June 8, 2015

Interview with Jody Hedlund - Author of Hearts Made Whole - Part Two

1. How do you manage to balance your life as a full time author and mom to five busy children?
It’s definitely not easy to manage my busy household of five children and squeeze in time for writing. But fortunately my husband is very helpful and pitches in to help wherever possible. We really work together as a team to support each other in our pursuits and work.
For example, when he's home he often takes over the household responsibilities, runs kids to activities, and pitches in with homeschooling so that I can have concentrated blocks of time to write.
We've also simplified our home life and outside commitments as much as possible. We expect our children to shoulder responsibilities around the home. And last, but certainly not least, I rely upon my mom for lots of help too. She helps homeschool, cook meals, and even runs my kids to activities.

2. Do you ever get writer's block? How do you work your way past it? 
No, fortunately, I rarely get writer’s block. I give myself a daily word count of how much I need to write, and I stick to it as best as I can. Whatever amount I miss one day, I try to make up on another day of that week. Having the daily/weekly goals helps keep me going even when I’m not in the mood. However, if I ever get into a slump, I put in my earbuds and listen to music. The steady rhythm helps me block out distractions, inspires me, and often evokes strong emotions deep inside me.

3. Do you do a lot of research for your novels? Do you do it before, in the middle, or after you write your novel.
Since I write historicals, research is an integral part of my writing process. I usually spend anywhere between 4-6 weeks on initial research, reading biographies, getting a feel for the time period, and digging into the meat that will comprise the plot of my book.
Once I start writing the first draft, I have to stop from time to time to do a little more research, particularly if I switch settings within the story. But usually, if I don’t know something, I’ll highlight it and then do more research during my editing phase.

4. How do you name each character? 
The process of coming up with names is quite complicated, and I generally take a lot of elements into consideration. I keep a running list of all the heroes and heroines of my books and try not to duplicate anything too closely to a name I've already used.

I also take into consideration names used doing the time period and the ethnicity of my characters. For example, in my first lighthouse book, Love Unexpected, I chose Irish names that were commonly used during the 1800's because both of the main characters had an Irish heritage.

Sometimes I consider symbolism for names. Other times, particularly in my inspired-by stories, I try to pick a name that is similar to the character from history that I'm portraying.

5. What essential ingredients do you strive for in your novels to ensure an authentic love story emerges?
I always try to incorporate the elements that I like to see in the romances I read. That includes deep emotions that are birthed out of a character's past. I also like to have a relationship that evolves organically throughout the book. I try not to have my characters being antagonistic to one another the whole book and then finally falling in love in the last chapter at the last minute. I want the couple to move from friendship to falling in love gradually and to have a growing attraction (with the sparks flying!) throughout the book.

At the same time, however, I don't like to have the love relationship resolve too early in the book. Readers don't want the "happily-ever-after" moment to come until the end. So while the relationship is developing, it's important to find ways to keep the couple from being fully together until the end.

6. What stands out in your mind about what has made you grow the most as a writer?
If I had to narrow down one specific thing that has helped the most in my quest for publication, I’d have to say this: My careful, ongoing, and thorough study and practice of writing techniques has been the single most beneficial aspect of my writing career.

In other words, I read writing craft books, studied fiction-writing basics, and then put what I learned into practice. All the studying has been the number one thing to help me in my writing career.

7. What Scripture verse has inspired you in your writing?
Among many, here’s one I aspire to live by: Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. (Ecc. 9:10) I believe in working responsibly and hard with the gifts we’ve been given.

8. What do you do to get away from it all?
READ!! I absolutely love reading! When I find a really good book, I have a hard time tearing myself away from it to get to sleep.

9. Do you have any pets? 
Yes, I have four big (and I do mean BIG) cats by the names of Petunia, Patriot, Toby, and Liberty. They are incredibly spoiled and well-loved by all members of the house. And I have one dog, a Golden Retriever named Annabelle.

10. What is your family up to these days? 
My husband and I are celebrating 24 years of marriage this summer! Yay! My oldest son is graduating from high school and will be attending a private Christian college in the fall, Cedarville University in Ohio. My twins will be turning 16 during the summer and getting their driver's licenses. Since they are involved in SO many activities, I'm looking forward to them driving themselves places! My youngest two children have completed 4th and 6th grade and are in an Adventures In Odyssey phase. I think they've listened to just about every episode that's ever been made!

Jody's Bio: 
Jody Hedlund is a best-selling and award-winning author who loves history and happily-ever-afters. She makes her home in Midland, MI with her husband and five children. When she's not writing another of her page-turning stories, you can usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading.

Contact Jody: 
I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website: jodyhedlund.com
For lots of fun pictures, follow me on Pinterest: pinterest.com/jodyhedlund
I get personal on Instagram: instagram.com/JodyHedlund/

Or you're welcome to email me at: jodyhedlund@jodyhedlund.com

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