Welcome to a new edition of Women of Faith and Fiction. Thank you for joining me. I’m so glad you’re here! My first guest of the New Year is Denise Weimer!
Denise Weimer writes historical and contemporary romance and romantic suspense set in her home state of Georgia. She’s authored eleven novels and a number of novellas. As a managing editor at Smitten Historical Romance and Heritage Beacon Fiction, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, she also helps others reach their publishing dreams. A wife and mother of two daughters, Denise always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses.
Denise, who is your all-time favorite character? This can be one of your own or another author’s character.
Probably whichever one I’m currently writing about. LOL. I’m not big on favorites, but one I respected was Jenny White in my Across Three Autumns novella in The Backcountry Brides Collection (2018). She was inspired by a real woman from Revolutionary War Georgia, Nancy Hart, a six-foot-tall, red-haired, cross-eyed frontierswoman who spied on the British and held Loyalists and natives at bay with her crack shot. Jenny isn’t cross-eyed, but she is “ginger pated” and “raw boned” and utterly convinced no man could ever love her … especially compared to her dainty younger sister. Until she meets Caylan McIntosh, an impossibly persistent Scottish scout for Colonel Elijah Clark. Oh, what an action-packed love story. And I believe most women can relate to Jenny’s struggle to appreciate her own attributes.
I agree. My favorite character is the one I’m currently writing or reading about. Now, please share what your latest book is about?
I have two releasing in March. They’re quite a departure from my previous historicals. Spring Splash came about after fifteen years as a swim mom, so it captures all the heartache and comebacks that happen both in romance and sports. Traces was inspired by a TV show filmed in nearby Atlanta and actual military technology.
Spring Splash: When an injury sidelines college swimmer Anna Callaway, her dreams are crushed. She pours herself into her sports marketing practicum, helping a local special needs organization promote their athletic event. What she doesn’t expect is a swim team ripe for the Special Olympics—and their handsome but stubborn coach.
Craig Holt has dealt with eager and ignorant volunteers before. No matter how determined or persuasive uptight Anna might be about coaching his team to the Special Olympics, he has no intention of allowing her to raise the hopes of his swimmers, his sister, or his guarded heart.
Then Anna herself gets a second chance at becoming a champion. Will she pursue her lifelong goals or make room for a new dream?
Traces: When a failed romance and a $500,000 prize lure Kate Carson into participating in the reality TV show, Traces, the least she expects is to pick her partner. After all, she’s the PR spokeswoman of the company that derived a thirteen-lens, rotating camera from military use and installed it atop Atlanta’s tallest skyscraper. But she never would have chosen to evade techno hunters for twenty days with “G.I. Joe.”
Stoic, ex-military Alex Mitchell is the sort of man she always vowed to avoid, while the shadows of Alex’s past cause him to spurn emotional involvement. When Kate’s insider knowledge makes her a target of someone more threatening than game show hunters, Alex offers her only hope to reveal the dark plans of proponents of The Eye.
Love your covers! I’ll have to add this to my reading list! Please, tell us about your writing process.
I always start with research, typing everything I glean into a Word document where I also paste location and character images, maps, and timelines. I add the main plot points to make sure I don’t have any sagging spots in the story. Then I start to write, pausing to edit each chapter before going on to the next. My editing training has helped me to write tighter and cleaner up front, but I still call on several beta readers before sending any novel to my agent.
Thank you for those great writing tips! What is your best marketing tip?
Be prepared to invest time and money to get a return, especially as a new author. Plan a balance of online promotions and in-person signings. Invest your resources where your target audience is. And block time off from writing when your books release, because for about three months after your novel hits the shelves, marketing will become almost a full-time job. It requires a totally different side of your brain, and for most introverted authors, it can be draining. So consider focusing any writing during that window to guest blogging that will help promote your new novel.
Great plan! Moving on . . . What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Prepare yourself before starting your novel by attending classes or reading books on the craft. Keep up to date on trends in publishing (i.e. deep POV, active voice). What would’ve sold ten years ago won’t necessarily sell now. Lean on a critique partner, beta readers, or a professional to edit your work before submitting. Meanwhile, build your social media connections. If you’ve previously published, promote those works to beef up sales numbers and reviews. Weakness in those areas are the main reasons we have to turn away submissions as managing editors with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas—not lack of talent.
Thank you for that nugget of wisdom! My next question is . . . do you choose a word or a scripture for each year or each story? If so, please share.
I tend to choose a theme for each story. Some of the themes I’ve incorporated into past books include second chances (Fall Flip), God using what seems to be a failure/surrendering our gifts to God (The Witness Tree), self-worth (Across Three Autumns), and faithfulness and forgiveness (The Restoration Trilogy). My heroines in Spring Splash and Traces both struggle with perfectionism, while the men are challenged to let down walls they’ve put up through past hurt. I incorporate Scriptures as needed to support those themes as the characters go through their developmental arcs.
Along those same lines, I don’t like to write static primary characters, those who seem perfect and sweet the whole way through the story. I prefer to write about people struggling with a weakness or a past failure or loss who learn to overcome through God’s strength. If you see rough edges on my characters at the beginning of the story, those rough edges are covering up insecurity of some sort. Hopefully, this makes them relatable, and the reader will see God’s redemptive power at work in the changes that take place by the end of the story.
I agree. Readers relate to imperfect characters. Next question . . . Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Since about age 11, when I started scribbling in my notebooks after my parents took me to visit historic sites throughout the Southeast. My active imagination birthed stories about the places we’d been and the people who lived there.
From where does your inspiration come for your stories?
I believe it comes from God, as penning stories that share His truths is an inborn calling. Secondarily, I often find inspiration in the little-known events and places in the history of my home state of Georgia. I love to explore local legend and lore in story form.
Final question . . . I believe it’s important to encourage each other in our daily walk. Would you share a word of encouragement with our readers?
Please know you are invaluable to authors. A note from you on how a book has blessed your life may be the very word an author needs to keep going. On the flip side, a careless word could crush her spirit. There is just as much power in our words whether we are writers or readers. “The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21)
“Secondarily, I often find inspiration in the little-known events and places in the history of my home state of Georgia. I love to explore local legend and lore in story form.” ~ @denise_weimer via Women of Faith and Fiction @GailJohnson87Tweet
Denise, thank you for joining me. It was fun learning more about you. Readers, you can connect with Denise here: