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GIVE AWAY with NORA INTERVIEWS MIRALEE FERRAL - ACFW'S MAY BOOK SELECTION



How did you start out your writing career? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?






I got a very clear word from the Lord via a visiting pastor who I really trust. He prayed with me and said he felt the Lord was directing me to start writing, and whatever I wrote, needed to be published. I prayed about it for a couple of wks, got counsel from my husband and pastor, then started writing short articles and a memoir of sorts. After three articles were accepted for publication and an author friend suggested I try writing Christian fiction. My first book, The Other Daughter, was contracted by Kregel Publishing a little over a year after I started writing it, and released a year later.




Back Cover:“IT’S 1877 AND ALEXIA TRAVERS IS ALONE IN THE WORLD.

Her father has died unexpectedly, leaving her burdened with a heavily mortgaged horse ranch. Marrying one of the town’s all-too-willing bachelors would offer an easy solution, but Alex has no interest in marriage. Instead, she dons men’s trousers and rides the range, determined to make the ranch a success on her own. But despite Alex’s best efforts, everything seems to go wrong: ranch hands quit, horses are stolen, and her father’s gold goes missing. Alex is at her wit’s end when wrangler Justin Phillips arrives in Last Chance with his young son, looking for a job. But there seems to be more to Justin’s story than he’s willing to share. Will Alex ever be able to trust him? More importantly, will the independent woman finally learn to depend on God?”








How did you get the idea for your this novel “Love Finds You in Last Chance, CA”? Did you come up with this title?
Summerside Press comes up with the titles, as all of the books in their series start with the words “Love Finds You in…” finished with the name of a real (or ghost) town, and the state.

The idea for the book came a couple of different ways. The scene with a young man running away from a church who got tackled by a passer by, believing he'd stolen something, was written after Isaw a short news blurb on TV about a similar incident.








After writing that scene, I decided the heroine needed to be a young woman trying to run a horse ranch after her father’s death. I did some research on women in the old west who successfully ran ranches and found a woman by the name of Kittie Wilkins who owned one of the largest horse ranches of her era. The book took off at a fast pace from that point on, once I had the germ of an idea for the story line.

How was it different writing this book than your first? What kind of research did you do in order to write this story?


It was quite different…my first book was a contemporary women’s fiction that took place in Washington, in the area where I live. My newest book is a historical set in 1877 two states away, in California. That meant I needed to know the geography, the topography, the climate (high mountain), plant and animal life, and all the historical facts I could uncover for that time period in that town.


As soon as I discovered that finding any information online or in books concerning the ghost town of Last Chance was almost impossible, I knew I’d have to travel to the site in the hope of attaining enough information to create a believable location. My husband Allen and I flew into Sacramento, then drove nearly two hours to the tiny hamlet of Foresthill, California where we stayed at a wonderful B&B. The hostess there helped with maps and information on the general area, and introduced us to a Forest Service Archaeologist who turned out to be an excellent source of information.
He drove over two hours with us and located the site where Last Chance once existed.


All that remains now is one small shed, a few pits in the ground where basements resided, a number of rotting cedar posts with the remnants of square headed nails placing them pre-1880’s, and a cemetery from the same time period. He also provided maps, a few books with a page or a paragraph mentioning the town. He also helped us locate the flat plateau mentioned in an 1860’s diary entry I’d found. The plateau was treeless at that time and extended over three miles long—the perfect spot for a fictional horse ranch. It’s heavily treed now, but it was so helpful to find it within reasonable horse riding distance to the town. I was also able to get a good feel for the rugged mountainous terrain leading to the town site, got to walk on one of the original trails used by the mule pack trains, and generally educated myself on the wildlife and vegetation to make the book more believable.

Is being an author everything you thought it would be? If not, what has been surprising to you?

There’s very little that is as I thought it would be. I had no concept of the work I’d go through on the editing, revising, and rewriting, nor did I know I’d be involved to the extent in was in the marketing. Thankfully I’ve been in some form of sales much of my adult life, so that part has come easier to me than for many writers. I started on this journey completely green and untaught, and have grown and learned so much. God’s hand has been apparent during this entire process. When I started I had no idea it wasn’t typical for a first time author to be contracted just a year after starting to write their first novel, so I wasn’t prepared for all that came after. I’ve scrambled to learn and grow as fast as I could, and sometimes feel I’m just keeping my head above water—but I’m loving it and wouldn’t change a thing!

What was the most interesting fact that you learned while researching and writing Love Finds You in Last Chance, California?

We discovered that Ethan Grosch, the man who originally discovered the state’s biggest silver mine, the Comstock Lode, died and was buried in Last Chance after getting lost and wandering in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. He and his partner were trying to make it to San Francisco to raise money to develop his silver strike, and got snow bound on the way. Some miners found them and transported them to town. Grosch died in Last Chance, while Buck, his partner, returned to Canada minus one leg. The sad thing was that Grosch hadn’t proved up on his claim and kept the location a secret. He stashed the map and gold samples under the roots of a fallen tree while wandering in the snow storm as his strength was giving out and he couldn’t continue to carry them. Two years later the man who was occupying his cabin until his return stumbled on a heavy vein of silver nearby and laid claim to what would be the richest strike in history.

Do you prefer to write romantic fiction?






My first and second book with Kregel are both contemporary women’s fiction, without a romance thread, so Love Finds You in Last Chance, California, is the first romance I’ve written. I was a little nervous about it at first, but quickly found out I enjoyed it. I like reading a good, clean romance that isn’t mushy, with a believable plot that isn’t just based just on the romance, so I guess it stands to reason I’d end up writing that type, as well. I didn’t want Last Chance to simply be a romance, so I wove a suspense thread into the story line that I hope will keep the reader turning the pages. I’m working on another historical romance for Summerside right now, and am enjoying it very much, but I’ll continue to write women’s fiction as well.

I know that you have another book coming out soon. Can you tell us the title and what we can expect from this book? Is it a sequel?

Finding Jeena, the sequel to The Other Daughter was recently contracted and is releasing in April of 2010. It’s contemporary women’s fiction and follows the life and problems of Jeena Gregory, who we met in The Other Daughter.

Jeena’s new job with Browning and Thayer promised big things, and she intended to take full advantage in every way she could. New clothes, new townhouse, new car and new furniture were just the start. Rumors around town cast her new boss in a shady light, but she set aside her uneasy feelings…the money was good, and his ethics weren’t her concern.

A few weeks later her world began to shake. Her salary wasn’t paid on time, and things were happening in the office that didn’t bode well for her future. Money was disappearing, and the investors were making trouble. Her boss disappeared and his partner was left to take the fall, along with anyone else associated with the company.

Jeena’s carefully crafted world begins to crumble, and her struggle with alcohol began to rear its head again. Being dragged into court to be interrogated is only the beginning....

What are you working on now? Can you tell us something about that book?

I have another historical romance, Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon, releasing in Feb., 2010 with Summerside Press. I’m currently writing this one and it’s due on my editors desk on August 1st, just a couple of months from now. They’re working on the front cover now, and I can share a one sentence summary.




Amidst a backdrop of thievery and murder in historic Bridal Veil, Oregon, a teacher is torn between memories of a distant love and the man who could be her future.
I also have two other proposals in to Summerside…one is another old west themed book, and the other is set in 1926 with a Mafia backdrop.

What do you do to keep your writing fresh and improve on it each time you write a book?

I think one of the most important things I do is reading other author’s work that I respect, to see what they’re doing that draws me and holds me captive. If I can see what works for them, I can get a better grasp on what I need to do to improve my own work. I’ve also had many opportunities to pray and interact with a wide variety of people, which helps me to more realistically develop and portray my characters.

Could you please share some of your Testimony with us?

I’d love to! I don’t have a “salvation” moment, per se…as I was raised in a Christian home and in church all my growing up years, three services per week, plus youth group when I was old enough. At the age of fifteen we had a traveling evangelist come for a few days—and his stay extended to a true revival that lasted about three wks. I truly made Jesus Lord if my life at that time, committing to serve Him in whatever path He chose for me. I’d have to say that was when my focus shifted from myself to Him and I started praying about what He wanted me to do with my life.

What message would you like your readers to take from reading Love Finds You in Last Chance, California?

A message of hope, that no matter how the odds are stacked against you, God can bring you through if you’ll trust Him. My heroine, Alexia Travers didn’t appear to have much hope of success, and the townspeople and some of her own employees didn’t want her to make it. She had to discover that God is all she needed when people questioned her motives and refused to support her. I hope my reader will not only be entertained by a fast moving story set in the Old West, but will also come away with an understanding that God’s unconditional love and acceptance is always there, no matter the situation we find ourselves in.

Did you have a say in picking out the cover for your Summerside books?

We have a little input, but most of the work is done by the graphics team. They ask that we fill out a form giving them a physical description of the hero/heroine, the main theme (in the case of Last Chance it was a horse ranch and I requested the girl to be on a horse), a description of the area where they live, etc. We can make suggestions as to what we’d like to see on the cover, but the graphics and marketing team make the final call. They’ve done an amazing job on all the Love Finds You covers and I was thrilled with what they did on mine, as well. They’re currently designing the cover for my next Love Finds You book, which is also a historical set in 1902. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

Can you describe for me a moment in your life that you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt God was real? Not just a story you read in a book?

I have soooo many that it’s hard to know where to start. I’ve seen God miraculously heal people that I’ve been directly involved in praying for, seen Him deliver people from oppression and depression after prayer, and had Him intervene in our behalf in the eleventh hour financially many times, as well. He spoke almost audibly to me with a strong reassurance concerning our son’s safety while he was fighting in Iraq as a U.S. Marine during the initial campaign, letting me know He’d bring him home safely if I’d choose to trust Him and rely only on Him. I have a very close, personal relationship with a very ALIVE God who is more willing to speak to me than I am to listen…I’ve learned that I must give him time and opportunity to speak, but setting aside time to listen. I can’t just rattle off my “want list” in prayer, then leave…I need to allow my heart and spirit time to absorb what He is saying to me. He never fails to speak to me, when I give Him the courtesy of my time and attention, and it’s an awesome experience.

Some writers plot out what they are going to write step by step and others say they write by the seat-of-their pants, which style of writing best describes your writing style?

At first I was totally seat of the pants, with no planning at all. On my second book that I wrote (not released yet, but coming soon) Finding Jeena, I did a little plotting, in that I wrote the synopsis and had a general idea where I planned to head. On Love Finds You In Last Chance, CA., I did a general outline of the main points of the story, along with a three page synopsis and have found it to be a huge help. I don’t lock myself in to a plot plan, as my characters often let me know they want to make some type of change or addition along the way, but having a general outline helps keep me on track.

Since you have horses, did you find this book pretty easy to write?

I've owned horses for 35 yrs now, so yes, that part of the book was very comfortable for me. It always helps to have close personal experience with an aspect of a book that's somewhat prominent to the story line, as the horse ranch was in Last Chance. Plus, it was something I love, and hopefully that love is reflected in the book, as well as the believability factor.


QUESTIONS YOU WANTED TO ASK MIRALEE BUT WERE AFRAID TO; SO I DID!!

1. Coke or Pepsi? Diet or Regular?

Easy one! Absolutely Pepsi and I’ve recently changed from diet to regular, but am trying to cut way down on that. I’m hoping to lose some weight and for me, Pepsi is a huge contributor to weight gain.

2.What is the neatest place you have ever visited and why? What made it so neat, special, memorable for you?

I’d probably have to say Alaska. We lived there for a year when our kids were in upper grade school. At first I kicked about moving there, as we were leaving so much behind at home. But the Lord was definitely in the move and I quickly acclimated. He plugged me in to an awesome women’s prayer and ministry group that I ended up leading after just a few weeks (when their leader stepped down). I learned more and grew more spiritually in that year than at any time up to then. It’s an amazingly beautiful state and I still have friends there almost twenty years later.

3. If you had all the time in the world (and just as much money) to do anything you wanted to do; what would you do?

Wow, that’s tough! I’m going to set ministry desires aside, and make this more personal. Although I will share that if I had tons of money for ministry I’d want to start a ranch/farm far away from the city to take street kids and prostitutes, give them a new home and train them to lead a full, productive life. But for myself? Hmm….I think two things…buy a bigger sailboat for my hubby that we could spend a few months at a time on very comfortably and luxuriously, as well as maybe having a second home where it’s warm and dry for the winter months.

4. What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

Horseback riding is at the top of the list. My mare currently resides with her equine buddies at my daughter and son-in-law’s house (their property adjoins ours), so when I have a chance to trail ride, I also have a wonderful riding partner in my daughter. My husband doesn’t care for horses, but he does love to sail, so I share that with him on our sail boat (when he’s not working on it, that is). I also love to putter in my flower beds and vegetable garden, and IF I had time, I’d be oil painting scenery…something I used to do prior to writing.

5.What is one special quality, talent or event you have or have experienced that would surprise people? Please explain.

I don’t do a lot with it now, as writing takes so much of my time, but I used to do quite a bit of oil painting. Mostly land and seascapes…and I took a number of classes over the years to learn the craft…I never mastered it, mind you, LOL! But I had fun dabbling at it.

6.Do you see yourself strictly as an author, or do you envision your career broadening in any way beyond writing?

It’s funny…when I started this journey a little over four yrs ago, I envisioned myself as heading more toward speaking than writing. Now, I’m writing nearly full time and haven’t seen as much happening in the speaking arena. I’m hoping to turn that around and even it out this coming year, as I approach historical societies, schools and women’s groups and offer to speak.

7. Have you ever been on or would you like to go on a mission trip? If you have been where did you go? If you haven’t where would you like to go and what would you like to do?

I’m not sure I’d call it a mission trip, but it might qualify. When I was 16, I spent the summer with friends of the family working and living at an offshoot of Teen Challenge…a coffee house (not an overnight facility) that ministered to kids on the streets. We did a lot of street witnessing, and had rap sessions and studies at the house with anyone who chose to drop in all hours of the day and up till midnight. I led my first person to the Lord that summer and was able to play a small part in impacting several lives for His kingdom. I developed a love for teen ministry at that time and have always had a wanted to minister to street kids or runaways since that time.

8. What would be your dream vacation?

I have so many, it’s hard to pick, LOL! Truly, I’d love to travel abroad on an extended trip, visiting Israel, Africa, Italy, Austria and New Zealand. How’s that for variety? But I’d also love to find a tropical island somewhere, that is fully equipped just for me…with a satellite for my lap top, a cozy restaurant that serves only foods that I love, a horse to ride around the island, a boat my hubby and I could take out fishing and sailing, and lots of sun and sand to relax on and read….oh, and did I mention Pepsi and chocolate on hand that are calorie free?? Hmm….yep, that works for me!

8.Tell us a little about your family. Kids? Grandkids?(Oops…maybe I shouldn’t ask that, are you old enough for grandkids?)










(It only seems like yesterday when my daughter was born and I took this multi-generational picture. Now she's married. My how time flys)
LOL! Yes, I am, but no, I don’t have any from our two kids yet. Allen and I have a daughter, Marnee, who is my best friend and riding partner. She and her husband Brian own property adjoining ours, which is where my horse lives…and we have wonderful trails to ride on without having to trailer the horses. Marnee and Brian haven’t chosen to have children and at this point, don’t plan to (they’ve been married nine years). Our son Steven married almost two years ago, and he and his wife Hannah do plan on having a family someday, so there’s hope!
(Three girls with batons is from my childhood.The one on the far right is me, with my older sister in the middle.)


My husband Allen does have an older daughter who is married and they have three kids that are our only grandkids so far. They’re wonderful kids—Tricia and Michael have done an amazing job raising them and we’re quite proud of them. I’ll be adding pictures of them to my web site family page soon.

ANY LAST COMMENTS YOU'D LIKE TO LEAVE MY READERS WITH?
Yes, thank you SO much for your interest in my writing career and new book releases. It’s people like you ladies that encourage me to keep going. If I didn’t have supportive readers, publishers wouldn’t keep giving me contracts. Thank you all for your kindness, interest and support. You’re awesome!!!

Thank you Miralee for letting the ladies in my book club and others get to know you better. I appreciate you hanging out with us. I'm looking forward to discussing your book on the ACFW Book Club Loop. For those of us that would like to join us May 20th check it out www.acfw.com

I'll be talking to you on-line soon Miralee. I'm looking foward to it.

Blessings on your writing Journey Friend.

Nora :D


LEAVE A COMMENT ABOUT SOMETHING IN THE INTERVIEW AND YOUR NAME GOES INTO THE DRAWING. I WILL BE POSTING THE WINNER ON MY BLOG MAY 30th


.****DISCLAIMER: Entering the give away is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.Void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents, odds of winning depend on number of entrants****

14 comments:

  1. Great interview! Definitely like a Pepsi person! Nothing but Coke down here in TX! The book looks great and I can't wait to read it! Please enter me for the drawing!

    Blessings
    michelle

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  2. Miralee...it was great getting to know you better through Nora's interview. I really liked "The Other Daughter", and I am excited to learn that you are releasing a sequel - I can't wait to read it!

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  3. Thanks for the interview ladies. I look forward to reading the book. As always, I truly appreciate the time you both take in putting together the interview so that we get an inside glimpse as the person behind the pen.

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  4. Fun interview! I'd love to read this book!

    rebornbutterfly (at) sbcglobal (dot) net

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  5. I'm amazed at all the research you did on Last Chance, CA, in order to write this book. Shows dedication to a great historical novel. Please put my name in the hat.

    desertrose at gmail dot com

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  6. Great interview, very detailed! I loved hearing about the research you did for the book. I'm a librarian so I love research!

    Sounds really good, please enter me.

    Gail
    bookwurm70 at gmail dot com

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  7. I didn't know that there was going to be a sequel to The Other Daughter! I remember reading that for the book club. It was a very good book. I'm excited to see Jeena getting her story. She needs her life shook up a bit! LOL

    ashley.vanburen[at]gmail[dot]com

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  8. this was such a great book, and growing up in california I have been on several school trips to th "gold country" so I really enjoyed seeing names of places I have been. I already have this book, so no need to enter me, but I look forward to the live chat later this month.

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  9. Loved the pictures of the girls with the batons. Brought back memories of my childhood when my sister and I were majorettes for the American Legion! What fun we had!

    Enjoyed the interview and the book! Thanks Nora and Miralee!

    Gail Mundy

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  10. Thanks for sharing the interview. It was great to hear about Miralee. I didn't get a chance to participate in this month's discussion, but would love a chance to win the book. Blessings to you!

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  11. Hi Gals...sorry to take so long to get back to you...family here and trying to keep up my word count on my Bridal Veil book.

    Michelle...only Coke where you live? Oh my...that would be enough reason for me to move, LOL!

    Christine and Ley---I'm so tickled that you enjoyed The Other Daughter, and I'm also very excited that Jeena's story is finally getting told. I think you'll love it. It's been delayed just a bit and will release next April.

    Helga Marie--that's cool that you've been to some of the places mentioned in the book. I look forward to reading your comments on the book club chat!

    Gail--I had such fun taking baton classes as a little girl and thought I was pretty hot stuff at whirling that thing, LOL! Glad you enjoyed the interview.

    Thank you all for stopping in and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate you and wish you all could win a book!

    Hugs, Miralee Ferrell
    www.miraleeferrell.com
    Hi Sheryl and butterfly---I'm glad you enjoyed the interview and it was fun for me, getting a chance to share with my readers. Blessings on you for taking the time to stop by!

    Linda & Bookwurm---I didn't think I'd enjoy the research part of the book, but I actually loved it. I hope you'll enjoy seeing the old town of Last Chance and the surrounding area through my eyes!

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  12. That is neat that you would want to take money to help the people who live on the street etc. What a wonderful thing to think of!
    i would love to read your book! the discussion looks so interesting!
    martha(at)lclink(dot)com

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  13. I was so impressed that Miralee got such wise counsel from her pastor before she started writing. And that she can oil paint too is so wonderful. Truly an artist.

    Gayla Collins
    gayla.c@bresnan.net

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  14. Thanks Miralee for a great Live Chat tonight. My son just picked the winner of your New book.

    CONGRADULATIONS GAIL/book wurm 70
    I'll send the information to Miralle and she will have her publisher send you the book.

    Thanks everyone for posting a comment, participating in the discussions on the ACFW On Line Book Club Loop and in the Live Chat. We can't do it without you!!

    THANKS

    Nora :D

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