Thursday, June 6, 2013

On Tuesday, author Deborah Raney gave us a tour of her sweet new office space. Today she's agreed to answer some questions for us.

1) Welcome back to The Borrowed Book, Deborah! Tell us -- have you always wanted to be an author? If not, what made you decide to write, and how long have you been at it?

I knew I wanted to be an author the summer I was 11 and read all of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books. That’s the first I remember making the connection that books had authors and that being an author was something you could be when you “grew up.”

My granddaughter has been reading through that series this year. I love seeing kids reading good books.

2) Have you ever had a funny experience connected with being an author? For instance, has someone ever overheard you discussing the merits of one murder weapon over another or caught you shooting at a can of gasoline to see if you could make it explode?

LOL! Nothing quite so dramatic as the above, but I’ve definitely had some things happen that made me laugh. Usually at myself. At one of my early conference speaking gigs, when I was an unknown author. I was delighted when over 800 women showed up at one of my workshops. I was feeling rather smug about my growing fame when I overheard two conferees saying they couldn’t wait to hear me speak: “She’s Dennis Rainey’s wife––from Family Life Today, you know!” Oops. No wonder they were flocking to my sessions!

That's funny! But you can take comfort in the knowledge that now, they come to hear you.

3) What do you love about being a writer, and what do you like the least?
I love that I get to work from home and make my own hours. I especially love that I’ve gotten to meet some of my own favorite authors, who are now friends.

4) Are you a plotter, a pantser, or a combination?
Almost completely a pantser, but I do occasionally plot a few chapters ahead.

Viva la pantsers!

5) Do you write full time, or do you work it in alongside a full-time job?
I’ve been very blessed to be able to write full-time since the beginning. My husband has been wonderfully supportive of my writing career and has made it possible for me to devote full time to writing.

6) A supportive husband is a tremendous blessing. So what do your kids think about your being a writer?
When they were younger, they took it for granted. It wasn’t until they went off to college that they realized that what I do is somewhat unusual and that sometimes they would run into complete strangers who were impressed that their mom was “the” author Deborah Raney. I remember my oldest daughter calling me from her out-of-state college, incredulous, to say, “Mom, did you know you’re famous!” She’d returned some books to the library, had seen one of my books on the check-out counter, and expressed surprise. Apparently the librarian was very excited that the author’s daughter was a patron.

That's awesome!

7) How do you get your best ideas?
Because I write contemporary women’s fiction, most of my best ideas sprout from the seeds of real-life stories––newspaper headlines or stories I heard from a friend of a friend of a friend. Of course, I change as many details as possible to make the story my own, but when you start with a situation that’s actually happened, the story can’t help but feel real.

8) What do you do to get past writer’s block?
One of my best tips is simply to keep writing, even if it feels like your work is absolutely awful. Sometimes I find in editing that my writing wasn’t as bad as I feared. Other times I find it was indeed awful, but at least I have something to work with. Anything is better than that formidable blank page.

I agree. The worst thing you ever wrote is better than the best thing you never wrote.

9) What’s your favorite method for keeping a story’s middle from sagging?
Kill somebody. LOL! Usually if I’m struggling with a sagging plot it’s because I haven’t set the story up well enough, haven’t turned up the heat on my characters, haven’t asked enough questions. If I fix those things in the earlier chapters, there’s usually no problem filling the middle with interesting scenes.

10) Do you write every day? What does your typical writing day look like?
There truly is no such thing as a typical day. It all depends on what point in the life of a book I’m at. When I’m on deadline I need to get at least 1000 words a day on the page. The last couple of weeks before a book is due, I may have to write 2-3 times that many words. But before that deadline gets close, I often spend more time on social media, doing interviews, working on edits for the last book I turned in, or going back and forth with the cover designer or publicist. My deadlines don’t always allow, but I try to take a nice break––at least a couple of weeks between books to clean off my desk, gather my research material, and gear up for the new story. I also travel 5-6 times a year to teach at writers conferences around the country.

11) Do you like to listen to music when you write?
Yes! I’ve found that movie soundtracks are great background and mood music to write by. The music in movies greatly enhances the emotions you feel while watching, and for me, it’s the same with writing a novel. I hope those heightened emotions I’m feeling as I listen to music come through in the emotion of the novel.

12) Do you have any rituals you like to go through before you start writing, such as make yourself a cup of coffee or tea? Do calisthenics to get the blood flowing? Lock yourself in a room and warn your family not to disturb you upon pain of death? Read something inspiring? Pray?
I have to have a tidy house (beds made, dishes done, pillows fluffed) before I can write. Then I choose my music to write by, light some scented candles, make a cup of coffee in the Keurig coffeemaker that sits in my office. If it’s raining outside my window, that’s the formula for a perfect writing day!

If I had to have a tidy house before I could write, I'd never get anything written! But I agree with the rain part. Perfect ambiance.

13) Writing is a sedentary occupation. What do you do for exercise?
Every weekday at 6:30 a.m., my husband and I head down to our basement workout room for 45 minutes on the treadmill and elliptical machine. We also do stretches, lift hand weights, and run the stairs a few times. All while watching old TV series on the TV. I’ve come to rather enjoy those morning workouts!

14) Do you have any pets? Do you own them, or they you?
We’ve loved a series of cats throughout our 38 years of marriage, but now that we are traveling together several times a year, it’s easier not to have a pet. We miss having a cat in the house though, and I suspect we’ll get another one once our schedule doesn’t include quite so much travel.

Pets are good companions, but you're right--it's easier to travel when you don't have to worry about them.

15) What fun fact would you like your readers to know about you?
Though I was told as a teenager that I probably wouldn’t be able to conceive, the Lord blessed us with four children. But their births spanned the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s! I gave birth to a boy in the ’70s, a boy and a girl in the ’80s, and our surprise baby girl in 1990.

Never say never! When people told you that, I expect God chuckled, knowing what He had in store for you.

Thank you, Deborah for visiting with us at The Borrowed Book.

And readers, don't forget to come back tomorrow to enter to win a free copy of Deb's
latest release, The Face of the Earth.

Deborah Raney is the award-winning author of several novels, including A Nest of Sparrows and the RITA award winning Beneath a Southern Sky and its sequel, After the Rains. Deborah's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, was the inspiration for World Wide Pictures' highly acclaimed film of the same title, which in December 2004 aired on prime time network TV for the second time. Deb's novella, Playing by Heart, was a National Readers Choice Award winner and a 2004 Christy Award finalist. Her novel for Howard/Simon & Schuster, Yesterday's Embers, appeared on the ECPA Christian fiction bestseller list. Known for her sensitive portrayal of family struggles and relationships, Deb has also written nonfiction books and articles and often speaks at women's retreats and writers' conferences around the country. She and her husband, illustrator/author Ken Raney, have four children and make their home in Kansas.
Learn more about Deborah at


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