I love Rachel Rager's web site, Clean Romance 4 You. It's uncluttered, easy to navigate, clever, and let's you know what this lady is all about.
Rachel was gracious enough to let me interview her about her newest book, By Love or By Sea, so we'll get right to it:
LIZ: Tell us a bit about yourself: where you're from, about your family.
RACHEL: I am the oldest of three and grew up in Casper, Wyoming. In college I majored in Vocal Music Performance and loved participating musical theater! I married my husband, who also grew up in Casper, almost nine years ago and we have three beautiful daughters. Beautiful and a handful! A couple months ago, we moved to Provo, UT and I am blessed to be able to stay home with my children and write! I love to sing, write, read, ride bikes, play basketball, have picnics, and spend time with my family!
LIZ: That sounds like a busy life. What is your writing schedule?
RACHEL: The easiest time for me to write is either during nap time in the early afternoon, or in the evening, after the girls have gone to bed. (My husband has really begun to enjoy several TV shows!)
LIZ: Ah, yes. It's been a lot of years, but I remember the gift that children's naptime is. How long have you known you wanted to be a writer?
RACHEL: I never wanted to be a writer. When I was young, I couldn’t spell and disliked English in general. In fact, I didn’t even like to read and was not good at it. I sometimes would have great ideas, but after a page and a half of extensive details, I would grow tired and end the story in a half page! When my oldest daughter was about eight months old, I woke up from a dream and decided to write it down. I just wanted to see if I could do it. That was eight years ago. I finished it and it was terrible! But I did it! I began another one and that one was better. By Love or By Sea was actually the third story that I wrote but it was the first one published.
LIZ: Wow! You're the first writer I've ever asked that question who didn't say they always wanted to write. We're glad you had that dream. So, with that kind of a beginning, how have you learned the craft?
RACHEL: Mostly, especially in the beginning, I was self-taught. After I was married, I began reading more and more, and when I started writing, I simply wrote in the style of the books I’d been reading. The more I wrote, the better I got. Several years after I began writing, I joined ANWA, which was one of the best things I’ve ever done as a writer. Those women have helped me more than I could have imagined. Support, encouragement, and constructive criticism has been an invaluable tool for me!
LIZ: I'm with you, Rachel. I'm a much better writer because of all I learned in ANWA, and I had already published two books when I discovered that marvelous writer's group.
Do you plot your books ahead of time or just begin writing and see where it takes you?
RACHEL: Even though I’ve only published one book, I’ve written several more. And depending on the story, will depend on how I write it. Some, like By Love or By Sea, I just sit down and see where the adventure takes me. Others, I actually map out on paper before I begin. However, in almost every story I’ve completed, I always write several scenes out of order. They’ll come to me and I write them down and then work them into the story as I go along. That’s always fun!
LIZ: I would find it really hard to write scenes out of order. What do you find is the hardest thing about writing?
RACHEL: Wow. There are so many. I’d like to say that I can just sit down and write the perfect thing all the time! But I can’t. Perhaps at the top of my list would be editing. I find editing tedious and boring. I’d much rather be creating! But editing is creating too. But I find it much more challenging. Sometimes, sitting down to the computer and staying focused is the hardest part of writing. Correspondence with friends is sometimes much more gratifying, especially if I’m not certain what to write that day or where the story might be going. Other days, writing is the hardest part. I am often surprised how challenging it is to just start writing, sometimes!
LIZ: I feel the same way. To me, sitting down at the keyboard is an act of faith. By the way, I love the cover of your book. Tell us what By Love or By Sea is about.
RACHEL: Alice Lind Frank never forgot the boy she loved when she was just six years old, even after he was lost at sea. Now a young woman, Alice has found happiness in living and working with her grandparents, and in the affections of Clarence Hielott, the wealthy shipyard owner who intends to make Alice his bride.
When a ragged sailor appears in town, Alice is reminded of the young boy who once held her heart. Upon learning that the sailor is in fact her childhood love, Caleb, she finds herself falling for him again.
But Clarence refuses to let this ghost from the past destroy his plans for the future. He exposes the secrets of Caleb’s past, and Alice realizes that the boy she once knew is now a man with a dark history. Soon Caleb and Clarence are locked in a fierce competition for Alice’s heart.
Alice must decide if she could overcome her fears and surrender her heart to Caleb or marry Clarence.
LIZ: I'm interested in why you, an intermountain-west lady, set this book by the sea? Do you have an affinity for sailing?
RACHEL: I’ve always liked the sea but have never spent tons of time there. Still, I enjoy the smell of the salty air and the sound beneath my toes. There’s something magical about the sea. And there’s something about someone being lost and then returning that has an appeal for me. Therefore, I put the two together!
LIZ: What do you want the reader to take away from this book?
RACHEL: I want readers to be able to set the book down with a sigh of longing for the simpleness of days gone by. I want them to feel a renewed sense that there can still be good in the world and they can still be happy. I want people to be able to lose themselves in the past for a brief moment and feel refreshed when they emerge and once again join the sometimes mundane tasks of today’s world.
LIZ: I know what you mean. I always feel that a good book is like a mini-vacation. Have you begun your next book?
RACHEL: I’m polishing up one with a working title of A Dress to the Heart.
LIZ: What is it about? Can you give us the story line?
RACHEL: Ivy Lewis is both provider and nurturer for her seven younger siblings. Plain and poor, she works as an apprentice to a seamstress, yearning for scholastic knowledge and finding her true love. Her social standing places her as an outcast among many, namely the arrogant Eleanora Key, who can’t seem to torture her enough. And like Miss Key, Ivy has her eye set on Lord Sterling Bennett; the contrast lying in that Ivy can never hope to capture his attention, let alone aspire to gain his admiration.
When Ivy meets a mysterious man on the road, Mr. Alan, her entire world shifts. She is no longer invisible to the world. Amid trying to care for her ill mother and her siblings, she finds herself kidnapped, courted by two wealthy men, and demoralized by Eleanora Key. Through it all, she learns her worth as a woman and the importance of maintaining the values she’s always believed in. But she must discover the secrets of Mr. Alan before it is too late.
LIZ: It sounds like you've got lots of things going on in that one. I already don't like Eleanora Key.
RACHEL: I’m also doing some rewrites on The Tiger, Unleashed, set in the 1800’s in California and A Cold Heart, which is a historical romance based at Platte Bridge Station just outside of Casper, Wyoming.
I’m also considering writing a book about Betsy Winter’s journey. (Betsy is the sour, old woman in By Love or By Sea.) I have heard so many things about her. Everyone just loves her! So, I’m thinking about that.
LIZ: You certainly made her a vivid character. I can see that it would be fun to tell Betsy's story and let us see her as a young woman.
RACHEL: I have probably a dozen stories in my head and no time to put them on paper. So I hope that you will see many more books from me in the future!
LIZ: I hope so, too! Thanks, again, Rachel for allowing me to interview you.
So, Readers, you can see Rachel's book trailer by clicking here, and you can buy By Love or By Sea at Amazon and take a mini-vacation to a rustic seaside town.
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