I'm delighted to welcome fellow Astraea author, Heather Gray, to my blog today to tell us about her latest book, Just Dessert, and how she became a writer.
Back Cover Blurb:
Dessert…the perfect remedy when nothing in life seems to be going right.
What do you do when you are the sole protector of four children, your brothers and sisters? When each day is haunted by disappointment, disillusionment and desperation? When you believe that everyone who ever loved you, including God, has abandoned you?
You bake a pie, of course.
What do you do when you find a woman whose heart is consumed by fear? Who does not know how to trust? Who scoffs at your faith and throws your kindness back in your face?
You eat a pie, of course.
Seventeen year old Mary Fitzgerald stepped up next to the deacon, a beautiful looking strawberry pie in her hands. Today was the day she started taking lasting steps to protect her family. Pa was passed out at home, having drunk so much there was no way he would be waking up to come to the festivities at the church today.
She had been taking care of and protecting her younger brothers and sisters, the four of them, as far back as she could remember, but her pa was getting meaner and nastier with each passing year. Her brothers were getting angrier and more volatile, too. It was important to get them all out from under Pa's thumb before her brothers were ruined for life, sentenced to turn into men like their pa.
Hoping to find a man willing to wed her and take her brothers and sisters in, too, Mary had entered herself in the dessert auction at a picnic hosted by the church. The auction was one of many events at the picnic, but it was the only one in which Mary was interested. Only eligible men were allowed to bid, and she hoped to use the auction to find a husband. How old, ugly or poor – Mary didn't care as long as he didn't beat or terrorize them. That was her highest hope, to find a man who did not cause her to cower, who did not break her bones, who would not harm her brothers and sisters. She had poured all her hopes for escape into making this pie to help her find a husband. Harboring no illusions about love, Mary didn't even really care if the man was kind; she only needed him not to be too terrible.
As the diminutive deacon with thinning grey hair was about to begin the bidding, Mary glanced up. Fear grabbed hold of her heart and squeezed so tight she thought she might faint right there. Neither the sea of curious faces nor the beautiful blue Idaho sky drew her attention. Pa was coming, and he looked madder'n a hot, hungry bull. Mary couldn't move. Her breath came in short, shallow gasps as she tried to stay conscious. She was terrified of this man. They had been so certain Pa would stay passed out all day, that he wouldn't be able to discover their plan until it was too late. The kids had all dressed in their finest clothes and promised to be on their best behavior – no small feat for the boys – and now here came Pa, ruining their chance for escape.
The deacon had not seen Mr. Fitzgerald yet and was taking a big breath in preparation to start the bidding. His mouth was still open, sucking in air, when the bellow came from the back of the crowd, "That's my young'un and ain't nobody biddin' on her pie! I ain't raisin' no harlot to get paid for her favors!"
Great excerpt, Heather. Can't wait to read the book!
Aside from her long-standing love affair with coffee, Heather’s greatest joys in life are her relationship with her Savior, her family, and writing. Years ago, she decided it would be better to laugh than yell. Heather carries that theme over into her writing where she strives to create characters that experience both the highs and lows of life and, through it all, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.
I asked Heather to tell us a bit about herself
How did you get started writing?
I've known I wanted to be a writer since I was ten years old. How quaint, right? Fear always stopped me from pursuing it with any seriousness, though. Besides, my life was very full. (Well, not at age ten…but eventually I got married, had children, and earned myself a hectic life!) Then something happened – a series of events, really. I suffered a personal tragedy, a friend asked what I was going to do with the rest of my life, and someone suggested I write. So I did.
I was blissfully unaware that writing a novel or getting it published was supposed to be nigh unto impossible and fraught with self-doubt and rejection. When that manuscript was finished and polished as much as my inexperienced self could polish it, I submitted it to a publisher, and it was accepted. Almost exactly a year after that personal tragedy that prompted the writing, my book Mail Order Man was born.
Here I am approaching the one-year anniversary of my first book's publication, and I'm awaiting the cover art on book number six. Out of tragedy comes triumph? Sure, if you want to put it that way. You could just as easily say I hid from the world and buried myself in work as a coping mechanism. Both would be true. Nonetheless, I live in the magical land called Published, and I have little book-children that usually behave but sometimes rebel. Some of them are popular and demand attention, while others tend to hide in the corner. This is my life now, and while I'd give it all up to undo the tragedy that precipitated it, that's not an option. So instead, I'll embrace it and be thankful each day that I have something to celebrate.
Good for you, Heather and congratulations on getting six books published so quickly. Wow!
Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
I can think of all kinds of bizarre facts. For example, I am prone to getting dog hair stuck in my toes. Yes. IN my toes. Tweezers required for removal. But that's bizarre, not fun.
So what's fun about me? I love to laugh, and I can laugh at almost anything – even when it's not appropriate. I wear the brightest socks I can find and wear them proudly even though they don't match anything else on my body. I have a fish named Spot and a pink ceramic snail named Fifi. I crazy-love my coffee. I even named my cat Java. Sadly, she won't fix coffee for me in the morning…
I remember going through a phrase of wearing brightly coloured socks. Lime green were a big favourite!
What’s your top writing tip for new writers?
WRITE! I know, I know. How obvious, right? New writers sometimes get so distracted with what they ought to be doing, what publishers want, what readers will think, etc., that they forget the most important thing. If you want to be a writer, you must WRITE. Put the fears aside. Stick the insecurities on an obscure shelf in the very back of the pantry. Bag the self-doubt up and take it to the nearest thrift store (or garbage bin). Then write. Your first draft may be utter drivel, but unless you write that first draft, you'll never get a chance to edit, polish, and improve upon it. So get to it! (As soon as you finish reading this entire post, that is.) Get out there and write!!
Thanks for dropping by, Heather. :)