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Interview with Rebecca Waters

Coming from an education background, Rebecca Waters is no stranger to hard work and research. Her tenacious approach to educational writing has given her an edge to writing fiction. Join the discussion with Rebecca as we talk about her first novel release, Breathing On Her Own, and gain an inside look into the difficulties of writing an emotionally charged story.

Where did you come up with the idea of Breathing On Her Own?
From life and from asking those “what if” questions. The main character is about my age and stage of life. I have friends my age who are raising their grandchildren because of poor choices their children made. I asked myself, “what if?” “What if that was me?” “What could happen to create that situation?” Of course the book took a slightly different direction, but that is how it started.

Breathing On Her Own sounds like a very emotionally charged novel. How did you find the emotional energy to write this?
I think you’re right. It is an emotionally charged novel. There were times when I found myself crying or laughing with my characters. There were times when I wanted to shake Molly for acting the way she did. I think the emotional energy appeared like an ocean wave. I went with the movement of the story. I knew my characters were going to go through trying times but I trusted they would be stronger and better for it.

What was one challenge you faced while writing Breathing On Her Own? Actually, the biggest challenge for me came at the end when I was advised to cut 22,000 words. What? Cut my precious words? I worked with a wonderful editor from A Little Red, Inc. by the name of Bethany Kaczmarek. I made the cuts and she helped me make sure I didn’t lose the story or important details in the process.

What is one thing you hope your readers can walk away with after reading Breathing On Her Own?
I suppose my real goal here is for readers to examine their own faith walk as they meet Molly, Travis, Laney, and Rob. I’ve already had a number of readers tell me they are doing this.

Was the switch from writing about professional education to women’s fiction a difficult one for you? I wouldn’t say the switch was difficult. It was, however, different. In educational research the writing needs to be a precise reporting of the facts. In fiction, I can fudge the details. My background in writing for professional journals, reports for accreditation teams, and so forth gave me several tools I apply to my current work: the ability to work with an editor, research skills, and revision skills.

What influenced this change for you?
I have considered myself a writer ever since my second grade teacher published my story in our school newspaper. I wrote stories for my children and stories for my classroom. I decided to become a full-time writer when my husband’s health dictated we retire and move to a warmer climate. We made that decision in November 2011 and “retired” in December, 2012. During that year I drafted my writing business plan, wrote Breathing on Her Own and attended a writing conference.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
God comes first. I read His Word every morning. Even if I am in the middle of an exciting stage of my writing or had a great idea in the middle of the night (this happens often), I won’t touch my computer until after I’ve read my Bible. My family comes next. I love writing and all that comes with it, but my family comes first. If one of my daughters needs me to care for my grandchildren or my husband needs or wants something, I’ll cancel my plans to write. Writing can be a very self-centered, indulgent activity for me. Without those set priorities, I would have to seek balance. I’ll admit, there are times I had great plans to spend the day writing and my husband says, “Will you go fishing with me?” My mind wants to work on the manuscript, but I remind myself I must be fully engaged in spending that time with my husband. I’ll have time to write later. I’ll make time to write later.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
I’m fortunate to have a great support system in my family and friends. That’s good because I’m sure they see themselves in some of my characters! My second novel is about a young woman who opens a coffee shop in Door County, Wisconsin. I was vacationing there with my daughter when the story idea was born. The third novel is about a woman struggling with issues surrounding her aging mother. My own mother is strong and vibrant, but she and I have talked a length about decisions I may face in the future regarding her care. I believe the best stories are the ones we experience or can see taking shape before our eyes.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
I love spending time with my family. We are an active bunch. We like to hike, swim, camp, water ski, snow ski, and travel. Great resources for a writer!

You’ve been married for 42 years (congratulations!). What’s one piece of advice that has kept your marriage strong?
Forgiveness. I probably would have answered “Love” earlier in my marriage. We were sitting in Sunday school one day and this very question was posed to everyone at the table. When my husband’s turn came around, he said, “Forgiveness.” I’m sure everyone looked at me or maybe at him wondering which one of us needed forgiveness and for what. But then Tom quietly explained his position. He told everyone that our relationship with God begins with forgiveness. He went on to say we must forgive the everyday, small, frustrating situations and not wait until something “big” happens. I think he’s right. I never forgot those words. Tom is the spiritual leader in our family. For that I am grateful.

What are you currently reading?
I haven’t started it yet, but I just picked up Lisa Wingate’s The Prayer Box.

Do you have an “all time” favorite book you can share with us? Why is it your favorite?
This is a hard question. I have so many favorites. I’ll go with Neta Jackson’s The Yada Yada Prayer Group. I thought the book was written in a style that drew the reader into the heart and mind of Jodi Baxter immediately. I loved the fact the main character was flawed and that members of the multiethnic group were at different places in their faith journey. The fact Jodi Baxter was a teacher made it all the more real to me.

Any parting words?
The educator in me says: If you can read my book, thank a teacher. The author in me says: If you do read my book, write a review!

Thanks for sharing with us, Rebecca!

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