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Interview with Janetta Fudge Messmer

Does art imitate life or is it the other way around? For Janetta Messmer, the answer is yes (to both!). Janetta and her husband, Ray, travel the country in their RV, which provides Janetta with plenty of writing material. Read on to find out how her travels influence her stories!

So, what came first--the actual RV or the fictional one?
The real RV. We owned RVs while we worked and always said when we retired, we’d buy one and travel in it and that’s what we did.

How do your real-life travels impact your storytelling?
Traveling gives me so much to add to my stories. Since I write comedy – every day I see something funny or someone doing something that tickles me. I jot it down to add to the book I’m working on, or keep the tidbit for one I’ll write in the future. Travel also affects my writing in a not-so-positive way. Sightseeing takes me away from my keyboard, but I always tell my hubby, “I’m doing research.”

For some people, being full-time RVers is living the dream. Tell us one thing that is dreamy about the life you live and one thing that's not so dreamy about it.
I’m not sure this classifies as ‘dreamy’, but I love traveling around in our RV and seeing all the sights this great country has to offer. We also enjoy staying in the state and national parks. They truly are God’s splendor surrounding us on every side.

A minus to the RV lifestyle: Close quarters with my hubby and pooch. Some days (and I’m sure he’d say the same), 25 feet of RV isn’t big enough.

What's a typical day like when you're on the road?
If it’s a travel day, we’re up early and hit the road. Ray doesn’t like to drive more than 250-300 miles in a day and we’ll stop while it’s still light out. I’ll try to get some writing in at the end of the day. If we’re staying put, we’ll figure out what’s to see in the area and I’ll write for two or three hours in the morning. Then do sightseeing in the afternoon.

How do you write while you're traveling?
Guess I answered part of this question above, but will add another tidbit here. When I do sit down to write – I’m sitting on the couch with my laptop. We do have a table, but the only time I use it is when we’re going down the interstate (not as bumpy as the backroads). I buckle my seatbelt and write or edit. This allows me to get work done while Ray is driving. Always a good thing. And then we can spend more time sight-seeing once we’re settled.

Humor plays a big role in your life and your stories. What makes you laugh? And how do you incorporate humor into a novel?
There is no doubt that the Lord has a sense of humor. For those who know me – they’d say I get tickled at the strangest things. I’m not calling my hubby strange when I say this, but he’s been my comedy relief for years. Some of his antics are in the Early Birds series and he’s told me more than once that he’s glad he was put on this earth to crack me up. ☺ How I incorporate humor into my novel: I glean from what’s around me. My suggestion to other writers - take a day and sit at an airport or mall. Be sure to bring a notebook. People are amazing in what they say and do. Most don’t have a clue they’re doing or saying something funny. ☺

Your latest book is part of the Early Birds series. Can you tell us a little bit about these characters and stories? And if a reader is new to the series, can they pick up Blessing Birds without feeling lost or are your books best read in succession?
Ben, Betsy, Rose and Larry are long-time friends. After Ben retires, and Betsy agrees to the RV lifestyle, the Early Birds are on the road, wherever their RV takes them. However, the Lord has other ideas. He wants them to help humanity along the way. With Rose Wilford, it’s always humorous—and with plenty of hugs thrown in for good measure. You might want your own recreational vehicle after reading the Early Birds series.

Readers can pick up any of my books and ride along with the Early Birds. Each book is another adventure. Do I refer back to the storyline of the other books? Yes, but they do work as their own too.

Blessing Birds hints at the practice of random acts of kindness. If you have ever been the recipient or witness of a random act of kindness, could you tell us about it? And what tips/advice do you have for people who want to commit random acts of kindness?
Hubby and I have given and received lots of random acts of kindness. One in particular stands out as a true blessing. We put our name in at a restaurant and the wait was forty-five minutes. Another couple came in later and added their name to the list. We started chatting with them. When our names were called, hubby and I headed to the table. It was a 4-topper, so we asked the couple if they wanted to join us. They were thrilled for the invite. Each of us ordered and talked throughout the meal. Later, the waiter brought our checks and the gentleman seated with us said they were paying because we’d been so nice to ask them to share our table. Let’s just say surprised is an understatement.

My suggestion to anyone wanting to do a random act of kindness – do it – big or small. It’ll bless their socks off and it’ll put a smile on your face, as well.

What message do you hope readers take away from this book?
Always enjoy the journey – whatever it looks like. Be kind to others. And best of all - know the Lord answers prayers.

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Lisa Bartelt is a child of the flatlands fulfilling her dream of living near mountains in Pennsylvania. She loves reading, writing and listening to stories—true ones, made-up ones and the ones in between—preferably with a cup of coffee in hand. Wife, mom of two, writer, ordinary girl, Lisa blogs about books, faith, family and the unexpected turns of life at http://lisabartelt.com.






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