing in any operas after college?

~Unfortunately, no. I didn’t even sing in operas in college. I just trained in operatic singing. I attended Casper Community College and they didn’t offer that kind of an opportunity. However, I enjoyed it anyway! I was offered the opportunity once in school but turned it down because I was engaged to my husband. I’ve always wanted to be a mom first!


When and where did you meet your husband?

~I met my husband at an LDS single’s fireside in Casper. He had just (and I do mean just) gotten home from his mission. His best friend was dating my cousin, so naturally we were introduced. I had a boyfriend, and while I thought Shane was handsome, I felt more inclined to be a nuisance. (Possibly because he could only talk about a girl he was planning to go see that week.)

We had the fireside at our branch president’s home and I was sitting in one of those big arm chair. Well, partway through, I discovered that the chair squeaked when I turned it just right. So I did. Repeatedly! He was sitting behind me and a couple times I turned and just smiled sweetly. It drove him absolutely crazy!

After the fireside, he was showing off his hot rod car that he built in high school (a ’73 Plymouth Duster) and I thought it was pretty neat, but hurried off to my boyfriend’s house. Shane was more inclined to pay attention to another girl anyway.

So, that is the story of how we met. Later that week, he called and asked me on a date because his friend talked him into it. Instead of the hot rod I was hoping for, he showed up in an old Willy’s Jeep, complete with roll bar and no doors. I was terrified the entire way up the mountain. And yes, he took me 4-wheeling. Do you think he did that to get back at me? The rest is history! We still drive each other crazy, are completely different, and love each other more every day!


Anything else you want to tell me?

~Thank you so much for doing this, Anna. I had a great time!

Had I known it would be this easy, I'd have done this weeks ago.  Thanks, Rachel, for the interview.  I enjoyed knowing more about you, especially your romance.  I'd even like to know more.  

That's what I'm writing about -- my memories of life, romance, marriage, family, and even growing old.  I'm getting close to publication, which is both exciting and scary.  Do I want the whole world (figuratively speaking) to know all my faults?  Yet, how can I leave them out when they're so much a part of me?  Ah well.  What it takes is looking at myself as not really me, but somebody I have been. Does that make sense?  

Sorry to digress.  This blog is about you, Rachel.  Thanks.


Book Review - Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice


 Jane Austen

This might easily be called my all-time favorite book.  When my mothr first suggested I read it, I thought it the dumbest thing I'd ever read.  Only a few chapters into it, I actually threw it across the room and vowed never to touch it again.  I was a freshman in high school at the time.  

Later, after I married, I checked it out of a library to give it another chance.  I loved it.  No, the book hadn't changed, but I had.  I re-read it a few years later, and soon formed the habit of reading it once a year.

I have no idea how many times it's been, but "Pride and Prejudice" stays just as interesting, or more so, as I read it for my annual treat.  I suspect it’s well over fifty times by now.  I wish I’d kept track.

The plot doesn’t change, nor the words, but they’re every bit as charming.  Elizabeth is still enchanting, but prejudiced, Darcy proud and unbending.  They're the only ones who actually change. Jane is always  beautiful and quietly optimistic, Bingly outgoing and cheerful, and, of course, Mrs. Bennett and her three youngest daughters are as silly as ever. Mr. Bennett still teases and takes the easy way out. Lady Catherine as well as Mr. Collins remain almost insufferable, despite his marriage to the very practical Charlotte. The Gardiners are always exemplary. Lydia remains untamed and Wickham unprincipled.  

The last few pages of tying up all the loose ends felt more like an anticlimax this year, but satisfying.  The beautiful part is realizing how Jane Austen seems to love all her characters—good points, faults, and all--so I love them, too.  And another thing keeps bringing me back; her irony is priceless.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Book Review - By Love or by Sea by Rachel Rager

My e-mail friend, Rachel Rager has led an intriguing life for one so young.  I have not asked, nor read, nor heard her actual age, but she must be young, with three small daughters, a great husband, and a performance degree in operatic singing.  That ought to be enough to keep anybody busy, yet her creative instincts prompted her into writing romance novels.  Moreover, it seems she just wrote.  No classes, no assignments, just writing for the joy of it.

I made a list of questions to interview Rachel, but the push of living, of going to Salt Lake with my youngest son for a book-signing (or do you call it a DVD-signing) for the opening day of sales in LDS bookstores of his documentary, "Baby Boomerang." Although it's a whole lot about Mark, it's a great tribute to my husband, and it's really fun to see yourself on a full theater screen.  Well, it would be had I only lost those pounds I was hoping to shed.

But, I digress.  It's one of my habits.  One that increases in intensity as time, that subtle thief of youth, seems to steal my concentration, as well.

Back to Rachel.  I enjoyed the way she jumped right in with an introduction to sweet Alice and a cantankerous, old crone, Betsy Winters.  I settled down for a good read.  Yet a few things that would never have bothered me years ago kept nagging.  The writing classes I've played around with keep stressing active verbs and demonstrating emotions and character traits rather than telling about them, like I'm doing right now.  Most bothersome to me was my lost feeling for time or place.  I couldn't tell if this were in some new fantasy world, or if on earth, which century of sailing ships.  At times it had the flavor of early New England seacoast, but with a castellated palace and a real live prince and princess it had to be somewhere else. I longed to discover where. 

Don't get me wrong.  I followed the plot and the characters involved with real interest.  I could hardly put the book down, took it to bed with me and read way past my sleeping time, determined to finish before I slept.  And I did.  

How to write a good review of a book that bothered me posed a real problem to me.  So I read it again.  Yes, I still noticed much the same things, but somehow it no longer bothered me.  Then, when I read on her blog or email how little training she had, I marveled that she could spin such a delightful tale.  Maybe some of the action came as a surprise, but so what?  I found a child-like "what if?" quality that delighted me.  

And I still hope to interview Rachel Rager one of these days.

But not today.  I'm too busy getting ready to fly to Seattle tomorrow to join with the northwestern ANWA members for a delightful retreat.  Half the day, today, I spent trying to be sure I understood my son's careful explanation of how I could use a flash drive to convert files from the Dell laptop my husband used to join my WIP on my iMac.  At least I hope to be able to compose on the laptop this week and still have it when I get back home.  I lost a couple a thousand words the first time I tried to use the Dell in St. Johns.

Again, sorry for the disjointed blog.  I can usually edit to credible continuity. Actually, in the middle of writing it, I pushed the keyboard back, lay my head on my folded arms atop my desk and napped for an hour or two.  The joy of being elderly is that I can do what comes naturally.  Second childhood is more delightful than the first.

Oh, and for any who are reading here for the first time, keep coming back. I'm still planning to, one of these times, doll this site up with some kind of decoration or other.  When I learn how to do it.  Meantime, enjoy the new-born baby look that I feel.

And don't forget.  Posting a comment still gets you another chance in the drawing for an autographed copy of "By Love or By Sea."

Happy reading.