Hello, all 🙂 I’m happy to host Valerie Comer on today’s Friday Five. And there’s an excellent giveaway! Leave a comment below for a chance to win an e-copy of her latest “Sprouts of Love”
What inspired your latest story?
The best stories happen when several inspirations collide, don’t you think?
Sprouts of Love came to me from more than one angle. First, it’s part of Arcadia Valley Romance, a six-author continuity series, so the group chose the setting (a fictional town in Idaho) and the overarching themes (gardening, farming, and foodiness in all its glory). We each wrote a novella to introduce our vision for Arcadia Valley, combined them in one collection, and published it as Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley back in January. Since then, we’ve been releasing one book a month, and May is my first turn!
In my four stories, I’m exploring a pair of derelict greenhouses left to a church in a living trust. What would the church do with them to benefit the community? That was the main question in my novella, Sow in Love. In Sprouts of Love, the Grace Greenhouse project is underway, growing vegetables for the local food bank.
And that’s where the other inspiration leaped in from left field. Years ago, I read a story about a nine-year-old girl named Katie who grew a forty pound cabbage and donated it to a soup kitchen. After seeing how grateful people were, Katie mobilized her classmates, her family, her neighborhood, and eventually hundreds more people to grow gardens for those in need. You can look her up at http://katieskrops.com. I pretended Maisie, the ten-year-old girl in Sprouts of Love, had been a friend of Katie’s back in Memphis, and gave Maisie a similar vision.
Sprouts of Love is Maisie’s mom’s story, and a visionary like Maisie has plenty to say about her mom falling in love, I assure you!
What is your writing process like?
When I start a new series, I do quite a lot of background work. In the case of the Arcadia Valley Romances, the six of us developed our setting together, brainstorming what makes this community special. Then, once I’d decided on the greenhouse project as the thread running through my segment, characters began to audition for lead roles. I know that sounds weird, but that’s kind of how it works in my head.
I had a variety of ideas for the greenhouse project and finally narrowed it down to the ones I was most excited about… and the ones that came with characters eager to jump in, get their hands dirty, and fall in love. (Okay, some of them resisted that last bit…) I like to get to know the entire cast of characters early on, so I can psychoanalyze them with Myers Briggs personality quizzes, etc, so they are fully formed and very different from each other.
Once I have my setting, my characters, and a germ of an idea, I hop in and start writing to discover the journey!
What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?
Staying focused when another prettier, shinier idea comes along! Thankfully I write fairly quickly, but I’ll never get through my queue. For every novel I can check off, five more take its place.
How do you balance writing and the rest of life?
Poorly, I’m afraid. Writing is my day job, the kids have left home, and my hubby works out of town. When he’s away, I put in long hours of first draft and marketing. When he’s home, I scale back and try to be ready to participate in his spontaneous ideas! Overall, it seems to work.
Are you an introvert or extrovert? What’s that best thing about being an introvert?
I’m an introvert who can ‘do people,’ but being around others is exhausting. I have to make a conscious effort to get out of the house and have lunch or coffee with friends — my natural desire is to consider life a total win if I can pick up groceries on my way home from church and not have to leave the house for another week! Being an introvert is handy for writers, though. We can easily entertain ourselves with little more than a pen and notebook. Okay, a laptop and a dictation device. But still… the party is in our heads instead of noisily and messily surrounding us. That’s a win for sure!
Valerie Comer is a USA Today bestselling author and a two-time Word Award winner, writing contemporary romance with engaging characters, deep faith, and strong communities. She hopes her imaginary friends enjoy their happily-ever-afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
Sprouts of Love: An Arcadia Valley Romance 5
Single mom Evelyn Felton takes on a third part-time job managing a greenhouse and garden project for Grace Fellowship. Formerly homeless, she’s thrilled to offer truckloads of fresh produce to the Arcadia Valley food bank.
If only Ben Kujak weren’t running Corinna’s Cupboard singlehandedly, he’d be delighted to be on the receiving end. But Evelyn and her dynamo daughter, Maisie, won’t take no for an answer, even if it means restructuring Ben’s charity.
Soon Ben finds himself wishing they’d transform his personal life, too, but can true love sprout when their pasts collide with the present?
Click here for more information: http://valeriecomer.com/sprouts
Arcadia Valley site: http://arcadiavalleyromance.com
Inspy Romance: http://inspyromance.com