Has Agent and Is in Search of a Publisher
Penname: Loretta Eidson Genre: Romantic Suspense
Tell us a little about yourself.
As the mom of four grown kids, I am the grandmother to thirteen grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. I married my best friend, who is a retired police officer. Before I retired to write full time, I served dual roles as the administrative assistant and the administrator of my church. I served as secretary for Romance Writers of America’s (RWA) Faith, Hope, & Love chapter (FHL) for one year and president of the Memphis Chapter of American Fiction Writers (ACFW) for three years. Presently, I serve on the Executive Board of the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference and oversee the one-on-appointments for the conference. I volunteer as a greeter, mentor, and community group leader at my church, Church of the Harvest. I love my family, friends, and all my social media friends. Most of all, I love my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
When and why did you begin writing?
My first writings started in the form of inspirational poetry around 1990. After a few years of stuffing poems into a drawer, I self-published a devotional poetry book, Good Ole Spiritual Food, through Xulon Publishing. Then, one day, I had an inner tug to write romantic suspense where my characters would have to go through difficult situations and be forced to trust God with their lives. In response to God’s call, I had to prepare myself and learn how to write correctly, so I enrolled in Jerry Jenkins’ four-year online writing course. It was long and tedious, but I’m glad I persevered. This year, 2020, marks the eleventh year since I began my real writing journey.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I struggled with calling myself a writer, but even more so, it was harder seeing myself as an author. The first time I had an article published and received payment was when I officially considered myself a writer. It wasn’t until someone informed me that when you get paid for something you’ve written, you are an author. I thought only those who wrote books were authors, but that isn’t the case. I’ve had about fourteen short stories published in anthologies and received payment, so I suppose that solidifies my title as an author. Albeit, I’m still actively writing novels and praying for a publishing contract.
What inspires you to write? What made you finally sit down and decide to write longer formats? Do you have a specific writing style or genre? How did you target that area?
Not to sound all spiritual, but my inspiration to write comes from the nudging of the Holy Spirit. I’m not saying He gives me the words to write, but my relationship with the Lord and trusting Him allows me insight into how to write a novel that’s not preachy. My characters must learn that they are never alone through their struggles. God is always with them, but they must trust Him with their lives. Just as we should in real life.
Suspense novels have always captured my attention. Add a touch of romance and an inspirational message, and you’ve got the makings for a clean romantic suspense novel. How else can you express God’s saving grace than putting your characters in tight places or making them face their fears, hurts, anger, and rejections? As far as writing styles, there are plotters and pantsers. I’m a pantser. I don’t outline my novel before I begin writing. I write and let the characters lead me wherever they want to go. At times, I have to reel them in and get back on track with the story, but I love seeing how the story unfolds.
Is there a message or theme in any of your writing that you want readers to share?
The central theme of all my novels is “God will make a way where there appears to be no way.” I want readers to come away with the knowledge that God never leaves us to face situations alone. If we trust Him and call on Him for help, He will. It may not always be the way we think our lives should go, because God has a plan and a purpose for each of us.
Are your writings based on someone you know or events in your own life? What books or type of books have most influenced your life or your writing? Do you have a mentor or writing group? How does that impact your work?
My characters may take on the personality of people I know, but the stories aren’t based on anyone in particular. Some scenes hold tidbits of personal experiences, with the assurance God is always in control.
Encouraging books for personal growth are always helpful to keep negativity from devouring the joys of life. Instructional books on writing may not be fun to read, but they help me develop effective writing skills.
I have both a mentor and a writing group. Back in 2007, students in Jerry Jenkins’ writing classes were assigned mentors. DiAnn Mills, a successful romantic suspense author, became my mentor then, and now, ten years later, she is still my mentor. It’s fantastic to have someone special you can ask any writing question and not feel like a dummy, or feel judged. Writers’ groups are super too. I attend monthly writer group meetings with the Memphis Chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Byhalia Writers group. I always feel energized and refreshed after meeting with fellow writers, regardless of their genre. Writers understand each other. I’m also a member of an online critique group called Word Weavers. Since there’s not a group locally to join, I opted for the online access.
What book or books are you reading now or have read recently that provoke your interest?
I’ve learned that reading books in my genre helps me maintain focus in my own writing, and in doing so, I’ve been posting book reviews on my website. Reviews are a vital part of every author’s success, and I want to do my part. Books I’ve been reading are Vow of Justice and Collateral Damage by Lynette Eason, Deadly Deceit and Silent Shadows, by Natalie Walters, Fatal Strike and Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills, Justice Buried and Justice Delivered Patricia Bradley, Killer Instinct by Virginia Vaughan, and Border Breach by Darlene L. Turner, and many more. Books outside of my romantic suspense reading are Yes, Sisters by Angelia L. White and Soul Care by Edie Melson. The lists are ongoing.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
The most recent author on the chart is Darlene L. Turner. Her first novel, Border Breach, published by Love Inspired released on April 1, 2020. She and I studied Jerry Jenkins’ classes at the same time and are long-time friends. Another new author is Natalie Walters. Her first book published early last year, and her third just released. We met at a writer’s conference and have stayed in touch. I love reading new author releases and supporting them.
What are your current projects?
Although I’ve written four novels, none of which are published, I sent my latest book proposal and manuscript to Tamela Hancock Murray, my agent, two weeks ago for her review and to be submitted to Love Inspired. Tamela is with The Steve Laube Agency. I’ve submitted several articles/short stories to various call-outs this year, and three have already been accepted for publication. I started working up my character sketches for my next novel and plan to dive into that story by early next week.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Writing, in general, is challenging, but especially when you realize there are specific rules in writing fiction. For instance, “Show, don’t Tell.” Example: Telling is “He was mad.” Show this way, “He slammed his fist on the table.” Avoid “fluff” words like that, just, as, then, very, and really, to name a few. Maintain active voice versus passive voice. Make sure there are no point of view (POV) shifts in a chapter. Describe scenes without over-describing or using too many adjectives.
Writing a query letter or a synopsis takes thought and a willingness to tighten your words. There are a lot of rules, and adhering to them is essential to success.
*Please detail the recent honors.
On May 4, 2020, I received a call that I am a semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis contest. I made semi-finalist in the 2020 Serious Writers Writer of the Year award.. What an honor! I love entering contests, and I’ve placed in several along my writing journey. In 2019, I won first place in the Sandra Robbins Inspirational Writing Award and made it as a finalist in the 2019 Serious Writers, Writer of the Year Award. I was even a double finalist in the Daphne du Maurier contest in 2018 and the winner of the 2018 Foundations Award in Romantic Suspense at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. The thing to remember about entering contests is whether or not you win; the feedback you receive from the judges will help you become a better, more professional writer.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
My advice for anyone who desires to become a writer is, don’t give up. Develop thick skin because there will be hard critiques and rejections. Writing is challenging. It can be frustrating, aggravating, disappointing, and painful, but it can be fun and rewarding. No one novel or article is perfect. There will always be someone who doesn’t like what you write, doesn’t agree, or refuses to look at it. It’s easy for me to say, but don’t get offended or take it personally. The times I received a rejection or a negative critique, I backed away from my keyboard and took a break. It hurts, but don’t let it stop you from pursuing your dream to write. Listen to successful authors, agents, and editors and adhere to their suggestions. Hook up with a critique group. I belong to three. But, the significant point here is, if you have a desire to write, don’t quit. It’s worth it in the end.
Favorite foods/colors/places to travel. What are your dreams for your writing?
My favorite food is a beef fillet with a baked potato and a salad, although I love Mexican and that fabulous cheese dip. Dessert wise, I’m a chocolate and caramel fan. I favor most shades of blue and pink. I’ve visited Italy, The Netherlands, Mexico, and multiple tourist sites in America. I’ve been on mission trips to Costa Rica, Kapoeta, South Sudan, and North Pole, Alaska. My writing dream is to land a publishing contract for my novels and keep writing.