Welcome to the the first 3 Questions Wednesday for 2016, with some brand new questions for our authors. We are honored to welcome Connie Cortright as our very first guest this year. I’m especially excited about Connie’s new release, one Jennifer & I helped critique on the ACFW Scribes loop. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, especially during the twenties, you’ll love Guide Me Home.
–Now for our 3 Questions with Connie Cortright–
What books have fortified you as a writer? How?
I’m going to answer this question using the dictionary definition of fortify as “increase the ability of; strengthen.” Two books come to mind that have definitely made me a stronger writer. Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View, by Jill Elizabeth Nelson, introduced me to the concept of Deep POV. She showed me that writing as if you are in the head of your character allows the reader to get more involved with your character as well. When you eliminate writing as a narrator, looking down from above, and instead write what the character sees and feels from inside her head, the reader finds herself pulled further into the story, making the book hard to put down. Several of my readers have commented this to me already, even though my book has only been in print for a month.
I also find fortification from The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. This book goes everywhere with me when I’m working on my manuscripts. It helps me to “show and not tell” the emotions of the characters. Each emotion is listed with ways to describe what the character’s physical signals, mental responses, or internal sensations might be. You then choose from numerous suggestions how your character would show that emotion. Many of my descriptions in my novel have been enhanced by the use of this book. It’s my number one tool during the revising process.
–Great suggestions for working writers. I also own a copy of The Emotion Thesaurus and it is quite valuable to me. Now…
What secret talents do you have?
That depends on who is asking. To my writer friends, my secret talent is the fact that I play organ in my church regularly. I’m not too sure that I’ve mentioned it during my conversations with people that know me as an author. But up until recently, to my church family, my secret talent would have been that I’m an author. They hear me playing organ regularly, but I never mentioned to them that I’m an author. Now they know since the announcement that Guide Me Home is published and is for sale. They are all telling me they had no idea I was a writer. My split life is now in the open for all to see, but I’m still so swamped trying to do both in my busy life.
—Most writers can identify (and commiserate). I’m especially interested in your answer to the next question, because I’m hungry right now…
If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
Connie: I’d have to cheat a little on this question since I would be enlisting my husband’s help with the dinner. We’d be making a turkey dinner for your enjoyment. The secret would be that the turkey would be cooked on a Weber grill outside – even if it’s winter in Wisconsin. There is nothing like grilled turkey when some apple wood is added to the process the last couple hours of cooking. The result: smoked turkey so moist that it melts in your mouth. Of course, I’d add the rest of the meal, sweet potatoes, Stove Top dressing, cranberries, etc, but the part of this meal that is front and center is the turkey. Let me know when to expect you.
—Wow, thanks, Connie! I love turkey. 🙂
Readers – you can win a copy of Guide Me Home! Leave a comment below and we will add your name to the drawing.
–Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Please tell us more about yourself…
Connie: I’ve been a history buff all my life, reading biographies and history since grade school. Naturally, when I considered writing a story, my first thoughts turned to historical fiction. My novels are set in America’s Midwest and reflect my own Wisconsin farming roots.
My life has been the fulfillment of my girlhood dreams: becoming a Lutheran school teacher, marrying a pastor, and having lots of children. My life has taken me to both coasts (California and New Jersey) as I have followed my pastor-husband in his service to various churches with our four sons.
My husband and I now live in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. It’s been a long road home back to the Midwest where I started out.
I have always loved reading books (especially historical romances), and now enjoy writing my own stories, sprinkling bits of my experiences into them.
Guide Me Home by Connie Cortright
Away from home for the first time, a naive Lutheran school teacher faces life in the Roaring Twenties and finds two new men in her life—her neighbor, who tempts her with the world, and her new pastor, who wants her to stay true to her Savior. Which one will she choose?
During the Roaring Twenties, young Emma Ehlke leaves her family’s Wisconsin farm home to take up a new teaching post at a Lutheran parochial school in the city. Excited at the prospect of life in a modern city, fear of the unknown is also Emma’s companion as she steps off the train. She soon meets the dashing young Freddie who takes it upon himself to be Emma’s guide to city life in the Jazz Age. At the same time, the young and single minister of her new church, Pastor Neil Hannemann, also wants to take her under his wing, but not like Freddie! Emma finds herself torn between the novelties offered by Freddie and his friends and the faithful path on which Pastor Hannemann wants to lead her. Which way will she go?