Author Interview with February Grace

I’m SO excited to host February Grace, author of GODSPEED, today. If you don’t have this book on your TBR list, do so now please and then read this post when you get back, because February answers questions about what inspires her and how she developed the characters of GODSPEED.

1) How did you get interested in writing?

I’ve been thinking up stories since before I could write, but it was really in fourth grade that I fell in love with writing.
I was an outcast then (bullied a lot) because my family didn’t celebrate holidays, and there was a lot of class time spent on holiday projects. So my wonderful teacher got me a library pass and permission to use the projectors and set me up with a project: watch short films of the beginning of fairy tales and rewrite the endings. I was in love- I was hooked, and that was it. I was a writer.
2) What inspired you to write GODSPEED?
I have always wanted to write a romance that wasn’t ‘dated’ so to speak, something that could stand up five, ten years after it was written without seeming stale. I grew up loving Jane Eyre and loved those dark and brooding leading men, so always wanted to write one of those, too.
Add to that my fascination with gears and clocks and machinery and I wanted to create a hybrid story, a romance that included all that.
But it was only because I was very, very ill and up late one night listening to the ticking of a three-faced clock that the idea for Godspeed actually happened. So yes, in the end I owe the novel to that clock and the desperation I felt at the time I really noticed for the first time how it sounded as all three faces ticked in unison.
3) How did you decide to go Indie?
It wasn’t a quick decision– I often doubted I’d publish at all, ever, in any way. I never really had the drive to publish until I went blind, then after I got some use of my sight back, I don’t know why, it suddenly became very important to me not just to write but to share that writing with other people.

Two years ago I decided to query two agents- knowing absolutely nothing about how you’re supposed to do it. Even so, one asked for a full on my first query ever (on my first manuscript, not this one) immediately. The other rejected me in seven minutes flat.

Eventually the first agent passed on the MS but invited me to send more work- but by the time I felt I was ready I had already learned how the industry works and was afraid, frankly, of getting chewed up in the machinery. I can’t grow a ‘thicker skin’ as it were- have never been able and I doubt it’ll happen at my age (I turn 41 this month). I also worried about giving up control over characters, plotline, cover art, all of that. Every aspect to me goes to the telling of the overall story, and so is very important to me.
I was convinced I was going to continue to practice what I referred to as the “Dickinson Method” in which I put everything I wrote into a trunk for my progeny to sort out after I was dead. But then a funny thing happened- through a series of events not to be believed- I subbed some of my poetry and prose and it was published! Then some more. By the time a few literary magazines had accepted my work, and I had Godspeed (my third novel MS) finished and my betas were encouraging me to go through with publishing it, I thought…what if?
It was a short hop from ‘what if’ to ‘OMG it’s on Amazon’. Of course I had help, with my health I couldn’t have done it alone. I hired a cover artist, an amazing copy editor, and a dear friend volunteered to do the formatting for me. And I am grateful. I know Indie is the right choice for me and I am so glad that I went through with it.
4) I loved your voice in this novel. So classic, lyrical, romantic–it evoked a feeling of nostalgia, of Victorian properness, and of gentility. How did you develop it?
Thank you very kindly for saying so.
I didn’t develop it, actually- I can’t develop voice. For me, creating characters is like meeting people. When you meet someone, you don’t assign them their traits or how they talk, they just are who they are. So are characters to me. I hear them, and I take down what they say. I just try my best to tell the world who they are, as I know them.  I hope I did the characters in this book justice, they all became very dear to me. The voice in this book, as I see it, is Abigail’s.
5) How did you develop the characters in GODSPEED?
The idea for Quinn came to me first, of course, and the rest just fell in line and introduced themselves, as it were, as I went along. One of the characters was very, very vaguely inspired by a person I met in real life, but I’m not going to tell you which one (sorry) LOL.
6) Is there going to be a GODSPEED II?
Actually…I am not planning a sequel to it. I feel like it’s a stand alone, and I think to continue the story from the ending would diminish the ending. You can never say never, of course, but I am afraid that I’d have to say the answer is, most likely, no. Will I write something else? Gosh, I hope so.
7) What’s your favorite genre to read?
I read a lot of non-fiction. Books about how the brain works, books about temperament theory and personality types. I love learning about what makes people tick. I’m an Idealist Counselor by temperament myself (INFJ) so that’s true to type.
I also love to read poetry, the old school stuff, Tennyson, Yeats, Keats. I read much more of that than I do genre fiction. WIth my limited use of my impaired eyesight a book really has to catch my attention for me to commit to what it takes for me to read it. I can’t read like I used to, like people with healthy eyes. So it takes me a very, very long time.
8) What’s your favorite book?
Ohhh, I can’t pick one, has to be one sci-fi and one classic. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. With The Scarlet Pimpernel thrown in for good measure there, too.
9) If you found a genie in a lamp, what three wishes would you wish for?
I’m going to guess you mean for myself, and not “world peace” or an end to hunger and poverty or prejudice because if that was possible I’d have wished those for sure already.
Two of the wishes, I really can’t say because they’re very dear to my heart and I’d cry. The dearest one, I will tell you, would involve my daughter. 
The last wish, though, I can tell you for sure.
I’d want to be healthy, even if only for one day. I’ve never been healthy in my life and my earliest childhood memories are of being in pain. Just one day I would love to wake up, be able to see, eat, walk, move, do the things normal people do every day, without feeling it. Yeah, one healthy, happy day…that would be amazing. If possible I’d like to spend that day somewhere really pretty.
10) What was the best present you’ve ever gotten?

I don’t know if you can call it a present per se, but I would have to answer, getting some use of my eyesight back. Being able to see colors again, the faces of the people you love, and the words you’re typing on the screen…there is no material gift I can think of that can measure up to that. I am very grateful…to all my doctors.

Thank you, Laura, so much for hosting me! These questions were amazing!
Thanks, Bru! It’s been a blast hosting you today. BEST OF LUCK with GODSPEED!!!!!!!

Mental Health Monday: You Can’t Judge A Character By His Diagnosis

In inpatient work, the constant stream of patients being admitted and discharged creates a hectic pace that’s both exhilarating and overwhelming.

Before meeting a new patient, we review the chart (to get some idea of what’s been going on) and we also get report from the nurse to see how the patient has been on the unit.

It’s really remarkable how different people look “on paper” as compared to what they’re like “in real life.”

We’ve had extremely violent patients present as charismatic and engaging. We’ve had tiny, quiet, seemingly meek patients admitted for out of control behavior. We’ve had suicidal patients arrive with giant smiles on their faces. And we’ve had psychotic patients insist they are not mentally ill and that we’re the ones causing all the trouble (that tends to be a popular one).

It’s part of a writer’s job to create clear, distinct characters so readers can understand the characters’ motivations and become invested in the characters’ lives.

How do we describe characters? Through their thoughts, actions, morals, values, beliefs, friends, homes, jobs, and hobbies. And don’t we want our characters to be a perfect mixture of symbolism and consistency?


But if a character is too “smooth” they may just turn “vanilla.” (And by vanilla, I mean boring.)

So, like people “in real life,” we need to make sure our characters aren’t always what’s expected. They need to have quirks. They need to have conflicts. They need to have multi-faceted personalities to make them more “alive.”

Ok, I guess I’m done rambling for today. What do you guys think makes for a good (read interesting) character?

Be sure to check out Lydia’s Medical Monday and Sarah’s The Strangest Situation.

Remember, these posts are for writing purposes ONLY, and are NOT to be construed as medical advice or treatment.

Flake-out Friday: Dear God, I’ve Become The Cat Lady…Also, CONTEST WINNERS!!!!

All the stereotypes are true. If you’re a single woman in a big house, you’re going to have cats. Lots of them.

*shakes head*

I never thought it would happen to me. Guess that’s how denial works.

But they’re just SO CUUUUTE! How could I NOT keep them?


Gracie (The Diva Princess)

Callie (upper right) and Lily (lower left) (The Twins)

Mahli (The Boy)


And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

*drum roll please*

The winners of last week’s blog tour contestants are:

Lydia K wins Wasteland by Lynn Rush!


Amie Borst wins Monarch by Michelle Davidson Argyle

Post your email and I’ll forward it on to Lynn and Michelle respectively.


Flake-out Friday–South Park Me, Baby!

On Wednesday, I blogged about character development as part of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog’s new blog chain topic.

Today, I thought I’d share how South Park can help you develop characters too!

Just go to this link to create your own South Park Avatar. You can be a fourth grader, a Canadian, a man, or a woman with your own hair, clothes, facial expression, and accessories.

I’m an angel who knows how to torture my characters. Cute, right?

Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog–What a Character!

Welcome to September! Geez, where has the year gone?!?!?!?!

Anywho, a new month means a new sisterhood topic. This month, Sarah Fine at The Strangest Situation has come up with an awesome question!

She asks:

How do you develop your characters? Do you flesh out the details before (like writing as that character, writing backstory, or filling out a questionnaire about their preferences and history) or invent as you go?

I have a pretty consistent pattern when it comes to decision making and idea development.

I let my subconscious (or, as Freud would say, unconscious) mind do all the work. Sounds easy, right?

Problem is, my subconscious mind often goes on its own schedule so it’s not like I can say, “Hey, Subconscious, I need a story idea and a cast of characters by next Thursday.” Cuz my subconscious mind will say, “Pfft. Sure, no problem, but you’ll have to wait.”

So that’s what I do.

It may take a couple days or it may takes weeks and months for my brain to come up with something, but once it does, then I know I’m ready to pursue the idea.

Okay, okay. I’m hearing some of you say, “But why don’t you just free write or write character sketches or something, to get the ideas flowing?”

Those are GREAT ideas, but they don’t work for me. If I actively make a character up, it feels forced, fake, and *gasp!* cliche.

Additionally, if I get going along in a project and an idea strikes me, I may include it in as part of my character’s development. In that regard, it is an evolving process too.

I often find my dreams to be a wealth of information as well. But, really, that’s my subconscious mind at work too, you know?

How about you? How do you develop your characters?

Lydia will be taking the reins next week to describe how she develops her characters. I can’t wait to read it!

Every Wednesday