I love to read, write, and do most anything outdoors, with the exception of rock climbing and sky diving. (I have serious height phobias.) If there's something I can do within five feet of solid ground, count me in. I also despise emptying the dishwasher, have a ridiculous fear of bees, and hate shaving my legs.
Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Rachael: I'm not sure, to be honest. My sister and I started a joke of a book when I was in high school, but beyond 30 pages, it didn't go anywhere. In college, I officially started what is now Divinely Designed, so I'd have to say college.
Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?
Rachael: I have a B.S. in business finance. Funny thing is I always hated English--way too subjective for my tastes. Go figure.
Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?
Rachael: I love, love, love to read!!! There's nothing like sinking your mind into a book that you don't want to put down. Now I love creating the stories as well as reading them.
Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Rachael: Fairly easy, to be honest--although it did take me years to actually finish and revise that first book. But when I did, I researched a few publishers, sent it to my top choice, and 6 weeks later I got an email saying they wanted to publish it. I couldn't believe my good luck and had a smile on my face for months and months. I still feel extremely blessed, and I'll forever be grateful to Cedar Fort for giving me the chance.
Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Rachael: Sometimes I struggle with not having enough time, or feeling like everything I write is ridiculous, but then I know I need to take a step back and regroup. When I come back, I'm usually excited to get back to it, and since my stories are happy little romantic tales, they make me happy to write them. Then there's the downs that comes from reading someone's less than flattering remarks on my book. When that happens, I go to Goodreads.com, look up some of my favorite authors, and see that even they can't please everyone. :)
Deirdra: How do you find time to write, especially with little ones at home?
Rachael: That's the hardest part for me. When I was in college, I remember stopping by a bookstore where an author happened to be doing a signing. I asked her the same question, and she told me that she wrote from 8 to 5 every day. Her husband did a lot of the housework, and her little ones learned to entertained themselves (she had a 2-year-old at the time). I was so unimpressed with her answer that I stopped reading her books. Now that I'm in a similar situation, I'm much less judgmental, but I still try to put my children first. So most of my writing is done at night, after they go to bed or during nap time. It's difficult, and it takes longer for me to finish a manuscript, but it works for now. And I'm a far cry from a decent homemaker.
Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Rachael: Life, really. Everyday conversations will set my thought to daydreaming. I'm always asking people how they met their spouse or boyfriend, and you'd be surprised at some of the novel-worthy tales I've been told.
Deirdra: Can you tell us about your book Luck of the Draw. How did you come up with such a hilarious idea? Don't tell me this was based on a true experience.
Rachael: It was, actually. A similar situation happened to a friend of my sisters. Some dolt of a guy thought it'd be a riot to date 6 roommates at the same time. When the girls inevitably found out, one of them invited the guy out for dinner. When he showed up at the restaurant, he found all six girls together, finishing up dinner. They left him with the bill. :) I thought the story was funny, so I borrowed the premise and went from there.
Deirdra: Holy Smokes! That is so funny!!!!
Deirdra: Can you tell us about your book Divinely Designed?
Rachael: It's a fun, sweet little love story about a girl named Kennedy, who moved to Phoenix for an interior designer job. She got a flat tire along the way and met Braxton, a handsome CEO of a home-building company. They are thrown together a few times after that, and eventually he hired her to decorate some of his model homes. I'm sure you can predict the rest.
Deirdra: How many beta readers do you have review your manuscript before you send it to your editor?
Rachael: With my first two books, I had a few siblings and friends give me their input. With my third, the one I'm about to send off to my publisher, my mom and two of my sisters read through it and then I handed it off to my new critique group. They are incredible and have helped me so much. I am now a huge proponent of critique groups--especially mine. :)
Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?
Rachael: Enjoyment, and with any luck, and uplifting look at life. Falling in love is such a fabulous time for everyone, so it's fun to relive that experience in books.
Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Rachael: I've always sat down and wrote, but after my last book, I've learned the hard way (too many rewrites) that I'm going to start with at least a vague outline. I'm also hopeful it will keep me from experiencing writers block so often.
Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Rachael: Yes, and I despise it! Sometimes I'll try bouncing ideas off people. Other times I write through it, knowing I'll delete or completely rework much of what I'm writing. I find if I can sludge through a chapter or two, I can usually get back on track. One of my favorite writing quotes comes from James Michener: "I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter."
Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Rachael: I find music distracting, but I can write to the TV in the background, or my kids getting out of bed to say, "I need a drink" or "I need to go potty."
Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Rachael: My favorite authors, for one. And then there are the people who've taught me how to be a better writer--whether it was a book I read or a conference I attended. There's always something to learn and ways to become better, and I'm grateful for the help of people more experienced than I am.
Deirdra: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?
Rachael: I try to make them real, every-day people, with fun, slightly sarcastic personalities, and involved in situations that could happen to any of us. If I can't relate to a character, I typically don't like them much, so I try to make mine relate-able.
Deirdra: What authors do you admire, and why?
Rachael: Mmmm . . . there are so many. C.S. Lewis, for his brilliant mind. Jane Austen for her fun, romantic tales. Shannon Hale, for her incredible knack with words. And any other author who's written a book that's captured my interest, plunged me into an adventure of some sort, and forced me to turn page after page after page. There are so many great writers out there.
Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?
Rachael: Any combination of chocolate and peanut butter. I also love apples and nuts.
Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?
Rachael: Because I'm behind the computer so much, I happily embrace any outdoor activity. Skiing, hiking, jogging, gardening . . . I'm pretty much game for anything, so long as it doesn't involve heights. Recently, my husband's introduced me to wake-surfing. Now that's fun.
Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Rachael: I suppose the best advise I could give is to write a story you'd love to devour. It will never resonate with others if it doesn't start with you. Read a few books on writing, attend a few conferences, learn some basics, and then revise, revise, revise, until you are thoroughly sick of your story and think it's the most ridiculous thing ever written. Then you'll know it's time to search for a publisher. :)
Deirdra: What are you working on now?
Rachael: I'm a few days away from submitting a book currently called Minor Adjustments. Set in Australia, it's about an American named Devon who discovers he's been left a four-year-old Australian child. He heads to Sydney where he comes face-to-face with a tenacious solicitor, Stella, and soon realizes his life is about to turn upside down. It has a touch more drama than my first two books, but it's still a fun story.
Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Rachael: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Deseret Book, etc. My website, www.rachaelreneeanderson.com has a link to many of the stores. Or you can always check for a copy at your library. :)
Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
Rachael: Thanks, Deirdra! You've asked some great questions and reminded me why I love to write. And thanks to all those who are still reading. :)