Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Road to Inspirationals: Guest Blogger Andrea Chermak Stops By!

I first met Andrea ten years ago when I joined a now-defunct local writing group. I admired her from the beginning. Her strength, warmth and desire to do a good job were things I relate to.   And she didn't zing me for being moronic and having twelve pages (or maybe fourteen) with no dialogue when I came to the first meeting.  Since that fateful morning, I've been blessed to have her friendship and encouragement. And though we live hours apart,  we "meet in the middle"! I'm delighted that Andrea has been picked up by Love Inspired.  But I'm not about to pretend (Ruthy huffs on nails of left hand and polishes them against her sleeve, nonchalant and oh-so-cool)... that I didn't know it all along. AND... UPS just dropped off a case of "Mended Hearts", the third book in my Men of Allegany County series, so two lucky commenters will receive copies of this brand-new, hot-off-the-presses Ruthy book!

Hmm…my story. Where to begin? Not at the beginning, because that was 10 years ago. Not in the middle, because that was 2006, when I sold my first historical novel to Dorchester. So I guess this part of my story begins in 2009, which is the year I quit writing.

Yes, you read that right. When the publisher passed on my second historical, my agent pursued other editors with a passion for my work that still amazes me. We got close with that one, even closer with the next, but no contracts. I’m pretty flexible as a writer, so I tried some other angles. My attempt at women’s fiction was stilted and predictable, and I stopped halfway through. Several other ideas didn’t even make it that far, and I realized I was burned out and needed a break.

For months, I didn’t write a thing. I had fun reading for a change and cheering Ruthy on as her career took off. Somewhere in all that lazing around, an idea started bubbling in the back of my mind. It wouldn’t go away, so I took a shot at writing something I enjoy reading—a cozy mystery. It was awful, but it was the first story I’d finished in over a year. Even my wonderful agent couldn’t get behind that mess of a book, but it helped me regain my confidence. If I could write one complete book, I could do it again.

That was 2010, when the terrible flooding in Nashville forced the Romance Writers of America to relocate their national conference to Disney World, my favorite place on earth. If that wasn’t a sign, I didn’t know what was. The Seekers took excellent care of me, making me feel welcome and sharing some much-needed advice. It was fabulous. By this point, there was another new idea floating around in my head. During my market research, I’d discovered that Love Inspired put out beautiful books with heart-warming stories. They’d expanded from 4 to 6 titles per month, which meant they needed material. Maybe, just maybe, they had a spot for me.

Melissa Endlich really impressed me. She told us her goal is to develop her authors and help them deliver the high quality books her readers expect. Inspired (pun intended), I got to work and we submitted that book just before Christmas. Somehow, I managed to get enough things right that Melissa was confident we could fix the rest.

Hometown Family will be released in May 2012, under my pen name Mia Ross. If you’d like a taste of it, there’s an excerpt at my website (www.miaross.com). The opening quote in that book pretty much sums up what I learned during my long, meandering journey back to where I belong: If you can believe, all things are possible.

Coffee's goin' and breakfast is served! We have the Pancake House takin' care of us this morning, and their cakes are melt-in-your-mouth good!


Virginia said...

Ooooh, am I first? Well, even if not, I loved this post. I've discovered that my favorite book to WRITE is historical inspired... and am aiming at Love Inspired. So cool to read about someone else's journey!

Virginia said...

Sorry, how rude of me. A big pot of coffee and home made cinnamon rolls from the 'Piorneer Woman Cooks' Cookbook, with coffee icing!

Vince said...

Hi Andrea, Mia:

I liked the start of “Hometown Family” and I would love to know who said, “You have no idea who I am, do you?” before May 2012. Was it Matt or Caty? (I hope Matt said it meaning he knew she existed back then.)

Was starting your book with a funeral Ruth’s influence? Her first book was about hospice. Is the book as overall sad as “Winter’s End”?

Do you have plans to write a historical Love Inspired romance? What period of history do you favor for writing about?


Julie Hilton Steele said...

Andrea, congratulations. What blessings you have found along your journey including your friendship with Ruth.

Love the start of your book. I am already intrigued! As a North Carolina girl, I was happy to see your book set down our way even though I am on the other side of the state in Raleigh. Any NC connections? Hoping the time will fly quickly until May!

Have to ask, how did you come up with your pen name? I am always curious.

In honor of Ruthy's farmer's market cover on Mended Hearts, I have brought peach and blueberry cobbler, roasted red pepper cream cheese and bagels, and a wonderful cantaloupe.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

First, Julie, I am totally IN on the food! And I love the autumn feel of that new cover, thank you for mentioning it! And thanks for thinking it's a GOOD THING to be in the same state with me. Not all would agree, LOL!

I love Matt and Katy's story. I love Andrea's flair with words.

And Virginia, don't ya' just love Ree Drummond? Oh my stars, she's such a hoot! Wonderful.

Vince, I'll let Andrea answer your questions, and once again let me say I value your friendship, encouragement and support. You're such a good guy. And this newest Ruthy-book isn't rated yet... I think they'll either love it or hate it, Vince... So, we'll see.

Mia said...

Virginia, best of luck with your historicals. It's great when you find your niche. The writing goes easier, and it's way more fun :)

Mia said...

Vince, thanks for checking out the opening. Actually, it's Caty who says that line. Hopefully that's clearer in the book!

Starting the book at the funeral was Melissa Endlich's idea. Originally, it was closer to the middle, but changing the sequence sped things up and got us right to the heart of the story.

I love writing historicals, but they're really HARD. Right now, I don't have that much time for writing, so contemporaries work better. Never say never, though. I've got a few historicals left in me ;)

Mia said...

Julie, no NC connections except that my hubby and I hit a race in Charlotte a few years ago and I loved the area. My pseudonym is compliments of my daughter and her very inventive friend. I wanted to use Ross because it's a family name, and they thought Mia worked well with it.

Love the blueberry cobbler. Thanks for bringing it!

Mia said...

New books for Ruthy! YAY!!! Thanks for the fantastic intro. It's cool to start your day out reading nice things about yourself.

I've gotten a teaser on this book, folks, and believe me, you're going to want to read it :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Andra and congratulations on your sale!@!!!!

Kirsten Arnold said...


Congratulations on your sale!! I loved the beginning of HOMETOWN FAMILY.

Thanks for your post today. What an encouragement for all of us.


Lindi said...

I liked your excerpt. And that time off sounds like a time of renewal. I did that once during this crazy journey. I didn't write for about a year and a half. Still went to writers meetings. Still went to conferences. But I think needed that time away from the actual writing.
And now you're on a roll. Don't you love the way things work out?

Digging for Pearls said...

Congratulations Andrea. Thanks for sharing your story.

Jodie Wolfe

Melanie Dickerson said...

Everybody's journey is different, but we learn so much from our journeys. Way to not give up! I've met a lot of writers on my journey, and a lot of them are no longer writing.

And Andrea, thanks for being a friend to our Ruthy! Give her a hug from me.

Audra Harders said...

Hi Andrea and congrats on sale to LI! You are a very flexible writer when you talk about finding new twists and writing historicals, mysteries, and inspirationals as if you were jotting a grocery list.

LOL! Don't you just love dedicated authors??!!

Loved your tale, Andrea. I know you're going to love writing for Love Inspired!

Mia Ross. Lovely pen name.

I'm goint to check out the website now : )

Glynna Kaye said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Andrea! So excited about your sale to Love Inspired!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Good morning Andrea and welcome to Seekerville, What a lovely and inspiring (pun instended smile) story you shared. Thank you.

I loved how you took time off and then came back in a new direction. Thanks for sharing the exerpt.

Virginia, the pioneer rolls are divine and Julie, love the cobblers. Oh my. Goes well with my coffee.

Patty Wysong said...

Sounds like your reading break was a great help. =] Welcome to Seekers and congratulations on your sale.

What a great encouragement for us not to quit. =]

Cara Lynn James said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Mia! Great writer's story. The road to publication isn't easy, is it? And it's just as difficult to stay published! I can't wait to read your new book.

Sherri Shackelford said...

What a journey you've had! Thank you so much for sharing. I look forward to reading your book :)

Kav said...

Congrats on your sale to Love Inspired, Andrea. Love your opening line. And Ruthy's right -- you have a flair for words. Your excerpt is a smooth read (if that makes any sense to anyone other than me.LOL)

I also appreciate what you said about your LI editor.I'm so impressed with everything I've read about Love Inspired -- from the authors to the editors to reviews. It's well...inspiring! :-)

And Ruthy congrats on your new book coming out soon as well. I'm glad that the books in this series are being released so close together, thatway I won't go into Ruthy withdrawal.

Pam Hillman said...

Loved this post!

Mia Andrea....May I call you that. It sounds Spanish if pronounced AndrEa!

After your break from writing, looking back, did you feel the break helped or hindered your career as a writer?

I guess I'm wondering how editors and readers react.

This is not unusual for authors to take a brea. Cheryl did. Sandra did for several years.

I admire you for letting it go, and re-filling your well. There would be no question that you knew what to expect the second time around!

Linnette R Mullin said...

Congrats, Andrea! I just saw you name on Twitter this morning. Emily Rodmell sent out a tweet introducing you. I retweeted! ;-) I totally understand why you quit writing. It can be very discouraging and sometimes I think we just kind of need a break to regroup. Congrats on making the comeback, though!

Please include me in the drawing. I LOVE Ruthy books!

Mia said...

I'm on Twitter? Are you serious? My teenage daughter will be sooo impressed :D

Mia said...

Okay, onward. Sorry for the distraction--I'm just so amazed at the Twitter thing. I mean, I'm not even ON Twitter :) Sheesh--I just joined the Facebook generation.

Anyway, thanks for all the congrats, everyone! It's so great to have a place to go and share good news. If even one person reads my story and thinks "hey, I could do that," it will make my day.

Mia said...

Lindi, I'm thrilled with how things have worked out. Of course, I had people around me who toughed it out, like my agent. She never gave up on me, and it's wonderful to prove her right. The best part is, now I know what to expect, so I'm going back in with my eyes open. I appreciate all the good stuff so much more this time around :)

Mia said...

Melanie, I'll definitely give Ruthy a hug from you. No problem!

Pam, I don't think my career will suffer from the change in genre. I got so lucky the first time, it wasn't something I could repeat. Basically, I hit the right editor with a book (and a hero) she loved at a time when she was looking for just that kind of story. Not something I could do over and over.

This time, I have ideas that stretch far beyond Hometown Family. There are 3 more books in this series, and I'm already sketching in ideas for the next one. I'll keep writing until someone tells me to stop :)

Mia said...

Audra, you're very sweet! Hope you like the sample.

Emily said...

Awwww! Congratulations! Great article and very inspiring. I love to hear stories of writers taking a break and giving the muse time to work.

I'm not the kind of writer who has a zillion stories running around in my head, so it's good to know that being patient and working through one story at a time really does work! Patience and persistence as we put words on the page and keep improving our craft.

Thank you so much for sharing! And Ruthy, count me in for the giveaway, please!


Emily Hendrickson, writing as Emily Reynolds

Nancy Kimball said...

Congratulations Andrea!

I took a three month break that I almost didn't return from while writing my first complete MS but found that time really let me 'reset' as a writer. I'm so happy you had that idea that wouldn't let go and write the mystery. I read a lot sometimes you just have to 'write it out' and even if that never sees the shelf, I think anytime we put words down, good things happen!

I'd love a chance at Ruthie's new book =)

Helen Gray said...

I quit for almost ten years.

I started writing when the kids were in school and wrote for several years. On a typewriter. No internet.
Life got hectic. Rejections piled up. Got discouraged. Quit.Kids grew up. Left. Retired.

Started writing again about 4 years ago.

Anyhow, congratulations on returning to the obsession and selling!!!


P.S. Here's a fresh pot of coffee.

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Congratulations Andrea!
Are you writing another book now? If so, how are you finding the process this time around?

Mia said...

It's amazing how many people can relate to what I went through. It's not fun, but it does make you realize what's really important.

Eva (beautiful name!), I used to be at the bottom of my own list, which I think is why I got burned out. Ironically, now writing is at the bottom, and I'm much happier--and more productive--that way. I used to be a write-til-you-drop kind of person, which is exhausting, both physically and mentally. Romance requires us to put ourselves in our characters' shoes, and we're emotionally invested in what happens to them or we're not doing it right.

Now I get in 5,000 words a week somehow. I aim for 1,000 a day, but life comes first. If I'm missing a day in there, I make it up early in the process. It keeps me on track and (hopefully) will allow me to maintain a schedule that will suit Love Inspired readers.

I wouldn't have been this disciplined before, not in a million years. I can still hear Ruthy saying, "Try it! It won't kill you." She was right :)

Mia said...

Tina, I keep meaning to say I LOVE the cover for Oklahoma Reunion. It's absolutely gorgeous!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, Mia's smooooooth.

Didja SEE HER schmoooze The Teeenster with the compliments on Oklahoma Reunion????

Like I said: smooooth. ;)

But I LOVE that cover, too, Teenster, so Andrea/Mia and I share good taste! Guys, hey, I'm lovin' the food and the lovin' you're heapin' on Andrea...


Oh, God bless that Emily Rodmell, I LOVE THOSE TWEETS!!!! That helps keep the hope alive for all of those people who want my job, LOL!

Dagnabbit, it's hard to not encourage them! Like breeding new Clydesdales to replace the old.

Andrea, pass the coffee mugs, would you? I need some mid-day caffeine, darling.

Julie Lessman said...

ANDREA -- SOOOO great to have you in Seekerville and WHAT an inspiring story, my friend!! You lifted me up today, so THANK YOU!!

I LOVE your pen name "Mia Ross" -- it just rolls off the tongue -- and I am praying it "rolls" off the presses, too, making you a household LI name!!


PatriciaW said...

Congratulations, Andrea! Hometown Family gets off to a great start. I'll have to remember when its released that I haven't actually read it. That's why I usually don't read excerpts. I get confused later.

Mia said...

Jack, take care of poor Ruthy, would you? Can't have her nodding off on us. Good man.

I'll pass along the compliments on the name to my daughter and her friend. They'll be thrilled to know their idea went over so well.

Ruthy, THANK YOU for bribing these nice folks to drop by today. I'm sure more than a few of them are here 'cause they want an early copy of Mended Hearts :D

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, pshaw. They didn't even know it was a possibility, 'cause they just dropped off the box yesterday.

It's all you, honey, and the inspirational story of been there, done that, and jumpin' back on the horse.

Get 'er done.


But I DID ask them to bring food, because it would downright un-neighborly not to.

Can't be havin' that.

Mia said...

Sigh...I love Ruthy. My life changed for the better the day I met her, and I thank God for her every chance I get.

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Mia/Andrea!

I read the excerpt of Hometown Family and I'm hooked! I can't wait to get to know these characters. Thanks for sharing your publishing journey with us.

I'm on the road this week, and stopped at Panera's in Lincoln NE for lunch (hi to Mary and any other Cornhuskers!) I love Panera's free wi-fi - and to celebrate I'm adding a few dozen bagels to the buffet table. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do -

And Ruthy, definitely add me to the drawing. I can't wait to read Mended Hearts!


Debra E. Marvin said...

Pancakes for lunch. I'm in.

I loved your story and Mia Ross as pen name? great choice. Congratulations on your new LI, Andrea!

When I think back on Winter's End I don't think of it as sad, Ruthy, but I know what Vince meant. Such a deep loss but balanced by the bright future of two people perfectly suited for each other.

Linnette R Mullin said...

I'm dead serious, Mia! Here it is:

Emily Rodmell
Meet brand new Love Inspired author Mia Ross (Andrea Chermak) bit.ly/mR0YSa


Linnette R Mullin said...

Oh! BTW, the link brings you here to Seekerville. :D

Mary Connealy said...

TWelve (or fourteen) pages of writing?

Wow, that's what we wake up to everyday with Ruthy.

Mary Connealy said...

Andrea congratulations on the sale to LI. So, can you talk about Dorchester? Was your work for them all earlier?
Didn't they have kidn of a big crash?

And I love the pen name. Naming yourself is, I've found, kind of embarrassing. But you did great.

Mia said...

Thanks for posting that, Linnette. I'm thrilled that it comes here to Seekerville!

travelingstacey said...

Way to press on, Andrea! One thing I tell my little kids is not to give up. I try to tell myself that, too, when I really want to throw my hands up and be done. There's always that still, small voice inside that helps me to keep going. I also just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all of you who are writing and publishing Christian fiction. I didn't discover it until I was probably in my college plus years, so I spent many years (I've always been a big reader) filling my mind with "junk". I think we often don't acknowledge the effect that can have on our minds. Well, I'm so grateful that I can read so many wonderful books that aren't just great on the literary side, but also encourage me spiritually! Not only can I read them, but I can pass them on to my children. I just wanted to take this moment to express my gratitude to all of you who didn't give up!! God bless~Stacey

Mia said...

Stacey, thanks for stopping by. I agree with you on the lessons we teach our kids without even meaning to. When things get tough, we don't let them give up. We find another angle and work harder. That was one of the things that made me want to dive back in. Well, that and I couldn't seem to give up spinning stories in my head.

I've heard veteran authors say that if you can stop writing, you should. If you can't, then you're a writer in your soul, and nothing will ever change that.

Mia said...

Mary, I was with Dorchester in 2006-7, before they restructured. Alicia Condon (who's now with Kensington) was wonderful to work with, as were all the staff. As a newbie, I couldn't have asked for a better group to produce my first book, which came straight from my heart.

Mia said...

Sorry, hit enter too fast. Being from my heart, FEARLESS had very special meaning for me. It was the culmination of my life-long dream of being an author, even if it didn't lead to more books.

The good news is, I have the rights back and my agent and I are checking out some new digital release opportunities. It may not be a dusty relic much longer ;)

Jackie S. said...

Congrats, Andrea....your book sounds great! Hope to read it!

And Ruthy, please count me in the drawing for your newest. As of yesterday, I have read ALL of your books and absolutely loved them all!

Myra Johnson said...

Andrea/Mia, so good to have you in Seekerville today, and I loved reading about your publishing journey. Congratulations!

I was at the point (again!) of being ready to quit writing back in 2007. Twenty-five years of magazine and devotional sales, but scads of rejections (despite quite a few "almosts") on my steadily growing accumulation of book manuscripts left me so discouraged that I didn't know how I could push on.

Then in 2008 I got a contract offer from Abingdon, and a month after that, Heartsong Presents offered a contract on a different submission! Imagine what I'd have missed out on if I'd given up!

Keli Gwyn said...

Andrea/Mia ~

Congratulations on your sale to LI. I loved hearing how the Seekers have played a part in your publishing journey. They've helped so many, bless their generous souls.

I wish you well as you revise and hope your release is all you dreamed of.

Missy Tippens said...

Andrea, welcome! And congrats on the sale to LI!!!

What a great sale story. :)

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Andrea! Love that you hung in and sold to Love Inspired!!!

I have fond memories of having dinner with you, Ruthy and a table full of Seekers at RWA in Disney World.

Looking forward to reading Hometown Family next May!


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Please, Mary Connealy, you only WISH I wrote you a twelve-page tome every day.

As if.


Yes, folks, you read that right, in Out of Control (which is brilliant, by the way) The Connealy has a character named "Hymie Herne".

Really??? REALLY????????

Hey, fresh zucchini bread. Oh my stars, delicious. And Mary, be nice to Andrea. She wants to meet you. I TOLD her it was no big whoop but she seems to think otherwise.

I can't begin to imagine why.


Linnette R Mullin said...

You're welcome, Mia! :D

Mary Connealy said...

I have a neighbor named Hymie and it just went so well with Herne it was a natural.
YOu have a son named hymie don't you, Ruthy?

Or no, a daughter.

I'd be delighted to meet Mia or Andrea ... both of them sound really nice ... and meeting me usually cures people of wanting to meet me, so that is easily solved.

Mary Connealy said...

I've been trying to work a Ruthy into my books but I've got a sister named Ruth.

So, I warned my sister that she might show up in one of my books as a seriel killer--or a nun--I'm not a plotter after all--and she's --well-- she's nervous but --prepared.

Anonymous said...

hello everyone! another night shift coming up then I get 2 nights off.
ooh I GOTTA have Ruthy's new book - gimme please! I'm not above a bribe...
i"ll have to look for Hometown Family though starting off with a funeral - not so sure! I loved Winter's End though in spite of bawling my eyes out until I couldn't see the pages and got my dogs all worried - well the german shepherd seemed concerned - the lab was just a tad ticked I interrupted her nap with my boo hoo ing.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, Susanna....

Don't you cry for me.

for I come from upstate New York...

With a banjo on my knee!

connie said...

Loved the post, Andrea.

I've considered quitting several times but I can't stop the stories from forming in my head. I'm not one of those people who love words. I'm still searching for that special formula that works for me. Until then, I keep plodding on.

Thanks for the encouring words.

connie said...

make that "encouraging."

Mia said...

Connie, another word for "plodding" is "persevering." When you find that right formula, you'll know it :)

Linnette R Mullin said...

Susanna, I have to say that it is a strange way to start a book, but I read the excerpt and Mia makes it work. I like it. Want to read it. :D

Cathy Shouse said...

I really enjoyed your story, Andrea. I'm the one who usually brings the questions and I think you about covered it all. :)

I have to confess what made my day was Ruthy's telling on herself about "being moronic and having 12 pages without dialogue."

"Winter's End" was a beautiful story with Ruthy's voice all through it. If she can go from 12 pages without dialogue and move to "Winter's End," maybe there really is hope for me...

Would LOVE to win Ruthy's book. I do always bring great questions. Do I get a reward for that? And I knew Ruthy when she was just a sassy contest judge, too.

Andrea, how did you manage to get a contract without being on FB? Do you think things have changed or should all us unpubbed writers drop all that stuff until we get "The Call?"

CatMom said...

Welcome Andrea, and thanks for this great post (I'm very late getting on here today...been on the go!)~ Congratulations on your sale, and I look forward to reading your book (Love Inspired books are awesome!). ~ For any late-night snackers, I brought some fudge with Georgia pecans, and my freshly-baked Georgia Peach Shortcake (I like to use peaches instead of strawberries now and then!). ~ Blessings, Patti Jo :)

Cindy W. said...

Congratulations Andrea, or should I say Mia?

Enjoyed the exerpt from Hometown Family. I especially loved the opening quote,"If you can believe, all things are possible. The name of my blog site is All Things are Possible.

May you have continued success in your writing career.

Many Blessings to you,
Cindy W.


DaisyTea said...

Awesome story! I love how GOD has us rest for a bit (even when we think it's just us deciding to do so) and then HE gets us rolling again on the high road of HIS perfect will for us, with the wind of HIS SPIRIT blowing through our hair & filling us with JOY!!!

Valerie Comer said...

Congrats, Andrea! It's awesome that you found the sweet spot where your story met with the right editor at the right time. Enjoy the ride :)