I’d like to introduce you to our guest today. A mother of two young boys, Naomi Rawlings spends her days picking up, cleaning, playing and, of course, writing. Her husband pastors a small church in Michigan’s rugged Upper Peninsula, where her family shares its ten wooded acres with black bears, wolves, coyotes, deer and bald eagles. Naomi and her family live only three miles from Lake Superior, where the scenery is beautiful and they average 200 inches of snow per winter. Naomi writes bold, dramatic stories containing passionate words and powerful journeys. If you want to connect with her online, stop by her facebook home http://www.facebook.com/author.naomirawlings or her Making Home Work blog http://makinghomeworkblog.blogspot.com where she blogs about balancing motherhood and writing, or her website www.naomirawlings.com
Naomi’s book, Sanctuary for a Lady, was recently published by Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired Historical line. I have some questions for Naomi, and I think you’ll enjoy her answers.
Tell us three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
I get up at 5:00 every morning to write and try to get an hour and a half of writing time in before my young boys get up.
I can play the harp.
An eighty degree day in mid July is considered sweltering and unbearably hot where I live.
The third thing sounds interesting. Eighty degrees sounds wonderful to me. You must live in the north.
Were you an avid reader as a child?
Terribly so! My mother actually MADE me put my novels down and go outside during the summer. I usually complained, saying something like, “Awe, Mom, do I have to?” And she would say yes, so I’d go find a blanket and spread it beneath the tree in our backyard and read there. Mom would peer out the kitchen window fifteen minutes later and yell, “Naomi, that’s not what I meant by going outside.”
As a child or teenager, did you ever dream of being an author?
Nope, not one bit. I loved reading, but it never occurred to me that I could maybe one day write one of those books that I loved so much. My mom, however claims she told me on several occasions that I should write a book like the ones I was always reading (this would be in between her telling me to “put down my book and get outside and do something normal”).
I didn’t start writing until after college, when I realized that I was allowed to write for fun, not just for assignments.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Gone ice fishing for half a day in 6 degree weather. It was freezing!!! So why did I do it? Hubby wanted to take me on a date. It took him about a half hour to figure out I would have been a lot happier if the outing hadn’t involved single digits and slimy bait.
Yep, I’d take the eighty degree weather over that! Brr.
What is your favorite genre to read?
Romance. Romance. Historical Romance, and um, more Romance. I rarely find myself finishing a book that isn’t a romance novel. I have all these good intentions, like “I should read The Help or Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or The Marriage Plot or some other bestselling book by some famous author. So I’ll get the book and read about the first 50 pages before I see some romance novel on sale and get distracted by a love story.
What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
Well, I am first and foremost a mom to my little boys and wife to my wonderful husband. That keeps me plenty busy already. But you know, I can’t imagine myself not writing a novel. Now that I’ve been writing for a while, I simply have to write down the stories floating around inside my head.
When I was a teenager, I would go to bed at night and think up stories in my head, and not short stories, but long ones that went from night to night to night. I loved the Detroit Red Wings, and so I invented this story once where my parents died (sorry Mom and Dad, please don’t be offended in the event you end up reading this interview). Anyway I got adopted by a Red Wing player, and then as I grew up and got older, I fell in love with and married another Red Wing player. Corny, I know. But I probably went to bed an hour early for a month straight and played out different parts of the story in my mind as I fell asleep. So I suppose I’ve been thinking like a novelist for a long time, I just didn’t understand I should have been channeling my thoughts into novel writing.
God has a way of preparing us for the jobs He gives, doesn’t He?
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Keep writing. Set aside a time every day to write and don’t give up. Guard that time, protect it the way a bulldog would his favorite toy. Very few people just sit down one day and start writing a brilliant novel (Stephanie Meyers is the only example I can think of). Most authors work at it, slowly and surely, day in and day out. And it’s the same for aspiring writers as well.
Thanks for that good advice.
Tell us about your journey to getting this book published.
I worked really hard on the beginning and then entered it in a bunch of contests. I knew the opening had a zing to it that would help it do well in contests, and it did. I got introduced to my agent when one of my contest judges liked my entry so much she sent it straight to her agent, who turned out to love what I’d written as well.
On a different front, I’d had a manuscript rejected by Love Inspired Historical a couple years earlier, but the editor asked to see more of my work. Almost two years passed before I was able to write Sanctuary for a Lady and get it to the editor (having a baby in the middle tends to interrupt your writing endeavors). But once the editor had it, she acquired the story in under two months’ time.
Wow! That is fast. How long did you write before you sold your first book?
Just under three years. I know that’s a shorter period of time than most, but I still have a lot to learn and sometimes find myself behind in the industry because things happened so quickly for me.
In three words describe your style of writing.
Bold. Passionate. Powerful.
Tell us about your latest book.
Running to freedom, she found love . . .
The injured young woman that Michel Belanger finds in the woods is certainly an aristocrat, and in the midst of France’s bloody revolution, sheltering nobility merits a trip to the guillotine. Yet despite the risk, Michel knows he must bring the wounded girl to his cottage to heal.
Attacked by soldiers and left for dead, Isabelle de La Rouchecauld has lost everything. A duke’s daughter cannot hope for mercy in France, so escaping to England is her best chance of survival. The only thing more dangerous than staying would be falling in love with this gruff yet tender man of the land. Even if she sees, for the first time, how truly noble a heart can be . . .
I asked Naomi to give us a short excerpt from her book. Here it is:
(From the beginning)
Germinal, Year II (March 1794), Picardy, France
Silence surrounded her, an eerie music more haunting than that of any chamber players. It soaked into her pores and chilled her blood.
Isabelle surveyed the shadowed trees of northern France, so different from the wide fields she’d grown up with in Burgundy. The woods lay still, most animals caught in winter’s slumber. Her breathing and the crunch of her shoes against the road formed the only human sounds amid acres of forest and earth and animals—or the only human sounds of which she knew.
She clutched her cloak and glanced behind her. Did someone follow?
Her feet stumbled over the hard dirt road, her body trembled with cold, her gloved fingers stiffened until they nearly lost their grip on her valise and her vision blurred. Fatigue washed through her like waves lapping higher and higher on a shore. The long periods of dark through which she had traveled stretched into one another until the ninth night seemed no different from the first but for the growing blisters on her feet and cramps in her arms. One more day.
She was close, so terribly close. If she could just survive tonight, she’d nearly reach her destination.
A whisper. A crackle. The hair on the back of her neck prickled. Something’s out there.
A rustle in the bushes ahead.
Isabelle reached to her waist, clasped the handle of her dagger and unsheathed it.
Naomi has graciously agreed to send a paperback copy of her book to one person who comments below. The recipient of Sanctuary for a Lady will be selected on Saturday, May 12, 2012. I will notify that person by email.
Naomi, we’ve enjoyed having you as our guest on Infinite Characters. I wish you the best with your writing endeavors. God bless you!