For years, Jane’s mom told her horror stories about her time spent in foster care. Now she’s determined to keep her little sister from suffering the same fate.
Seventeen-year-old Jane Sanders has had to take care of her alcoholic mother and little sister, Abby, since her dad died seven years ago. And now Mom had to go and die too. Authorities determine it was a homeless transient who died in the fire of the old manufacturing plant, but Jane knows the truth.
There is no way she’s going to let Abby go into foster care which leaves her with one option—fake her mom’s life. As far as Abby knows, their mom is in rehab. And Jane wants to keep it that way. She’d be eighteen in a few months then she could become legal guardian to her sister. With the help of her best friend, Clark, it should be easy, right?
Juggling nosy neighbors, a concerned school counselor, and an oblivious new boyfriend turns out to be harder than Jane thought. But the real problem begins when Abby starts writing letters to Mom. Through Abby’s letters, Jane sees a different side to their mom—a side she could have loved. And loving Mom is something she didn’t plan on. Because loving somebody makes it harder to ignore their death.
Her new book is available on Amazon. I'm happy to host Dana this week. Let's hear from her about her novel and her interest in writing.
1. How did you get interested in writing?
I fantasized about being a writer ever since I could remember. I loved the idea of creating my own worlds and making people do whatever I wanted in them. But when I was younger I found it easier to dream about writing than to actually write. It wasn’t until about six years ago that I made the effort to write…not just dream about it.
2. What inspired you to come up with this story?
Well, it’s kind of morbid. But I’ve heard stories of bodies being found that could never be identified. They’d just be written off as John or Jane Doe and would be stored for months, even a year or longer. It was sad to think that someone could die and nobody know or care enough to claim them. Then I thought, unless there was a reason no one claimed them. Maybe they were protecting someone? And Abby’s Letters stemmed from there.
3. Tell me about the main character, Jane Sanders, and what inspired you to create her.
Jane loves her sister more than anyone. She’d sacrifice her own well-being in order to protect Abby. But she doesn’t always make the right decisions. That’s what happens when we try to protect the people we love in our own strength instead of handing them over to God and allow Him to protect them.
4. What characters, other than Jane, did you find enjoyable to write as you progressed with the book?
I enjoyed writing Lindsey’s character so much that I actually gave her the starring role in the sequel. :)
5. What are some of the themes you explored in writing the novel?
The major theme of the book is forgiveness and trusting God even when things don’t go the way you want it to go.
6. What things did you learn along the way as you wrote and edited the book?
The biggest lesson I learned is to not fight the story. There are parts in Abby’s Letters that I didn’t want to write. I wanted to do some things differently, but that wasn’t the story. I wanted to take the easy way out, but I had to dive into those scenes and write them anyway.
7. Tell me about some of the short stories you’ve published on your book and what inspires you to write them.
I started out writing short stories mainly for practice. I had a few short stories published in Encounter, a magazine for teens. And I also had a short story that won a Family Fiction contest and was published in an anthology. But mainly I write short stories for fun. They’re quick and satisfying, unlike a novel which takes an excruciatingly long time to write!
8. I see one of your stories got chosen for adaptation into a short film. Tell me more about the story and how the film opportunity came about.
I entered one of my short stories into a contest that the Blue Man Group had on Wattpad. And they chose my story, along with one other, to adapt into a short little film. It was fun to see something that came out of my weird mind performed by Blue Men.
9. What do you find is the right environment for you to write?
If I wait until the environment is right, I’d never write. I have three kids. I’m really good at blocking out noise.
10. Are there specific programs or tools you find useful to help you with the writing process?
I’m pretty boring when it comes to techy stuff. I just use Word. But the best most powerful weapon I have in my writing arsenal is a notebook and pen that I carry around with me everywhere. I jot down ideas constantly in my notebook.
11. What have you found to be useful methods for promoting your writing?
Prayer. Seriously. After prayer, probably connecting with other writers who are willing to help spread the word. Writers are readers too.
12. What are some of the famous books or authors you have enjoyed or inspired you?
I love Anne of Green Gables. I know that a lot of writers love that book. And I probably sound so cliché. But it’s the truth. I think it’s because I love her passion for life. She doesn’t care what others think. I’ve read it more times than I can count. I read it again just last spring. It takes me to my happy place.
13. Any aspiring or independent authors whose books you’ve read that you liked and want to mention to others to check out?
I just finished reading Like Moonlight at Low Tide by Nicole Quigley. Excellent book. I also loved Into the Fire by Kim Vandel. I’m excited to start reading the next book on my list which is Running Lean by Diana Sharples. Check out those books!
Don’t wait until things calm down or something happens to make it easier to write. Just write. Read books on how to write, go to conferences, and read good fiction. Then simply write.
15. Tell me more about Illuminate YA and what you do at that website.
Illuminate YA is a new YA/NA imprint of LPC Books. I’m a volunteer on the pub board to help evaluate submissions.
16. What is life like in the Virginia town you live (other than whether or not cows outnumber the people)?
I live in town where you can’t go to the store without seeing at least one person you know, usually several. It’s a town where tractors are your only traffic concern, besides the occasional cow or rooster. I have views of mountains from my deck. And hiking trails, rivers, creeks, and lakes are just a few minutes drive away. It’s truly a great place to live.
17. Are there certain places you like to go to get a good cup of coffee?
Honestly, I like my coffee at home the best. I’m sorry that sounds so boring, but it’s the truth!
18. I see you and your family have a lot of pets – tell me more about your love for animals.
We wanted a nice non-shedding family dog, so we got a cute little Wheaton terrier. She sleeps at my feet every night. Then, a sick heartworm infested dog wandered into our yard. He now sleeps at the foot of our bed on the floor. We found a kitten in a bush. She now sleeps at my husband’s feet. My son wanted a bird. We now have two screeching cockatiels waking us up every morning. My kids wanted guinea pigs. We now have a guinea pig stinking up my son’s bedroom. In short, I’m a sucker.
19. I see you enjoy running. Do you just run for exercise or are there any races or other events in which you like to participate?
I love running, but more as a time of escape. I listen to music and let my mind wander. I like to think I do it for exercise, but it’s really more for sanity.
20. Who would win a battle of superhero skills: Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman?
Easy. Lynda Carter’s 1970’s Wonder Women. You can’t beat her.