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Interview With Deborah Raney

Here’s an author whose heart shows on every page. Her latest release, Remember to Forget, is the first in the Clayburn series. Pull up a chair and read more about this heartwarming and inspiring author.

Your latest book, Remember to Forget, released in February. Can you tell us about it and maybe give us a glimpse of the sequel, Leaving November?

I’ve loved writing the first two Clayburn novels, and I’m just a few weeks away from dipping back into the lovely waters of Clayburn’s Smoky Hill River as I write the third book in the series, Yesterday’s Embers. The residents of the warm town of Clayburn, Kansas have become so real to me—understandably, since the town is based on several small towns I’ve lived in over the years. Small-town life is such a joy! Remember to Forget starred Meg Anders and Trevor Ashlock. Leaving November, will continue the story of Trevor’s best friend, Jackson Linder and a Clayburn returning prodigal, Vienne Kenney.

As a multi-published author, what do you find to be your greatest challenge?

Balancing the writing time with the time spent on the business of writing—speaking and booksignings, keeping my website updated and sending out my newsletter, teaching at writers conferences, and the usual promotion any author does for a new book. I’m sure that at least half of my work hours are spent on the business aspects of writing. And while I do enjoy that part of my career, I wouldn’t mind if the ratio were a little more heavily weighted toward the actual writing.

How do you balance your writing time with your other responsibilities?

It’s not easy, although now that three of our four kids are grown, it has definitely simplified things. I try to put my writing time on my calendar and treat it as I would any paid job. But at the same time, one of the things I love most about my job as a writer is the freedom to make my own hours and take time off now and then. I simply must remember that if I take time off to play during my normal work hours (usually 9 or 10 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m.) then the work must be made up early in the morning or late at night.

And how does your faith and spiritual life play into the picture?

I love that my research is often like a Bible Study, as I try to discover what God’s Word says about the situations my characters find themselves in. In addition, as a writer of Christian novels, I’ve become friends with other Christian writers who enrich my life immensely with their perspective on spiritual matters. Very often, writing feels more like worship than work. And that is a blessing beyond words.

What was your biggest obstacle in regards to writing and/or getting published? How did you overcome it?

I suppose I’d have to say that my greatest obstacle was doubting myself. I’d been such a quitter before I discovered writing. There were too many unfinished projects in my closets for me to believe I could ever finish something as huge as a novel. But when I heard someone say once that if you wrote only one page a day, at the end of a year, you’d have a 365-page novel, that made the process sound possible, even for a quitter like me. Once I got into that first story and realized that I had a God-given gift for writing (in spite of the fact that I had a LOT to learn!) I suddenly felt I was doing what I’d been born to do. It was much like the feeling I had after our first son was born, and I felt I was born to be a mom. But of course, if we do our job as a mother well, we soon put ourselves out of a job!

What has been the highest moment of your writing/publishing career?

The day I found out that my first contract was going to be enough to send our oldest son to college and allow me to stay at home with our then-three-year-old youngest was the most incredible answer to prayer I’ve ever had. As far as sheer adrenaline and God-given joy, that has to be the best moment. But it was also pretty cool a few years later to go with my husband to the Hollywood premiere of A Vow to Cherish, the film inspired by my first novel.

Who/What is your greatest inspiration to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?

My husband is my greatest inspiration. Not only by his own example as a dedicated and talented artist, but also his constant support of me and my work. I owe so much to his constant encouragement and his help in brainstorming. My stories come from everywhere! I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that each novel has a different story behind its inspiration—song lyrics, newspaper articles, real life situations, arguments with family members…the list goes on and on. We writers have a tendency to turn all of life into a story.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
I suppose it’s simply that I am a unique creation of God and therefore, when I tell my stories in the voice He gave me, they come out uniquely me. I’ve always struggled with that question about “how did you find your voice?” I’ve come to believe that as long as we’re not trying to copy another writer, we can’t help but have a unique voice, since our Creator made us each as different as snowflakes.

Finish this question. When I think of marketing, I…

…get a little green around the gills. Publishers seem to expect more of authors than they did when I first started writing, and I feel a responsibility to be a good steward of the privilege of being published. But I’m most definitely not gifted in the area of marketing, so it can be a bit nerve-racking. Still, there are parts of marketing I enjoy, such as keeping my website updated, putting my quarterly newsletter together, and meeting readers at book signings. I try to capitalize on the things I do enjoy, and not worry too much about the things I’m just not good at.

Any parting words for up-and-coming writers?

If you’re not a patient person, you will be by the time you get your first contract. It’s not easy, but you may as well accept the truth that this business moves at a snail’s pace. You have to view waiting time as time to perfect the craft. And I think, too, you must realize that if God has called you to write, you need to tune in to what it is He has in mind for you to create. Instead of the novel you want to write, he may ask you to write a family history or a newspaper column or Christian curriculum. We don’t always get to decide how our gift can best be used for His glory, but if we’re writing for His glory, it will be used. And that is a blessing I’d hate to have missed!

Thanks for sharing with us, Deb!

It was my pleasure, Dineen!

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