Friday, August 02, 2013

Author Speaks: Valerie Comer

Valerie Comer, inspirational romance novelist, had a new book released yesterday! Raspberries and Vinegar, the first in her series A Farm Fresh Romance, from Choose NOW Publishing went on sale August 1. Valerie took a few minutes from her busy schedule as an author, beekeeper, farmer, and proud grandmother to answer questions for Author Speaks. 

1. Valerie, your book is in the category Farm Lit. What is Farm Lit?

Farm Lit is a new(ish) genre based on rural life—farm life, as opposed to western ranch life. The genre began with memoirs such as Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle and Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman and now includes anything written with a farm base.

2. Why do you write Farm Lit?

They say to write what you know, and I've lived on a farm over half my life. I was raised in the whole gardening, canning, cooking from scratch, bread-baking type of lifestyle, as was my husband. In recent years we've become more intentional and begun promoting this lifestyle as an alternative to the processed foods and fast foods that are leading Western civilization into obesity… and worse.

3. Tell us a little about Raspberries and Vinegar.

Breaking ground with the Farm Fresh Romance series, Raspberries and Vinegar finds Josephine Shaw and her friends renovating a dilapidated farm with their sights set on more than just their own property. Transforming the town with their sustainable lifestyle and focus on local foods is met with more resistance than they expected, especially by temporary neighbor, Zachary Nemesek. Jo needs to learn that a little sweet makes the tart more tasty.

4. What’s your writing process?

Messy. Do we have to talk about it? I've written a dozen full-length novels over as many years, most of which you will never be so unfortunate as to read. It took me a long time to fine-tune a process that works for me—but it is still messy. I'm somewhere in between full-on plotting and full-on seat-of-the-pants writing, which is annoying because in Real Life, I like to plan ahead. I want to do this in my writing, too, but it doesn't work. I've blogged about the process some at my writing website, How to Write a Story, where I also offer a free writing course by email.

5. The book talks about sustainable living and local foods. Is that a priority in your life and why?

It has become so, yes. I'm honestly appalled at the horrific conditions for animals in feedlots and for workers on many mega-farms. I'm also terrified at the insidious take-over of genetically-modified organisms in our food and the honeybee die-off that is a result of the aforementioned practices (pesticides, fungicides, GMOs).

As humans, we need to think ahead. I have three young granddaughters, and I'm challenged to try and leave a better future for them than the grim reality I feel is coming. All I can do is what I can do, which is pretty limited. I can write about it, I can talk about it, I can support our local food action coalition, and I can grow as much of our own food as possible.

6. The book is also an inspirational romance. Why do you write in the inspirational field?

It's who I am. I've been a Christian since I was a young child, and it permeates my every pore. Some of my writing has more obvious themes than other stories, but I can't write from a worldview that isn't mine. It wouldn't be true to who I am. Besides, I think Christians need to wake up and pay attention to sustainability and food. They/We are behind the times.

7. What has been important advice to you in pursing a writing career, and what advice would you give to a new writer?

Be patient and work on craft.

These days anyone can write a novel and upload it to Amazon five minutes after they've written "the end." Sometimes they haven't even read through it once to catch obvious and glaring errors, let alone had it critiqued or revised. What's the big hurry? Learn how to turn it into a really strong story. No point in shooting yourself in the foot. Make sure it's the best work you can do at this time before expecting people to pay money for it. Being an author isn't glamorous if no one will review your book!

8. What has been the most gratifying or most surprising result from your writing career so far?

Raspberries and Vinegar has been complete for three years. It came close to being picked up by a major publisher several times, but they shied away because of the issues presented. Within days of beginning discussion with Choose NOW Publishing, I came across this article online: Chick Lit is Dead, Long Live Farm Lit.

Timing is everything! 

9. What comes after Raspberries and Vinegar?

Wild Mint Tea, the second book in the Farm Fresh Romance series releases in March, 2014, with the final installment, Sweetened with Honey, due for release in December, 2014. 

10. Raspberries and Vinegar is the first in a series. Tell us about the series. 

It follows the adventures, romantic and otherwise, of three college graduates who move onto a reclaimed farm where they plan to take the rural area by storm with their sustainable lifestyle and focus on local foods.

Thank you, Valerie!    

To learn more about Raspberries and Vinegar and Valerie, visit her website: HERE.
To purchase Raspberries and Vinegar from Amazon in print and for Kindle: HERE.
To purchase Raspberries and Vinegar for the Nook: HERE.
To purchase Raspberries and Vinegar from Choose Now Publishing: HERE.


Valerie Comer said...

Thank you for inviting me, Stephen!

Laura K. said...

Congratulations on the new book! I wondered how a Christian author handles the sexy part of a romance novel. I haven't read any Christian romances. How do you handle it as a writer or do those books not have sexy bits? :)

Anonymous said...

Good question! Id like to know to. :) This is Susie from texas. Im on my phone.

Valerie Comer said...

There is more to attraction and romance than sex! Most Christian romance novels, at least those released by major publishers, won't have any sex scenes in them for the simple reason that the genre (and Christian lifestyle) doesn't promote sex between unmarried people.

For that matter, there are mainstream romance lines (Harlequin Heartwarming) that are considered "sweet" romances because they focus on the characters and emotions rather than on the sexual actions.

Trust me, there's plenty to write about without going there!

Laura K. said...

But sexual attraction is part of any romance in real life! We're attracted to the opposite sex (or same sex) by a thrill. I think a book would be flat without it especially a romance novel. No offence meant naturally. :) I'll try to download your book when I get a chance and see how it is.

Valerie Comer said...

Sure, sexual attraction and tension is part of romance. Totally not denying it! You'll find some of that in my novel. I choose not to dwell on it, though, or elaborate.

Many (not all, obviously) Christian unmarried people choose not to act on the sexual attractions they feel.

I'd love to hear your impressions of how I handled that aspect should you choose to download my novel.

Susie said...

Valerie, how many books have you written? Is this your first one that you wrote?

Valerie Comer said...

I've written 10 full-length novels since 2002. Raspberries and Vinegar was my eighth, and first to get published. #10 is the second book in the Farm Fresh Romance series (out in March).

My first publication was a novella in a 4-in-1 collection that came out in May, 2012. It's called Rainbow's End and features a geocaching hunt along the Lake of the Ozarks. You can find it on my site or on Amazon (or anywhere else.)

Susie said...

Thank you for answering my questions! Are you going to tour the US with your book?

Valerie Comer said...

No such luck! Very few publishing houses (even the big ones) put on tours for their authors any more, unless the author is a Big Name who is certain to draw the crowds.

I'm not a Big Name and my publisher isn't either. Maybe someday!