Heather Gray is the author of the Ladies of Larkspur inspirational western romance series, including Mail Order Man, Just Dessert, and Redemption. Other titles include Ten Million Reasons, His Saving Grace, and Nowhere for Christmas – everything from Regency England to modern-day America. Aside from a long-standing love affair with coffee, Heather’s greatest joys are her relationships with her Savior and family. She decided years ago that she’d rather laugh than yell. This theme is prevalent in her writing where, through the highs and lows of life, her characters find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.
What inspires you to write?
Writing is something that’s in my soul. Anything can ignite and idea or passing thought and turn it into a full-blown story with detailed characters and subplots within minutes. In part, though, I write because God gave me stories to tell, and I simply must tell them. It’s an everyday blessing to me that there are people who actually want to read those stories.
Tell us about your writing process.
I outline and fly by the seat of my pants. Usually I outline the main events i want to happen, and fill the rest in as I write. Or — and this happens more often — I do exactly what I just said until I get to the final 25% of the book. Then I outline the ending chapters to make sure I get everything tied up and don’t leave any loose threads.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I’ve learned to listen to my characters. Sometimes they take the story in unexpected ways, develop flaws I’d not realized they had, or show me acts of heroism that add a spectacular dimension I never would given them otherwise. Every now and then I have to rein my characters in and remind the where they’re going in the story, but for the most part, I still let them decide how it is that we’re going to get there.
What advice would you give other writers?
Write, write, write, and don’t be afraid to get edited. The more we write, the better we get. And editing — I can’t speak for anybody else, but I learn so much about my craft every single time I send a manuscript through editing. In the long run, that just makes me better. As the manuscripts get more cleaned up, the editors are better able to dig deeper and help me improve my stories in a richer way. Every manuscript is a learning process.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I looked at dozens of publishers and agents before I submitted my first manuscript anywhere. The thought of self-publishing was terrifying, especially when I looked at the cost of editing. When I found a small indie press that specialized in clean fiction (though not specifically inspirational, which is what I write), I knew they were the one. They are the first publisher I submitted my manuscript to, and they offered me a contract. It’s unheard of, I know. Those sorts of things don’t happen very often, but I’m grateful that it happened to me.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Change is the one constant in the publishing industry right now. Maybe not this decade, but sometime soon, print books will become rarer – and increasingly expensive. With the advent of self-publishing, almost anybody can get their book into print these days – electronically or otherwise. A lot of people argue that this has diluted the quality of books, while others argue that it’s allowed great voices who don’t fit “traditional” publishers to be heard. I think that only time will tell. I believe that each writer has a responsibility to challenge themselves and improve the quality of their work. Greatness isn’t born. It’s made through dedication and hard work.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Inspirational Romance and Christian Fiction, both contemporary and historical
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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