Sharon’s here to talk about her debut novel, The Secret Life of Becky Miller, just released by Bethany House Publishers.
Check out what's on the back cover:
Becky Miller is a young mom who wants to do Big Things for God. Her vivid
daydreams help her cope with the pressure to be a Wonderful Wife and Marvelous Mother. Yet the tape going through her mind continues to play:
YOUR MISSION—support your husband when he loses his job, nurture an eccentric circle of friends, raise perfect Christian children, cook delicious
meals in a spotless kitchen, lead the women’s ministry at church, and live a
life filled with Meaning and Purpose.
How does this supermom react when her grand plans start to fall apart?
What will it take for her to turn off the tape and listen to God’s voice
Hey Sharon, where did Becky Miller come from?
My friends and I commiserate all the time about some of our shared challenges
as moms, wives, and Christian women who want to make a difference in the world. Becky is an exaggerated version of all the good-hearted (but unhealthy)
driven-ness that plagues our lives.
It’s been said that you should write what you know. What aspects of this book come from within you?
That saying has always confounded me, because I don’t know much. :-) But I did
weave a lot of unusual experiences from my life into Becky’s fantasies. I’ve been scuba diving (and was horrible at it), I’ve done short-term missions in Hong Kong
(a great setting for a secret agent scene), I’ve been in television studios and on stages. I’ve been a ballerina. So I used my “inside feel” for some of those things. I also know about over-achieving to the point of craziness, and convincing myself it’s what I’m supposed to be doing and ignoring God’s gentle nudges to step back, rest in Him, and let Him steer the course. I do have children, so I could stir up the not-so-far distant memories of sleep-deprivation and diapers. The plot is pure fabrication...none of Becky’s experiences with her volunteer position or the magazine article, or her sister (I don’t have a sister) have happened to me. But I’ve felt the disappointment of pouring out work for God and feeling unappreciated or misunderstood. My husband and I have struggled with times of career challenges. I’ve wrestled with doubts through some severe health crises (though nothing like what happens to Becky ever happened to me).
I guess in summary, the HEART is very much from my experience, but the SPECIFICS
are Becky’s unique story.
So, do you think that many women have a ‘secret life’?
I think everyone dreams of doing something beyond themselves...serving God in a way that makes a difference...being the “hero” of our own life story and making courageous choices when they are needed. What’s interesting is that the exciting and heroic adventures are often NOT the big successes (from a world’s perspective) but the small loving acts, and worshipful attitudes we embrace each day...in the midst of the very ordinary.
So true! Sharon, how do you as a writer keep the creative juices churning?
Honestly, I’ve always had a brain that doesn’t turn off...and now I’ve found a use for it.
What sage advice did you receive on your journey to publication?
All the usual – I’ve posted some of the things that helped me on the writing resources pages of my website, www.sharonhinck.com. But one thing that particularly helped my journey: “Write the next book.” While my first manuscript circulated, I wrote the next and the next. I was building the writing muscles I needed and also not fixating on “finding a publisher.” THE SECRET LIFE OF BECKY MILLER was my fifth completed manuscript. I know for authors cherishing their one, first novel, it’s hard to think about moving forward before finding a home for that one. But keep in mind that your first precious baby may well get a contract after your later books break in.
Reflect on the past year. Is writing, editing, and promotion like the good, the bad and the ugly? What was it like and what did you learn for next time?
I once went down a huge water-slide and as I began the descent, I started to panic. I tried to press my palms against the sides to slow me down and that hurt. I wanted to control my speed and couldn’t. Then I stopped fighting it and let the water carry me. I swooped around curves, and glided down into the waiting pool and felt like I was flying. I scrambled out of the water and marched straight to the stairs to do it again. In the writing life, many, many things are out of our control. Trusting God’s purposes, relaxing, and screaming a little all make the ride more fun. Digging in my heels, grabbing for the sides, and resisting the water all make me miserable. Some days I’m taking the slide with a head-first dive. Other days I’m shivering at the top thinking the structure looks like it needs new rivets. But it’s a very fun adventure.
Well said. What are your future projects?
March, 2007 RENOVATING BECKY (Bethany House) - Becky and her family buy an old farmhouse to fix up, hoping to find the simple life. Becky’s mother-in-law moves in, her best friend pulls away, work pressures mount, and Becky wants to fix it all.
March, 2008 IN THE KEY OF MOM (Bethany House) - An orchestral flutist is raising her teen daughter alone, and finally gets her long-delayed chance to play professionally. But someone is sabotaging the concertmaster, and Amy sets out to solve the mystery before the problems destroy her chance at her dream. She wasn’t counting on her daughter’s new venture into cheerleading, or Clara’s persistence in uncovering the truth about her biological father—or the tug toward a spiritual journey Amy didn’t want.
I’m currently working on a fourth book for Bethany House. I’m also developing a project with another publisher that I hope to be able to announce soon.
What are your goals?
to get better at this.
to get better at crafting words that sing
to get better at waking up with a smile and trusting God during the work
to get better at not obsessing over reviews, sales, critiques
to continue to appreciate the opportunity and the wonderful supportive people that are part of the process
Julie, thanks so much for letting me visit your blog on the beach. I’m SO jealous of your access to beaches. Minnesota has a lot going for it, but sadly, no oceans. I can’t wait for your book to come out next year!
Thanks, Sharon—by the way, the Becky Miller Friend’s Quiz is too cool. Readers, check it out here. If ten or more of you take the quiz and post your answers, I’ll reveal which Becky Miller Friend I am most like…on Monday.
Have a beachy keen weekend!