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Interview with Misty M. Beller

Historical fiction is a safe haven for today’s featured author Misty M. Beller and as a woman who believes in God, she feels a draw to write romantic fiction from a Christian perspective. Misty describes Christian fiction as a “safe zone” where her “imagination and emotions can run wild and free, living out exciting times and experiencing God-orchestrated happily-ever-afters.” She’s a Southern belle who loves the family values and strong work ethic that she learned from her parents while growing up on the family farm in South Carolina. So it’s no surprise that Misty draws from her Southern experience and settings for her fictional stories. Today, Misty is here to talk about her stories, family, farm life and why she left her corporate job to pursue her passion.

You shared on your official website that your “love affair [with books] only grows stronger” as you age. When did your love affair with books start? Share the story.
I've loved reading as far back as I can remember. Horse books. Fiction. Anything I could get my hands on. My parents helped me build a window seat in my bedroom, and I would sit with a book for hours at a time, until my mom would finally force me to go outside and get some fresh air.

What did you like the most about growing up on a farm in South Carolina?
Oh, wow. Where to start? There's such a peace that permeates the place. It quickly sinks in and settles my spirit. We keep our horses in a large pasture (about 150 acres), and so many times I would hike out to bring them in. Listening to the gentle bird calls, woodpeckers drilling, squirrels chattering and dogs barking in the distance. Stretching my legs and putting in honest, hard work. It helps re-center me on the important things.

Where do you reside now and what do you love the most about living there?
We live in a country home about five minutes from the family farm. A creek runs through our two-acre backyard, which gives so much room for my girls to explore and play. It's almost as peaceful as where I grew up.

When did you know you are a writer?
I've always enjoyed writing; always expressed myself best through written communication. But I never dreamed I could be a "real writer."

Several years ago I was putting together my bucket list, and realized that I really did want to write a novel. So, "Write a novel that's published" made it near the top!

I decided, it's now or never, and made the commitment to do it. So, I had a general idea that I wanted it to be a Christian western romance. But where to start? I finally decided I needed to find a good book to help me plan. I stumbled upon (a.k.a. God led me to) the best possible book to help me get started with a great plan: Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. For all you writers out there, I can't recommend it highly enough!

From there, I've soaked in every bit of writing instruction I can from some amazing groups and individuals. And I've spent countless hours sitting with my laptop pouring out words onto the screen. Writing is in my blood. It's my passion. A true gift from my Heavenly Father, and I pray daily that he uses the words for His purpose.

Are you traditionally published or an indie author? Explain.
I'm a hybrid author. I was first contracted with Prism Book Group for The Rancher Takes a Cook, and since then, I've released the first two books in the Mountain Dreams Series as an indie author.

Do you have an agent? If yes, share how that happened. List your agent's name and your publisher's name too.
I don't have an agent. My editor with Prism Book Group is Paula Mowery (and she's amazing!).

Your new book—scheduled to release on June 26—is titled The Rancher Takes a Cook. What a creative title! Tell me about it.
This was the very first book I wrote, and I'm honored to have Prism Book Group release it! My editor, Paula Mowery, has been amazing, working through my rough scenes to make them shine.

The story's set in 1865, as the Civil War has just ended. When their South Carolina home burns to the ground, Anna Stewart’s only choice is to move with her younger brother to the wilds of a Texas ranch.

Their prospects are beginning to look better, until the rancher’s son, Jacob O’Brien, shows up with his alarmingly blue eyes to put a kink in Anna’s well-controlled plans.

When danger escalates in the form of a band of cattle thieves with deadly intent, can Anna learn to release control to God’s capable hands…and those of the blue-eyed cowboy who’s stolen her heart?

Your leading lady for The Rancher Takes a Cook is Anna Stewart. What makes her special? What are her unique character strengths and flaws?
Anna's lost so much—both parents, her home, and all of life as she knew it. The only tangible thing she has left is her younger brother Edward. And she's fiercely determined to protect him. So much that she struggles to trust God's will for them both.

Your hero for The Rancher Takes a Cook is Jacob O’Brien. What makes him strong? What makes him weak? What is his role in Anna’s life?
Jacob has the most gorgeous crystal blue eyes, almost like the darker blue water in the center of this photo.


Love for the ranch and the life he was raised in drives him. He's worked hard to keep women out of his life, because of the distraction they caused. The land, the animals, his ranch hands—they all needed him to stay focused. When his father brings Anna onto the ranch as the cook, he's pretty frustrated and keeps his distance.

As he gets to know Anna, though, he realizes that she's not a distraction, but actually a helpmate. She has the same dreams and goals he has, and together, life is so much sweeter.

What do you want your readers to remember most about your new book, The Rancher Takes a Cook?
The theme through all my books is Following God's Leading, and this book especially addresses how much better things go when we give up control and let him guide us. My theme verse for this story is:
Cast your burden on the Lord,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved
Psalm 55:22 (NKJV)
How did farm life influence your life as an author?
It taught me to appreciate hard work, peaceful settings, and the value of family. All of which are consistent throughout my stories!

Why do you write Christian historical romance and not another category?
I tend to be a bit of a sentimentalist, so Historical Romance is perfect for me! I love the simpler life, where there's no rat race. Just hard work, plenty of alone time (can you tell I'm an introvert?), and a strong family unit. My stories usual center around horses and ranching, which comes from my love for the animals. I was completely horse crazy growing up, and actually trained and showed horses professionally for a couple years after high school.

Why is Christian romantic fiction more of a draw for you than other genres?
It's a safe place where I can lose myself in the story, without worrying about language or scenes that will make me blush.

As a reader and writer, in what ways is historical fiction a haven for you?
I love to go back to the simpler life. I think that's why all my books are set prior to 1880. With so many amazing inventions around that time, life changed dramatically. It certainly became easier to survive, but more complicated, too. I love the earlier days when people had to rely on each other. Families were close. Hard work was a way of life.

Looking back over your writing career, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
One thing most significant? That's tough. I guess it would be the time I've spent praying over God's direction for each of my books. For The Rancher Takes a Cook, He led me to Prism Book Group. For the books in my Mountain Dreams Series, I felt strongly God was pushing me to indie publish them. I'm working on a third series, and have been praying for months now that God would make it clear which direction He wants them to go.

It all comes down to which tool He wants to use to reach the people He has chosen for each story. More than anything, I want His will!

As an author, what is your biggest challenge?
Fitting it all in. Between my "day job," my family, and writing, there is zero time left each day. I've actually just resigned from the corporate world, so I'm looking forward to finding better balance and refocusing on the important things.

How does your faith in God affect your storytelling?
With all my heart, I want to write the words God has planned for me. I worry that I'm not creating a strong enough plot. Not building an emotional connection with the characters. But God regularly reminds me that this is the path He has planned for me. The story He's given me to write. I do my very best, then I have to rely on Him to use it for His glory.

What is your biggest inspiration as a writer?
I still love to read, and many times as I'm engrossed in a book, my mind takes a tangent and brainstorms something for my own stories. Maybe it's a personality trait, a setting, a snippet of plot.

How do you create—and name—your characters? Give us insight into your creative process.
Characters are where I start my stories. Typically as I'm writing the previous book, characters for the next book will start to form in my mind. I always keep a Brainstorming document available and jot down anything that comes to me. Then when I'm ready to develop those characters, I begin to fill in my character chart, including motivations and spiritual arcs.

Names are so much fun! I select the last name based off the genealogy of the character (English, Irish, etc.). First names usually just come to me.

What is your go-to food or drink when you’re on deadline?
Coffee! Sometimes I'll alternate with a Diet Coke, or my favorite, Mountain Dew.

If you could have coffee with one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?
Hmm… It might be Leah from The Lady and the Mountain Man. She's such an elegant, well-spoken woman, who wants God's direction for every decision. I know, sounds perfect, right? None of that came easy, though. And the times she forged out on her own without waiting for God almost ended in tragedy. I love all my characters, but I've always felt an affinity with Leah.

Who are your top three favorite authors? List their names, your favorite books by them and share a little detail of why you love these authors and their work so much.
Karen Witemeyer and my favorite of her books, Short Straw Bride. Karen's a terrific author, and I think her stories influenced my writing in many ways. I've read this particular book at least a dozen times, and still laugh as I reread it again!

Kristen Heitzmann and her two connected series, The Diamond of the Rockies Series and The Michelli Family Series. I love all of Kristen's books, but these are the ones I've read over and over. I had the honor of meeting Kristen at a workshop earlier this year. What a special lady!

Lisa Wingate and her two series set in Texas, the Daily Texas Series and the Texas Hill Country Series. These books are so, so funny! If I ever branch into Contemporary Romance, I want to be just like Lisa.

You’ve said that your husband and two daughters keep you “both grounded and crazy.” Share a snapshot of your personal life that proves your statement true.
Prior to sitting down for this interview, I spent the morning oohing over my 3-year-old's watercolor painting, fixing breakfast twice (my girls can be bottomless pits!), assembling a desk for my 7-year-old from 2,000 parts and pieces that we bought on eBay (it took 3 hours to put together!), took the dogs out twice, and (whew!) finally sat down to drink my second cup of coffee. What a relief to visit with you, Alexis!

Complete this sentence: When I am not writing, I love to__________________ because__________________________________.
When I am not writing, I love to spend time with my girls and husband because along with my Heavenly Father, they're the center of my life and the best thing I have going.

Thank you for the interview, Misty! I enjoyed getting to know you and your passion for farm life and storytelling.

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