Friday, January 4, 2013

Interview with Ocieanna Fleiss, co-author with Tricia Goyer of Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska

Tell us a bit about you and your writer's journey.

Stories and characters have rattled around in my head since I was a kid, but I began seriously pursuing writing about fourteen years ago. I know! That's a long time. Like many beginners, I thought I knew what I was doing and would quickly see my name in print, but of course, that's NOT what happened.

Through the ups and downs (meaning rejection after rejection) I strove to improve, until I finally gave up. I had one too many doors slam closed, so I told God I wasn't going to try to get published anymore. I'd just write my blog and work on my story, but NEVER send out a query, NEVER talk to a publisher ...

That's when I got the message. My friend Carlton (who I'd known for years) wrote and asked if I wanted to write for his new publishing company.

I wasn't really interested. I'd told God I wasn't going to try to get published, so I just ignored his message. (So rude of me!) About three weeks later, he wrote again and, feeling like I couldn't blow him off a second time, I threw out my ideas, very unprofessionally (no fancy query letter, no perfectly worded blurbs or synopses).

He wrote back and said he liked my ideas. He also sent me a brochure from his company and asked me to see if any of my ideas went along with their line. I opened the brochure to find...the publisher was Summerside Press! Well, hello! I'd heard of Summerside Press. I never knew my friend was the founder of it.

This started a chain of events that ended up with Tricia and I getting our first two contracts with Summerside.

What did this teach me? God is good. I needed to seek Him first. I needed to let go of the desire to get published and fill up with a desire for Him. I try to remember that whether I get a contract or not, my fulfillment comes from Him and my goal is to honor and glorify Him in every area of my life. I don't always do this the way I should, but He guides me along the crazy paths life takes.

This is your third collaboration with Tricia Goyer. How did that come about?

About twelve years ago, I met Tricia at the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference. On the way home, in the airport, she handed me her manuscript--like authors do at conferences. I did a little editing there in the terminal. She liked it so we exchanged e-mail addresses. That manuscript was for her first published book, From Dust and Ashes. Once she got the contract, she continued sending me chapters and our friendship began! I edited about eight of her books and then we decided to write one together. We had such fun, we wrote two more.

Ocieanna Fleiss at a book signing in September 2010.  Photo by Dawn Kinzer.

Tell us something about each of the books you’ve written together.

LFY in Lonesome Prairie, Montana, is a simple prairie romance about a woman searching for home. Tricia and I traveled through the outskirts of Montana researching and met an amazing 91-year-old man whose father had homesteaded in Lonesome Prairie. What a blessing to talk to him.

LFY in Victory Heights, Washington, tells the story of Rosalie, a riveter who worked at the Boeing Plant in Seattle during WWII. She learns to let go of her guilt and trust in the Lord--and it's a fun romance. Our research trip for this one involved talking to awesome, spunky Rosie the Riveters. I'll never forget when 89-year-old Georgie Klunkett stood up in her living room and danced.

LFY in Glacier Bay, Alaska, takes readers from a contemporary tale to a historical, through letters. Both stories' heroines leave their normal life to explore a new world in Alaska--and both learn to overcome fears to find love. What a research trip that was! Bears, whales, otters, puffins, plus amazing folks who live in Glacier Bay. It was a joy to research and write.

You’re a homeschooling mom of four. How, when, and where do you manage to write?

My normal answer for "How do I do it?" is "I don't know." Truly, if it seems impossible to others, it does to me too! I don't have time to get it all done, so my strategy is to throw myself before the Lord and ask Him for help. He always comes through.

As for where I write. I mostly go to coffee shops, which is very embarrassing when I'm really getting into the story and a barista catches me weeping. I also take writing weekends to a lovely spot on the water where some writing friends and I can focus and pump up the word count.

What kinds of books do you love to read? Any favorites from the last year or so?

Honestly, I tend to gravitate toward the classics. I love Jane Eyre and The Count of Monte Christo, anything by Dickens. Lately I've been reading David Copperfield. My favorite contemporary author is Francine Rivers.

What’s next for you?

I'm working on a memoir about my cardiac arrest.

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